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How to get your overdraft fees waived

Overdraft fees suck — but that doesn’t mean you have to pay them. Learn the exact systems to get them waived today.

Ramit Sethi

overdraft fees

We’ve all been there before: You just bought something with your debit card — maybe a latte or dinner with a friend — only to find out later that you didn’t have enough money in the account.

No big deal. You can just move some funds from your savings to your checking account (some banks might even automatically do this for you). BUT you soon get a notification from your bank telling you that you’ve been hit with an overdraft fee for the trouble.

Now, you have two options:

  1. Pay the overdraft fee and cry about how the bank is unfair.
  2. Call your bank and negotiate the fee away.

If you want to take option one, you can stop reading now and grab a box of tissues on your way out the door.

However, if you want to beat the banks at their own game — while picking up some great skills along the way — I’ll show you the systems how.

But first, let’s take a look at what overdraft fees are exactly as well as what a few banks are going to charge you.

What is an overdraft fee?

Overdraft fees occur when you take more money out of your checking account than is currently in there. When this happens, your bank will charge you a fee to facilitate the transaction. For some reason.

Though the fee will vary from bank to bank, here are overdraft fees from a few of the most popular banks as of July 2017:

BANK
OVERDRAFT FEE
Chase $34
Bank of America $35
Wells Fargo $35
US Bank $36
PNC Bank $36
Citibank $34

Though $34 – $36 here and there might not seem like a lot, you could find yourself saddled with hundreds of dollars in fees if you overdraft multiple times.

Luckily, you can negotiate to get them waived if you have the right scripts. That’s why I want to show you exactly how you can get your overdraft fees waived with a simple phone call with your bank.

The exact script to get overdraft fees waived

A while back, I got hit with an overdraft fee.

I know, I know. I literally run a personal finance website. But hey, we all make mistakes. And when they happen, the best thing you can do is be proactive about it.

So I saw the fee, sighed, and picked up the phone.

The conversation went like this:

RAMIT: Hi, I just saw this bank charge for overdrafting and I’d like to have it waived.

BANK: I see that fee. Unfortunately, we’re not able to waive that fee. It was [some BS excuse about how it’s not waivable].

RAMIT: Well, I’ve been a good customer with the bank for X years now and would still like to get it waived since this is a rare occurrence. What else can you do to help me?

BANK: Hmm, one second sir. I see that you’re a really good customer. I’m going to check with my supervisor. Can you hold for a second?

[hold]

I was able to check with my supervisor and waive the fee. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

And just like that, I got my overdraft fee waived. This script works so well for a number of reasons:

  1. I repeated my complaint and asked the bank rep how they could constructively help me.
  2. I’ve been a loyal customer to the bank for many years, which you should always use to your advantage when calling to negotiate.
  3. I was polite but firm. Nothing can force a negotiation to go sour faster than a bad attitude.

You can use this exact script in order to get yours waived too.

(For more tactics on negotiations, make sure you check out my article on how to negotiate anything.)

What to do if they say no?

But there is always the chance they still say no to your request — and that’s okay. When that happens, there are three options you can take:

  1. Persist. Banks pay hundreds of dollars in customer-acquisition costs and don’t want to lose you. If you’re persistent enough and make it hard for them to say no, you’ll have the upper hand if they try to shoot you down.
  2. Hang up and call again. Sometimes getting your fee waived is a matter of hitting the right bank rep. If the first bank rep keeps shutting you out, politely thank them for their time, hang up, and dial the number again.
  3. Pay the fee. You’re not going to win all negotiations. Sometimes you’re going to have to just pay the fee. BUT if you have the right scripts and prepare, you can be infinitely more ready than you were before.

When it comes to overdraft fees though, the best system is the one where you don’t have to worry about them at all. That’s why I suggest learning how to avoid getting overdraft fees entirely so you don’t have to concern yourself with negotiating the rate away.

How to avoid getting overdraft fees

When it comes down to it though, the best way to approach overdraft fees is to avoid them entirely — which is why I suggest having a system in place to do exactly that.

When it comes to my system, I suggest doing two things:

  1. Opt out of overdraft protection
  2. Create a conscious spending plan

Opt out of overdraft protection

When you sign up for a checking account, many banks try to convince you to sign up for something called overdraft protection. It’s the policy in which the bank will cover you when you overcharge on your debit card, but charge you the overdraft fee for the trouble.

However, if you choose to opt out of overdraft protection, your card will simply get declined every time you attempt to charge more money than you currently have in the account.

Sure, it might be embarrassing if you’re on a date and it turns out you can’t pay for dinner because your card got declined — but it can go a long way in saving you money on overdraft fees. But if you want to avoid that situation entirely, you need to make sure you have one system in place: A conscious spending plan.

Create a conscious spending plan

Conscious spending is the practice of deciding exactly where you’re going to spend your money — going out, saving, investing, rent — and freeing yourself from feeling guilty about how you spend it. I’ve written about this before, but I’ll give a quick run down here because it’s important to know.

In order to be able to consciously spend your money, you need to automate your finances so you can invest and save money passively instead of constantly wondering if you have enough to spend.

And it’s simple: At the beginning of the month, when you receive your paycheck, the money is immediately sent to where it needs to go through automatic systems that you have set up already.

Some spending recommendations for your system:

  • 50%-60% Fixed Costs: This includes things like utilities, rent, internet, and debt.
  • 10% Investments: This includes your Roth IRA and 401k plan.
  • 5%-10% Savings: This is money that goes towards things like vacations, weddings, home down payments, and unexpected expenses.
  • 20%-35% Guilt-Free Spending: Fun money! Spend this on anything you want from nice dinners to movies.

Overdraft fees - how to automate your finances

If you want to find out more on how to automate your finances, check out my 12-minute video explaining it here:

This system is the exact same one that my friend uses to spend over $5,000 a year on shoes.

Seriously. She’ll typically buy around 10 – 15 shoes each year, and each of them cost about $300 – $500 a pair.

