How to Get Credit Card and Bank Fees Reversed

As you’re examining the latest wave of transactions on your bank or credit card statement, you notice an unfamiliar fee. Should you just bite the bullet and pay it, or should you ask your financial institution to have it removed?

The latter sounds like a hassle but it’s not at all hopeless. A survey conducted in 2013 by Credit.com found that 44 percent of respondents were successful in getting a bank or credit card fee reversed because they asked or complained. You too can be successful if you approach it right.

A few important reminders

Before you reach out to your financial institution or credit card issuer, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:

Address the issue promptly. As soon as the fee posts to your account, that’s your cue to pick up the phone. Getting results only gets more difficult over time.

Be prepared. Jot down the exact fee you wish to be reversed, along with the posting date and your reasoning. You’ll also want to leave a place in your notes to document the representative’s name, as well as the date and time of your call and details of the discussion in the event that they don’t execute their promise.

The early bird gets the worm. You want to deal with someone who is pleasant and dedicated to providing an optimal level of customer service. However, call center customer service jobs can be draining, so make your call early in the day — not in the late afternoon when the representatives are exhausted and their patience is on the wane.

Attitude is everything. We all learned in grade school to treat others the way we want to be treated. And this rule definitely applies when requesting a fee reversal. When you call in, pleasantly state your case, explain what you’ll do to prevent the issue from recurring, and request a pass because of your usual stellar history as a customer. Being polite will usually be more effective than being demanding.

Don’t give up. If the first request doesn’t work, you can always ask to speak to a supervisor, or hang up and try again.

Credit card fees

Here are some ways to avoid and dispute some of the most common credit card fees:

Over-limit fee: Says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

A card issuer cannot charge an over-limit fee unless you have opted in to permit the card issuer to allow charges that put you over your credit limit. Before you opt in, the issuer must give you certain disclosures, including the amount of the over-limit fee.

After you opt in, the issuer must send you a confirmation that you have agreed to allow over-limit charges. If you have agreed to permit over-limit charges, you generally can be charged a fee of up to $25 the first time you exceed your credit limit and a fee of up to $35 if you are over your limit a second time within six months. However, the fee cannot be larger than the amount by which you exceeded your credit limit.

It’s best to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent of available credit because it accounts for 30 percent of your FICO credit score. But — assuming you opted in to over-limit fees — and your account ends up in the red, promptly make a payment to cover the overage, and contact the credit card issuer promptly to request that the fee be removed.

Late-payment fee: Missed the deadline on your credit card payment? Expect to see a late-payment penalty — no more than $25 for the first incident and no more than $35 for the second within six months — and no more than the minimum payment due on your card.

As soon as the late fee hits your account, reach out to the credit card issuer. You should describe your overall good standing and loyalty to their company when you ask them to waive the fee. If you rarely if ever make a late payment, your card company likely will be willing to agree.

To prevent future occurrences, make a point of paying the bill as soon as you receive it in the mail or get the email notice. You could also ask to change your payment date.

APR hikes: According to the CFPB:

A card issuer can increase the interest rate on existing balances only if you are at least 60 days late in paying your required minimum amount unless an exception applies (for example, the exception for variable rate accounts). If you pay your minimum amount on time for the first six consecutive months after the rate increase, the issuer generally must reinstate the prior rate.

If your request for the lower rate to be reinstated ahead of time is denied, pay on time without fail and make sure the issuer lowers your rate once the six months have passed.

Balance transfer fee: No interest charged for the first six months or year or even longer sounds good, right? However, balance transfer offers often include a balance transfer fee, usually anywhere from 2 percent to 4 percent of the amount transferred.

To avoid this fee, you may be able to find a good balance transfer offer that does not include it.

Foreign transaction fee: You traveled abroad or purchased an item or service from an overseas vendor. Now you see you’ve been charged a foreign transaction fee on the purchase amount. These fees are generally 1 percent to 3 percent of the value of the transaction — and it’s a charge for, really, nothing.

The good news is, the number of cards that charge this fee appears to be declining.

However, if you are charged a foreign transaction fee that appears to be a mistake, such as a foreign airplane ticket purchased from a domestic vendor, ask the credit card issuer to credit the charge.

Better still, use a credit card that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee for costs associated with international travel. There are many good cards to choose from. One place to compare cards and find the card that meets your needs is our Solutions Center.

Annual fee: Do the benefits of the card outweigh the annual fee? If that’s no longer the case, you may be tempted to close the account (after you pay the balance, of course). When you call, you may find that your card company is willing to waive the fee in order to keep your business. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Bank fees

It’s certainly not impossible to get some bank fees reversed. If you accidentally let your account balance slip beneath the minimum balance you need to avoid a monthly maintenance fee, your bank may agree to refund the fee this time.

Likewise, if your bank surprises you with a foreign transaction fee for using your debit card at an overseas ATM, it might refund that fee as well. It’s happened. (Next time you travel abroad, carry a debit card that doesn’t have that fee and you’ll save a lot of money.)

But overall, avoidance of these fees in the first place is the best course to take.

Overdraft fees: Did a $10 meal from Chili’s end up costing you $45 because that $10 charge on your debit card overdrew your checking account? Fortunately, many financial institutions will grant you a courtesy fee reversal for the first occurrence, or may allow a certain number of overdrafts over a specified period without charging the fee.

But don’t make this a habit. Instead, keep a solid cushion at all times. Don’t opt in for so-called overdraft protection that gives your bank permission to let that overdraft go through in exchange for a large overdraft fee. Instead, sign up for real overdraft protection, which lets you tap a line of credit or your credit card to cover the overdraft. The cost in comparison with the typical overdraft fee is minimal.

Or take advantage of your bank’s alerts, if available, that notify you once the balance falls below a certain amount. Also see “5 Sly Ways Banks Push Your Account Into the Red.”

ATM fees: These are typically not negotiable. Limit yourself, if you can, to your bank’s ATMs or visit a retailer that offers free cash back at the point of sale when you pay with your debit card.

Paper statement fee: When you initially opened your account, your financial institution may have presented the option to receive statements by mail or online. You didn’t pick the online version, and now you’re facing a paper statement fee.

My suggestion: Explain to the customer service representative that this was an oversight on your part and request that you be enrolled in electronic banking and that a portion, if not all of the fees, be reversed.

Monthly maintenance fee: Unfortunately, monthly maintenance fees often come with the territory for checking accounts, unless you meet specified criteria each month — such as having a certain amount of money on deposit and having money direct-deposited to your account each month.

You can avoid these fees by complying with the agreement or by picking a fee-free online-only bank.

Have you had successful outcomes with past credit card or bank fee disputes? What tricks did you use? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5

These products offer big value at a small price.

16 Affordable Products That Could Save Your Life
16 Affordable Products That Could Save Your Life

You’ll want to order these sometimes surprising products from Amazon ASAP.

How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes
How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes

Here’s how to strengthen your nest egg before or even during your golden years so these missteps don’t ruin your retirement.

11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020
11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020

The home remodeling projects that deliver the best bang for the buck tend to have one thing in common.

17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale
17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale

Real estate agents give these renovations low marks when it comes to helping sell homes.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

This Simple Mistake Might Weaken Your COVID-19 Vaccination
This Simple Mistake Might Weaken Your COVID-19 Vaccination

Avoid doing this before you get vaccinated.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar
9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar can save you a lot of money, but using it like this can cost you.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently
10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently

These habits and characteristics can help put you on the track to success.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

29 Purchases That Can Save You Money Every Day
29 Purchases That Can Save You Money Every Day

Sometimes, you’ve got to spend to save.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.