How to Get an Annual Fee Waived

I recently received my monthly statement for my CitiBusiness / Aadvantage card. I had a number of fraudulent charges on the statement, but that’s a separate issue, which I will chronicle in detail at a later time. So how can you get an annual fee waived … Well, it just so happens that I refuse to pay annual fees for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I am what you would call a “high utilizer”… I use my credit card A LOT. I’ve also been a customer of this particular card for over 3 years now. So I figure, since I’m such a good customer, they should give me what I want, right?

The last few years upon receiving my statement with the annual fee, I simply picked up the phone and asked Citi to waive the annual fee. The customer service reps always obliged with very little fuss.

So this year, I did the same thing. I called up customer service and asked them (politely) to waive the fee. The first customer service rep that I spoke to said “I don’t have the authority to do that.” I asked her, “who does have the authority to waive the fee?”. She said, “I’ll have to speak with my manager about this.”

Sound familiar?

So I yawned and waited for her “manager” who very promptly greeted me and thanked me for my business. I proceeded to ask the “manager” if she would waive the annual fee for me. She said and I quote “I’m sorry sir but as of January 1 of this year we can no longer waive these annual fees. Because American Airlines won’t allow us to waive it since you are earning miles and benefiting from those rewards, we can no longer waive the annual fees.”

And so I said, “Is that so?” She replied, “Yes, unfortunately that’s the case.” So I thanked her courteously and hang up the phone.

I immediately called customer service right back and told them that I wanted to close the account. The new customer service rep asked me why and I told her that I simply didn’t want to pay the fee. She told me to hold and I was redirected to a “Customer Account Specialist” who also promptly thanked me for my business. She proceeded to tell me Citi “valued my business” and because of me being a “loyal customer” over the past 3 years that she was willing to do something “special just for me.”

She offered to provide a $75 credit retroactively for the annual membership fee instead. In effect, I would only be paying a net $25 instead of the $100 fee after I was given the $75 credit. The only lame thing about this is that I have to wait 8-10 weeks for the credit to appear on my statement, which is ridiculous. I would also have to pay the fee in advance before receiving the credit retroactively. Stupid and lame, yes. But it’s better than the alternative of paying the $100 fee. I really didn’t want to cancel the card either.

All in all, I was satisfied with having to pay just the $25 net instead. I imagine that if I would have pressed the issue that I could have gotten my “Customer Account Specialist” to waive the entire annual fee, but I relented and settled for the $75 credit.

If you are a long time customer and you utilize your card frequently for business and/or personal transactions, DO NOT agree to pay those annual fees. Push back. They make enough money on you already. Ask them to waive the fee, hold your ground and if they don’t, threaten to cancel the account and take your business elsewhere.

So far, it’s worked well for me.