“THAT’S RIDICULOUS!!!! Why would anyone buy that many expensive shoes a year?”

Look, if you’re reading this, then you’re probably a Top Performer — which means you can look a little deeper.

This girl makes a healthy six-figure salary. She has a roommate, eats for free at work, and doesn’t spend much on other things.

She also automated her finances so she can consciously spend her money without worrying if she has enough money to pay for everything.

After funding her 401k and other investment accounts, she has money left over to spend on things she loves (i.e. shoes). Why wouldn’t she use her money to buy things she loves?

So instead of passing judgment, you should:

  1. Put this system in place
  2. Know exactly how much money you can spend each month
  3. Avoid those messy overdraft fees for good

Master your personal finances

Once you automate your finances, you’ll be well on your way to living a Rich Life and avoiding overdraft fees, debt, and embarrassment when your card gets declined during a date.

And you don’t need any fancy get rich quick schemes or snake oil. All you need is determination and the right systems put in place to help you get the most out of your financial situation and not have to worry about living “frugally” (aka sacrificing the things you love).

That’s why I’m excited to offer you something for free: My Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance.

In it, you’ll learn how to:

  • Master your 401k: Take advantage of free money offered to you by your company…and get rich while doing it.
  • Manage Roth IRAs: Start saving for retirement in a worthwhile long-term investment account.
  • Automate your expenses: Take advantage of the wonderful magic of automation and make investing pain-free.

Enter your info below and get on your way to living a Rich Life today — and avoid overdraft fees forever.

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108 Comments

 
  1. Ross

    Another argument suggestion: Blame the fee on the bank, particularly on their technology. Ex: I overdrafted because my online balance wasn’t correct. They give you a little lesson on how charges take a couple of days to post to your online account, and usually refund your fee. Remember though, they will never admit they were wrong, but will refund the charges for the “confusion” they caused you. Also, remember to point out that (hopefully) “This has never happened before, I am a good customer!”

    • Kelly

      Tried the script, worked in seconds. Got 75% of the fees waived and didn't even have to mention the amount of time I've been a customer. Seems like when you sound like you know what you're talking about, people might just believe you! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Philip Plante

    Overdraft fees are ridiculous, especially when you have a large savings account and made a mistake by not transfering money in time.

    The fees most banks charge are often higher than if you were to go get a payday loan as a hold-over until your transfer goes through.

  3. Ramit Sethi

    That’s true, Ross, you could say anything, but it just seems distasteful. What do you guys think?

  4. Philip Plante

    I don’t really think its distasteful, its more of a matter of honesty and integrity. But hey are bankers that honest? 😉

  5. Brandon

    I’ve gotten lots of fees waved by calling up. It’s definitely important not to take them laying down.

    One good story goes like this:
    I signed up for a new credit card (wanted to have an AMEX card for the international recognition and travel features and BoA offered me one with no annual fee) and while I was activating, I was offered a balance transfer at 1.99%. After offering the balance transfer, there were some connection problems on the line but I heard the rep saying something about percentages. I asked, to double check, “Are there any fees associated with this transfer”. The rep said “no”, so I said “ok, then transfer $2000 from my account with Citibank”.

    A few days later, I see the transfer in my online account balance and a 3% ($60) fee attached to it. I immediately call up BoA and tell them that the fee is unacceptable and that I was told by the first rep that there would be no fee. They made some blah blah about how I was read the fee disclaimer and I explained exactly what had happened initially. After a few more rounds, I said “Fine, then just undo the transfer and forget it, I obviously transfered to _save_ myself money and with this fee that’s not going to happen”. (I had foolishly purchased a projector on credit that I wouldn’t be able to pay off for about 2 months, so figured that paying 1.99% was better than the 17.99 on the card I’d initially charged it to.) Anyhow, they said they couldn’t undo the transfer, and suggested I call Citibank.

    I tried that, but it got me nowhere, so I called BoA back and asked that they remove the fee again. Again explaining exactly what happened with the first rep. I repeatedly suggested that they go and dig up the tape of that first conversation, because they will clearly see that they have a problem with their rep and not with their customer if they do. At the end of that conversation, this rep removed the fee and I’ve happily gone on with my life paying just $0.27 in interest on a 1.5month 2000 dollar loan.

    This post has gotten long, but I do have one other suggestion to offer the readers here: If you are going to be late with a payment by a few days, for any reason, call your creditor up and ask for an extension _first_. I’ve twice had issues where I’ve forgotten to schedule an online payment in a timely manner and they’ve been able to extend my payment date long enough to get the payment in w/o fees.

  6. Carlin

    When I went to pay my balance in full one month, I got charged a $20ish dollar finance charge for short paying my credit card balance by 10 cents. Instead of starting out negatively, which isn’t going to help because no one likes to be yelled at or blamed for something they can’t control, I just asked what it was for and played dumb. Once she determined what the charge was for, she offered to remove it without me asking (probably because she realized it was bullshit). Instead of coming at her with, “Why is your bank so crappy that it couldn’t figure out that it was only 10 cents.”, I let her come to that conclusion on her own. I think if you start out in a nice way your odds of success are better. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will, and if you’re an asshole I think your chances drop dramatically with that person, meaning you’re going to spend more time on the phone talking to someone else. But, I will say that sometimes you need to be a little tougher, especially when they’re trying to stonewall you and dragging out the call.

  7. Paul Singh

    I was viewing my AMEX Platinum’s balance online just last week (actually on 5/21) and noticed that the balance was due on 5/22. (For those of you that don’t know, this particular card is a charge card and requires you to pay the full balance off every month to avoid HUGE late fees.)

    So I requested an online payment that posted on 5/22 — exactly on the due date. When I logged in to look at my statement earlier today, I noticed that I had been hit with a fee that was nearly $100! I called in and learned that a restaurant I had eaten at around 5/15 managed to post their $20 transaction on the morning of 5/22 and therefore my payment from the previous night hadn’t actually paid off the full balance.

