waive credit card feesNo one likes paying credit card fees, but that’s the trade-off you make for the convenience, security and rewards cards provide, right? Well, if you’re willing to ask, it turns out that doesn’t always have to be the case. Like many things in business, credit card fees may be negotiable, and most card providers are willing to waive fees now and then to keep customers happy. Not all fees are easy to escape, though, so to learn your chances of getting a fee waived and see where you should focus your effort, keep reading.

Late payment fees

Paying your bill late is a simple mistake that everyone probably makes at least once in their lives, which may be why it feels so bad to have to pay a penalty when it happens to you. Fortunately, according to a survey conducted by CreditCards.com, late payment fees are the easiest credit card fees to get waived, with 84% of the survey respondents who asked their credit card issuers to waive late fees reporting success. Late fee forgiveness is so widespread that many credit card providers have an internal allowance that lets their customer service agents waive a certain number of late fees with no questions asked (usually one every six months), and some credit cards, like the Discover it Cash Back card, will automatically forgive the first late payment cardholders make.

If you need late fees waived more often than once or twice a year, though, you’re in a tougher spot. Beyond the occasional free pass that some card issuers will grant, they tend to waive fees on a circumstantial basis, looking at your payment history to see just how much of a serial late payer you are. The more often you pay your bill late, the less likely you are to get the issuer to waive fees for you.

Interest fees

Interest is the basis of the credit card industry’s business model, and it’s a significant source of revenue for credit card providers. There’s pretty much no way to get your card’s APR reduced to zero without signing up for a special offer, which are typically on a time limit and last no more than the first two years you own the card. You may be able to get your interest rate lowered, though, especially if you have a lot of education or high income. The CreditCards.com survey referenced earlier reported that 56% of people who asked for a lower APR had their request fulfilled, and respondents with the most education and highest incomes achieved the highest rates of success.

Balance transfer fees

On average, Americans are carrying a lot of debt right now, so credit card providers know there’s a demand for balance transfers. Sometimes, credit cards will offer a special $0 transfer fee for a limited time, but those can be few and far between. As such, it’s pretty hard to get an entire balance transfer fee waived, but it’s still possible to talk issuers into reducing your rate. Even lowering a card’s balance transfer fee by 1% could save you some significant money, so it’s worth doing. Alternatively, if you’re transferring multiple balances, you could also try to negotiate a single fee for all of the transfers that’s less than what you would normally pay. Remember, though, that a balance transfer fee is often a small price to pay compared to the amount you save in interest for the duration of your 0% intro APR period.

Annual fees

A lot of people are reluctant to pay an annual fee for a credit card, so you may be delighted to learn that getting an annual fee waived (or at least lowered) isn’t actually that difficult. In that same survey from CreditCards.com, 70% of the respondents who asked their issuer to waive an annual fee were able to get that fee waived or reduced. A good selection of credit cards with annual fees waive the first year anyway, so it’s easy to point to those as examples when you’re negotiating with your card provider. However, be aware that your chances of getting the whole fee waived go down as the annual fee goes up. Asking a card issuer to waive a $95 fee may not be a big deal, but if you have a card with a $450 annual fee, your card provider will probably not want to waive the whole thing. If a full waiver is off the table, you may be able to negotiate an annual fee reduction instead, or you could try asking for some rewards points or statement credit to offset the cost. And if you just can’t stomach the thought of an annual fee, remember that plenty of annual fee-less options are available.

Foreign transaction fees

Considering there are so many credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees by default, it’s really easy to avoid paying this fee by just getting the right card. Asking a card provider to eliminate the foreign transaction fee on your card entirely would likely not work, since it can often just direct you to another one of its cards with a $0 foreign transaction fee benefit. If you already have some foreign transaction fee charges on your card, you can try asking your card issuer to remove them, but the issuer’s decision will probably come down to the number of foreign transaction fees you are asking it to waive and how valuable of a customer you are to it, cynical as that may sound.

Cash advance fees

We typically recommend not using cash advances, as they’re incredibly expensive and can have a negative impact on your credit. If you do elect to perform one, then you may as well try to get your card issuer to waive the cash advance fee. You may have limited success, though, as cash advances could be looked upon as a bit of a desperate move, so using one may indicate to your issuer that you aren’t in a strong position to negotiate. Like balance transfer fees, you may have to settle on having the fee reduced rather than waived entirely. Cash advances generally have very high APR, so your credit card provider may be willing to lower your cash advance fee since it knows that you’ll still be paying a fortune in interest anyway (if you don’t pay off the balance by the statement due date, that is).

By knowing your options and how card issuers operate, you should be all ready to negotiate some of your fees down and get even more value out of your credit cards. Find out ways to take full advantage of your credit cards by following our credit cards blog.