There are two types of people in this world: those who think that getting overdraft fees waived is impossible so just roll their eyes and begrudgingly pay them. And then there are those who figure out how to get overdraft fees waived and fight to hold on to their money.
Today, you’re going to join the second group.
I’m going to blow my own trumpet for a second, so sorry in advance for the bragging – but I consider myself a bit of a pro on this point.
You see, I haven’t paid a single cent in bank fees since I graduated from college in 2011.
(And before then, I had a fee-free student account so that doesn’t really count.)
From a few polite but firm phone calls, I’ve had them all waived.
And you can absolutely do the same, saving yourself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over your lifetime.
A few things to do before calling about getting overdraft fees waived
The first step in working out how to get overdraft fees waived is getting well-informed.
You’ll sound like you know what you’re talking about (because you do!) which will make the person with whom you’re speaking realize that You Mean Business™.
In particular, you want to have information on your bank’s competition. This is so when you (politely!) threaten to leave for ABC bank which offers XYZ per year, they’ll see it as a legitimate threat.
If you’re calling to negotiate something relating to your credit card, I’d recommend searching for free on Your Card Search and jot down some notes on what looks like the best deal in light of your circumstances.
The site will ask for some basic information about you just so it knows what you could theoretically qualify for, including an estimation of your credit score.
Things to look for when searching for your hypothetical new card include one with a lower annual fee ($0 is best!) and with a lower annual percentage rate (APR) than your current one.
For comparing bank accounts, take a look at NerdWallet, which has a great list of different checking and savings accounts that you can use as ammunition for your call.
Now that you’ve got your threat ready, it’s time to pick up the phone!
Scripts for how to get overdraft fees waived
For some reason that I have never been able to pinpoint, I despise talking on the phone.
I get nervous and can hear myself babbling, despite the fact that I’m fairly sure I talk very normally to people in real life.
So I find having a script to be of enormous help in getting overdraft fees waived – and hopefully you will too!
As mentioned above, I can personally confirm that this is absolutely how to get overdraft fees waived – as I’ve tried it several times with several banks and it worked every time.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking at first. But just keep in mind that this strategy absolutely works for getting overdraft fees waived and it can save you thousands of dollars in fees over your lifetime.
Another important thing to remember? It costs a bank about $1,000 in marketing costs to replace you as a customer. So they really really want to keep you.
Which, in turn, gives you more negotiating power.
So here’s what you should do.
Getting annual account fees waived
YOU: Hi, I’ve been a customer with you for XX years and I’m calling about having the fees on my account waived.
(Feel free to add anything else you want here as well! For example, want your account to have no minimum balance? No worries – if you don’t ask, you’ll never get it!)
BANK: I’m sorry, but that’s not available on your type of account. But have you considered changing to a blah blah blah who cares type of account for only $YY per month?
YOU: No, thank you. That’s unfortunate though as [insert name of competitor with great deal that you found] has a no-fee account available right now. Are you sure that there’s nothing similar that you can offer me?
(You’ll more than likely get what you’re asking for at this point or be transferred through to someone who can give it to you. However, if the bank employee responds that there’s nothing they can do, it’s time to move to the next stage.)
BANK: No, I’m sorry, your account is the best deal that we have on offer at the moment.
YOU: Ok. Could you please transfer me through to someone who can help me close my account?
(Boom. You’ll be put through to the Customer Retentions team at this point whose job is to do everything they possibly can to keep you on board.)
BANK: Hi, we hear that you’re interested in closing your account. Do you mind letting me know what the issue is?
YOU: I’ve been a customer with you for XX years and would like the fees waived on my account. Your colleague said that’s not possible so I’m interested in moving to [insert competitor’s name] which has a no-fee account available right now. However, I’d prefer to stay with you, if possible, so is there anything you can do to help?
BANK: Well, I’m sure my colleague told you that you’re already on the best account that we have available for you.
YOU: Yes, s/he did, but I’d really prefer to have the fee waived entirely, please.
BANK: Let me see what I can do.
…and before you know it, they’ll magically have found a way to waive your fee. It’s amazing what they can find if they look a little bit harder!
This exact script also works in having annual credit card fees reduced (or even waived altogether) and even potentially for reducing your APR.
They both can be a little bit harder if you have a balance outstanding on your card. However, if you’ve been making repayments on time and you’re clearly a “good” credit card holder, then chances are high that the bank will make it happen.
RELATED ARTICLE: WHY YOU SHOULD BE PAYING OFF CREDIT CARDS IN FULL (AND HOW TO DO IT)
Getting overdraft fees waived
Perhaps you’ve transferred some money from Account A to Account B to cover an expense from Account B, but the transfer took an extra day than you expected.