    At the time, I figured I’d let it go as a “lesson learned” in paying attention to your accounts but decided it was worth a few minutes to actually call in and explain my case.

    I picked up the phone, explained the situation politely, asked that the fee be refunded because my account had always been in good standing, paused for 30 seconds as they processed the refund and then wished me a great day. Total time spent was about 5 minutes from the time I picked up the phone and I’m glad I did it.

    Lesson: Don’t be afraid to ask for the refund if you can show that it was an honest mistake — the worst they can possibly say is no.

  8. Jenn

    I am very shy and HATE negotiating stuff like this. I am much more likely to let people walk all over me. However, reading this helped me get the courage to call up my bank and ask them to waive a recent insufficient funds fee (paid a bill from the wrong account). She did it immediately, no questions asked. That felt awesome!!!

  9. Jago

    This horror story is called “Honour Fees” in Australia. I come from The Netherlands originally and I don’t want to brag, but ‘we’ don’t have overdraw fees at all, because every bank will give you a credit of a 1000 or more euros on your normal everyday account, so you can go into the red with very acceptable interest if it’s necessary to use.

    Anyway, I came to Australia opened an account with ANZ, deposited some money in it and because nobody told me or could not be found in their basic ‘reading material’ I thought that as soon as my money ran out I would not be able to take out any more.

    Thought wrong – I went on a holiday into the country, with no ANZ atms to check my balance, and when I came home I found a letter saying that I was declared an Honour Fee. Don’t you just love that word? It turned out that I had overdrawn 70 dollars and that ANZ ‘happily’ gave out this money to me, but that they wanted it back, with an extra 35 dollar Honour Fee!! That is 50%!!

    I was furious and immediately called up. I explained my case, but still they didnt want to budge (I was talking to a customer services rep who sounded like a machine, he was horrible) Since I was completely new to this whole overdraw idea in the first place, I asked that my account be closed for further overdraws.

    “Of course sir, but do understand that..” And he started listing a litany of exceptions and things for which ANZ couldn’t be held responsible if it did happen. How hard can it be…? To close an account for overdrawing.. Still I had to listen to it for 5 minutes and say “Yes” to 15 different things before he could finally close my account for further overdraws. Or so I thought.

    2 months later I went clothes shopping, big time. I had a rough estimate of what I should have in my account and since I was under the impression that my account couldn’t be overdrawn I just swiped it everywhere. A week later I got 2 letters, one for an honour fee of 35 dollars for overdrawing and one for 35 dollars for overdrawing more than 200 dollars!

    *snap*

    Phone – call – angry. Luckily this time I had a very friendly woman who immediately understood what went wrong and pointed out that the guy before hadn’t actually closed the account and that indeed I was already right the first time to ask for a waiver of the first fee! So at once she closed my account for overdrawing and waived all three fees! Even the one I had paid back!

    Well THAT is customer service! (but I’ll be happy when I’m back in The Netherlands haha)

  10. Adam Ferguson

    While many bank fees are ridiculous, I find that they are quite willing to wipe them for a good customer.

    I had a bounced check fee wiped because I stupidly wrote a check out of the wrong account. I simply walked into the bank and asked, and they did it right there on the spot. I didn’t have to do any convincing or anything. Plus, I’d been a customer for ~5 years.

  11. Enrique

    When I call customer services, I am very nice to them.
    Customer services do not set the rules. They just get stuck answering our questions or hearing our complaints.

  12. K

    Ramit,

    The repetition technique is exactly the one I favor in negotiations.

    I simply repeat the request until I no longer get the auto-answer.

    People are lazy. The first response will almost always be no. Much less work.

  13. May

    I wish that credit card companies instead weren’t always trying to tack on extra fees and charges and that everything wasn’t this difficult. I saw that article in the WashingtonPost and I think its crazy how much money they make off all their hidden fees. One group that I work with, unfaircreditcardfees dot com is trying to help with things like the interchange fees that we never even hear about that get tacked onto everything. I hope something gets done soon.

  14. Matt

    Speaking of crazy CC fees, I had recently gotten the PayPal MC (lousy interest overall, but it was 0% introductory for 90 days, and I used it on some small Ebay purchases that I knew I’d pay off in 3 months)…

    Anyway, I almost forgot and had to make a payment due the next day. I hadn’t setup the online portion yet (and after trying to do so having it spit back it would take 3-4 business days to link to my checking account), and then saw that you could make a payment by phone. No problem right?

    Wrong. After going through the automation steps, it was a $10 fee to make the payment (said so at the end when the payment was about to be made)!

    Not for a late payment mind you…this is for any phone payment made through an automated system.

    Needless to say I made it, then got it waived pretty quickly afterward…yowch.

  15. anuj

    Good post… I tried that a few time but never worked for me though. Also, recently in the U.K there have been few similar but escalated incidents and the court has thrown these complaints out. Court says the customer has no legal case against them. But I guess it depends upon the way you present your case in the first place.

  16. Keith

    I’ve gotten out of a lot of fees…usually a simple email will do it. If one email doesn’t do it, go for another one. If an email doesn’t do it, then call.

  17. Aaron

    Funny – I recently dropped my long-time credit union for an on-line bank due to this very same issue. I’d been a customer of my CU for over 10 years and, when I accidentally caused an overdraft because of an errant mouse click, I got charged an overdraft *twice* by my old bank.

    One call to the on-line bank and they immediately waived the fee – literally before I could even finish asking for them to do it. After three calls to customer service, and an in person visit to a local branch, the CU finally waived just one of the fees.

    There are two valuable lessons I learned from this experience:

    1. Do everything you can to avoid an overdraft in the first place.

    and more importantly

    2. When it comes to getting what you want from companies, remember the old basketball adage: “You always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

  18. Fashion Industry

    I don’t know how many times this has happened to me when I was younger…plus bank fees will eat up your account…if you let them…thanks Ramit.

