How To Get A Credit Card Annual Fee Refund

How to get a credit card annual fee refund

Have you ever considered signing up for a credit card but decided against it because of the annual fee?

I use two main cards right now for almost all spending and they both have annual fees - Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite ($99) and the Capital One Aspire Travel World Mastercard ($120). When I got these cards I considered the annual fees and still decided having them would pay off.

The Scotiabank card pays 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, and you’d need to spend over $200 per month on gas and groceries alone for the card to be worth it. I easily meet this threshold and last year I earned about $500 with this one card.

The Capital One card has an annual fee of $120 but when I applied for it also came with an annual bonus (no longer available) of 10,000 reward miles worth $100 - that means the annual fee is essentially $20. Not bad for a card that pays 2% back on all spending with no category restrictions.

Annual fees need to be taken into account when determining which card is right for you, but there is also the possibility of having your annual fee waived or refunded.

How To Get Your Annual Fee Refunded

We’ve all read about companies giving a small credit or rewards bonus for minor issues like a billing error or bad customer experience - but is it possible to wipe out the annual fee? I didn’t know for sure, but I wanted to find out!

Turns out both credit card companies were willing to negotiate on the annual fee which I was impressed by. I managed to get about $200 in bill credits simply by discussing the annual fee with the company and mentioning that I was willing to switch to another card (which I was) if there were better deals elsewhere. I didn’t get the fees waived completely but came quite close.

Use My Transcript For Yourself

Here is how the conversation went – anyone can use this as a guide on exactly what to say to increase the chances you’ll get your fee waived too:

Customer Service Agent (CSA): Hello, how can I help you today?

Me: Hello. I would like to cancel my credit card.

CSA: Sorry to hear that. Can I ask why you want to cancel your card?

Me: Yes – the annual fee. I find it to be too expensive.

CSA: I can understand where you’re coming from. You do realize you are earning rewards with your card, right? And your rewards are higher than the annual fee so you’re actually ahead every year.

Me: I realize this, but I also noticed there are other cards out there with great incentives for new customers. There aren’t any incentives for this card.

CSA: I see. Do you have any other products with our bank? I’ve noticed you’ve had the card for two years, would you be interested in another card?

Me: I’m not interested in another card. I like my current card but the annual fee is too high. I’ve always paid my bills on time, I have a high credit rating, and as a customer of over two years I would like to have the fee waived. If not I would like to cancel the card.

CSA: Okay. Let me see if there is something we can do about that. Please hold while I speak with my supervisor.

At this point I was put on hold for a few minutes while the agent discussed my file with her supervisor. If this happens to you – it’s a good sign. It means the issue has been escalated and they are considering whether they can waive to annual fee or offer a credit to your bill to keep you as a customer.

CSA: Sorry for the wait, I spoke with my supervisor who told me we are able to give you a one-time credit of $90. We value your business and don’t want to lose you as a customer.

Me: That sounds good. Thank you. I will keep the card.

CSA: Excellent. The credit should appear on your next statement within 3-5 business days. Thank you for calling.

Tips For Negotiating Your Annual Fee Refund

Here are some basic tips anyone can follow when attempting to have their annual credit card fee refunded:

  • Mention how valuable a customer you are. Whether you’ve had the card for years and always paid your balance on time, or you pay interest monthly (which is easy income for them) – let the customer service rep know how valuable you are as a customer. If you already have other products with the bank, this makes you even more valuable and you should mention this. Banks are more willing to waive annual fees for customers that already have other products they offer such as mortgages, insurance or investments.
  • Be polite, but call with a purpose. You should be willing to cancel the card if you aren’t able to get a credit for the annual fee. The easiest way to do this is to be polite at all times no matter how long you’re placed on hold. It can be frustrating but it can also be worth your while if you can get your annual fee waived.
  • It never hurts to ask. So, don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want or counter their initial offer with something better. The worst they can say is no, and the best outcome is you get more money in your pocket.
  • Don’t be afraid to escalate the call. If the front-line customer service rep isn’t able to answer your questions or isn’t willing to discuss waiving an annual fee, escalate the call to a level above so that you can get the answers that you need. In some cases customer service reps don’t have the authority to refund an annual fee so you’d need to speak to a supervisor.
  • Use competitor new customer incentives. Existing customers almost never get the best offers. So, you need to do your research and use those new customer offers to your advantage. Do a quick google search to find sign up incentives for other cards in the same category (such as travel rewards or cash back). You can then mention this when calling to have your annual fee waived. As a longstanding customer, you should be given an incentive to keep the card you have because other companies are offering you plenty of incentives to switch.

