Got A Late Fee? Ask For A Credit

Next time a late fee mars your bill, ask to have it waived. It helps to have a history of timely payments made in full, as Five Cent Nickel discovered when his Citi Mastercard was hit with a $39 late fee plus finance charges.

I was, of course, really bummed. After all, we’ve never paid a late fee or an interest charge to a credit card company. Was the streak about to end? Not if I had anything to say about it!

I picked up the phone, called up Citi, explained that we’ve never been late on a payment before, and asked them if they could do anything about the fees. The CSR said he’d check and see if he could get it automatically credited back, paused for a few seconds, and then said he’d taken care of it.

It never hurts to ask. You might get exactly what you asked for. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Ask for Credit Card Fees to be Reversed [Five Cent Nickel]
(Photo: plasticrevolver)


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  1. lasala says:

    Even if you have bad credit, high balance and bad payment history with the cc company they are often obligated to waive late fee once a year.

  2. orlong says:

    If he was late with the payment he should have paid it. It is part of the credit agreement he signed when he applied for the card. Instead he decided to try and be a cheapskate and had they not reversed the charge would have complained on every blog around about how crappy Citi’s customer service is.

  3. AT203 says:

    Especially if you are only a day or so late. The “it crossed in the mail” excuse really works. As the article states, it works better if you have a good payment history.

    Something to be careful about is if the late payment is for a credit card with a promotional rate. A late payment will sometimes put that in jeapordy. Ask the Customer Service Representative when you call.

  4. thedcsleeper says:

    i had a similar experience with citi that started off bad. i had paid my bill online and only afterwards did i realize it was late when the late fee posted to my account. i called and did my really nice and pitiful “i’m a college student and that’s a ton of money for me.” they said they couldn’t do anything because my account was so new. later i received a survey in my email, which i filled out complaining about the customer service. after that i got a call from a citi person who said her job was to listen to recorded customer service calls. she wanted me to know that she thought the original CSRs were rude to me and that she had already credited my account with the amount of the late fee. she also gave me her direct number in case i ever needed anything. now i’m a super-happy citi cardholder!

  5. faust1200 says:

    When I turned 18, Citibank was the first company to send me an application. I have had my Citicard for over 15 years. While other cards have come and gone I have stuck with Citibank because I have always had adequate to good experiences with their customer service. I have had a number of chargebacks over the years and have had every disputed charge in my favor. I think Orlong is a being a little harsh on the OP.

  6. SOhp101 says:

    Bitter, aren’t we Orlong? This is a one time favor that he’s received from the credit card company and not something that he’s milking out of every card he has.

    Chances are this will only work once a year. Any more than that and don’t expect any waiver.

  7. dragonflight says:

    @SOhp101: any more than that and you probably deserve the late fee anyways.

  8. Chongo says:

    @faust1200: I have to agree with you about citibank. As much as I dislike supporting giant money grubbing corporations, my experience with Citi has been over all very good. I’ve had a CC and Bank account with them since I was 16 and I now get 2k instant availability. It comes in handy often.

  9. Joe S Chmo says:

    I had the same experience as Five Cent Nickel with 2 other credit card companies about 10 years ago. I don’t recall the names but I had returned from vacation and realized I was going to be late paying my 2 credit cards bills.

    I called each one before sending in a payment and they both said they would reverse any late charge because of my excellent payment history but that I needed to call after the payment posted. I called both back after the payments posted and they held to their word and reversed the late charges.

    If you don’t ask you don’t get.

    I have since heard many times that you can get late charges reversed every 2 years because they keep their history for 2 years.

  10. SOhp101 says:

    @dragonflight: That is true but only to a certain extent, I think. A fee is in order but I think the amount of the fee is questionable. Credit card companies have been increasing their fees to exorbitant amounts, and from what I remember that is supposed to be one of the things the senate committee would examine.

  11. Orlong: Um, no. I wouldn’t have complained one bit. I know full well what my card agreement states. But I also know that companies are willing to cut good customers some slack on occasion to keep them happy. Why not take what they give?

    Guess what, I got pulled over last month for speeding (with a clean record) and ended up not getting a ticket. Should I have asked for one just to keep you happy? After all, I knew the rules of the road when I got in the car.

  12. chrisgoh says:

    Orlong, there is a difference between asking for a credit and demanding one. If he asks and they say no and he leaves it at that, then I think it is OK. If he made a stink about it, that might be different.

  13. macinjosh says:

    I recently called Chase because one statement had a late fee (it was only a day or so), and an overlimit fee (if you imposed a limit, maybe you should stick to it). I was expecting a bit of a fight, but the guy took care of them both within seconds, not even conferring with anyone. The $78 was worth the 40 seconds. :)

  14. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Assuming you have a clean payment record and it’s a one-time occurrence, the card issuer may waive the late fee as a courtesy.

    On the rare occasion where something happened and I was a few days late, Citibank happily waived the fees for me as well. However, in the last 17 years I’ve been a Citi customer, I’ve only been late twice. If your payment history is otherwise very good and you ask nicely, they’ll probably waive it.

    You certainly don’t have anything to lose by asking.

  15. davere says:

    Citi did the same for me too. I’ve never been late on a bill, so when I saw a non-payment fee I freaked out. I looked at my records and sure enough, I had not paid my bill the previous month. It turns out that the statement had fallen behind my desk so I had forgotten about it. Out of sight, out of mind.

