Get Banks to Waive Your Fees

The following is a contribution by Joe Cassandra. Read more about him after the post.

Most people hate banks. The list, which includes the automated machines, low interest rates, fees, and customer service reps named “Bill,” goes on. The problem is we need banks. Mortgages, credit cards, savings accounts etc., we need them. This doesn’t mean, however, that they have all of the power. They need us, the consumer.

Every account is worth money to them because they take our money and loan it. Essentially they make money from our money. The longer you’re a customer, the more likely they will hold more of your money. This is a key leverage point you will see later.

Fees Are Everywhere – Some as Big as Your Head

The “rent” consumers receive for housing our money in a bank is paid in the form of interest that we receive from our deposited cash. Fair trade right? Well then banks try to get sneaky and post fees that eat up your interest.

“Maintenance fees”, “overdraft fees”, and then the one I got hit with: Excess Use Fee.

My wife, Sam, and I, were out of town for my sister’s wedding in North Georgia. We were moving money around in our accounts to correct for things we under-budgeted for, stuff we shouldn’t have bought… Well, the following week, I checked our account and one of our petty fund accounts was in the negative.

Being of the Scrooge mentality, I was certain that I calculated everything correct, but felt my confidence wavering for a second. “What bill did I miss?” Then I saw it. A $15 fee for “Excess Use” on the account. Excess Use? You USE your account too much and you get a fee? Sounds like a bad April Fool’s joke. Apparently if you transfer money around too much, that is “Excess Use.” When you get hit with these fees, you should immediately begin planning your call to the bank.

You need to collect a few simple things before making the call:

  • Your Customer History with the Bank (whether new or old)
  • A smile/positive attitude

For fees like this, you can use this script:

“Hi “Bill”, I noticed a Fee on this account of $15, I’ve been a customer for many years and enjoy banking here, I’d like to have that Fee removed.” Then simply stop talking.

Tip: Don’t ask a question that lets them answer with a Yes or No as most will be lazy and just say No. You should then get an immediate “Yes, we can do that for you.” Great! I usually ask more about the fee so it doesn’t happen again.

If they say no: “Well, I’ve been a great customer for many years and wish to continue with “insert bank name”. We just came back from a wedding, and it won’t happen again. What can you do for me?”

Starting a casual conversation with the rep will definitely help as well, as they probably deal with jerks all day.

If you are a new customer, you just tweak what you say a bit more, “I’m a new customer with the bank and have enjoyed the services, I’m also still learning about the accounts and promise it won’t happen again.”

With all that said, you can’t overdraft your account every week and expect a refund. If that’s your problem, you need to work on some other issues, such as budgeting!

Again, make sure you are respectful, polite and in good humor. Thank them for their help, use their name if possible. It’s a simple 5 minute phone call. Don’t be afraid to ask!

If you fail the first time, take a week and try again. You’ll be better the second time, guaranteed! What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll be a pro in no time, and it builds your confidence for future negotiations.

Your mindset is the key here, know what you want and go for it. With every negotiation you go into after, you can draw from your successes here. Think of it as investing in yourself.

Negotiation doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Build value, be open, be personable.

Math Corner: $15 in 5 minutes. That’s $300 a hour. Would you want your time to be worth that much?

Joe Cassandra is the Founder of the 7 minute entrepreneur, where he shows you how to attack your life with the mindset of an entrepreneur in the areas of personal finance, careers, starting your own business and much more. 

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  1. Good tips. From one who used to work in customer service in a bank, the customer will get so much more by being polite. If a client was polite I would refund all I was allowed to. If they were jerks, then they got very little. That said, I hate banking fees and it’s basically a crappy way for the bank to make even more money off of you.

    • You’re right John, banks are sly when trying to make more money off of us the consumer.

      I used to be a Teller at a big bank, and it’s probably the job you need the most patience because people are quick to anger when you mess with their money! But we would bend over backwards for those that were polite and courteous a.k.a. be nice to your bank!

      Thanks John!

  2. Yup, I’ve done this several times for credit cards and banks. They have all been kind enough to waive the fee. They just give you a warning that they can only waive it “just this once”.

    Also, I would leave a bank with fees like that, period. Not worth it, and there are SO MANY BETER OPTIONS out there, like a local credit union.

    • Hey Jacob,

      It’s Wells Fargo (to be transparent), and it would be nice to have a local bank..I like the flexibility of WF being everywhere, also my wife and I are looking to move from NC to TX, so once we do, we will look at our financial situation all over again!

      I’ve gotten fees waived many times, if you go to the same branch again and again, you will have more luck getting multiple removals. But like I mentioned, don’t expect to overdraft every week and get the fee removed!! lol

      Thanks Jacob, great you already have this skill in your arsenal!

  3. Good points! In any negotiation, you need to give the other person a reason to give you what you want. A good history with the bank works wonders. I have made mistakes over the 40 years I have beeen with the bank, but because of my history thy usually will waive any fee. That also works for credit cards.

  4. jay @ effumoney says:

    I never pay any bank fees, I always get them waived. I am always nice to the bank officers, my wife likes to just offer to withdraw all of our money and bank elsewhere, oh yeah and we always bring our puppy that works like a charm everyone loves him.

    In recap being nice works most of them time, if not and you have large balances taking them elsewhere the banks always like to keep high balance customers, and if all else fails get a labradoodle besides getting bank fees waived your life in general will just be that much better 🙂

    • You can never go wrong with puppies! Depending on who you talk to, saying you’re going to withdraw all your money can work. I was a teller, and we were told that, we weren’t going to get in a big fight at the teller line, so we would just hand them off to bankers who would do it.

      Over the phone, retention department will definitely want to make sure you stay, so it would work there.

      Free puppies for opening up an account at my bank! That’s what I would do if I started a bank!

  5. Joe, I had to go back and reread your post after seeing (1) you live in NC and (2) your bank is WF, because both of those facts are true about me, too. I’ve had no problem getting them to waive any fees, but like you pointed out, so much of that is because of my account history – I’ve only had one overdraft in my entire 7 year history with the bank, and that was because I accidentally added one too many zeroes to a transfer from my checking account to my savings account.

    • Hey Elizabeth! Nice to meet another Carolinian (although my wife and I are looking to move to Texas)….sounds like a stellar record you have with WF, so you will always have the leverage!

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