Top Credit Cards With Annual Fees

If your credit card spending is more than $1,000 per month, then choosing a credit card with an annual fee starts to make sense. At that point you will usually end up with the same or more rewards as a no fee card and get better insurance coverage and perks included.

Consider cards listed here if you want the best of the best:

Your Negotiation Story

Have you ever tried to get an annual fee refund or reward bonus on your credit card before?

If so, which card was it and how did it go?

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.


Sandy's picture

We have had a Bank of Montreal mastercard for almost 40 years. Just over a year ago we changed the Air Miles card to a World Elite Card. The annual fee was waived for the first year. When its first anniversary arrived, we opted to keep the same card and pay the $150 annual fee because every purchase earns double the points, it has good travel insurance coverage, and it offers lounge visits at airports at no additional cost (a near $30 benefit per person each time).

Too, the only way we could retain the points we had earned in the first year was to switch to the only other travel rewards card that BMO offers that has a $35 annual fee. We figured we would more than make up the $115 difference in annual fees because of the volume of invoices we put through our cards (we each have one for this same account).

We have plans to travel in early 2018 at which time we will zero out the rewards, just like we did with the accumulted Air Miles on the precious, for our trip this past winter.

The other consideration, in our case, was to retain the high credit limit on this card (due, in part, to the amount of time we have been with this bank). Our monthly spending varies enough that we felt we wanted to keep the limit and we put as many purchases as possible on the card in order to maximize the points.

Just looking for some thoughts on this strategy.

August 16, 2016 @ 12:21 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I think your strategy makes sense. There might be better travel rewards cards out there, but the BMO World Elite card is one of the best flexible travel rewards cards out there.

If you are already a BMO customer, I would consider getting their Premium banking package and keeping $5,000 in a chequing account you don't actually use to waive both your banking plan monthly fee and your credit card annual fee. Since you have that card anyway, you will get a ton of value from doing this. I describe exactly how to do it in this article:

August 29, 2016 @ 2:12 pm
Jimmy M.
Jimmy M.'s picture

I used the script with Scotia Bank to do something about my $99 fee for Visa Infinite Card. They said I will loose my $350 cash back if I cancel before the cash back payout is due. So it was a bit tough for me.

I told them about TD's Visa Infinite Card that is giving away Aeroplan points and their offer of a Samsung 40" TV to move chequing account to them.

Scotia did not waive off the full $99 fee, as there was no promotional offers at the moment. However gave me a credit of $50. Good return of $75 (pre-tax) for 15 minutes work.

Above all, it gives me the confidence to talk to other utilities for a deal.

August 16, 2016 @ 12:25 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Great to hear someone else use this actual transcript and get some success with it. Good job talking to them about the TV deal and big sign up bonuses from TD - that's gives a lot of leverage.

All kinds of services can be negotiated and I'm glad this has given you the confidence to try again!

August 29, 2016 @ 2:15 pm
Shrewd & Frugal
Shrewd & Frugal's picture

It helps to have some money in the bank.
I negotiated a no annual fee for my ScotiaBank Momentum Visa Infinite card by transferring my account from another bank to them. They waive the annual fee every year. (AND I get a 1% higher rate on my GIC).

August 16, 2016 @ 1:55 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's kind of the reverse of this strategy - amping up your new customer sign up bonus by bringing all your business to them. Well done!

