Credit Cards

Guide to Getting Credit Card and Bank Fees Reversed

feesIt happens to almost every one of us at some point. You’re looking over your statement and come across some strange amount that your account has been charged. You’re not even sure what that charge is for, much less know why you’re finding it on your statement.

The banks and credit card companies have a laundry list of fees that they’re all too happy to apply to an account. So many, in fact, that it sometimes feels as if the banks are making stuff up just so they can charge you a fee for it later.

It’s not always the bank’s fault either. Life happens and that could mean you incur an overdraft fee for a check that bounced or a forgotten debit that hits your account and drops you into the red.

If this has happened to you (and according to recent statistics of bank customers it’s very possible), then you know how frustrating it can be to lose those funds. Even more so if cash is tight and you’re on a strict budget each month. Twelve bucks may not sound like a lot of money, but when all you have in your checking account is fifty dollars until your next paycheck, it may as well be twelve hundred.

Whether you’re at fault or the bank has imposed a fee that you might have forgotten about when you signed up for the account in the first place, these charges can be a real hassle.

It’s not much better with the credit card companies, either.  They can hike up your APR without you realizing it or charge you a late fee if you don’t pay the bill on time. That last one is particularly popular with the card issuers since so many people are struggling with debt, credit card or otherwise, in this country today.

Paying off the monthly bill a week or two late will get you whacked for $25 to $35 each time it happens. How quickly do you think that’s going to add up and make your credit card balance even worse?

If this all sounds far too familiar, then you’ve probably wondered how to get some of these fees and charges reversed. Perhaps you’ve attempted to do so in the past but to no avail. Maybe you’ve just shrugged it off and paid the fee because you didn’t think you had much chance of getting it removed.

There is some good news.  A survey found that 41% of bank customers had tried and succeeded at getting some type of fee waived from their account. In many cases it didn’t even matter what the fee was for, almost half of those surveyed were able to reverse it.

What was their secret? Is there one? Not really.

In fact, all you have to do is call them and ask. You may get some resistance and the representative might flat out say “no”. That doesn’t have to be the end of the discussion. Stick with it and persevere and you could have that fee removed after all.

Of course, there are some do’s and dont’s that you should know before you call.  What you say in the conversation and how you say it can go a long way to having that your account credited in your favor. It might also help to know what types of fees the banks and credit card companies like to impose most often so you can build a solid case against incurring those fees if and when the time comes to contest them.

Speak Up

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  When you find out that you’ve been charged a service or penalty fee you need to act quickly. Don’t think about calling and hope you get them to reverse it, you need to complain immediately.

In some cases, it doesn’t even matter if you rightfully earned that fee or not.  Either way, you should contact your bank or credit card issuer and tell them you would like the fee waived.

Studies have shown that having a fee removed is just a matter of getting on the phone and talking to customer service about it. Nearly a third of customers have had some degree of success getting an overdraft fee removed and almost a quarter have been able to reverse a late payment charge. Being that these are the two most common fees that consumers are charged every year, they are often the easiest to have waived.

The key is knowing your importance to the bank. They don’t want to lose you as a customer because you represent a dollar value to them. Why do you think Wells Fargo was creating fake accounts for their customers and charging them fees for services they didn’t want or need earlier this year? The banks are just like any corporation; they have to hit sales targets.  When those targets are met the executives are given fat bonuses.

Losing customers is the last thing a bank wants and that’s why a good number of them won’t get into a dispute with you over a fee.  If you go into the conversation knowing that you hold that much power, you can be more assertive and confident in getting what you want.

There are certain ways to go about this. It’s all in how you approach the problem and what you say to the representative once you get them on the phone.

Be Proactive Immediately

The minute you realize you’ve been charged a fee of any kind, whether it was your fault or not, contact the bank to address the issue. Waiting does not work in your favor as most industry experts suggest that a fee is easier to get reversed closer to the time that it’s posted to your account.

You might be hot under the collar about it at first, so take a few deep breaths and calm down. Then pick up the phone.

Choose the Right Time

While it’s not prudent to wait to call the bank about a fee, you do want to be selective about the time of day in which you do it. The mornings are always best when dealing with customer service call centers.