  19. Julie

    Thank you Ramit! I just got back from negotiating with my bank (hardly a negotiation, I was nice to them and they basically said ok!). I was glad I had the knowledge to use in case I needed it, which luckily I did not.

  20. Bruce Niven

    I convinced by bank to GIVE me $800.

  21. Simao

    I just asked my bank to waive a stupid fee. They charge me a stupid “Stock holding” fee, that fee kills my profit with stocks.

    They said no, I guess my only option is to sell my stocks.

  22. May

    There’s an interesting article from the Pitt. Tribune Review here: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_509710.html
    that talks about how credit cards don’t just go after individual consumers like us but also small businesses too with their fees. Its a good read and another example about how the credit card companies keep going after the little guy.

  23. Don

    Thanks for the advice. It just saved me $29 with Amex.

  24. Pinny Cohen

    Ramit,

    Way to go. I love hearing about customer successes against unethical practices.

  25. Il Liceo » Blog Archive » Negotiation Skills:

    […] Finance blogger Ramit Sethi describes how he convinced his bank to waive an overdraft fee. […]

  26. Mind Mart

    I’d like to see a justification or breakdown of exactly why it costs them $25 to bounch a check. This is just an electronic transaction like the other million electronic transactions they do everyday . . . and they wonder why the bankruptcy rate is so high.

  27. William Reading

    Wells Fargo will generally waive an overdraft fee something like once a year, but they do make a note of it in your account. When I had less income and was more likely to overdraft (Read: Starving College Student), I would close my Wells Fargo account everytime I overdrafted and got it waived and opened a new one.

    Another note about Wells Fargo:

    If it’s obvious that you will overdraft, their system will automatically reorder the posting of transactions from high to low in order to maximize overdraft fees. This is why I stopped using them and switched to USAA.

  28. Ryan Anderson

    I was lucky that I didn’t have to argue with a situation recently because I was able to jump on it in time. I put a $10,000 corporate event on my credit card that was reimbursed by my employer and paid off the same week. Thing is, I had about $500 in my own expenses that I was planning to pay the following month… interest on $500 isn’t too bad.

    Thing is, something bugged me, and I called the bank, asking if I would be charged interest on the $500 or the $10500 if that last bit wasn’t paid off. Sure enough, they would have hit me with about $200 worth of interest had I not made that call and paid the remaining balance off with my LoC.

    And banks wonder why everyone hates them.

  29. Sean Senthilnathan

    Just a couple days after reading your article I got a $39 returned payment fee from my credit card company because I had entered the wrong checking account information for a payment. Haven’t been with the company too long, but I’ve made every payment on time…should I use the same strategy to try to get the fee reversed?

  30. Maneesh Sethi

    update!

  31. michael sparks

    Wow I never knew they charged for overdraft. I think I’m going to send my bank a thank you note for being so great.

    I get free checking, free overdraft, free checks, free ATM withdraws from any ATM, interest on checking over $1000, and credit rewards with my check card.

  32. Julie

    Totally! This just happened to me – and instead of a $20 overdraft fee they charged me around $240 — It took me a few days to notice I’d gone over my limit. They fixed everything within 5 minutes. I definitely played up the fact that I’m a great customer and have been for a long time and that it was partially their fault – I didn’t realize I had an automatic withdrawl!

  33. Philip Plante

    Sean, CC companies will waive the fee upto 4 times a year, but it makes a note on the account.

    I too made the same mistake a few months back and didn’t catch it until the payment got returned that it was from the wrong account. Since then I have been fighting with them to lower me back to a lower interest rate instead of the 29.99% I am on now. One simple fucking mistake and they are raping me.

    I am making the switch to a 9.9% interest card hopefully in a week so Chase can eat it.

  34. mike

    Thanks Ramit for a kick in the pants. I called up Suntrust and had my “maintenance fee” rescinded without a fight. It was only 4 bucks, but the self-satisfaction I gained from the experience was worth much more.

  35. Steve

    Be weary of Chase. With a credit score of 820 plus. They raises my rate to 23 percent because i closed a few open accounts. I used them for about 100,000 IN A year or so. Well after calling manager on top of manager – to lower this rate to ANYTHING lower 1 percent anything ?? NOTHING! I told the MGR I was going to move the account. He told me “YOU DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO” so i closed everything with CHASE. I will never use chase NOT EVEN their ATM service!

  36. Francois

    I read your article last week and thought it was great.

    Then just before the week end I receive a fee for €4.44. This was genuine due to a very unusual slipped payment.

    So I phone using your ‘script’ and have it waived in seconds.

    Results! Fantastic, thank you so much! i will go through all other posts and apply your advice immediately 🙂

  37. Bobby Saini

    Thanks. Some banks are really good at making sure their customers are happy. I remember recently I was charged a $30 finance charge for paying my bill too early??!?! I was headed out of town for a month and I thought it would be best to just pay it all before I leave rather than do it while I am on vacation (internet security issues). When I got back and got my bill in the mail sure enough that $30 charge was there. I called in, the rep understood my situation and took care of it.

    Generally, it comes down to how you talk to the rep on the phone if you are rude to them, yeah they can’t be rude back to you, but they can make sure that your attempt to get what ever it was done won’t be easy.

  38. Colin Nederkoorn

    Im in the process of trying to get three $35 overdraft fees ($95 total) removed from my Bank of America. Apparently it is their policy to not refund overdraft fees.

    Ramit, I tried your techniques and then went further insisting that they remove it. They did not, and would not.

    They were completely inflexible, and I’m going to get rid of my BoA account and go fully to ING for checking and savings!

  39. Doug Corbett

    Your post inspired me. (And a 5-minute phone call was worth $60)
    In March, my CU charged me $270 for insufficient funds (yes, 18 different transactions!)
    I called them back then and asked if they could refund them, and they gave the easy answer.
    After reading the What-not-to-do guide, I asked again using the magic techniques, and they gave me back $60.
    Cool, eh?
    Still not as cool as $270, but worth it in the end.

