3 Tips to Waive your Credit Card Annual Fee



One of the most annoying fees that credit card holders like us always have to pay is the annual credit card fee. This fee is something automatically charged to us year after year after year.

In the case of my Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) credit card, I am charged P2,050.00 per year. For my Citibank credit card, it’s P2,500.00 per year. That’s a lot of cash I could have spent on some other things!

Why are we charged this fee in the first place? Simply speaking, it is billed to us because “we’re using the credit card”. It’s sort of a “membership fee” that we have to pay to be able to use the card and to continue enjoying the perks and benefits associated with it.

Indeed, paying the annual fee sucks, but fortunately there are ways to end this annual burden. We identify below three (3) valid ways to waive or totally eliminate the annual membership fee that you have to pay to the credit card company.

I can guarantee that I’ve tried the following methods below and, with that, I never got to pay any annual fee with my BPI credit card since I first got it back a long time ago, in 2007! That’s more than P20,000 of total fees that I got to save entirely.

It’s a hit-and-miss, though, for Citibank and BDO, because sometimes they waived my annual fees but other times, they don’t.

So how to convince credit card companies to waive the annual fee? Try one of these tried-and-tested ways.

It may not work for you, but if it worked, then congratulations and welcome to the “My credit card’s annual fee got waived” club!

Tips to waive your BDO, BPI, Citibank credit card annual fee

1. Call and request the bank to waive the annual fee.

Not a lot of credit cardholders know this, but you can simply call the bank or credit card company and request to have the card’s annual membership fee waived. In fact, this is the method I’ve used every single year — since I got my first BPI credit card back in 2007 — and it has worked for me every year without fail.

The fee, though, still appears in my billing statement. But what I do the moment I see that the annual fee has been charged is to call BPI’s hotline to request for it to be waived. If you are a member in good standing, the bank typically grants this request. They usually check your credit card usage and payments history first, and if you have been assessed as a customer in good standing, they will decide to waive the fee.

In recent years, though, instead of calling the BPI customer service telephone number (because sometimes it takes them a long time to answer!), I just approach the branch manager or relationship manager of my branch of account. I request the person to ask BPI’s credit cards group, on my behalf, to have the fee waived. They’re usually OK with this especially if you’ve been a long-time client of the bank.

This system has not failed me every single year (which is why I’ve been a BPI credit cardholder since 2007). I still pay the annual fee but what usually happens is that the annual fee I paid is reimbursed in the next billing cycle and shown as a “Reversal” or “Advance Payment” that will be credited to my account.

The photo below is an example of my credit card annual fee that was charged in July and was waived and credited back to my account in August, the next month’s billing statement.

How to ask the bank to waive your credit card fee

Not everyone, though, is qualified for the annual fee waiver. I’ve heard that banks typically assess the cardholder’s usage history of the card or credit rating or payment defaults history. If you’ve been remiss several times in your monthly payments or have cumulative finance charges that remain unpaid over the years, there might be a big chance that banks would decline your request.

It helps to be polite and courteous when negotiating, of course, so don’t get hot-tempered and never curse the CS representative on the other end of the line!

Last year, when I requested to have my BPI credit card fee waived, the CS representative I talked to checked how much my credit card’s spending was in the previous three months. She explained that she was checking my usage of the card. I assume if I wasn’t actively using the card then I won’t be given the waiver request.

After checking my credit card spending, the CS representative told me that I’m qualified to have the fee waived, but on the condition that I use my card in the next three months with minimum spending of P20,000. I asked if that amount was the required spending every month for 3 months, but the CS person told me it’s just cumulative amount for 3 months total. Since I’ve been spending more than that anyway, I agreed and the CS representative told me to check the next billing statement and I should see a refund of the annual fee that I paid.

Annual credit card fee waived! Success!

2. Tell the bank you’re planning to cancel your card.

If method number 1 didn’t work, sometimes threatening the bank that you’re canceling the card and switching to a competitor could lead them to giving you the annual fee waiver. They want to make money from you, of course, and sometimes they yield in an attempt to keep you as customer.

