A new CreditCards.com study found 86% of people got their credit card late payment fees waived just by ASKING. That’s right. Picking up the phone and asking. The same study says high-income households were more successful. Yet, only 28% of cardholders bothered to ask for the waiver.

I can think of several reasons why most people don’t ask for a late payment fee waiver. Maybe they’re embarrassed? Maybe they don’t want to sit on hold? Maybe they haven’t closely examined their bill to notice the fee?

I believe that it’s worth the call, especially if this is the first time you’ve been late on a payment. Mistakes happen. In relationships, we don’t hold minor issues against our loved ones. In the workplace, employees aren’t usually penalized for simple oversights. Why should it be different with your credit card holder?

If the customer service representative won’t drop the fee, ask for a supervisor. If the supervisor won’t budge, pay off that credit card and close the account. There are plenty of companies competing for your business. No need to stay with an unreasonable credit card issuer.

As I’ve said before, you have enormous power as a consumer. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, either. There are companies that cater to every demographic. I feel as though many people think of their relationships with companies as one-sided. They don’t have to be that way.

For instance, I recently had an issue with a pay-by-the-minute rental car that I use to get to work. The company charged me for a few extra minutes because of a technical glitch. Most people would have gone on with their day, but I immediately called customer service. It was 2 in the morning, in fact. I ended up getting an email the next day with 30 minutes of free driving time for the inconvenience.  That’s an example of holding the service provider accountable. Hey pay-by-the-minute rental car company, I’m in charge!

There are other ways that you can leverage your consumer power with just one phone call. Start by taking a look at some of those junk mail offers. When you get an advertisement for AT&T internet service, do you just throw it away because you already have Comcast? Instead, open that advertisement and give your current provider a call. Tell them what the competition is offering you. It might result in a lower rate.

Did you get hit with a monthly fee on your checking account because your balance went below $1,500? Fight it, especially if it’s the first time. If you are going through a rough patch, ask the bank to waive the penalty for a few months while you get your finances in order. If they aren’t understanding, close that account. Sign up for a free online checking account, such as Capital One 360, instead.

The bottom line is that you have to show your service providers who is the boss. These are major corporations that are fighting to keep customers in a global economy. Keeping your business is worth a lot more than the $40 late payment fee they may charge you. You just might need to remind them of that.

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