Credit cards be an enigma. Powerful tools if you use them right, but dangerous weapons if you’re not careful. On top of that, every card is loaded with tons of fine print you probably don’t know about (and your banks would rather you not know). Here’s a few secrets about your credit card that your bank won’t tell you.
Annual Fees Are Negotiable
Don’t feel like paying your card’s annual fee? Don’t do it. Call up your provider and ask nicely – and lots of times they’ll waive it. Use this script:
Customer Service [CS]: Hi, this is Mary with MasterCard. How can I help you?
You: Hi Mary, I’ve had this card for a while and I really like it. I’ve been a [Bank Name] customer for the last [number of years]. I’ve spent [$x] on this card and I’d really like to keep using it, but I didn’t realize there would be a fee. Is there anything you can do about that?
CS: Let me check.
A lot of times, they’ll say or act like they can’t do anything about it. This is where most people give up. Not you, stick around and be persistent.
You: You said you’re not sure if you’re able to get the fee waived?
CS: Yes, that’s correct.
You: Well, can you check?
CS: I’m pretty sure we can’t waive the fee sir / ma’am.
You: Can you check with your manager please?
When the manager comes on, ask again with the first script. Be confident, but polite – they’re not going to want to do favors for jerks. When in doubt, be patient, polite and don’t give up until you get a direct answer from the manager in charge of the card. Often, they like to keep loyal customers and waiving the annual fee to keep one as a customer is a no-brainer. That said, it doesn’t work 100% of the time, so your mileage may vary, but it’s definitely worth trying. If they’re not going to waive the fee, then you can go on to the next tip.
You Don’t Have To Cancel The Card
If you have an annual fee you don’t want to pay, but also don’t want to cancel the card (and want to keep your credit clean), you don’t have to cancel the card. Ideally, you’ve already had the conversation above. If so, continue on with this script:
You: Hi, well I’d really prefer not to pay an annual fee. Is there another version of this card without the fee?
CS: Oh, yes, there’s the _______ card.
You: Can you please confirm that there’s no annual fee with this card?
You: Can we do that?
CS: Sure, we’ll have that card out to you in the next 7-10 days.
You: Thanks for your help [their name].
You Don’t Actually Have To Spend Money
If you want to hit the minimums on your card – you don’t have to spend tons of money to hit credit card bonuses for sign-ups and accrue lots of miles or points. The infamous buy $1,000 of coins from the US mint trick sadly no longer works – but there are other options out there. There are other techniques you can use to essentially spend money on your credit cards and accrue points or miles without having to pay tons of cash out of pocket.
The Vanilla Card Churn Strategy
Essentially, you load up vanilla reload cards at $500 each. Each one has a $3.95 sign up fee. You can typically load up to $5,000 on different cards. So basically, you’ve bought 5,000 miles for $39.50. That’s a mileage value of .008/mile – which is pretty darn good considering most miles are valued at about .002 each. You then transfer vanilla card balances to a bluebird debit card and use that money to pay off your credit card balance. There’s more in-depth information on this entire vanilla churn strategy here.
The Paypal Load Strategy
This is similar to the vanilla, except you can use it in your Paypal account without paying the ridiculous Paypal credit card and international fees. If you have international employees – it’s often cheaper to load up a Paypal reload card and pay your employees with that balance than it is to pay an international + credit card fee if you tried to use your credit card directly on the site. There’s always more of these on the way as well. If you plug into the great community at flytertalk, you can get wind of when these types of opportunities pop up.
You Can Use Your Card To Travel For Free
If you start stacking up enough miles in your various mileage bank accounts, you can start to do pretty neat things as far as travel goes. Sure you can use those points and get cash back, but if you turn them into miles, you can book a RTW ticket like Steve did for just a few hundred bucks (which would normally cost thousands). Miles were also a huge way that Chris Guillebeau traveled to every country in the world.
Some of these trips start at just 140,000 miles – which is essentially 3 large signup bonuses for different cards. Even if traveling to the world’s ends isn’t your thing – you can still get a free flight or two out of strategically using your cards. Not too shabby.
You Can Use The Same Card Twice
If you have a card that gives you good perks, you can sign up for it twice. If you wait 9-18 months, you can re-apply and get the annual fee waived. This is great for mileage-accruing cards that give big signup bonuses. If you cycle the cards every 9-18 months, you can get 25,000-50,000 bonus points from each card (without paying the annual fee). Pretty cool!
Well there you have it – five credit card secrets your bank would rather you not know.
Do you have any secrets that you’ve found work magic with your bank?
Featured photo credit: Bitzcelt via flickr.com