It thus helps to explain that the annual fee is a big reason why you’re thinking of making the switch. You can say that you’re contemplating on using another credit card because they’re offering to waive the annual fee.

How to ask the bank to waive your credit card fee

Try telling them: “I’d like to keep using this credit card, but the annual fee is one reason why I’m not anymore inclined on using it. It has benefits and rewards similar to credit card XXX but they’re offering to waive the first year’s annual fee, so I’m thinking of canceling this card to avail of that card. Do you currently have retention offers that I can consider before I go about canceling this card?”

Research shows that it costs businesses more money to acquire a new customer than to retain current ones, so they’d likely not let you go that easily, especially if they see that it’s profitable to keep you as customer. Sometimes, they will volunteer to waive the card’s fee to incentivize you to remain with them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t because like in option #1 above, they’d usually check if you have good credit standing with them and if they can indeed make money from you.

Again, good negotiation skill is key. If there’s a sizable credit card purchase you’re planning in the next few months, you can also use that as leverage. You could say: “I will be booking flight tickets to Japan for my family next month and I’m planning to use this credit card to pay for this purchase. If I spend P50,000 using this card in the next 3 months, would you allow me to waive the annual fee?”

Of course, don’t lie about possible purchases that won’t happen and don’t set conditions that you won’t be able to meet! It’s important to communicate clearly that you’re indeed planning on canceling the card and not just bluffing.

Be clear about the reasons why you’re no longer interested on using the card. Don’t just cite the annual fee. You could say some terms and conditions changed (like the conversion rate for points or rewards became higher) or you’re not satisfied with customer service because it took you several minutes to contact Customer Support when you found a fraudulent transaction on your card.

Provide useful, solid feedback so they’ll know that they’re actually losing a customer. At times, they will respond with retention offers, including waiving the annual fee, to convince you to reconsider your decision.

Again, use this method only if you’re ready to actually go through the cancellation. Otherwise, the credit card company could call your bluff and they might ask you to pay and settle all unpaid balance to close your account!

3. Choose a credit card that offers “No Annual Fee” or “Forever Waived Annual Fees.”

These days, several credit card issuers offer cards with the benefit of waived annual fee, especially during the first year. Take advantage of these offers. Of course, we know that this is simply a bait that companies use because even if they will forgo the annual fee, they still can make lots of money through credit card finance charges, annual percentage rates (APR), and penalty fees. But if you do want to have a credit card, opting for one with waived fee on the first year could certainly save you some cash.

Better yet, choose cards that offer no lifetime annual fees. Yup, no annual fees forever!

These extraordinary cards are typically used by banks to lure you to switch to them with the hopes of locking you in for life. Of course, there are the same interest and penalty fees that will be charged to you to help the credit card company make money, but at least with a waived lifetime fee, you’re not required anymore to pay annual fees forever.

In the Philippines, here are some of the credit cards that offer “waived lifetime annual fees” or “no annual fees forever”.

Here are credit cards with no annual fee or waived annual fees for life

Credit Cards with No Annual Fee or Waived Annual Fees for Life

  • Citi Simplicity Credit Card
  • BPI e-Credit card
  • Metrobank’s M card
  • HSBC Gold Visa Cash Back Credit Card
  • HSBC Premier Mastercard
  • Allied Bank’s Travel Club
  • AUB Easy Mastercard
  • RCBC Bankard AirAsia Credit Card
  • Robinsons Bank Platinum DOS Mastercard
  • Security Bank’s e-Secure card

We have another article talking about credit cards in the Philippines with waived or no annual fee. See here which credit cards offer that benefit.

Stories of Credit Card Users Asking to Waive Annual Fees

After we’ve written this article, we received a lot of comments from our PinoyMoneyTalk readers who shared their stories on how they also got to have their credit card annual fees waived. We’re reproducing them below so you can also learn from their experience!

