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The Ultimate Techniques To Get Your Bank Fees Waived, Even If You Are Shy, Or Never Did It Before
“They charge you a fee when you sneeze.”
If you want to know how to make money, learn from banks.
Banks make money from your deposits, then charge you for Overdraft Fees, Paper Statement Fees, Minimum Balance and Maintenance Fees, ATM Fees…
Unless you hide your money behind walls, you’re likely to be charged with at least some kind of fees.
I opened my first bank account in grad school. Being a first-time bank account owner I wasn’t exactly personal finance savvy.
I opened it and forgot about it. When I finally got to my bank account statements I realized that I was charged with a fee: $5/month for mailing bank account statements.
I felt it was my fault; I didn’t know what to do, plus it wasn’t a large sum of money, so I paid my due and switched to online statements.
“You always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
The second time when I went through my bank account statements, I was charged almost $100 for all sorts of fees: $35 for maintenance fees, $5 for overdraft fees… it added up fast.
$100 for all that B.S.? Yeah, right.
Keep in mind that my whole year’s interest wasn’t even worth $5… (Because my bank had a very generous interest rate like 0.01%).
So I Googled online to see what one should do in that situation.
The $100 Phone Call: Why You Should Always Get Your Fees Waived
Spoiler alert: I ended up calling customer service and got the $100 worth of fees waived.
If you don’t think it’s worth the effort to get your fees waived, think again.
Let’s assume you are charged with $35 fees (from checking/savings account, credit card companies, utility companies, TV services, etc.), and it takes a 5-minute phone call to get it waived. So essentially you “earn” $35 for 5 minutes of effort. If you make $35/hour, it takes you at least one hour to earn the same amount of money, 5 minutes VS an hour. Do the math!
Now since you’re my reader, I assume you’re good at math and have come to your senses, you may wonder: Why do banks waive your fees? Are they stupid? Or they are just kind?
Ha, I wish.
Banks Are Good At Math
In most cases, they waive your fees because they’re like you—good at math.
It can cost banks over $350 to get a new customer, so they want to keep you. (Unless you’re really bad for their business…In that case, go lock yourself in a dark room and reflect on your life.)
Banks also know that humans occasionally make mistakes. They make mistakes as well. So it’s not a big deal to “forgive” you once in a while.
So make that phone call, but…
Let’s Be Adult About It
After many phone calls to the customer service, here are some basics I found super helpful. (These also apply to customer service at your utility company, phone company, credit card company, Internet company, cable company, etc. )
#1. Don’t Lie, Or Be Rude
You could lie or tell a 10-minute sob story about why you’re charged with fees, but it ain’t gonna work. Same with being rude.
Even bankers have feelings. Customer service representatives (I will use “CSR” for short) are human beings and just doing their jobs. Plus, they often have a lot more latitude than the “policy” allows. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will. If you are rude, chances are you’re going to spend more time on the phone talking to someone else or told you can’t get your money back because of “the policy”.
Me: “Screw your policy!”
CSR: Hung up on me…
Me: “Hi XX, I noticed that I’m charged with late fees and I’d like to get my fees waived.”
CSR: “Just a moment… Good news, I was able to remove the fee this time. But it’s a one time courtesy. Please make sure you make your payments on time in the future.”
Summary: Treat everyone with respect. Especially with the one who manages your money! (Such as CSR or your wife.)
#2 Be Friendly But Assertive/Persistent
Sometimes, bank reps are not so happy to waive your fees, they would tell you “I am sorry. We’re not able to waive that fee because (some kind of excuse).”
Now, you’re close to victory, don’t chicken out now.
Me: “Is there anything I can do?”
Me: “I would really like to get it waived. I’ve been a customer for 3 years, what can you do to help me with that? ”
CSR: “Just a moment… I see, you’ve been a valuable customer for us and I was able to remove the fee this time. But it’s a one time courtesy. Please make sure you make your payments on time in the future.”
In some cases, I also used “If you can’t help me, please transfer me to someone who can.” It works like a charm.
You can also try a few different representatives.
It works only when you’ve been a GOOD customer.
If you call five times in one month to get fees waived, that's just bad money management.
Summary: “We’re close to victory, don’t quit now.”—Call of Duty
Put All Your Ducks In A Row
If you’ve been repeatedly charged with fees, here’s what you should do instead:
#1. Switch to a bank that has no fees or low fees.
There’s no reason to have to worry about fees, when you can easily avoid them. There are plenty of options for banks and credit unions that have no fees or low fees. Generally speaking, national banks or big banks like to have fees; local banks, community banks, or credit unions tend to be more fee-friendly. If you’re a student, you can always ask if a bank has no fee checking account for students. Don’t be lazy!
#2. Start putting your finances in order.
If you’re not crazy about budgeting with a spreadsheet yourself (seems like I am the only spreadsheet wiredo, how lonely…), there are many websites/apps to help you track your personal finance. A quick start is Mint.com. Note: This is NOT an affiliate link, which means if you use it, I won’t get anything from it. I recommend it simply because I’ve used it for years and love it.
This Week, I challenge you to make a phone call using the techniques you learned here and get your fees waived. Share your results with me in the comments, such as did it work? If so, what did you say? If not, what happened?