August 29, 2016 @ 2:16 pm
Money Beagle's picture

We usually shy away from these type of cards simply because I don't believe that I should pay for the privilege of using a credit card when there are so many available. But it's good to know that, just like with about anything, there is some wiggle room.

August 18, 2016 @ 3:41 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Fee-based cards aren't for everyone. I encourage people to crunch the numbers and see if they end up ahead with a fee-based card but there are other more personal reasons for avoiding fees as well.

August 29, 2016 @ 2:17 pm
Ronald Hansen
Ronald Hansen's picture

These cash-back credit cards should be outlawed as they only contribute to the card issuer's income. These cards cost merchants and businesses more than no-cash back cards on every transaction. To cover this additional cost, merchants and businesses must increase their prices for the good or services they provide. If you use such a card you are making the other customers pay more for your cash back. IMMORAL. SHAMEFUL. And you also pay more in the long run because of these additional amounts.benefitting only card issuers in the long run.

August 19, 2016 @ 12:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I completely understand your point of view. I don't think it is immoral or shameful exactly, but it does cause higher prices which are partially shouldered by those who don't use the credit cards.

That said, I also think in the right circumstances it can be win-win-win. For example, if you focus on collecting Aeroplan miles you can actually earn more back in rewards than the business pays in fees to accept the card. You get the amazing purchasing power of the banks to acquire Aeroplan miles cheaply, you maximize their value by redeeming them smartly, and then both you and the merchant have the convenience of a cashless transaction.

Many things in life aren't at all "fair" while not being wrong. Capitalism itself ensures business are always trying to maximize their profits at the expense of others. Is that wrong? I guess it depends on who you are and how you look at it. Just something to think about...

August 29, 2016 @ 2:23 pm
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson's picture

Immoral? Shameful? My ass! How do you arrive at that? If people are not smart enough to get such cards why the hell should I care? Am I my brother's keeper? It's a dog eat dog world out there, baby! So, suck it up and save it for another day! I laugh all the way to the bank!

July 03, 2018 @ 3:27 pm
Frugal Guy with Balance
Frugal Guy with Balance's picture

I have a BMO Elite MasterCard

My Wife also has a BMO Elite MasterCard

We bank with BMO and have Discout Brokerage Accounts

Annual C/C Fees are waived plus I pay no bank fees. Let me repeat no Bank Fees no Annual C/C Fees

My Motto has been if you don't ask you don't get. My challenge is too push Banks for the best deal.

Banks are not your friends they are in business to make money and Banks make Big Money.

August 19, 2016 @ 1:21 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

So you aren't holding a minimum balance to waive your bank fees? That's great if that is the case!

August 29, 2016 @ 2:24 pm
Gail F
Gail F's picture

We've tried applying for credit cards that require a minimum $70k income (or $120k family income), but we are slightly below this threshold. Recently retired so we are income 'poor' but equity rich. Time of our lives that we are traveling (and spending), but the credit card companies/banks won't even consider us for these cards. Any suggestions?

August 19, 2016 @ 1:35 pm
Diane's picture

When I apply for card I just give the income that is required since if I cashed in investments my income would be high enough. It seems to work and not really lying. We are in same boat and do a lot of travelling

August 21, 2016 @ 3:22 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I've found that they are usually willing to approve you if you have good credit and your income is somewhat close to their desired threshold. It might be the fact that you aren't employed that could be holding you back. Try giving them a call and see if you can sway them by promising them higher spending levels and prompt payment.

August 29, 2016 @ 2:26 pm
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson's picture

Simple. Tell those cards that have a minimum income limit to go take a hike! There are many, many cards that do not have that stipulation and give you most of the benefits you need. There are too many fishes in the sea. It's their loss not yours.

July 03, 2018 @ 3:30 pm
DH's picture

I find that they really to remember when they've waived the deal before so often times then only waive it once. Sometimes they'll also offer you a gift card instead of waiving it.