  40. Dima

    You are a genius… Just got my bank statement and they charged me $6 worth of ATM fees for withdrawing money in Virgin Islands. So I decided why not… “Hello, I just saw some ATM fees on my last statement and I would like to get them removed”. The rep said “sure, let me take a look at these”. 2 minutes on the phone, 6 bucks saved. I love Wachovia and I love your blog!

  41. shannon

    I’m probably the ultimate example of why it’s a good idea to ask your bank to reverse an overdraft fee. After reading this web page, I called my bank and asked them to reverse a recent overdraft fee that I’d incurred. They agreed to reverse it as a “one time courtesy” and then asked me if I wanted to enroll in their overdraft protection service. I said I was interested in getting more information on the service, and was told that I’d be transferred to a different department. I was on hold for some time, and then the customer service representative returned and informed me that I had actually already attempted to enroll in the service in August of 2003, but that the bank had entered my information improperly, so the service had never kicked in. She said she’d seen this “a few times before.” Well, I immediately wrote a letter to the bank, with all the details of what had transpired (including the customer service representative’s name–which you should *always* write down), and asked them to reverse every single overdraft fee I’d incurred over the last 3 years. They did so, and I came out of the whole thing with three hundred bucks in refunds. Since I’ve been attempting to take a much more proactive role in my finances lately, this really feels like a fresh start of sorts, so thank you very much!

  42. Vish

    I’m usually super diligent with paying all my bills on time, but somehow I missed a payment on my Amex card. I got slammed with a $19 late fee. I called customer service and explained that I just forgot and this has never happened before and asked for a break. I was willing to accept any kind of break they would give me. The nice lady came back after a while and said “Sir, we have waived the late charge”. I’m so glad I called.

    Ramit, I’m a regular reader of your blog and I think reading your blogs made me make this call. I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Just ask.

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  44. Dal

    Ramit, thank you for this blog. It worked perfectly. I had a zero % introdutory offer for 10 months by using their check ( I got it in the mail ) and borrowing up to $10,000 maximum. Well I did just that. I already had the card with no balance, then put $10,000 on it. ( I invested or saved, the $10,000 in an account making more than the minimum payment required. But then after 2 months in, I was late in the minimum payment by 3 days. I paid a $39 late fee plus the minimum payment. The next statement came and I noticed the introductory offer was eliminated and replaced with a 20.49% finance charge. I called the credit card company (one of the largest banks in the country) and asked the rep what I needed to do to restore the 0% finance charge. He asked why I was late in the payment andI told him a legitimate reason. He said he would see if there was anything he could do and if “the system” would allow such a change. Well after a little while he said he restored it back to 0% AND gave me back the $39 late fee I paid. When we were through he asked if I would be interested in another card with another 10 month 0% rate and I said sure. So now I have double the borrowing power both with 0% finance charges on new purchases. I didn’ think they would do this, but thanks to the information on this site, It did!

  45. Patrick

    I had 4 overdraft fees from my bank, totally my fault. I used the techniques above and got out of paying 80 dollars of it.

  46. RK

    Thanks, Ramit! I just got my credit card company to waive the $39 overlimit fee they’d assessed. It was so easy, but I never would have known to do it if not for your blog!

  47. I Will Teach You To Be Rich » An annoying email I got

    […] dig into each part. Cut costs? That means saying no. That means being merciless with budgeting and negotiating and making smart purchases for the long term. Making more money? That means entrepreneurship, […]

  48. Jayshree

    I work for the bank. I have to constantly remind customers that it is their responsibilty to keep track of their finances. It’s very simple: write down your ATM debit purchases and checks in your register booklets and deduct any pending transactions off your available balance. 90% of customers assume if they look online it will show their real balance. Our bank doesn’t show what your pending transactions are whenever you use your cards. Yes, we’re a little behind the times but you have to use your heads and avoid getting overdrafts in the first place!

  49. b

    i just asked bank of america to waive some of the 11 overdraft fees that i got slammed with when i allowed my checking account to dip below zero. they refused and the woman named Lynette didn’t even offer to waive a single one as a courtesy. i’m going to close my accounts with bank of america, i have been with them for 12 years and i don’t deserve to be treated like that.

  50. ANTIVERSION

    I’ve never had a problem with overdrafting until i lost my job for about a month. I dont know how it happened but i got Wells Fargo, a big mean bank, to reverse about 30 (do you know how much money that is?!!) overdraft charges. What i did was, made a script, edited it when neccessary (whether it was a guy i had to play the damzel, and a female i would have to act totally stupid as if she was smarter than me) and called about 30-40 different branches, in and out of state. I would just be silent when they said they couldnt reverse them, silence seems to make them uncomfortable. They would all say “well out of courtesy i will reverse 3 but thats all i can do” I would act SO appriciative, thank them, hand up, and dial the next number. When they saw i already had some reverese, i would tell them that the customer service line helped me out all they could, but suggested i call my regular branch to further assist me. It was crazy. Now, im trying to do it again for 13 fees i have totaling 430 some off dollars, a whole weeks pay. my next step is to write a letter.. letters get results. also stop overdrafting would be the key. sometimes people just fall on hard times.

  51. It pays to be informed « centsprout

    […] discount or anything like that. But stories in the pf blogsphere, such as Ramit’s account of how to negotiate out of bank fees have inspired to me to at least give it a try. The worst they can do is say no, […]

  52. kim

    I just read this today & called the customer service number for wellsfargo. The representative only gave me partial credit for my overdraft fees but it was a credit of 125.00. I accepted & called back to get more fees removed & got another 282.00 credit after talking to the next lady. wow this really works! I am calling again to get the final ones removed. thanks!!

  53. k

    “I got that waived (with a fight), but imagine if you’re earning $400/week. Those ridiculous fees just took 10% of your income away, underlining this recent Washington Post article about Americans’ dissatisfaction with credit card fees.”
    I make 100 a week.. since I am in Med school mostly and work when I can.. Imagine it then, when it takes about 30% of my income away.. I am not too happy..

