How to talk your way out of late fees

By Ramit Sethi | Small Business

Credit Card Fees

Isn’t it odd that most of us would rather pay the exorbitant fees from credit cards and banks... instead of picking up the phone and getting them waived?

In other words, we’d rather pay hundreds of dollars a year instead of enduring a few minutes of awkwardness.

But the good news is companies are happy to waive these fees. As a customer, you’re worth hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of dollars to them. They don’t want to lose you for one $35 fee. (In fact, when you take advantage of their credit card benefits, you can often make hundreds of dollars per year!)

So here are the word-for-word scripts you can use to negotiate these fees. Thousands of my readers have used these to negotiate lower bank fees and credit card fees, as well as lower their cable bills.

Quick tip: practice reading this out two or three times before you actually make the call. Even though you'll have the words right in front of you, it helps to understand the logic and tone that you are using.

You: Hi, I noticed I missed a payment, and I wanted to confirm that

this won’t affect my credit score.

Credit card rep: Let me check on that. No, the late fee will be

applied, but it won’t affect your credit score.

(Note: If you pay within a few days of your missed bill, it usually

won’t be reported to the credit agencies. Call them to be sure.)

You: Thank you! I’m really happy to hear that. Now, about that fee . . .

I understand I was late, but I’d like to have it waived.

Credit card rep: Why?

You: It was a mistake and it won’t happen again, so I’d like to have

the fee removed.

(Note: Always end your sentence with strength. Don’t say, “Can

you remove this?” Say, “I’d like to have this removed.”) At this point,

you have a better-than-50-percent chance of getting the fee credited

to your account. But just in case you get an especially tough rep,

here’s what to say.

Credit card rep: I’m very sorry, but we can’t refund that fee.

I can try to get you our latest blah blah marketing pitch blah blah. . . .

You: I’m sorry, but I’ve been a customer for four years and I’d hate

for this one fee to drive me away from your service. What can you do

to remove the late fee?

Credit card rep: Hmm . . . Let me check on that. . . . Yes, I was able

to remove the fee this time. It’s been credited to your account.

You don’t believe me that it can be so simple? It is. Anyone can do it.


That 1 minute call just saved you $35. And more importantly, now that you've successfully negotiated you can apply this same methodology to melt away fees on your cell phone, cable bill and utilities. I'm giving away three more scripts you can use immediately to save over $500. Get instant access here.

Ramit Sethi is a New York Times best-selling author who writes about personal finance, psychology, and careers. Learn the word-for-word scripts to negotiate your salary, lower your monthly bills, and earn more money at

Subscribe to our mailing list
* indicates required
Small Business Services