The inevitable call or not?

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I recently made a call to the bank affiliated with my credit card, to request for a waiver in annual fee.  I am not specifically mentioning the name of the bank here, because I have had similar experiences with Citibank, HSBC and also Alliance Bank, so this really applies to all banks who charge an annual fee.

Anyway, formalities aside, after I was asked to verify my identity with the typical passcode and obligatory questions, I asked if they could waive my annual fee.  My backup plan, of course, was that if they said no, I would then threaten to cancel my card.

Turns out I didn’t need to do that, because the customer officer told me, after checking my account, that she would waive the annual fee for me since I had already made a minimum of 12 transactions in a year.

So then I asked her, “If I had not called up, would the annual fee be automatically waived?”

She said yes, but EVEN if it wasn’t, I could still call in and request for an annual fee reversal.  She didn’t sound exactly confident it would be waived, by the way.  (Actually in my past experience, the annual fee has NEVER been automatically waived before).

But anyway, I’ve been thinking… why do these “supposedly” consumer-friendly banks need to WAIT for customers to call in to trigger the waiver of annual fee?  Since it is already their practice to waive the fee when a customer has made a minimum of 12 transactions, why can’t they program this rule into the program’s algorithm?  I definitely know that is possible.  Is it because they want to earn some annual moolah from those customers who fail or forget to call up, either out of ignorance or just because they simply don’t care?

If the banks automatically waive the annual fee for customers that deserve it, they would certainly spare the customers the hassle of having to remember to call up to waive the annual fee, and at the same time, the bank would earn brownie points for this proactive service.  After all, it’s the relationship between the bank and the customer that counts.

For someone like me who uses the credit card as an instrument to facilitate payment of purchases, and not as a tool to overspend, all I need is a card, without the need to pay the annual fee.  Of course, for those of you who don’t mind paying the fee every year, you can just disregard my rant above.  Or perhaps I’d be better off just using the free-for-life credit cards, like the one I have from CIMB bank…

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17 Responses to The inevitable call or not?

  1. PB says:

    I am like you – I make the call. I always go through a rigmarole with Citibank but I do every year and like you, I’m happy to cancel a card if they don’t meet my request because there are so many other banks out there happy to accommodate! On a personal note, I hold the CIMB card but never use it. There are barely any offers and the bank is too inaccessible for me.

    The Giddy Tigress says: Hey I thought CIMB bank has got plenty of discounts in many outlets. Well mostly food outlets anyway!

  2. Allan says:

    yeah man…I also make the yearly ritual phone call to waive my card’s annual fees….sigh…

    The Giddy Tigress says: Don’t you think it’s a pain?

  3. Jemima says:


    The Giddy Tigress says: Looks like we are all in the same boat!

  4. rinnah says:

    Eh, I must be one of the last Malaysians to know of this trick. Shall try it out next year when the renewal rolls around. 🙁

    The Giddy Tigress says: Or you can try it now?

  5. ehon says:

    i think it’s kind ofstupid. i should ask my dad if he gets his annual fee waived. we pay our petrol using credit card (esp me because i am poor), so we should have enough to get it waived!

    The Giddy Tigress says: They should not even charge annual fees, right?

  6. wen says:

    i have not been calling to ask for waived annual fees. intending to do this yr.. so stupid of me

    The Giddy Tigress says: Sometimes when they insist I go personally to the bank to get the waiver, I use my “threaten to cancel” trick 😛

  7. michelle says:

    Why they don’t auto waiver because it is a system limitation I was told. By the way last time, my bank was so cool. I forgot to call and they charged the annual fee. I called in and they reversed it. A few months later, they offered me a free for life card, not just 1 but 2. Now I have both free for life visa and master. 😛

    The Giddy Tigress says: What kind of system limitation la 😛

  8. kyh says:

    I don’t hv a credit card! *sobs*

    The Giddy Tigress says: Hey, 21 already ma…can go apply for one 😛

  9. Adino says:

    I also call them, but I always call after they charge me. I just ask them to waive the fee and they credit back the amount to my account.

    @Rinnah maybe you can try calling now and ask for a waiver for your last year’s fee?

    The Giddy Tigress says: I guess I am kiasu and I like them to waive it upfront.

  10. Citibank in Indonesia has been quite good.

    But HSBC is the star.

    I don’t think they give any waiver. I’ll need to find out …

    The Giddy Tigress says: They should waive since they are doing so well.

  11. cc says:

    Didn’t know about the waiver, will tell my dad about it. I wonder whether the banks here do it too. Well, I don’t really use my credit card anyway. Eftpos(atm car that works like a cash card) all the way!

    The Giddy Tigress says: I think most overseas banks don’t charge annual fee, but I could be wrong.

  12. Chen says:

    i’m using Public bank CC, which will automatically waive the annual fee if the credit card transaction is > RM3,000 a year 🙂

    The Giddy Tigress says: Wah…really? Automatically ah? That’s good….

  13. Sue says:

    I wonder if my dad is doing that as well…must ask him..

    Btw, did u receive your prize yet? Sent it ages ago..cheers!

    The Giddy Tigress says: Oh yeah I did. Sorry I forgot to inform you. And thanks, I love it!

  14. Angeleyes says:

    Get A Direct Access card for graduates…. it is FOC for life!

    The Giddy Tigress says: Well yeah, the CIMB card is also free for life.

  15. wuching says:

    all banks are there to make as much profit as they can, be them community banks or not..having said that, all businesses here are like that; they would pretend dumb until you call up to complain! I am not surprise

    The Giddy Tigress says: Is it also that way in Australia?

  16. Paik Ling says:

    Have you relayed your feedback to the Bank concerned? Banks these days take heed of customer feedback. Working in a bank, I know the system sucks but there’s always room for improvement 🙂

    The Giddy Tigress says: Yes, I have – over the phone. But nothing has been done – probably I need to voice it out again (and again and again and again….)

  17. narrowband says:

    Very unethical lorh like that! If didn’t call then they’ll continue to charge us. Although ignorant, eligible customers shouldn’t be subjected to unnecessary charges! Complain complain! Write to star!

    The Giddy Tigress says: Can I copy and paste my blog post ah? hehehe…

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