Borrowing

Pick up the phone to avoid one big mistake you're making with your credit card issuer

Twenty/20

If you're not trying to negotiate with your credit card issuer, you're probably leaving money on the table.

About 4 in 10 people have successfully asked their credit card company to waive a late fee, according to a new survey from WalletHub. And a CompareCards.com survey from April found that more than 8 in 10 cardholders who asked for a lower interest rate from their credit issuer in the past year were successful.

"People can be really surprised at how often someone can pick up the phone and ask [for] something from their credit card issuer, and the issuer will say yes," Matt Schulz, a credit card industry analyst at CompareCards.com, told Grow earlier this year.

The most important trick: Be nice. In the WalletHub survey, politeness was the No. 1 reason why credit card holders said they were successful when asking to waive an annual fee. Ultimately, "being polite and calm goes a long way," says Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst.

VIDEO1:5001:50
3 steps to build your credit score with Matt Schulz

With that in mind, here are four questions you could ask your credit card company that could save you money and help boost your credit score.

1. 'Can I waive that late fee?'

Nearly 90% of cardholders in the past year were able to negotiate waiving a late fee, which can save you $30-$40, according to the CompareCard.com survey.

If your credit score is in the 700s and above, "you're in a pretty good place" to negotiate, say Schulz. However, he says, if you're late three or more times, you may not be as successful.

2. 'Can I have a higher credit limit?'

Your relationship with your card issuer will likely come into play if you ask for a higher credit limit, says Gonzalez. According to the WalletHub survey, millennials are three times as likely to be denied a credit limit increase compared to baby boomers, "because baby boomers have a longer history with the bank, and are perceived as more responsible with their finances," she says.

If you're looking to boost your credit score, you can ask your credit issuer for a higher credit limit to improve your debt-to-credit ratio, says Schulz.

But if you do negotiate a higher limit, he says, be careful: Don't get carried away and start overspending. You still need to pay off your bill in full and on time every month to maintain or raise your credit score. Improving your credit score, or keeping it high, can save you money down the line when you apply for a mortgage, student loan, or auto loan.

Being polite and calm goes a long way.
Jill Gonzalez
WalletHub analyst

3. 'Can you waive the annual fee?'

Negotiating an annual fee has a lower success rate than other requests, according to the CreditCards.com survey, but still, 67% of people who asked in the past year were able to negotiate having an annual fee removed, and another 24% were successful in getting the fee reduced.

"It's not always as simple with annual fees as a yes or no. It can be a partial reduction, it can be a conditional reduction, it can look a few different ways," says Schulz. In general, you're more likely to have luck with small annual fees, or those under $90, than bigger fees, or those over $400, he says.

4. 'Can you lower the APR?

Among credit card users in WalletHub's survey who have called customer service, three in 10 have received a lower APR.

The best way to negotiate a lower APR "is to come with ammunition in the form of other offers that you've seen" like a competitor's lower APR offer, says Schulz. "What you can do is say, 'I've been a good customer, pay my bills on time, I like the card but my interest rate is 22% and I was offered a different card at 17%. Will you work with me?'" he adds.

Many people find calling their credit card issuer an inconvenience — in fact, WalletHub found that nearly half of people would rather call their in-laws than their credit card company. Ultimately, the hassle can pay off.

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