  54. Alexis

    There’s something to be said for calling in, rather than appearing in person. This week, after being irritated at Nevada State Bank for charging me an overdraft fee when I’d transferred money in advance (that their own systems said was immediately available), I was ready to drop my bank because they wouldn’t reverse it when I explained the situation – in person. I read your blog and called it – didn’t even have to follow half your steps but got it reversed. Why not in person? (Hey, I’m not ugly!!) Who knows?

  55. Perpendiculous » Flawless Victory

    […] Ramit Sethi says: “Despite what you learned in sex ed, “No” does not mean “No” when it comes from […]

  56. I Will Teach You To Be Rich » There’s one question to ask about $1,300 in overdraft fees

    […] where it gets really interesting. He didn’t freak out or start yelling about how to negotiate out of bank fees. He simply pointed out something very gently: “What if you could focus on your overdrafts? If […]

  57. scott

    totally worked. i called bank of america, was on hold for about two minutes, told the customer service rep that i wanted the fee waived, she put me on hold for 20 seconds and then said, “okay.”

    and now the fee’s gone. hooray.

  58. Personal Finance Online

    Keep track of how much money you have in your checking account by keeping your account register up-to-date.Pay special attention to your electronic transactions.Don’t forget about automatic bill payments you may have set up for utilities, insurance, or loan payments.Keep an eye on your account balance. and lastly review your account statements each month.

  59. Jeff_H

    This works on occassion, but if they’ve done it for you before, they may not do it again. I recently experienced two OD fees of 37.50 each for going a negative $4 in “pending” transactions (before they actually cleared, and when they cleared there wasn’t a negative balance). I work for a bank and I can honestly tell you that banks are preying upon you to mess up. And, its not just due to consumer irresponsibility.

    Let’s take for example that your a married couple who decide you would like to open a checking account…..
    The personal banker offers you TWO debit cards (one for you and one for your spouse) and your online banking information so you can log into your account on the internet. They may also still offer you a check register and courtesy checks until your printed checks arrive. Then, you start to realize that you have options of direct deposit, direct payments, online bill pay through the bank, or through the company in which you owe, etc. You now have two individuals who may swipe their cards, or make online payments (all which do not post right of way, keep in mind…) and one check register. Not exactly a design of success. With all of these options and new technology , Neither individuals no longer have to bug tellers to cash their paycheck, or give them cash so they can buy groceries, nor do they have to bug any other customer service reps at other companies for these type of transactions. What do I get rewarded with? Not standing in line. Thats it. And the bank gets rewarded with getting by with less staff, less bank branches, and less paper and supply costs. They also get income from charging the store clerks for running automated debit/credit machines.
    So what else do the banks ask for? That they get to charge me an arm and a leg when the design isn’t perfect?????? Bullshi*

    You other bankers can run this “just avoid OD’s ” crap on me all day. Sure, thats easy to do if you have lots of money. In reality, your not sticking by your product!!!

  60. Yay!

    I had a ton of overdraft fees as a result of poor money management and decided to search the internet to see if anyone had success in getting their fees waived…. this is the first site I read and after reading I called up BoA and they waived 8 overdraft fees for a total of $280! I have to say, the first time around the customer representative told me he could only waive one fee so I asked to speak to a supervisor and *somehow* I was disconnected. The second time I called I spoke with a rep who immediately told me she could take away five of the charges for a total of $125. After thanking her graciously I asked to be connected to a supervisor to confirm the removals and to discuss my account (this was crap, I just wanted to see if I could get more removed) and the supervisor then also immediately told me she could remove the 8 charges. Soooooo, calling is definitely worth it, and asking to speak to the supervisor was an even better idea. This is the first time BoA has actually been helpful with my money.

  61. Ask And You May Receive - A Day Late, A Buck Short

    […] some of the same techniques Ramit outlined in this article from I Will Teach You To Be Rich, I got both charges reversed without much hassle. Similar results […]

  62. Francis

    Try living in south africa you get bank charges for just about everything that you do. Can anyone tell me if you are paying monthly fees to have a merchant account and you think they are to high how to reduce them if your bank manager tells you there is nothing she can do as head office sets the fees. And for some reason I can never reach head office.

  63. Nikki

    My husband called our credit union today and had them wave one of 4 fees. We are working on the other 3. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Your script worked wonders!!!

  64. Saturday Reading # 2 « Vik Dulat - Life is Good

    […] I will teach you to be rich: Negotiating Out of Bank Fees Part 2 […]

  65. Megan

    I am so glad that I checked this forum out today…. after one stupid error of forgetting a hotel charge that was going to go through (which I stayed at a week ago… and I am terrible at balancing my account! I rely way too much on online banking) I was charge FIVE overdraft fees of $35 each. That’s $175 in overdraft fees! I thought I might vomit as I am already working two jobs to try and keep up and this was the last thing I needed. I did call Wells Fargo, and though I am not entirely satisfied they did waive half of the fees so I was only charged $87.50. I had accounted for all of the other transactions that went through but forgot about only one transaction. After speaking with a representative, I asked to speak with a manager and he did waive $87.50. I kept trying for more but with no luck. Oh well, at least it’s half!! Thanks everyone for the tips.

  66. Sophie

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST!!!!!! I just got my bank overdraft fee refunded. I will tell all my friends about your site 😀

  67. drisdy

    i’m trying to get out of an 18-month contract with directv that they never told me about when i had to get my receiver replaced by them ~2 mths ago (which they charged me for, and i got them to waive that fee, which they didn’t tell me about either). so i’ve switched to verizon fios (because it’s overall cheaper), and still waiting for the response from directv about waiving the $300 cancellation fee. i spoke with 1 customer service rep today, then his supervisor. his supervisor told me that he could not make the decision about the cancellation fee, and asked me to contact “corporate” instead (via email on the site).
    what else do you suggest i do?
    thanks!

