“The customer is always right” is not a concept that translates well to the banking industry. However, despite their reputation for fee-gouging customers, banks will occasionally play nice and give in to customer complaints and demands. However, you need to also know the rules of the game, and luckily for me, I was able to speak candidly with a Chase banker, who gave me the inside scoop on how to complain the “right” way to get what you want from Chase.

    Banks, like Chase, often have a little bit of wiggle room on fees -- especially for the right customers. Photo: Shutterstock
Banks, like Chase, often have a little bit of wiggle room on fees — especially for the right customers. Image via Shutterstock

Since banks are often seen in a negative light, it’s difficult to look at things from their perspectives. That’s why it was refreshing when I spoke with a Chase banker friend of mine, who offered to share a few common, but little-known courtesies that he (and Chase) would be willing to make for customers.

Overdraft fees and credit card penalties

It’s not a good sign when there isn’t enough money in your checking account to pay a bill or when you don’t make the credit card payment on time.

Chase will hit you with a $34 overdraft fee when you overdraw your account by more than $5. A habit of regular overdrafts is unforgivable — it is clear that your finances are struggling and that there is a larger issue at hand. A rare overdraft though, like less than once a year, may have just been due to an unfortunate situation.

as Photo: Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/armydre2008/3569067614/in/photolist-8Gx9vj-7wJZEv-8FRFR5-8N4AVD-e4gpTE-q88vVB-bAuTVG-6ropsw

Don’t make it a habit to overspend with a debit card — it can be expensive. Photo: Flickr source

Based on your account history with Chase, it’s possible to get an overdraft fee waived. The likelihood increases when you have more money with Chase. The success rate is also better if the overdraft amount is low and it is your first-time offense.

If you want to minimize the chance of an overdraft, do not opt in for overdraft coverage on your debit card. Essentially, certain transactions are rejected when it would lead to a negative account balance. (Written checks, online payments and recurring transfers can still lead to overdrafts and, consequently, overdraft fees.)

You can do the same thing for late payment fees that occur with a Chase credit card, which will range from $15 to $30 each time. Your chances of Chase waiving the late payment fee are higher if you rarely make late payments and you pay a good amount of interest and an annual fee.

This courtesy can extend to other Chase credit card penalty fees including: over-the-credit-limit fees and returned payment fees. However, credit card issues need to be handled over the phone since they don’t deal with Chase credit cards inside branches. The customer service number is located on the back of your card.

Monthly fees on Chase checking

Chase College Checking account has no monthly fee for up to five years or until you graduate. It is common for graduates to continue using their student checking account until the five years is over, without Chase knowing.

Even the monthly fees on your checking account can be waived. Photo: Shutterstock
Even the monthly fees on your checking account can be waived. Photo: Shutterstock

But, once the five-year period is over, the account will come with a $6 monthly fee. This fee can be avoided with any monthly direct deposit or a $5,000 average daily account balance. (I’ve written about a direct deposit “trick” you can use to avoid this fee.)

In the event that you cannot meet any of these fee waiver requirements, you can still do something to not pay the monthly fee (at least for a little while).

A Chase banker could waive the monthly fee — usually, for a six-month period — if you maintained a problem-free account history.

Missing out of better bonuses

A big sign-up bonus is one of the major reasons we apply for credit cards. However, it’s not a great feeling when you take advantage of a sign-up bonus and that bonus increases a few weeks later. For example, last year, Chase Freedom® had a $100 sign-up bonus, which was paid out when the new cardmember spent $500 within the first 90 days of account ownership. Then, Chase released another bonus offer with the same terms, except that this bonus was $200 instead of $100.

It happens with Chase credit cards from time to time.

Missed out on a better credit card bonus? You can do something about it. Photo: Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/37486024@N03/5418839064

Missed out on a better credit card bonus? You can do something about it. Photo: Flickr source

Anyone who signed up for the $100 bonus is rightfully upset when the $200 bonus was available shortly after they signed up. Instead of sulking over the lost opportunity, simply contact Chase for an adjustment to the bonus. It can be done through online secure messaging or on the phone.

