Remember when your mom told you that if you wanted something from someone, you should ask nicely?
“Make sure to use ‘Please,’ ‘May I,’ and ‘Thank you,’” She’d remind you. And even today, we’re here to tell you, it’ll usually work. You’ll get what you want, and everyone’s happy.
One of the easiest ways to save some money is to simply ask for it. Internet cable bill too high? Ask for a discount. Credit card interest rate too high? Ask for a lower amount. Too many late fees on your billing accounts? Stop paying your bills late, please. And oh yes, ask for a waiver on the fee.
Below are some steps you can try out. Don’t forget to say please.
Ask for a Lower Cable Bill
Asking for a discount on your cable TV, internet, DSL, and other bills is one of the easiest ways to save money — especially if you’ve been a long-time subscriber to the service.
Here’s what to do:
- Find the customer service number on your bill and make the call.
- Once you’ve reached a representative, ask for a retention specialist or cancellation department.
- They may immediately transfer you or simply ask you what the problem is.
- Politely ask for a discount. Here’s an example:
- The customer service rep will either immediately offer you a discount, or proceed to tell you why their service is worth much more than the competitors.
- If you don’t get a discount offer, ask politely again for a discount. Try: “I understand what you’ve told me, but I would still like to have a discount. May I please have a discount on my monthly bill because I am a loyal customer?”
“Hi. I’ve been a customer at [insert your provider's name] for a while now. I’ve been comparing and contrasting the products from [insert competitor's name], which offers [insert product] for [insert price less than your current provider]. I’ve also noticed that you offer new customers sign-up discounts. Is there any way you can offer me that discount as well?
What happens if you still don’t get a discount?
No worries. Simply tell them thanks for their time, hang up, and try again later. Results definitely vary, but if you’ve been a long time customer and you have never gotten a discount, you will most likely get a discount.
Another method you can try is to threaten to cancel. This isn’t a necessary tactic to lower your bill, but if you believe it will increase your chances (and it’ll probably will), you can definitely give the method a try.
Note that even if you threaten to cancel and they call your bluff, you can always ask them to set the cancellation date 2-3 weeks later, as it would take time for the other service provider to get you setup. If you change your mind on cancelling the service, you can always call back later to tell them not to cancel your service.
How much money can you save?
Discount varies from provider to region to each individual customer, but expect at least $10 off your monthly bill for six months. That’s $60 for a 10-20 minute phone conversation!
If you have an even more expensive plan, you can save as much as $20 per month for over six months! For some people, that’s $120 or $240 for a 10-20 minute phone conversation!
Sweet? You bet.
Ask for a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate
One of the ultimate ways to save immediate money is to ask your credit card company to lower your interest rate. Forget $60. If you carry a large balance, this simple act of asking can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
- Like the example above, dust off your monthly statement and look up the customer service number to make the call.
- Once you’ve reached a representative, ask for the cancellation department or simply ask for a lower interest rate.
- Here’s an example:
- That’s it. You may hate making calls, but simply taking the 35 seconds to ask the question above might just save you hundreds of dollars.
- The customer service rep will generally check if you qualify for a lower rate. They may immediately lower the rate to the percentage you want, or find a compromise in between. If the rate they offer isn’t to your liking, ask politely again for a lower rate. It doesn’t hurt to try!
- No dice with the initial representative? Be persistent. Ask to talk to a supervisor. Call back another day. Threaten to close your account (and why not, especially if you can switch to a card with a better rate).
“Hi. I’ve been a customer at [insert credit card company's name] for several years, but lately I’ve been receiving lots of offers from other credit card companies on lower interest rates [provide examples]. Some of these rates are significantly lower. I was wondering if you can lower the interest rate on my credit card account to [insert a lower percentage, shoot for at least 3-point lower].
Are the credit card companies lowering your rates out of the goodness of their corporate heart?
They will, however, lower your rate because competition in the credit card industry is fierce. The cost to acquire and retain a good customer (that is, one that pays interest rate) can be extremely high. Many credit card companies will rather lower your rate than lose you as a customer.