  68. Brittnie

    I just called my bank…a few of my charges went through early, leaving me with overdraft fees. Still my fault, but it was a mistake that hasn’t happened for a long time. Called my bank customer service, and they refunded half my fees back to me!

  69. Shannon Whitehead

    I am a full time college student and Bank of America socked me with over $400 in overdraft fees even though I only spent $300 in charges with more than $600 in my checking account! not only did they steal my money but they socked me with the overdraft…is there anything that i can do? i know banks have the upper hand but i feel so discouraged…

  70. Bobby

    I just wanted to thank you for this post and the sample script. I just got off the phone with my bank. I spoke with the bank rep about 2 overdraft fees incurred in January and went through the script. I asked if she could do anything for me and she asked exactly what I wanted her to do. I asked if she could possibly ask her Supervisor and after a bit of a wait and an account check by the Supervisor, I was granted the waive of the fees. It’s strange how we are socialized to not fight back, but the pay off of money back and a slight endorphin high make it all worth to fight. Thanks again.

  71. » How to Negotiate and Lower Your Bills

    […] talking about negotiating with banks, Ramit Sethi had some good points on what not to […]

  72. JB

    Just got off the phone with Wells Fargo, it seems that they will only refund half now. That’s all I got and I read some of the other comments saying they only got half.

  73. James

    Funny how things work out… just ran into this post randomly, decided to call my bank about the two $40 returned cheque charges I incurred 2 months ago (2 months ago!), and after politely asking the girl on the phone to have those removed, she put me on hold for a minute, reviewed my account (for good standing and such) and reimbursed me for one of those charges no questions asked… however, according to their policy they could only do that for one charge, not both.

    Hey, I’ve got $40 of my money back in my pocket, so… thanks for the reminder and the idea, if anything!

  74. louis

    haha this post help me so much. i called my bank and told them straight up i didnt want the overdraft fees at all and the telephone banker said “ok i will have those reversed for you right now so now you have 6 overdrafts cleared and have 210 dollars back into your account” thank you so much for the article, i would of never been so direct to a banker until now

  75. Tony

    Just got off the phone with Capital One and got a $40 late fee waived. It really is amazing at how simple and quickly the fee was waived. I followed the script exactly, asked to “please have the late fee waived” and the woman waived it without any questions asked literally within 30 seconds! I was hesitant to call, to be honest I was a bit nervous but now that I realize how simple it is I will be calling every time I get a fee. Thanks so much for the tip!

  76. Prax

    I never had to negotiate with my bank simply because like the Indian banks have a Know Your Customer (KYC) process, I do a Know Your Bank & often know ’bout it more than average bank personnel does.

    I’ve had issues with my Cellular service, but more often than not, it’s insignificant & not worth my time…not even the 2 minutes. 😉

  77. Jess

    I just had an overdraft for the first time in years. I called my bank and in less than 90 seconds they agreed to refund the $35 fee. I pulled up this post, but didn’t even need to use any of the scripts. I just asked and they refunded it! Thanks for giving me the courage to call!

  78. Cyndy

    Today I called BoA, and discovered I was overdrawn 115$, including 3 overdraft fees (110 of the 115 was overdraft charges!). I was confused about this because the last time I used my card was on the 12th (today is the 17th), and I checked my balance/pending transactions before I used it. It said I had no pending transactions, and I made sure not to spend more than it said I had (I am poor, I don’t need overdraft fees!!). I called, and the man who was supposed to “help” me explained that 6 transactions posted to my account on the 13th (I only made 3 on the 12th). That was the extent of his help. Once I realized that the overdrafts were partially their fault (I say partially because I should write down my spending and not rely on the system), I called back and explained to the person that answered that I checked my balance on the 12th etc… I didn’t even ask him to reverse any of the overdrafts. He was super nice/helpful and ended up reversing all of the overdraft charges. By far the best BoA experience I have ever had.

  79. Linda in Phoenix

    I have always found banks and credit card companies willing to waive fees when asked, but I struck out with Bank of America in Phoenix July 20. I had fallen below the minimum required balance, so when I realized my error, I went to my branch to deposit twice the minimum required balance and I asked that the $12 monthly maintenance fee be waived as a courtesy for having been a good customer for 30+ years (plus I have money in an account at BofA subsidiary Merrill Lynch). Alas, just that morning the staff had been instructed that from this day forward, ABSOLUTELY NO FEES WOULD BE WAIVED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, so I closed my account. Imagine, allowing a long-term, satisfied customer to walk for $12. Makes me wonder about the management of BofA. Makes me worry about my future with Merrill Lynch!

  80. How to Negotiate with Credit Card Companies

    […] easy out by just saying no (Thanks to Ramit from this post on negotiating with your bank for some great advice used for this particular […]

  81. Finding a Good Checking and Savings Account

    […] There no fees, but it didn’t offer much else. For our joint accounts,though, we were looking something a bit better. We were on the lookout for a FDIC insured checking account that would do the […]

  82. True Confessions: Columbia House Fiasco

    […] it was MY FAULT essentially) and I needed the numbers from his card.  I called the 800 number and asked them if I could get some help with the overdraft fees. They reversed the charges without any […]

  83. Colby Williams

    I tried calling BoA today to reverse some 10 dollar “transfer” fees that I got from them transferring money from my savings to my checking for me even though I didn’t want them to because I could do it myself, and after about an hour of talking on the phone I was unsuccessful in getting them to reverse the fees.

    What should I do? The way they had my accounts set up was completely confusing and I had no idea I would get charged…but they don’t care and won’t reverse the fees. The supervisor finally just hung up on me.

  84. Jarls

    Thanks for this post. For some reason I assumed the bank would be stickler for the rules. However, after reading this I called BoA and they kindly removed the fee without any pushback. There are a lot of factors that may have been relevant.. I was pleasant, it was only a $0.83 overdraft, I’ve been a good customer.. but the most important thing is … I had to ask! I would have never thought to ask before reading this. I I know BoA has a mixed reputation but this is one satisfied customer.

