Kiplinger July 2008

How to Fight Sneaky Fees


We're always looking for ways to keep money in our pockets, and Kiplinger's July 2008 issue has some suggestions about how to stop companies from nickel-and-diming you. Just last year Americans paid $30 billion in credit-card fees, so it's safe to say that most of us have been saddled with some of these sneaky fees. Here are Kiplinger's tips on how to fight them.

  • Call during business hours. Few managers are available on weekends, and you won't get the cream of the crop among lower-level representatives. At Gethuman.com, you can find codes that let you circumvent company phone trees.
  • Do your research and flex your muscle. Tabulate how much money you've spent with the company, which can boost your bargaining power. If you think you've been treated unfairly, don't hesitate to say you're considering a letter to the state attorney general.
  • Don't waste your time. A $2 fee may get your goat, but you can't afford to fight every charge. Your chances of winning are directly correlated to how much leverage you have. With financial services, such as banking and credit, "consumers ultimately hold all the power because they can vote with their feet," says Greg McBride, of Bankrate.com. In fact, a survey for Sullivan's book found that customers who complain to credit-card companies get results 65 percent of the time.
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