Think about if you were one of these operators.  How many calls do you think they get each day that are just like yours? By the afternoon, you may be at your wit’s end and less eager to grant any requests because you’re out of patience with everyone and everything. So avoid the crabbiness and opt for getting in touch with someone when their day has just gotten started.

Remain Polite

You may be furious about the situation, but don’t take it out on the customer service representative. He or she will be far more willing to help you if you have the right attitude about it. That’s why you want to be courteous, polite, and professional throughout the process.

Ranting and yelling is not the first move here and it may only serve to prevent you from getting what you want. This is particularly true if the fee you’re asking them to remove from the account is legitimate. Calmly state your case by explaining what you’ve found on your account, discussing why the charge was placed, and asking them to remove it.

Remind Them of Your Loyalty

Depending on how sympathetic the representative is to your plight and their willingness to reverse the fee, you may need to do a little convincing. Start by telling them how long you’ve been a customer and gently remind them how much you keep in their bank or how often you use their products and services, such as a credit card. You might even tell them how many offers you receive in the mail to switch banks.

These factors will sometimes play a part in getting the representative to comply with your request.  Remember, the representative can probably see everything about your account so don’t lie or omit details when discussing it.  They’ll know you’re not being entirely forthright and they might think you’re trying to pull a fast one. This will make them less likely to afford you any leeway.

Methods of Communication

Phone calls are typically the most common way of contacting the bank about removing a fee. Having a conversation on the phone might solve the problem.  If not, feel free to hang up and call back again to speak with a different customer service representative who might be more willing to grant your request.

Going into a local branch to discuss a fee is also a good way to handle the matter, mainly because a branch supervisor will do everything he or she can to avoid a vocal dispute in their location. The last thing the bank wants is for a customer to get into an argument over fees in front of other customers. The manager doesn’t know how many potential customers that could be turning off from opening a new account.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are likely to be less helpful since many of these companies don’t know how to handle these types of customer requests effectively. Your complaint might go viral, which should help your cause, but it might take longer to ultimately get that fee reversed from your account.

Go to a Higher Authority

If you’re not getting much help from the customer service representative, you can always ask to speak to a supervisor. It’s possible that discussing the matter with someone of more authority will have more autonomy to waive a fee.

Most customer service operators are only empowered with limited capacities and they may not have the clearance to waive certain fees. However, they’re not going to tell you that up front, so feel free to ask for someone in charge if you find yourself stymied at first.

complaint-formLodge a Larger Complaint

It’s very possible that the fees you are being assessed are perfectly acceptable within the conditions of your account.  While you may not like them, you did agree to them when you joined that bank or applied for that credit card.

In the event that you are seeing fees that are not in keeping with the agreed upon parameters of the account, then you can explain why.  If they aren’t reversed then you can let the representative know that you plan on contacting the appropriate consumer protection agencies.

Don’t just make the threat, either.  Follow up on it and lodge that complaint. This may not only get you your money back but put the bank or company on notice to prevent them from continuing with the practice.

Work with Credit Card Fees

Many of the tips we’ve discussed thus far are ways to get a fee reversed. Sometimes the best way to handle the problem is by avoiding it entirely.

Should you still find yourself forced to contest a fee with your credit card issuer, sometimes it helps to know why the fee was applied in the first place so you can build a stronger case in your favor. There is a full menu of fees you could be faced with paying based on your user agreement. However, that doesn’t mean you have to pay them.

Annual Fee

Some credit cards will charge you an annual fee for the privilege of carrying their card around with you in your wallet. This fee is their way of thanking you for selecting their product over all of the others that were available to you.

I’m being facetious, of course.  The annual fee you could be paying on that card is no joke. One day you may realize that there are so many other cards on the market that are better options and don’t charge you for making them money.

Should you finally come to your senses and decide the gravy train is over for that credit card issuer, give them a call and let them know you’re tired of paying the annual fee and you’d like to close the account. Guess what they’ll offer to do for you first in order to keep you as a customer?

Late Payment Fee

This is the most common penalty facing credit card customers today. If you miss your payment even by a few days, you may be hit with fees that can escalate based on how often you pay after the due date. The frequency with which you do that might have an effect on whether or not you can get that fee waived or reversed.

