First Premier’s terms and conditions, for example, include the following: “Each time your credit account is eligible for and approved for an unsecured credit limit increase, a credit limit increase fee in the amount of 25 percent of the amount of the credit limit increase will be assessed to your credit account.”
So if you get a $100 credit increase, you’ll have to pay $25 in fees. Fortunately, First Premier cards typically feature low credit limits, so any increase likely would be small. However, it’s still something you’d rather avoid. Do that by notrequesting a credit limit increase on a card with that fee — and rejecting the increase if the issuer offers you one without you asking for it.
If you frequently pick up the phone to pay off your credit card bill, you might want to reconsider. Nearly 1 out of every 10 cards surveyed included this fee, which typically cost $10 to $15. The good news: This fee is easy to avoid. Pay online or just send a check instead.
Account Reopening Fees
There’s more to closing a credit card account than calling the issuer and cutting up your card, and this fee can force people to learn that the hard way.
Automatic bill payments are most likely to trigger this fee. Say you just cancelled a credit card. If you don’t also cancel all of the automatic bill payments going to and from the card, it can lead to a card account being reopened, whether you want it to or not. These back-from-the-dead accounts are often called zombie accounts and can lead to you being hit with a fee of about $25. Nearly 1 in 10 credit cards surveyed included this fee.
How do you avoid it? Keep track of how many automatic bill payments you have set up for your credit cards, and be sure to account for each one of them when you close that card.
Paper Statement Copy Fees
It’s easy to get a copy of a recent credit card statement through your bank’s website these days. If you need your issuer to send you a paper copy of an older statement, expect to pay a bit. About 1 in 3 cards surveyed had some sort of fee for hard copies of statements. How much you pay, however, depends on how old the statement is. Some cards charge the fee only if the requested statement is 13 months or more old. Others charge a small fee for statements less than 25 months old and a slightly larger fee for those that are older.
Sometimes this fee will be unavoidable. If you need that statement and there’s no other way to get it, you might just have to pay it. However, it might be worth asking the issuer if they’d waive that fee for you. If you’ve been a good customer, they just might do it.
Remember: It never hurts to ask …
That last point is an important one that far too many people overlook. You have much more power with your credit card issuer than you realize. For example, a CreditCards.com survey last year of nearly 1,500 adults showed that only 28 percent of credit cardholders had ever asked to have a late payment waived, but a stunning 86 percent of those who asked were successful. That means many people are paying late fees that they probably don’t have to. The same survey showed that only 23 percent of people had asked for a lower credit card APR, but 65 percent of those who asked for one got one. And if that many people are successfully getting those requests granted, it’s reasonable to assume that your odds of getting more obscure fees waived is pretty good, too.
To make the request, call the toll-free number on the back of your card. Tell them, if it’s true, that you’ve been a loyal customer with a strong credit history, and you were hoping they could give you a break on this fee. Be polite but direct. Chances are that you’ll like the bank’s response.