Finance Foundations: Credit Cards – Keep Your Credit Card Company on Speed Dial (Part 4)

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We covered both the major strategic reasons why you should use a credit card as well as some of the perks.

This post is about the reasons to keep your credit card company on speed dial – and none of them are to “just say hello.”

No You Can’t Just Tweet @ Them

Why would you want to call your credit card company?

That’s a wonderful question!

My rule of thumb with most customer reps is: less is more. This is particularly true with AT&T: talking to their customer reps is an exercise is skullduggery. I’m convinced they designed the experience to be frustrating to wear down customers, similar to Tom Cruise’s resurgence of never-ending action flicks at the age of like 79.

We get it Tom: Scientology has made you immortal, There Can Only Be One, blah blah blah…

But one thing I’ve learned from working with Hollywood Agents is this: when you want a deal or negotiation to drag out, use email.

If you want to get shit done, you pick up the phone and you close the motherf*cker.

That’s how you should look at phone calls with customer service reps: to cancel your cable, to negotiate with airlines, and to deal with credit card companies.

Why Would You Call a Credit Card Company?

Here are the most common reasons to call a credit card company. No, this can’t be done via email, with a Tweet, or a Snapchat of a Grumpy Cat, fashioned from fish sticks. You must pick up the phone and call — fortunately, you can find the phone number simply: it’s right on the back of the credit card:

Help You Dispute Charges
If there’s a charge you didn’t approve of on your credit card (e.g., if someone stole your card, if a merchant overcharged you) you want to dispute, call the credit card company and they’ll help. Then, if the merchant and credit card company can’t resolve the issue, depending on the circumstances, the credit card company will reimburse you.

Get Your Annual Fee Waived
Did you know you can get the annual fee of your credit card waived? This doesn’t happen every time, and usually credit card companies will only do it a total of twice (the first year it’s automatically free, and a second extension), but that one phone call is worth $65 or $100 or whatever, if you have a annual-fee card.

The mental framework is: credit card companies make money off its customers in a dozen of different ways, many of them pretty tricky. So any chance to save money or make money from them, take it.

To get the annual fee waived, call them a month before the fee is due, tell them you’ve been with the company for a while, and you’d like to get the annual fee waived. When they push back (and they will), tell them you’d like to stay with their company, but if you have to pay the annual fee, you’ll have to switch to a competitor’s card.

Get Your Credit Increased
Note: this is only something to be done if you’ve eliminated all your debt. If you still have credit card debt, skip this step until you’re debt-free.

Increasing your line of credit lowers (read: improves) your credit utilization ratio, which is how much credit you’ve used over how much credit is available to you. The lower the better, as it makes up 30% of your credit score.

In turn, the better your credit score, the better rate you’ll get on future loans for big purchases (e.g., mortgage, car, small business) saving you tons of cash$.

Cancel a Card
Sometimes you have to cancel a card and close your account, (if your card has an exorbitant APR or you want to dodge the annual fee.) Simple way is the best way: call them!

Receive Random Bonuses
Sometimes credit card companies will give you bonus points… just for calling. It seems to me the conversation has to involve canceling the card, as Jacob at iheartbudgets touches upon in his churning and burning posts.

In the summer of 2012, I called AmEx customer service and spoke to BJ from Salt Lake City about waiving the annual fee. BJ told me he couldn’t do anything until the fee was charged. If it was charged, I’d have 45 days to cancel the card and get the fee removed (and I’d still keep all my Starwood Reward points.) Then he gave me 3,000 Starwood points just for calling — equivalent to me spending $3,000 on that credit card.

Was the call part of my grandmaster strategy to earn 3K points? Of course not. I got lucky.

But the only way to earn that kind of luck is to call.

Get Overdraft Fees Waived
Technically this pertains to calling your bank and not your credit card company but it seemed worthwhile to mention here. Banks slap customers with an “overdraft fee” when you charge, but don’t have enough money in the bank to pay for it. The fee is usually in the amount of $35.

First off — this is a lazy mistake, and later we’ll cover ways to prevent it.

However, mistakes do happen.

When they do, call your bank. Explain the situation, how long you’ve been a loyal customer, and ask them to waive the overdraft fee. When they push back, say you understand their policy, repeat your track record with the company and that you’d hate to leave for a competitor over $35.

If that doesn’t work, ask to speak to a supervisor. Repeat.

Getting fees waived and resolving negotiations are wars of attrition that take chutzpah to close… but are worth the fight.

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Photo Credit: ny156uk

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