It might surprise you that credit card companies haul in almost as much in fees as they do for interest charges -- even knowing there are several competitive no-annual-fee credit cards. In fact, total card fees amounted to $51.1 billion in 2016, just shy of the $63.4 billion issuers earned for interest income.
But cutting the annual fee for your credit card may be easier than you might've imagined.
The Motley Fool analysts Nathan Hamilton and Michael Douglass compiled a handful of helpful credit card insights from the Fool's credit card specialists, and included one tip in the video below about how to reduce, or even wipe out, your annual credit card fee.
Michael Douglass: From Jordan Wathen, hey Jordan, piece of advice: Don't pay an annual fee to keep a rewards balance. Oh, yeah, 100% agree. Actually, I have an annual fee on my card, and I need to use some of the tips that we're going to talk about. We'll get into that. But first off, a lot of your cards that have a nicer rewards program come with annual fees, whether it's $50, $100, $400 --
Nathan Hamilton: Higher.
Douglass: Yeah, there's some really expensive ones. But it turns out that there are ways to get that waived.
Hamilton: Yeah, I would say on the premium cards, it's definitely going to be very difficult to do. But if you have a card that, maybe you opened it and, for the first year, there was a promotional rate, $0 annual fee. But you're now past your one year anniversary, and that fee is about to become due, and you've got rewards, you're not really using the card. You can call up your credit card issuer and plead your case and say, "Are you guys willing to work with me to waive this fee? Maybe downgrade me to a different card by transferring my rewards/points/miles," whatever sort of card it is. You would be surprised how willing credit card companies are to keep your business. Credit card companies aren't always put in the most positive light.
Douglass: Sure, but at the end of the day, for them, they are trying to make money, and having more accounts means they're more likely to make money at some point. And this stat really floored me when I read it, which is that 80% of people who ask for a fee waiver are given something. Does that mean they get the whole fee waived? Not necessarily. But they're usually given some kind of incentive or support. And that's huge, actually.
Hamilton: Yeah. And if you go back to what you mentioned, return on time, if I can have a $100 annual fee waived for a 5-10 minute phone call, that's a pretty good hourly rate. And it is hard. We were talking behind the scenes before the broadcast, Michael was saying, "Oh man, I need to take the time to call my issuer and have this fee waived." It's hard to find time. But the actual return on time in between your meetings every day and so forth, it's probably worth it.
Douglass: Yeah. It's sort of like when you're negotiating a cellphone bill. If you can make a quick call and just knock down your rate by $10 a month, that's $120 a year, it works nicely.