August 19, 2016 @ 3:42 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If their customer service department is on the ball this can be a problem. If they aren't willing to play ball you can always jump ship to another bank that will.

August 29, 2016 @ 2:27 pm
Mel's picture

Hi Stephen
I had the ScotiaBank Visa Infinite for 1 year and my renewal was coming up. I called customer service and used your transcript but unfortunately they would not budge. They were trying to offer me other cards and the usual sales pitches. Got transferred to the supervisor and he was straight forward and said if you would like to cancel its your call.
So I cancelled it. In can case my total cashback for the year was just crossing 150$ so did not make much sense paying 99$

November 24, 2016 @ 3:42 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It does depend on your status as a customer and the person you get on the other end of the phone. You won't always be successful. In your case, you may not have had enough volume to justify them doing it.

The volume of these requests may also be increasing so they may have told their CSRs to cut back on the freebies they give out.

November 27, 2016 @ 3:37 pm
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson's picture

Stephen Weyman, I simply hang up and call again, but on a different day! :-) Agents are disposable. If one won't oblige, another will.

July 03, 2018 @ 3:32 pm
Mark M
Mark M's picture


Sadly this did not work when I phoned to get a fee reduction for my Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card. The customer rep simply said no problem I will cancel it and it was canceled - no offer to reduce the fee, no offer of another card, ...nothing. I guess Scotiabank does not want to keep my business.

Time to look at other card options.

January 04, 2017 @ 8:04 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

For that card in particular I think they are getting a lot of requests - that may be why.

January 10, 2017 @ 10:34 am
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson
Dr. G.B. Hutchinson's picture

Mark M, if the gamble fails, ie., if the agent says "No problem", say, "Wait...I have to go for a meeting. I will call back tomorrow." Don't cancel it". Then proceed to repeat this another day!

July 03, 2018 @ 3:34 pm
Mithun Nath's picture

@Mark You could have asked the agent to escalate your call to their supervisor or managers. Even a retention department also have sups. That works sometimes.

February 02, 2017 @ 1:45 pm
Stewart's picture

Thanks for the idea! I just called Scotiabank and got my $99 annual fee credited back to my account, just for calling :)

March 12, 2017 @ 11:27 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

*thumbs up*

May 15, 2017 @ 1:40 pm
Brett's picture

Quick question... any luck getting this done with Amex on their gold card?

June 02, 2017 @ 4:33 pm
frequent traveler
frequent traveler's picture

It seems AE is more strict to waive annual fee, not much luck.

July 25, 2017 @ 5:21 pm
moneyhelp's picture

I agree, I just tried to have my Airmiles Platinum card annual fee waived, as I intensely no longer support Airmiles after the whole airmiles rewards debacle and Amex had no interest in doing so, despite having very high credit, always paying on time, and being a customer since 2003 - that's unfortunate, so we proceeded with the cancellation.

Ironically, the agent tried to get me to change to the no-annual fee Airmiles Credit card...take a guess what I said... :P

October 04, 2017 @ 7:10 pm
Nathan's picture

Does anybody have any luck with the fee waived for td cash back visa infinite.

December 16, 2017 @ 5:04 pm
P. Bellingham
P. Bellingham's picture

@Nathan, mi TD Travel Infinite is waived because I keep $5000 in the account. I got a free Samsung tablet at sign-up, get all my drafts for free, no account charges at all, and no annual credit card fee. Can't complain at all!

July 03, 2018 @ 3:37 pm
Steeveebee's picture

Recently I called TD as my fyf cc annual fee for yr 2 was soon to be charged. They said no and suggested I go in to a branch and try-- the guy on the phone saying he has heard of success from people going in. I went in: staff made a phone call and after about 10 minutes, came back to me and asked, what is your reason for wanting fee waived? I just told the truth: I like the card, but not the fee. They said no. So I cancelled it by phone that night, after asking again during the call. Basically, you can be nice as pie when asking, but its just really a crapshoot.

July 14, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

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