Of the many things that can ruin a good credit score, paying your credit card bill late is one of the more common. But if you do find yourself with a late fee, there's something simple you can do: Ask your card issuer to waive it.
That's according to financial website CompareCards.com, which conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Americans with at least one credit card about their interactions with card issuers. "As a customer, you have the ability to ask your card issuer to change the terms of your card pretty much anytime you want, " the site points out.
"Whether that's requesting a lower [annual percentage rate], a credit limit increase or to remove a late payment fee, it's possible your issuer will work with you to make you happy and secure your business."
However, not all respondents say they've taken advantage of that: Only 60 percent have ever called to have a late fee waived, just 40 percent have asked for a higher credit limit on an existing card and a mere 25 percent have asked for a lower APR on one of their cards.
The hesitation to reach out is "unfortunate," says CompareCards.com, "as most of those who did ask their credit card issuer for a break on fees or requested a higher limit were rewarded for it."
Nearly 90 percent of users got at least one late fee reversed upon asking, while 64 percent who asked for a higher credit limit received one and another 64 percent who asked for a lower interest rate got it.
"Not everyone in our survey may have needed a waived late payment or higher credit limit. But if they did, and didn't ask, they may be leaving behind money or additional credit that's only a phone call away. "
Of those who asked to have a late fee waived, the typical saving was almost $40. Those who asked for a higher credit limit were extended $2,059 in additional credit on average. And of those who asked for a lower interest rate, they reported an average reduction of 5.5 percent.
Besides the savings, though, there are a number of other good reasons you shouldn't shy away from asking your card issuer for a break, according to CompareCards.com. For example, you might have earned it: "Your credit score may have improved from when you first received the card. You may have paid down a lot of debt or your credit score might have seen a boost because your credit history is simply longer than it was when you first applied for the card. "
Overall, the higher your credit score, the better financial deals you'll get, whether you're buying a home or a car, renting an apartment or embarking on another financial venture. Getting a late fee waived or a securing a lower interest rate can help you maintain your financial health.
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Video by Beatriz Bajeulos Castillo