Account B tries to pay for the expense, but you don’t have enough in there – and suddenly, you’ve been hit with an overdraft fee.
It sucks, but it happens and banks know this. So if it’s a one-off, getting overdraft fees waived by the bank is usually fairly easy.
Which you should definitely try to do, as these fees can really add up.
Keep in mind that the best way to avoid this is to have all of your expenses automated – like I do as explained in that article.
It shows you how you can set up your accounts in about thirty minutes to deal with all of your ongoing expenses automatically.
And from then on, having these automated can literally save you thousands of dollars.
However, let’s say you haven’t done that yet and you’ve been hit with an overdraft fee. Bummer.
Here’s how to get overdraft fees waived:
YOU: Hi, I’m calling about an overdraft fee that was charged to my account that I’d like to have waived.
BANK: Ah yes, I see that in your account. However, we’re unfortunately not able to waive those kinds of fees.
YOU: That’s a shame, as I’d really like to get it waived. How can you help me with that?
BANK: I’m very sorry, but I’m really not able to.
YOU: Well, I’m sure you can see on your screen that I’ve been a customer with you for [XX years/a long time] and this is the first time [in that entire time/ in YY years] I’ve incurred a fee like this. It was a mistake and it won’t happen again, so I’d really appreciate your help in getting this waived.
BANK: *Goes and checks with supervisor, works some computer magic* Ok, I’ve gotten permission to waive this fee as a one-off given that you’re such a valued customer.
And that’s it!
Now, I literally don’t know anyone who wasn’t able to figure out how to get overdraft fees waived using this strategy (unless they make this a regular occurrence, in which case the bank probably won’t be too sympathetic).
But on the very off chance that it doesn’t work for you, go to stage 2 of the previous script: threatening to close your account.
I guarantee that your bank will do anything they can not to lose you over a relatively small (for them) fee.
This script also works for things like if you’re charged a fee for making a late payment for something like a credit card or a cell phone contract.
In those cases, as with the one above, it will likely only work if this is the first time in a long time (or ever) that you’ve missed the payment date. It should also be done within a couple of days of the due date (and after you’ve made the payment).
And if you’re calling about a missed credit card payment, make sure you check during the call whether the late payment will affect your credit score.
If it’s only a couple of days late, your credit score will usually be unaffected, but it’s still good to check just to be sure.
And remember, you can check your credit score for free here!
RELATED ARTICLE: 8 EASY MONEY MANAGEMENT TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCES TONIGHT
Negotiation tactics to keep in mind when getting overdraft fees waived
Here’s something you may not know: in my non-blogging life, I’m a lawyer.
I know, I know – we’re all scum, the blood-sucking lawyer in Jurassic Park deserved to be eaten etc.
But hear me out.
My job involves negotiating all sorts of things every day. And the tricks used to get what I want when discussing a contract at work apply just as equally to dealing with banks, including when seeing how to get overdraft fees waived.
Be polite, but firm
The person on the other end of the call is a person too and you’re much more likely to get what you want from them if you speak to them nicely.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover, but you can still get what you want and use the word “please”.
Don’t make it easy for them to say no
You may have noticed that the scripts above have sentences like “Is there anything you can do to help?” and “How can you help me with that?”.
While the second one is better as it’s not a yes/no answer, the phrasing of the first one makes it very difficult for a customer service representative to say no (and if they do say no, you know what to do).
Don’t use sentences such as “Can you give me a cheaper account?” or “Is there anything else I can do to get this fee waived?” as it makes it much easier for the person on the phone to hold their ground.
Don’t give up if they do say no at first
The scripts cover this, but just to reiterate the point – the bank employee will say “no” first and you absolutely can’t just give up.
If you go in expecting the “no” at first, this is good as it means that once you hear it, mentally check that off and keep going at (politely!) pushing to get what you want.
Make sure you always respond on a strong note
For example, if the person says: “I’m sorry, we can’t waive that fee”, don’t respond with something like “Why not?” You’ll sound like you’re whining.
Instead, say something like the example in the script: “That’s a shame, as I’d really like to get it waived. How can you help me with that?”
It shows that you’re not willing to back down AND it puts the onus back on to the bank employee to offer a solution.
Remember that the bank wants to keep you as a customer
This is your biggest bargaining chip. There’s so much competition out there now and your bank knows it.
They’d much rather see how to get overdraft fees waived for you than spend the $1,000+ that’s needed to get a new customer.
And don’t worry, they wont shut your account down or penalize you for asking for these things.
So go into the call knowing that you have the stronger negotiating position and don’t feel bad about threatening to leave if the call gets to that point – the bank employee won’t take it personally, but saying it will absolutely help you in getting what you want.
Have you tried getting overdraft fees waived (or even other bank fees waived) before? If so, share your tips on how to get overdraft fees waived!