“I always pay the total balance on time so I never have finance charges and late fees; I have a good credit standing. I usually just tell the agent to cancel my card if they won’t waive the annual fee and they gladly waive them with no conditions.”

– Joanne M.

I have a BDO Credit Card and every time I request for waiving [the annual fee], it was always granted. Of course, need a good history of payments. But in Metrobank, they always have requirements to purchase or a condition to waive your annual fee.

– Ian

Citibank does not waive any annual fees anymore. I’ve tried. They don’t do it. I spent a whole 30 minutes to 1 hour on the phone trying to convince them. You have to have 20,000 points. Php 30 for 1 point. For annual fee to be waived, you need to have Php 600,000 spent.

– RC_KUNOICHI

Seems like Citibank does not waive annual fees this year. Called them up, failed to have mine waived.

– Vito A.

I just had requested to waive my annual fee sa Metrobank and they gave me 3 options: 1. Spend a particular amount; 2. Go paperless; or 3. Enroll a utility bill. I chose option 2.

-BJC

I have a good credit standing with Metrobank for 5 years. I pay my bills on time and always in full. But Metrobank never waived my annual fee.

– Alex

I work in BPO for credit cards and if you always pay your bill in full, you won’t get good credit standing because they don’t get to milk you through interest charges. Remember, that’s how bank earns from credit cards. They don’t get to earn from you, instead your account becomes a liability because they also spend something for their services to you. To get a good credit standing, always use your card but do not pay it in full always and make sure to keep your account current. (They also get money from you through late fees, so getting late 1x in every 8 bills perhaps will not hurt your credit.)

– Mari Ela

I tried calling BPI before and the BPI agent said that I need to spend Php 9,000 in a month for them to waive the annual fee, else I’ll be charged. So I let my co-workers use and swipe my card. My 1st year’s annual fee was waived. Will do this again on my second year.

– John David G.

Now you know some ways to eliminate your annual credit card fee burden. Try the steps above because if they work, you’ll surely be able to save thousands of pesos every year!

27 thoughts on “3 Tips to Waive your Credit Card Annual Fee”

  1. i have rcbc credit card for 4 years and never pay the annual fee even once, im a transactor and have a good credit standing, just one call and they will reverse the annual fee

  2. I have a good credit standing with metrobank for 5 years, I pay my bills on time and always in full. But metrobank never waived my annual fee. I plan to switch to citibank cause the have better rewards system thank metrobank.

    1. i work in BPO for credit cards and if you always pay your bill in full , you won’t get good credit standing because they don’t get to milk you thru interest charges. remember, that’s how bank earns from credit cards. they don’t get to earn from you, instead you’re account becomes liability because they spend something also for their services to you. to get a good credit standing is to always use your card but do not pay it in full always and make sure to keep your account current. ( they also get money from you thru late fees so getting late 1x in every 8 bills perhaps will not hurt your credit)

  3. So far the best credit card for me is BPI. I have been a card holder for more than 10 years and I have been in good credit standing. Their phonebanking officers are very professional companred to Metrobank, eastwest and citibank. I am always pleased with every conversation with them over the phone. I recommend BPI credit card.

    1. Seriously? BPI’s phonebanking is the worst of all banks in the Philippines. Call their hotline and you will almost never reach them. You will be on hold forever. I have a handful of cards from various banks so I know. Citibank, I can easily contact. Same with HSBC and RCBC. Metrobank, you would wait for a little, but BPI? You will be on hold forever. But I must admit, BPI is my favorite bank and credit card..hehe..poor phonebanking though..

  4. I have a BDO Credit Card and every time I request for waiving it was always granted and of course need a good history of payments. But in Metrobank they has always requirements to purchase or a condition to waived your annual fee.

  5. I don’t like BPI becoz they did not approve my first application to have a credit card without telling me the reason. And after that refusal they were aking me to have thier credit card. CRAZY Bank! and I have more bad experiences in thier branches! And I have changed my bank and I am very happy now with metro bank!