  85. Stella

    Hey Ramit,

    Great post! You know what I love the most about your posts? They really work!!!

    Before your post, I would just let my bank charge all kinds of fees instead of negotiation.

    But I applied your “negotiation bank fees” technique and successful waived my bank fees about $200-$300 in total last year!

    Please keep up all the great work! I can’t wait to apply all your advice in my life!

    Thanks,
    -Stella

  86. kw

    if you write down the wrong amount in the written part of the check but put the correct total in the box for the numbers, can i dispute that? Example (230.00)and then i wrote Two dallors 3 cents

  87. Jasmine

    I just called my bank and did what you said and he actually was able to take half off and reimburse me. The overdraft fee was $35 and he was able to reimburse me 17.50.

  88. nick

    Here is an easy one that will work with Chase, “I hear that customers are entitled to one fee refund each year, is that correct?”

  89. Howard

    Just called and got $140 refund. Very cool. Thanks 🙂

  90. Jasmine Reese

    This is my second time posting a comment. I saw a -5.00 balance on one of my accounts due to a monthly service fee charge and I called Wells Fargo, used this technique, it they waived it :)))

    So glad I know about this blog loll..thanks this really helped me

  91. poorstudent

    One quick question: I tried this and it worked but they also said that it was a “one time thing” and asked me if I wanted to “save the courtesy for another time.” is this normal and what is an appropriate response? I have been with this bank for over 2 years and this is the first time I’ve ever over-drafted, and pretty sure its the first time I’ve ever been charged a real service fee. thanks so much!

  92. WoodlandGirl

    Thank you! I just called and got 75% of the overdraft fee back, no questions asked. What a relief. Following this blog!

  93. Dermeffacefx7

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.
    It’s always exciting to read through articles from other writers and use something from their websites.

  94. kam

    I have been working in bank for over 15 years now. Most contact center operators in major banks are delegated to waive roughly $40- $60 bank fees without getting in trouble. As long as you start the conversation in a decent manner, operators are more than likely to help you to resolve the problem.

  95. Hargravesdoit@gmail.com

    I don’t know what you mein

  96. Holly

    I always speak kindly to customer service reps, which gains me more than most people gain when calling for a charge reversal, BUT I definitely give them too many of these opportunities to say “No.”

    I used Ramit’s script on this page to have my bank reverse my credit card overage fee and interest rate on a missed payment (normally we pay everything off 100% and on time). I simply explained the fees and how this is abnormal for us, and politely and gently said, “I am wondering what you can do for me to help with these fees.”

    She did not even hesitate to help me, which is amazing! The fees in total came to about $40. She quickly replied, “We don’t normally refund fees, but as I can see that you do normally make your payments and do not go over, if you hold for a moment, I will reverse the charge.”

    Amazing 🙂 My husband is starting your Earn1k course, and we are so looking forward to how that will help us as well!

    • SirMillionaire

      I’m so sorry that you feel like you need to pay to learn how to earn 1k. Again, banks look at your account history, including but not limited to your payment history, your late payments, your fee history, your asset to the bank, and your overall attitude in speaking to your rep. It has nothing to do with strategy because 1. It starts with your history as a customer. And 2. Your asset to the bank. If you continuously overdraw your account, make late payments, etc… Don’t even bother. Your fees will not be waived. 😉 Good luck!

  97. Mark

    I can attest to this working. My overdraft fee was $60. I simply called and asked if I could get it waived. The teller called the main branch and got it reversed, and that was it. Especially if you deposit the money soon after it happens, it’s pretty likely they’ll reverse the fee.

    This article kind of makes it seem like you need to have negotiation skills, and while for some banks that may be the case, for mine it wasn’t at all. It was pretty much a no-questions-asked kind of situation.

  98. Gladys

    I need more ideas for having the annual membership of my credit card waived. I just told everything you mentioned above and didn’t work. I even requested to escalate the issue with somebody else since his supervisor didn’t have the power to waive the membership fee. Literally the bank doesn’t care about loosing my biz for a $95 fee. It’s just ridiculous! I hate citibank so bad, lol

  99. james l jowitt jr

    I m a wells fargo customers me and my brother robert they overcharged me overdraft charges I will be geting my statements for the month of april i want a refund from the overdraft charges from wells fargo bank thank you james l jowitt jr

  100. Raul

    Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clearness on your submit is just spectacular and i could suppose you are an expert in this subject. Well along with your permission let me to seize your RSS feed to keep up to date with approaching post. Thank you a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  101. Shelley

    I ♥ You. Just called using your script, and they didn’t even argue. 🙂

  102. 3 Ways to Stop Making Banks Rich with your Overdraft Fees - Couples Finances

    […] Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to be Rich, advises to be polite and patient. […]

  103. John

    My Credit Union just laughs at me and says ‘ well we reverted an overdraft fee of yours some time 3 years ago and we only give our members one chance’ . what I also don’t get is even if i talk to a different person at my bank I get the same response.

  104. SirMillionaire

    If you are a good customer and are NOT a repeat offender in overdrafts, bank reps are more willing to waive the fee as a one time courtesy. I don’t get why people write articles like this, setting false expectations for everyone only for those people to be disappointed in the end. Calling the bank DEMANDING refunds definitely will not get the fees refunded. Trying to intimidate the banker into doing what you want won’t work either. The best think you and I as customers can do is to take responsibility for our money and track what goes in and what comes out. If you allow the banks to cash in on your mistakes, that’s all on you!😅

    • SirMillionaire

      *the best THING

  105. Chris

    Hey Ramit,

    You brought up solid points on how to negotiate an overdraft fee. Working in the bank for several years I learned that some banks allow overdraft fees to be waived up to 6 times annually. After 6 overdraft fee waivers, they could still be waived over and over again at the manager's discretion.

    Typically this would be the case for customers who carried large balances and the manager feared of losing business with. I'd encourage everyone to use your script with the mentality that all businesses offer at least 3 fee waivers per year.

    Thanks for sharing Ramit!

    -Chris