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How to stop paying credit card fees

Missed or late on a card payment? You're not alone. This article contains a script of what to say and how to stop paying credit card fees.

Ramit Sethi

Last year, I wrote a scathing post about the Capital One acquisition of ING and how to stop paying credit card fees. It was widely read and quoted in a Fortune profile.

Days later, I received this email:

“Love your site.  I work for Capital One (in IT, not the card division), and I thought you’d be amused to learn that “I Will Teach You to be Rich” was classified as a “phishing site” and added to Capital One’s restricted website list about 3 days after your post regarding the ING aquisition.  Weird how that happens, huh?”
— [Name intentionally obscured]


While most personal-finance bloggers make a boatload of cash from credit-card referrals, I only have one CC affiliate link on my site — for the credit card I actually use and recommend. So it’s not a big deal to me if most CC companies hate me for showing hundreds of thousands of people how to cut their APR, negotiate late fees, and switch away from predatory cards.

I figured I would share some of the material you may not have seen on this blog before.

This script has been field-tested with thousands of people who have gotten great results. Feel free to use these yourself.

What to do if you miss a credit card payment and to stop paying fees

You: “Hi, I noticed I missed a payment, and I wanted to confirm that this won’t affect my credit score.”

Credit Card rep: “Let me check on that. No, the late fee will be applied, but it won’t affect your credit score.”

(If you pay within a few days of your missed bill, it usually won’t be reported to the credit agencies. Call them to be sure.)

You: “Thank you! I’m really happy to hear that. Now, about that fee…I understand I was late, but I’d like to have it waived.”

Credit Card rep: “Why?”

You: “It was a mistake and it won’t happen again, so I’d like to have the fee removed.”

(Always end your sentence with strength. Don’t say, “Can you remove this?” Say, “I’d like to have this removed.” At this point, you have a better-than-50-percent chance of getting the fee credited to your account. But just in case you get an especially tough rep, here’s what to say.)

Credit Card rep: “I’m very sorry, but we can’t refund that fee. I can try to get you our latest blah blah marketing pitch blah blah…”

You: “I’m sorry, but I’ve been a customer for four years and I’d hate for this one fee to drive me away from your service. What can you do to remove the late fee?”

Credit Card rep: “Hmm . . . Let me check on that. . . . Yes, I was able to remove the fee this time. It’s been credited to your account.”

Give it a shot. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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  1. avatar

    I just bought your Kindle book. I first borrowed your audio book from the library, and discovered that while it was extremely entertaining, I’m just not an audio book kind of person.

    So, I then borrowed the Kindle edition from the library. It’s really a helpful book. Since there are some things in there that I’d like to reference again in the future, I went ahead and spent the $2 whatever to own a copy.

    Of course, I paid with a gift card credit — gotta love Swagbucks.

  2. avatar


    What do you think about Discover Bank as substitute for ING Direct? They seem to have their act together with customer service for CCards.


  3. avatar

    Oh No! Awesome deal for awesome book is “not available for customers in your location: Asia & Pacific”

    Sometimes being from New Zealand sucks. Is this one of your publishers rules or a weird Amazon thing?

  4. avatar

    Hi Ramit,

    When I click on your link $2.24 for the Kindle Edition, Amazon shows me your Kindle Edition for $10.06.
    Maybe I don’t have luck because I live in Europe.

    I already have the print version but I’ll be happy to buy you Kindle Edition. Please let me know when it will be possible at the price you mentioned.


  5. avatar

    Hi Maxime,

    It’s possible to purchase the US book by switching your location in the kindle account. See here:

  6. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    It appears to only be valid for US customers 🙁

  7. avatar


    This is awesome. I already own the paper edition, but I’ve been wanting a digital version for quick reference for a while now. $2 is such a steal, even in addition to the paperback price!

    Just from the first read-through, your book has helped me save literally hundreds of dollars in fees alone. Your strategies have helped me actually increase my credit score to Grade A as a 20-something with plenty of debt, too. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone who’s actually ready to get off their ass and do something about their finances. The best part? It takes almost no time at all to do everything!

  8. avatar

    lol, I like the credit card company conversation. It’s funny but so true. Using length of being a customer is great! I’ve use it with my cell phone company to correct wrongs that have been made, etc…

  9. avatar


    I used to work at a credit card company in phone customer service and can tell you that if someone calls in to waive a fee and uses the phrase “one time courtesy” as in, ” I would like to see if I can have this fee waived as a one time courtesy” it works every time. I have used it myself many, many times ( you would think I would learn the first time ) and it has always worked as long as you don’t have repeated late fees.

    I have your book and it has already saved me a couple thousand dollars. I am also now making about $1500/month as a stay at home mom doing contracted art work.

    Thanks so much for all your hard work, you’re helping a lot of people!

  10. avatar

    Which of those versions is best for someone with no e-reader? I have credit card debt, so I’m not allowed to buy the print book, or a class, but I have an Amazon giftcard I can use for the ebook…..if I can get it in a format I can use.



  11. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    You can buy my book even if you have credit card debt. It’s helped people pay off tons of debt.

    That rule — banning people with CC debt from purchasing my digital courses — only applies to my flagship courses, which are far more expensive.

  12. avatar

    I used this script from the book a little while back and it worked like a champ.

  13. avatar

    I like how you added we should end our sentences with strength. I was previously a salesperson and found that when customers showed strength, they were more likely to get what they wanted . . . especially from my manager. Great tips.

  14. avatar

    Interestingly, the ONLY late fee in my life I ever incurred or paid was at Capital One over a dozen years ago. I was not late, they sat on my payment for 10 days before posting it.

    They refused to remove it, I closed my account and have been bad mouthing them ever since.

    I hate that they took over ING because I have over 6 figures there and I have to find a new checking account. I simply will NOT stay with capital one over that one little late fee they refused to refund.

    I will badmouth capital one for the rest of my life.

  15. avatar

    Good post. I know this tactic has worked with other credit card companies like Citibank and Discover. I have not had good experience with CapitalOne, but that was about 8-9 years ago and I hope they are a better company now.

  16. avatar

    Great video on job search and getting rich it is logical. This opened up my eyes because I was not thinking in terms of my needs to separate myself what is best for me ,thinking of the approach in systematically, verify and validate my results. Also how to measure my effectiveness while thinking about my time and energy looking for my dream job.

  17. avatar

    Really? you waste your time trying to get late fees refundend? Why dont you just skip a cup of coffee?

  18. avatar

    Perfect, I love your script. I especially like the tip to end the sentence with strength always putting the ball in their court. They have to try really hard to turn you down. If they won’t waive the fee – walk away! I’ve done it too!

  19. avatar

    very informative.teaches us to negotiate.thanks ramit for live writing.

  20. avatar

    nice one