If it happens once or twice in a long period of time, then you can make a stronger case by referring the customer service representative to your track record of payments made on time. However, if you’re a serial offender who is often late, then you won’t have much of a leg to stand on with getting the credit card company to cut you some slack. It won’t even matter how long you’ve been a customer, either.  Your long term loyalty won’t mean much if you’re constantly making payments well after they’re expected.

Penalty Annual Percentage Rate Hikes

If you happen to be making those late payments, then you may very well get hit with an increase on your interest rate. The credit card companies may hike up your APR if you are 60 days overdue on paying even the minimum balance on your account.

This is a pretty tough fee to get reversed since your cardholder agreement will likely explain all of this to you up front. If you miss one payment then you might have a case, but should you be late more often than not the only way to get the lower rate reinstated is by paying your bill on time for six months. Once you’ve demonstrated a routine of on-time payments you can then contact your issuer about dropping the APR again.

Balance Transfer Fee

This one is also pretty tough to have reversed since it’s also outlined in the cardholder agreement. You may have even been made aware of it before you signed up for the card in the first place. This is a fee you really only pay attention to if you’re applying for a new card that has an introductory 0% APR offer attached to it for any extended period of time, usually six to eighteen months depending on the card and the issuer. Contacting the bank about waiving the fee is going to be a tough challenge particularly if the 0% APR runs for a longer period of time than the norm. To avoid it, read the fine print carefully before you sign up for that new card and look for an option where the fee doesn’t exist.

passport-phone-credit-cardForeign Transaction Fee

The foreign transaction fee is almost as common as an annual fee in that many credit cards on the market impose this cost on its clientele should the card be used in a foreign country. Mistakes can certainly be made by a credit card issuer in thinking that a domestic purchase was made overseas.

This happens most frequently with airline reservations where a plane ticket to a foreign destination was actually purchased with a domestic merchant. If this happens to you, calling the bank that issued your card will usually get the problem solved. You can circumvent this problem entirely by signing up for one of the credit cards that don’t charge this fee.

Working with Bank Fees

In general, banks don’t want to give you back any money they can claim through their fees. That’s why they charge so many of them to their customers.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get them to waive some of those fees if you have just cause for asking them to do so. The good news is you might have some luck getting a number of these fees reversed should you build a strong enough case. As usual, the best course of action is to do your best not to incur some of these fees altogether whenever you are able.

Overdraft Fee

Every bank charges its customers overdraft fees.  These can add up fast if you’re not careful. When it comes to avoiding fees, this is the one you want to dodge the most.

If it happens one time as a result of mistaken budgeting or charges that you forgot about, then the bank might be willing to give you a courtesy reversal. However, if your account is overdrawn repeatedly then you might have difficulty convincing your bank that this is a one-time occurrence.

Some banks offer protection safeguards that keep you from incurring an overdraft fee if you connect your checking account to another account within the bank to cover any discrepancies should they occur. You may also find banks willing to grant you a number overdrafts before charging a fee.


These fees are quite ironclad and you’re going to have a tough time getting these waived. If you use your ATM card at a bank other than the one where you have an account, then you’re going to get charged for withdrawing cash.

Simply choose to swipe your card or get cash back at a point of sale checkout, because you typically won’t be charged additional funds. This is another example of avoidance instead of negotiation.

Monthly Maintenance Fee

The best and only way to avoid paying a maintenance fee is by meeting the requirements that are set forth by the bank for you to be exempt from that cost. Most checking accounts will mandate that you keep a minimum balance and set up a direct deposit into that account at least once a month.

Not all banks have maintenance fees attached to their checking accounts.  However, the majority of those that do won’t be all that keen on reversing these fees should you fail to meet the prescribed criteria.

Our Final Thoughts

Credit card and bank fees are generating billions in revenue for the big banks every year. They’re not going to simply offer to return that money unless you give them a good reason.

Take these tips to heart the next time you find an additional charge on your statement and use them wisely in attempting to reverse that fee. Better yet, take the necessary precautions not to have to deal with those fees in the first place.  Do business with a bank that is ready to play fair with consumers while meeting any requirements that are imposed in order not to be charged these problematic fees each month.

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