  6. I contacted citibank cebu hotline and requested for a membership fee being waive however
    my request got declined :(( The next day I contacted citi manila and requested to got it waived or lease have a discount. The officer gave me 50% discount at least I got to pay Php1,400. I planned to apply for another credit card. Maybe metrobank M Card free. GOt disappointed because I was not rewarded for being a good payer

  7. Update 2016: Citibank does not waive any annual fees anymore. I’ve tried. They don’t do it. I spent a whole 30 mins to 1 hour on the phone trying to convince them. You have to have 20,000 points. Php 30 for 1 point. For annual fee to be waived, you need to have Php 600,000 spent.

    1. had the same experience too. I might just end my relationship with this cc company.
      they refuse to waive the membership fee yet they offer lifetime free membership fee to new customers.

      doesn’t make sense.

    2. I just had my Annual Fee Waived on Citibank last month. Simply Because, I’m confident I’m willing to close the card if they won’t waive it, I paid my last transaction in Full, so i have zero credit. Also I have other credit cards, I can still use. They sensed that I don’t care if it’s closed. So they waive it for me.

    3. Late update: I managed to get mine waived… Eventually. I basically cancelled my planned loan from them (also coz they fucked that up and didnt start the process for it, even tho I gave them the requirements weeks before), and I was going to cancel the card entirely, but they waived it.

    4. If for some reason they really refuse to waive the annual fee, do I still have the pay the annual fee charged on the card before they completely close the account?

  8. I have HSBC, BPI and BDO credit cards.. and for 10 years, 6 years and 5 years with each card, I’m always waived with annual fees 🙂 … I don’t need to threaten them because I really am willing to close any of them if they failed to waive my annual fee. The easiest of them to waive is BDO, but I love the rewards of HSBC more than any other cards.

  9. I was sent credit card by a bank (that i didn’t even applied for) and i continuously waived annual fee since i dont even use it, and still on its envelop, now they billed me financial charges, when i finally decided to cancel it. still don’t understand it, so i refused paying it now it grew, is it possible to cancel it without paying it?

  10. I was approached by a BPI credit card agent at the mall a year ago offering a BPI credit card. I was hesitant because I already have other credit cards (all with lifetime annual fee waived). Then the agent said that the annual fee is waived for life so with that said I applied.

    The problem emerged a year after when I was charged for an annual fee. I called BPI’s customer service hotline more than once because of this.

    First, the customer hotline agent told me to register for BPI express online for the annual fee to be waived, which I did. I was also informed that a BPI personnel will call me within 3 banking days acknowledging my request. Unfortunately, no one called so I called the hotline again. Then the agent asked if I purchased a minimum of P5,000 after the credit card was issued because she said that that was the criteria for approval of the lifetime annual fee. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy on hand of my first statement during the time I called but I was given a reference number for the request of annual fee waived. I also got confused because I was already asked to register to BPI express online so why will I be asked about this.

    Nevertheless, when I was able to find my first statement after the issue of the credit card (where I availed of the criteria of purchasing an item of more than P5,000), I called the BPI hotline again and asked the status of the charged annual fee. I was informed that the request for annual fee was reversed but my account is not tagged for lifetime annual fee, which i find improper because why would I be offered a credit card a year earlier free from annual fee for life then be billed for it a year after? I would not be getting a credit card if I knew I will be charged an annual fee.

    Then when I called again, the CSR said that not all approved applications are given the waived annual fee for life. So why would they offer such, even in the malls and say that the offer is lifetime annual fee waived once approved, when the truth is it’s not? Then they said that the agents at the mall are not their employees so it’s like the company is not accountable. Is this even an acceptable and ethical practice for these agents to represent BPI and say such statements that life time annual fee waived once approved, when in fact whatever they say is not what BPI’s intention? They misled people.

    1. I had a horrible experience with BPI too. I’ve been a cardholder for 10 yrs and I was a former BPI employee so I really felt upset with this situation. I have a zero balance on my card, i dont use my card coz i live abroad but still want to keep my card since I got this when I was still working with BPI.