Make sure that you ask for the adjustment within 90 days of account opening and that you still meet the spending requirement for the larger bonus offer.

This kind of leniency will not work for Chase checking or savings account bonuses because these bonuses require coupon codes. No code means no bonus.

The ideal customer

In the end, the amount of business generated from any particular customer will affect the chances that fees are waived. If you put in a large amount of deposits, have a ton of investments and pay interest charges on Chase accounts, waiving a fee here and there is not a big deal. This is the ideal customer.

I, on the other hand, always avoid monthly fees on my Chase Checking account and never pay fees or interest charges on my Chase credit card. This means I’m less likely to get a courtesy fee waiver. First-time offenses make a better case, but don’t expect waivers if you keep overdrawing your account or making late payments.

Knowing how a Chase banker or customer service agent thinks would play in your favor when you actually have to ask Chase to remove a fee.

Chase has a “B” on MyBankTracker rating due to pricey fees, but Chase customer reviews have shown that there are many cases when the bank “played nice” with customers.

Have you ever had Chase (or any other bank) waive a fee or do good by the customer when you asked or complained? If so, I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

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  • Whit

    Opting out of the debit card coverage will not guarantee you from incurring 34 dollar overdraft fee (max three a day) because items like monthly subscriptions or checks written, may still go through. Opting out of debit card coverage only protects everyday swipes with the dc. If you opt out of overdraft with a savings or credit card account, you will be hit with either a 34 dollar return item fee or 34 dollars insufficient funds fee.

    It’s rare that someone can change the type of award they signed up for either via credit card or banking offer even if you do secure messaging or call in. With bank offer, if you catch it within 21 days, you can ask them to decline the one already applied in the system and input the new one..it’s 21 days because that’s how long you have to apply a coupon after an account has opened, for it still to be valid.

    Also, while chase bank does take into consideration your account, the usage, and history, the best way to get fees reverse is to ask not demand. Explain the situation, and let the banker help you come up with a resolution going forward to avoid it happening again. If it’s an honest mistake, often, depending on your demeanor, it will be taken care of.

    • Whit

      Also, chase college checking account doesn’t convert into total with a 12 fee, it will have 6 dollars which is why you see the 6 dollar fee on the placemat for college accounts.

      Bankers can, but probably shouldn’t, waive the checking account monthly service fee for the first six months. The first two months of account opening, the service fee is waived regardless–giving u time to get the direct deposit in and ample time to build up balances. However, the monthly service fee for the most basic account is 12 dollars. There are only so many goodwill reversals you can make and it’s by the number, not always amount, so do you really want to spend four of them on a 12 monthly service fee?

      not to mention that folks really should be actively saving; to read an article awhile back, but I believe it still holds true, a good % of Americans do not have 2000 in liquid cash

      • Whit, thanks for clearing that up — I’ve confirmed the College Checking policy with Chase and updated the story to reflect that.

        It definitely sounds like you work (or have worked) at Chase. Got any other concessions to share that would be helpful to Chase customers?

  • D

    “If you want to minimize the chance of an overdraft, do not opt in for overdraft coverage on your debit card” you meant to say Debit Card Coverage. Overdraft Protection is when your savings (or credit card, watch out for the APR) is linked to your checking and will move funds over automatically from the savings to cover the negative in the checking. Which may cost $10 if you don’t move the funds yourself before your time-zone cut off.

    Even if you opt “No” for Debit Card Coverage as Whit said earlier, the only thing it declines is everyday swipes. Not “certain transactions are rejected” but all present time POS transactions are declined if you don’t have the funds available. Most recurring debits & checks will go through.

    College Checking is waived up to 5 years while in college, not “until you graduate”. Chase isn’t going to let you have that account for free when you graduate 10 years after you opened the account. You tell the banker when you graduate and that’s when your time is up. It’s not an automatic 5 years. Also, it’s EXTREMELY rare to be given a 6 month waiver.

  • Jack Knott

    Dude you like banks too much.