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How to Get Your Annual Fee Waived

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How to Get Your Annual Fee Waived

Million Mile SecretsHow to Get Your Annual Fee WaivedMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader Sandy writes:

The annual fees for my various American Express cards have just been posted to my accounts. I’m thinking of calling AMEX to get these fees waived. What strategies should I use when calling in?

Many banks waive the annual fee for the 1st year you have their card.  And after that, you could wind up paying $50 to $450 per card per year!

How To Get Your Annual Fee Waived
When You Have Lots of Credit Cards, the Annual Fees Can Really Add Up!

Sandy can try to get the annual fee waived by calling the bank.  But what if this doesn’t work?

Ask Nicely!

Call the number on the back of your card and mention you’d like to cancel your card because the annual fee is too high.  Being polite on this call can go a long way!

How To Get Your Annual Fee Waived
Sometimes All It Takes Is a Quick Phone Call

Being a good customer helps your cause.  So if you’ve used the cards frequently and paid your bills on time, the bank is more likely to want to keep your business!

You could mention that you’d like to keep the card because of the benefits, but compared to other similar cards it’s hard to justify paying the annual fee.

They May Offer a Bonus Instead

If they bank won’t waive the annual fee they may offer you a statement credit or bonus points to cover a portion of the fee.

For example, some folks have been offered 5,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points and another 15,000 points after they spend $3,000 within 3 months in exchange for keeping the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold.

The annual fee on this card is $175 $195 and 20,000 points are worth at least $200.  So this bonus makes it more than worth keeping the card!

How To Get Your Annual Fee Waived
Sometimes the Bonus Is Worth More Than Just Waiving the Annual Fee

Do the math when you receive an offer to determine if it’s a good deal!  You can also check Flyertalk to find out how your offer compares to what other folks have received from banks such as:

  • AMEX
  • Barclaycard
  • Chase
  • Citi

Hang Up & Call Again

If you don’t get an offer you like, can say you’d like to think it over.  Then hang up and call back to get another agent who may be willing to give you a better offer.

Before You Cancel!

If the bank won’t waive your annual fee or offer a bonus to keep your business, follow these tips before canceling your card.

1.   Don’t Make the Bank Angry!

Be sure you’ve taken the time to evaluate the card.  I usually recommend folks hang onto a card for 9 to 10 months and then decide if it’s worth the annual fee.  That’s because banks don’t like it when you sign-up for cards just to earn the bonus and then cancel right away.

They give out these incentives because they want you to try the card!

How To Get Your Annual Fee Waived
If The Bank Gets Upset, They May Not Approve Your Card Applications in the Future!

2.   Don’t Lose Your Points!

Bank point cards like The Platinum Card from American Express will take away your points when you cancel.  You can avoid this by transferring your points to airline and hotel partners before you cancel!

How To Get Your Annual Fee Waived
Make Sure Your Points Are Safe Before Closing Your Account

Find out if you’ll lose your points when you cancel your card.

3.   Consider Switching to a No Annual Fee Card

Canceling a card could impact your credit score.  That’s because:

  •  Your credit utilization ratio (ratio of amount you owe to the total credit available to you) could increase once you cancel a card.  This accounts for 30% of your credit score.  However, the ratio can go back down when you apply for a new card.
  • Your credit history (15% of your credit score) could decrease over the long term. Though this impact can be minimized by opening new accounts to replace them.  This is more of a concern for folks who are fairly new to credit cards.

So an alternative to closing your account, is switching to a no annual fee card without a sign-up bonus like:

Note:  Usually when you switch to a new card (instead of applying) you will not be offered a sign-up bonus.

You never have to cancel a no-annual-fee card.  And that helps you build a relationship with the bank and build a longer credit history!

Remember, when you close a card, you may be able to earn the sign-up bonus on it again in the future.

Bottom Line

If you’re like Sandy and you don’t want to pay the annual fee on a credit card, you can try calling the bank and asking nicely!  They may waive the annual fee or offer you a bonus to keep you as a customer!

If you don’t like the offer you get, you can try hanging up, calling back, and speaking with another agent.

But you may decide you still want to cancel your card.  Before you close your account, be sure you won’t lose your points.

And ask if the bank can switch you to a card that has NO annual fee.  But be sure that card does NOT offer a sign-up bonus to new applicants because you won’t be eligible.

Keep in mind, if you close your account, some cards will let you get the sign-up bonus again!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Just called Barclay Card for AA Aviator Card that I have used infrequently but that carries a nice high credit line, helping with overall utilization ratios. Politely asked for fee to be waived, dont anticipate any travel or use of benefits in the next calendar year, but didn’t want to cancel. First agent was nice, elevated the call, second agent was great. Didn’t hesitate to offer fee waive ($89) and then offered 5k AA miles if $1k spend in 90 days. I will try same approach next year, but also realize it may be a one time only waiver, but never hurts to ask.

Chase was completely inflexible on this when I asked them to waive the fee on my MileagePlus card. I have a credit score over 750 and have paid the balance every month. They are now going to make me wait up to two months to have the fee refunded. There are a lot of other travel credit cards out there, so I have no issue walking away from Chase.

I just tried 3 different times to get American Express to waive my annual $95 fee on a Delta Gold card. They really wanted to but said they could not. They suggested their no fee card but they could not switch me. I would have to apply. I have gotten used to seeing that zero in the credit inquires category on my credit record and I like it. Delta does not fly out of my airport so the miles are useless to me. So, I ended up canceling the card.

Yeah the ruse is up on this one — just tried calling 3 times for my Delta Gold Card and they also said to go pound sand. I did this the past ~4 years and it worked fine (often got it waived or got miles instead), but I think they’ve caught on to the fact that people have asked for this in the past and know that if they just say “no” that you’re likely not going to do anything anyways.

Tried this with Chase as my United Explorer card $95 AF posted to my account.

First time they speeled about the benefits of the card – no offer.

Second time they still offered nothing, having checked my account but said I could pay for fee with miles if I wanted instead. They want 11,875 miles or so.

Undecided to keep card. We don’t fly yearly to justify it but when we do the perks are nice (free checked bag/priority boarding) but lounge wasn’t that great for us, and we could travel light with carry on if needed.

Always paid on time and had the card for 1 year so far. Also have the Chase Sapphire which has annual fees too.

Just tried to get AMEX to see the light, but they refused and offered me a No Fee card. I told them fine and so began the stupidity from them. They started grilling me on my business, FED ID #, annual revenues, etc. When I had enough, I just told them to flat out cancel everything.

I have been a member since 1988 and they have my credit history first hand.

Just plain stupid. See ya Amex I have other credit sources that will not charge me annual fees, nor put me through this inquisition.

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