The Frugal Creditnista

Can Bank Fees Be Negotiated?

Bank fees are often the price of doing business with a bank. But can bank fees be negotiated, or better yet, removed altogether?

The answer is yes, but it’s complicated. 

Keep in mind that a bank is a business. They might be providing a free service to you, such as a free checking account. But even free services have their price, and in this case, the price comes in the form of various fees under various circumstances. 

For example, your bank might hit you with an overdraft fee or charge you if you incur a returned check. 

Fees are one way that banks make a profit. However, you don’t always have to accept expensive bank fees as your fate, even if you accidentally overdraw on your account. Now more than ever, businesses are more understanding when it comes to financial constraints. We’re all feeling the crunch of the pandemic.

Let’s look at some ways to negotiate fees with your bank.

How to negotiate bank fees

Read Up on the Terms and Conditions

Start with the basics. Every service you use at your bank will come with terms and conditions. These T&Cs usually spell out the various fees you may incur. Sometimes, fees are charged to your account in error. Sometimes, they are rightfully added to your account. It’s a good idea to investigate so you can have an informed conversation with your bank. Even if fees are charged in accordance with the T&Cs, you may still be able to get your bank to waive those fees.

Visit the Bank In Person

If your bank is offering in-person visits, consider making a trip to your local branch to speak with someone about your fees. It’s hard to create an emotional appeal on the phone or via email. Adding a face and a name to an account number can humanize your request and may make your bank more likely to help. 

Avoid Yes or No Questions

Simply asking outright if the bank will remove a fee leaves the conversation open to a quick yes or no answer. You don’t want to be shut down right off the bat. 

Instead, aim for open-ended questions. For example, you could say something like, “Who do I need to speak with to get this fee waived?” This creates the option to start a real dialogue instead of immediately getting turned down.

Remind Them of Your Faithful Patronage

Banks don’t want to lose long-time customers, especially at a time where many are facing stiff competition from online banks and fintech companies. 

If a bank is reluctant to help you, kindly remind them if you’ve been a long-standing customer of theirs. They can also take a look at your history to see if you’re continually asking bank fees to be waived or if this is a rare occasion that you’d like to clear up. Seeing the request as an outlier instead of the norm can make them more willing to help you. 

Don’t Take the First or Second No

After you make your request, banks may give you some pushback. Fees are largely profits for the bank and they don’t want to sacrifice that money. Don’t accept the first or even the second no as a final answer. Persistence can pay off, especially if you can support your request with helpful info like your banking history and length of your relationship.

Speak with a Supervisor

Sometimes, negotiating bank fees requires escalating your claim to a supervisor. Many times, tellers and entry-level bankers are limited as to what they can do to help customers. But a supervisor may have other powers that other employees don’t have. Ask to speak with a supervisor to see if they can lend a hand.

Be Polite

While no one wants to pay bank fees (especially if they’re unavoidable), it’s important to be polite during all of your interactions at the bank. Honey catches more flies than vinegar. When you are kind and do not demean the bank employees, they’re more willing to help you as much as they can. Show them compassion, and they will likely do the same.

Final Thoughts

Can bank fees be negotiated? The answer is yes, but it’s not always yes. The above tips can help you get your bank fees waived, but there may be times when your bank simply isn’t willing to work with you. 

However, it is always in your best interest to try. If you never ask, the answer is always no. 

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