Skip to Content

Missed a credit card payment? Ask for a late fee refund.

How to ask for credit card fee refund

Though I try my very best to always pay everything exactly on time, there have been a few times in my life where I’ve just forgotten to schedule a payment.

(I suspect this happens mostly when I’ve forgotten to click on the umpteenth confirmation screen during the payment process…)

Anyway, it’s a dreadful feeling to see a late fee notice, especially when you’re at a financial point where $25 is an enormous sum of money.

Since I have a history of paying my full balance on time every month, when I’ve missed a payment, I call and ask for mercy.

And every instance in the handful of times I’ve done this, the company has refunded me my late fee as a courtesy.

Of course, the best option is to never miss a payment (automatic payments for the win!), but since most of us will trip up at some point, here are a few tips to increase the possibility of success when you try to get a late fee refund.

1. Pay the bill (except for the late fee) online before you call.

If you pay the balance as soon as you realize you missed a payment, the company will be much more willing to work with you.   Even better: pay, wait for your payment to show up as credited to your account, and then call.

2. Point to your good payment history.

If you’ve missed a bunch of payments before, they’re probably not going to work with you, but if you normally pay your bill right on time, point that out.   It’s definitely something they look at when considering a fee refund.

If you do have a less than stellar payment history, they might still be willing to at least reduce the fee.   It’s worth asking!

3. Do be super polite/Don’t be demanding.

For the record, I have never tried being rude and demanding, but my assumption is that you wouldn’t get far that way!

I prefer to be very polite (Really, that’s the best option any time you call anyone!), and I try to take responsibility for missing the payment, acknowledging that a refund is not something I’m owed but is rather a merciful move on the part of the company.

So, I’ve said something like, “Hi!   Somehow, I missed making my usual timely payment and I’ve just realized this.   I’m so sorry! As you can see, I paid my balance online, and I was wondering if, given my history of on-time payments, you might be able to give me a one-time courtesy adjustment for the late fee.”

The reps will probably take a minute to look over your account, and if all is well with your history, they should be willing to give you a refund.

And be sure to thank the customer service rep for the refund because that’s just nice.

So, if you get a credit card late fee, don’t assume that you absolutely HAVE to pay it.   Calling usually only takes a few minutes, so you don’t have a lot to lose if they say no (unlikely anyway!) and you have a fair amount to gain if you are successful.

(For the record: I use credit cards to earn cashback rewards, I pay the balance in full every month, and I never buy anything I wouldn’t be able to pay for with cash.)

Photo cred to Sean MacEntee.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Thank you for this!!! After my one and only missed Citibank payment (I've had a perfect streak--and great credit--for 4 years), they redeemed the $25 late fee in a 15-minute conversation. I was staring at this article while talking to the representative, who even said that they'd refund the interest charge without my asking!

The bank didn't even issue me a warning. I was only emailed 3 days AFTER the due date! (I paid that day and called them within a week.) So I've just set up recurring automatic monthly emails--for free at SendRecurring--instead of autopay, so that I can still verify all of the charges before paying.

One more thing: I only engaged in rudeness with the automated system, since it took at least five tries of shouting "Representative!" at the robots before their Siri stopped asking me for menu choices and finally let me wait for a real human on the raspy Muzak line.


Sunday 26th of June 2016

Kristen, how late after the missed payment does this technique work? If I find it in my credit report after a few months, and pay my account current, can I get them to waive the fee?


Sunday 26th of June 2016

I'm not sure how successful you will be after a few months. I mean, it's always worth a try, because the worst they can say is no. But you'll be a bit less likely to get a yes after a few months have gone by.

Melody Coxon

Friday 26th of February 2016

This is a great tip and one I often share with everyone I know whose missed a payment. I love advising people to do their best to have a steady track record of on time payments so that they can request to up their credit limits which improves their debt-to-credit limit ratios and the potential to improve credit scores.

Be Frugal, Stay Fancy, Get Fit - That's my motto, hehe. Thanks for being an inspiration to many, including myself. I'm new to blogging so I look up to big blogs like yours

Brittaney B

Wednesday 26th of August 2015

Thanks for the advice. I'm 30 and should know how credit cards work, but I still make mistakes.


Sunday 22nd of February 2015

Thanks for the tip. I sometimes forget too and never thought to ask!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.