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.)