Remember that when you make the call:
- Keep the request simple and direct.
- Aim for a high rate reduction.
- Be persistent.
- Be polite and direct.
How much can you save?
Let’s take the often-touted average household credit card debt of $8,000 and attach an average rate of around 16%. In a year, the interest accumulated on this credit card will amount up to $1,200.
Now let’s say you simply get a 6% reduction in your interest rate. In a year, the interest rate accumulated on an $8,000 credit card balance at 10% would be around $800. That’s over $400 in savings for some haggling with the credit card company.
Ask for a Waiver on Bank Fees
Getting dinged by your bank on a late fee, non-sufficient fund fee, or over-the-limit fee is not fun. They generally result from careless mistakes, but these mistakes can easily cost you a dinner out with that hot guy/gal next door.
What’s a savvy consumer to do?
Ask your bank to forgive you.
It works, especially if this is your first offense.
Here are two examples from yours truly:
Here’s a late fee of $39.00 on a Citi credit card, for a simple balance of $134. That’s a 29% penalty for paying late! Plus a $19 insufficient funds fee “just” because I over-drafted by $1,500? D’oh!
Here’s what to do:
- Unlike the phone method above, contact the company via email. Many credit card, banking accounts have an internal email messaging system where you can contact customer service. Why? It’s much easier to come across with a neutral tone via an email. Here’s a screenshot on how to contact Citi’s customer service:
- Write up a simple request and politely ask the customer service rep to waive your fee.
- If you’re lucky, you would get an immediate response like the ones below:
- What happens if you don’t get what you want? As with other tips above, be persistent! Try a different representative on a different day. Email again. Be firm and direct. If this is your first offense, or the first time you’re asking for a fee waive, there should be little reason why your request would be denied.
“Hi there. I have been a loyal customer of [insert bank name] for awhile now and have never [or rarely] paid my bill late [went over limit, etc.]. I was recently given a fee on my account and I would like to ask you to please waive this recent fee.”
And the credit usually shows up immediately:
How much can you save?
Late payment fee for credit cards can vary drastically, and are usually proportionate to your balance. Basically, the higher your balance, the more late fees you’ll have to pay. In the examples above, I saved $58. Saving $58 for two minutes of email? Why not!
Not Getting What You Want?
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how nicely you ask, you won’t get what you want. In those situations, it may actually be okay to cancel and switch!
Your cable internet bill putting a damper on your wallet? Switch to an alternative DSL internet service. Although some DSL service may be slower than their cable competitors, for some cable users, the speeds are comparable (especially when compare to higher rate DSL packages).
Take AT&T’s High Speed Internet offer as an example. They have an Elite DSL service at $34.95 per month for speeds up to 6.0 Mbps. It’s not bad when compared to some cable internet at a whopping $49.95.
If you want even cheaper prices at acceptable speed, Verizon also offer different DSL packages at various speeds. Of course, some research on speed and service is always a good idea, before you switch to a different Internet Service Provider.
As for those pesky credit card accounts, if your credit card company won’t lower your interest rate and you have a high balance, it may be time to consider transferring your balances.
If you do decide to transfer your balance to a lower-rate card, consider cards with long introductory rates such as Blue from American Express, which offers 0% up to 15 months. When transferring balances, you should especially take care on the rates of the account after the promotional period. If the rates are significantly higher than those of your current rate, and you cannot pay off the balance within the promotional period, it may not be a good idea to switch!
How Mint Can Help You
If the 1,671 words above are too much of a bother for you, consider checking Mint out when we’re available. Mint will not only help you keep track of your money, it will also help you save and earn more money.
High cable bill? If a lower-priced service is available for your area, we’ll find it for you. High interest-rate credit card and not enough time to research a better, lower-rate card? Mint will search through offers, compare and contrast objectively to find you the best interest rate credit card — specifically for your situation. If your finances can use more organization and better savings without effort, Mint’s personal finance software is for you.
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