PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking.
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” says Annie Faust of Baldwin.
We’re talking credit cards, and all those fees that card issuing companies count on us to pay without blinking.
Most people think it’s a waste of time to call to complain.
“I’ve heard that you can get away with one late payment that they will waive, but then after that, they do not,” notes Rob Baker of Mt. Washington.
“If you ask, after the second time or the first time, they won’t waive it. Usually there’s one time,” says Behzad Hoss of Downtown.
That’s certainly a common belief. But a recent study from CreditCards.com suggests a phone call might work more often than you think.
“It never hurts to ask because the worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no, but if they say yes, really good things can happen,” says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com.
Credit cards — you can’t live without them, and we all have a number of them and we all complain about late fees and annual fees.
But did you know that only one out of five of us ever calls our credit card company? That’s a shame because if you do, you might save some money.
Nick Jacobs, of Avonworth Heights, says he’s had fees waived a number of times.
“All the time,” says Jacobs. “Probably five times a year.”
A survey from CreditCards.com finds that 84 percent of those who ask were able to get a late fee waived, 70 percent were successful in getting a lower annual fee, and 56 percent even got lower interest rates. You just have to ask.
“Far too few people ask for these breaks, and we asked people why they don’t ask, and the two most common reasons were, ‘I didn’t know I could,’ and ‘I didn’t know I would be successful,’” says Schulz.
University of Pittsburgh Katz Business School Professor Jay Sukits says credit card companies will cut a deal in order to keep a customer.
“They don’t want to lose you as a customer. That’s what it boils down to. The credit card industry is so competitive,” says Sukits.
Sukits says the industry makes most of its money off those who pay the monthly minimum and keep a balance on their card, requiring interest payments.
“If you have even a halfway decent credit rating, they don’t want to lose you as a customer,” he says. “They would much rather have you pay that minimum payment every month and keep your average balance somewhere up a level that keeps a cash flow of interest flowing into them. So they would rather not lose that.”
With credit card companies flooding mailboxes and the media with special deals to get your business, it’s a good time to bargain with your card company.
“Because the industry is so competitive, there’s always somewhere else to go,” notes Sukits. “Unless you have an absolute horrible credit score, you can always go somewhere else. So that’s why they do it. They waive those fees all the time.”
And here’s another tip.
Some 85 percent of those who ask get higher credit limits on their credit cards.
That’s what Annie Faust did.
“Don’t tell my husband,” she adds, laughing.