    I made a big payment online and then on a whim I called and explained what had happened. The agent looked at my payment history and next thing I knew the non-payment fee had been reversed.

  16. magic8ball says:

    I had kind of the opposite experience, but with Wells Fargo. I helped my underage little brother open a checking account, so my name was on the account along with his. He managed to overdraw the account six times in one day (two checks, four debit card transactions) resulting in about $150 in overdraft fees. As soon as I got the notification, I went to Wells Fargo to make a deposit so that my credit wouldn’t be affected, and the guy at the counter offered to waive most of the fees. What a nice guy! I didn’t even have to ask! Unfortunately, the fees were mysteriously still on the account when I got the next statement.

  17. c0nsumer says:

    For what it’s worth, I have a BofA card (was MBNA until recently) and I screwed up and missed a payment (simply, honestly forgot because I was out of town) and was hit with a $39 late fee.

    I called up and simply said that I screwed up and missed the fee, and asked “if there was anything that they could do”. I received a credit for $17.50, half of the late fee. Not the whole thing, of course, but still, not too bad.

    Unfortunately the balance on the card was only $150 or so, so it still felt like a bit of a waste. At least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

  18. tremorchrist says:

    I work for US Bank, and company policy is at LEAST 1 late fee/finance charge reversal per 12 months, if your profitable even more. And if your a pay in full customer, we can always reverse the fc if we can do the lf.

  19. Citi and others are willing to credit these fees because they know that charging them is extortion, period. They’re trying to avoid making the people who might make noise (i.e. the people willing to pick up the phone) too angry, because if enough people spoke up, this kind of practice would be struck down by regulators. (By “this kind of practice”, I mean charging exorbitantly high late fees, on accounts that often–more often, lately–have movable due-dates, and then deliberately making the payment center as far from the payer as possible *and* not allowing any leeway for mail-time…yeah.)

    Just because I can get you to sign a contract that says that I get to break your legs if you don’t pay, because all the gangsters are doing it and you have nowhere else to go, doesn’t make it okay. Or legal. Even with their crowd-control measures, credit-card companies are likely to lose out on their late-fee cash-cow when Congress reviews their practices in the coming months. Every finance person you’re likely to talk to agrees that the fees are ridiculously high. It does NOT cost them forty dollars, or anything even remotely near it, when your payment is a couple days late!

    And to all the people, yet again, blaming the consumer, obviously you’ve never paid anything late for any reason, but the Hypocrite Gods will be laughing when you do. Sheesh.

  20. medalian1 says:

    I’ve done this in the past, it has always worked.

  21. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    BofA (MBNA) waved a $39 fee for a late February payment. My payments were changed to the 29th of the month after BofA took over. I forgot that Feb didn’t have a 29th. I called and explained; the rep. saw my automatic payment history going back a few years with payments on time. Fee waived.

  22. Zach Everson says:

    I rarely incur fees, but when I do, a simple phone call asking them to waive it usually results in a refund.

  23. I’ve incurred a late fee a couple of times, twice when I was in college and the mail didn’t start going to the new address quickly enough and once when I got married and GOD ONLY KNOWS where my mail was that week because I sure wasn’t paying attention to it!, and my card issuer (First National Bank Omaha) has always waived it as a courtesy.

    But yeah, basically twice in college and once when I got married and I’ve had the card 11 years now.

    (As a side note, I am DELIGHTED with First National Bank Omaha, have NEVER had a bad customer service experience with them, and would reccomend them as a CC company to anyone. And I’ve stretched the limits of customer service with unusual transactions on that card over the years, not just normal charging, and they’ve always been easy to deal with and helpful in explaining things. My only beef is I hate their new online interface, but I’ll probably get used to it.)

  24. mac-phisto says:

    yeah, every once in awhile this works for me.

    you know, i would never have a late fee if credit card companies would stop using sundays & holidays as a payment date. i know i have a whole month to pay it, but i’m just one of those people that looks at the due date & makes the payment at the last possible time. if you are gonna make a payment due on a sunday, you better be able to process a payment on a sunday too (imho).

    2 of my cards had yesterday (easter sunday!) as a due date. didn’t forget those though! =O)

  25. Harvey Birdman says:

    @orlong: There are RULES that must be FOLLOWED!! Sheesh, have you ever experienced high-end customer service before? It’s very forgiving.

    Anyway, I just did this with my credit union Visa. I live on my cc to keep tabs on my spending and pay off $1000-$1500 a month. I haven’t had minimum payments until this month and accidentally missed the date. When I called they told me that new rules required them to set some minimum payment. They then promptly waived the late fee (which was only $20 – go credit unions!).

  26. brilliantmistake says:

    The real danger isn’t the late fee, but the changes in interest. One late payment is all it takes for the company to jack up the interest rate on your account. Nickel should check his next statement to see if it’s changed.

  27. @morecoffee: That’s a great point. However, since we don’t carry a balance, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal even if they did.

  28. Sunbun says:

    Whoa. The same thing happened to me for December’s bill. $39 + interest, whatever that was.

    Remember kids: a frenzy of Black Friday “after rebate” sales + forgetting to pay your bill = you as a sad panda.