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Credit Card Power

How to Get a Credit Card Company to Do Exactly What You Want

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Have you ever had a problem with your credit card issuer? Perhaps you were charged expensive fees, or you didn’t get the rewards you wanted. While you might feel powerless against these large companies, you aren’t. The credit card industry is intensely competitive, and these companies can be surprisingly accommodating to their customers who know how to handle them. 

Here are six ways to get your credit card issuer to do (nearly) anything you want.

Send a secure private message.

You can’t just send your credit card issuer a friendly email — it’s just not a very secure form of communication. Instead, many credit card issuers, such as Chase, offer a service on their website or mobile called secured private messaging. All you have to do is to log in to their website or app, find its secure messaging center, and fire off your request. Common requests include asking for a fee waiver, checking on the nature of your cardholder benefits, or informing them that you’ll be traveling out of the country. Best of all, this takes just a few seconds, rather than the time-consuming task of calling, navigating through a menu tree, authenticating yourself, and speaking to a representative. 

Start a chat session.

Another way to get prompt, efficient service from your credit card issuer is through its secure online chat session. For example, the American Express website offers online chat sessions that allow you to work with a representative without the need to make a call, authenticate yourself, and exchange pleasantries. In fact, you can multitask by participating in a chat while you’re on the phone or doing other work. 

Get fees waived.

The credit card industry is both highly profitable and very competitive, which means that customers are often in the driver’s seat. So when you’ve been charged a fee that you don’t want to pay, you can often get the fee waived...just by asking. Common fee waivers can include late fees, annual fees, and even foreign transaction fees. 

The smaller the fee is, the more likely you are to get it waived, so a $35 late fee is nearly always waived; while, you’ll rarely have luck with a $450 annual fee. And the better a customer you are, the more luck you’ll be likely to have. Those with a high charge volume and a perfect payment record will do far better than infrequent customers who make late payments. 

man with mobile phone

Call to cancel your card.

To a credit card issuer, each current cardholder represents a significant investment, which they refer to as an acquisition cost. Because the costs of gaining a new customer can be hundreds of dollars, the company is willing to make some generous offers to existing customers to keep them from closing their accounts. When you inform a credit card issuer’s customer service that you want to cancel your account, you’ll be transferred to a special department called retentions, which exists only to convince you not to cancel. In its arsenal of retention offers can be things like annual fee waivers or additional reward points or miles

Get approval for a new card.

It can be a moment of high anxiety when you apply for a new credit card online and are awaiting a response. Sometimes you might receive instant approval, but other times you just get a message saying that you’ll eventually receive a response in the mail. You might be surprised to know that if you don’t receive an immediate approval, you can call the card issuer and ask for a decision over the phone. 

Better yet, there are things that you can say to improve your chance of being approved. For example, you can ask to have part of your existing credit line moved to the new account. Or, you can offer to close another card altogether, in order to be approved for a new card with better benefits and a generous sign-up bonus. 

Change cards altogether.

Another little known thing that you can ask your credit card issuer to do is to change your account from one kind of card to another. For example, if you have a card with an annual fee, you can request that your account be changed to a different card with no annual fee. This can be a great way to get a new card, without actually applying for a new account.