      3 weeks before my due date I sent them an email to request to waive my membership fee. I got an edge card that has a monthly membership fee. Usually it would take one email or call, and the fee will be waived. But now, you will go through hell and yet your request is still not granted.

      BPI has no idea how hard is it to call their hotline. It will take a lot of time and lots of call credits before you even get someone to talk to. Consider it ur lucky day once you get a rep. Its even harder when you dont have a landline. I even remember paying more than P1000 when I called their hotline from my office abroad, bcoz the call log was too long and its a personal call so I have no choice but to pay it. Even now im in PH, i have to go find a payphone so I can call them. It took me days and weeks to go back & forth to different stores with payphones bcoz most of time the hotline number is not working, not even ringing. I tried my cellphone out of frustration and wasted P300 load card for nothing. I even go to a BPI branch near me just to check if there are any issues with their hotline, all she said was “ok naman yung hotline”. I even shared to her my difficulty of contacting them, I was hoping that maybe she will offer to call the hotline for me since I said I tried several PAYPHONES already but no, she didnt. Before calling them I also sent them several emails regarding my request, the reply took 3-5 days and all they will tell you is that someone will call you, but no one did. They will even give you a call log that someone tried to call but my phone didnt ring even once in those time frame that they mentioned. I live in Makati, not in the mountains, I am positive that my phone has a very strong signal.

      So I began calling them, after so many attempts, I talked to a lady rep yesterday. She said I need to use my card for P9000 in 3 months if I want to waive the membership fee. I told her i dont live here, i will not stay that long and will not be using the card and all she said is “its our current policy”. 10 years, zero balance and she want me to spend 9K, is she f*ck*ng kidding me. So I said I want to cancel my card now, she said someone will call me to process the cancellation. I said no, cancel my card now, transfer me to that department so I cancel it right now bcoz it is so hard to contact you and now I got someone on the phone i dont want to waste that opportunity to do everything that I needed to do with this damn card. The ending, she still insists that i will get a call for my request to cancel the card. Next day, I waited, still no call. I even gave them my husband’s number just in case they will tell me again about their fake attempts of calling me. I already knew that I wont get a call, bcoz they already told me that before when I was still emailing them. I dont know what else to do now, maybe i will go straight to their office and cut my card in pieces and shove it in their faces.

      Shout out to all BPI employees that Ive been in contact with via email, to the ladies in BPI Family J.P. Rizal branch and to you Izzy, the phonebanker i spoke with yesterday. Your services sucks! Email reply will take a week, hotline number that has 90% downtime (unable to reach most of the time), long waiting time not just in your branch but also via phone, reps that shows no empathy or willingness to help and will promise to contact you but never did. You made my 10th year with you a blast! It’s one hell of experience! (literally) I thought I want to keep your card, but not anymore. Keeping your card is a nightmare!

      HSBC and RCBC customer service are way better than you!

  11. eh di nag apply ako ng Citibank sabi free annual fee daw tpos today nag e-mail sila. na effective feb 1 2018 wala nang free annual fee kapag ndi ka naka spend ng 180k. sa tingin ko ndi maganda c citi. sasabihin nya free annual fee pero babawiin din.

  12. Hi, I recently applied to Citibank. I think I got approved because i got an email but I do not know if my annual fee is waived for life. How do I know if my annual fees are waived?? I want my annual fee to be waived for life. Can I request for this? They had a promo before that they waived annual fees for life but it ended Jan 15, 2018 and I applied just recently, Feb 2018.

  13. I have Bpi cc now I would like to waive my annual fee bit I cant call them at there hotline # so i just email them. But no rply what will I do now??plz advice.

  14. I just had requested to waive my annual fee sa Metrobank and they gave me 3 options: 1. Spend a particular amount 2. Go paperless and 3. Enroll a utility bill. I chose option 2.

  15. It is difficult to imagine life without credit cards, because it is so convenient. I buy mostly everything over the Internet. And during the quarantine I often sit on the portal and there I also pay for everything with a Bank card.

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