Debt smart: are bank charges negotiable?

By Scott Bilkertsj column writers - debt smart


Hi Scott,

This just happened to me in the last few weeks. I spoke to my bank (Bank of America aka BOA) about overdraft protection, which they said was a free service. I agreed to sign up for it. My overdraft protection is linked to our Visa card with BOA. I wrote a check, which would have caused an overdraft but since I had the overdraft protection, they took out 3k on our Visa account.

Now we got the bill from Visa, which has both a transaction fee finance charge of $99.00 and a periodic rate finance charge (I suppose that’s on the 3k we borrowed). My question is: Is this a charge that I might successfully have waived? Or, shall I resign myself to paying? If it is fightable, any tips on what I might say to them? Thanks in advance.



They really ripped you off on this one. Sure, you have overdraft protection but I’m positive that if you do go over then the amount is taken from your Visa as a cash advance. That means they hit you with a cash advance fee and the cash advance fee interest rate which is probably around 20%. Sneaky!

Yes, you can certainly try to get that waived. I don’t know if it’s fightable because it’s probably in their terms that you agreed with but so what. If they want to keep you as a customer then they need to waive or reduce that fee. Call them and say, “Hey, I just noticed this $99 charge. What’s that about?.”

They’ll explain. Then you say, “Hmmm, I really didn’t understand those terms. Could you waive that fee for me?” They may or may not. If not, ask to speak to a supervisor, and give them the same spiel. If the super is not doing it, then tell them, “Listen, I’ve been a customer for X years but I do have other cards I can use. I would rather use BOA, but I feel I’m being gouged and I don’t like that feeling. If you cannot accommodate me this time, I may close my account or simply stop using this card.”

If he comes back with, “I cannot waive that fee,” then say, “how about reducing it to $50. Do something to show me that I should continue to do business with BOA.” Call them now! Make them waive or reduce that fee. Also, please let me know what happens.



I just called and went through the spiel you wrote for me. She at first said that she couldn’t waive a charge for a transaction that appears on the statement. When I then asked for a supervisor, she said she was an account manager and I could talk to her. I then went into the second part of your spiel in a nice low calm voice. She asked me to hold while she checked something. When she came back, she said “Sir, we will be able to waive the charge seeing as you have been a customer since 2001.”

Scott, you saved me $99.00 just by teaching me what to say. My wife will be happy to hear about this.


(Scott Bilker is the founder of and author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management.)

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