Calling In vs. Solving It Online: The Best Ways to Get Fast Answers from Credit Card Customer Service
Stop wasting time looking for answers in the wrong places. Here's how to get a hold of credit card customer service departments to find the answers you need.
July 30, 2021
Reviewing your credit card statements is a great way to stay on top of your monthly payments. In the process, you may occasionally come across unexpected fees, suspicious charges or other anomalies that warrant investigation. Even if nothing is wrong, you may have routine service needs, such as requesting a better rate or closing your card.
Dealing with these issues can be stressful, and you’ll probably want help from credit card customer service as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to determine whether you’d be better off calling in or solving it online.
Wasting hours looking for answers in the wrong places is a recipe for an unnecessary headache. Here’s everything you need to know to save yourself the hassle, including some of the best credit card customer service resources out there and when to use them.
Help Centers and FAQ Pages
Most credit card providers have been around long enough to know which issues their customers run into frequently. The chances are high that your provider has established a help center or a library of responses to frequently asked questions.
These are your best bets for getting answers to generic problems. If you can reasonably assume that other people have run into the same issue you’re having, you should almost always start your search here.
For example, if you were to lose your credit card, you wouldn’t be the first person to look for help with the issue. Your credit card provider should have some online resources that will help you figure out how to proceed, which is probably the fastest way to get the answers you need.
Crowdsourced Reviews and Forums
Occasionally, the help center will fail to solve your problem, but you may still feel confident that your issue is one that others commonly experience. In these cases, you can broaden your search to places that other customers are likely to have posted their stories.
The two most common sources for other customers’ comments are crowdsourced reviews and online forums. A quick Google search for your issue is often enough to find forums discussing related topics. Including search terms such as the name of the credit card provider, e.g., "Discover" or "Chase" or "Capital One," and your issue or question can make your search more productive.
If you can find someone else who has experienced the same issue as you, chances are good you’ll find a solution to your shared problem.
For example, imagine that you’ve held your Discover secured credit card for nine months. During that time, your credit improved significantly and you want to upgrade to an unsecured account.
You check Discover’s website where you read that it considers upgrading accounts at the eight-month mark, but you haven’t heard anything yet. You could search through customer reviews and learn that most people don’t actually receive their upgrade until they’ve used the card responsibly for twelve months. It's up to you to determine if waiting another few months is acceptable or you'd rather move the process along and call customer service to inquire further.
Your cardmember agreement should summarize all of the rules that govern your credit card. It’s most helpful for solving the math behind any interest and fees added to your account.
For example, if you see an interest charge that seems higher than what you expected, your cardmember agreement can tell you when interest begins to accrue on your outstanding balances and at what rate.
Keep in mind that this method may be slower with some lenders than other online approaches. For example, Discover provides public copies of their cardmember agreements, but U.S. Bank requires account holders to formally request a copy online, which may take up to ten business days. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau maintains a searchable database of credit card agreements, as well.
Many people would rather avoid calling customer service. Waiting to speak to someone can be frustrating, and repeating everything to a second person when they bounce you to a new department can be downright upsetting.
Calling customer service doesn’t have to be a negative experience, though. In fact, for questions that are too complicated to solve online, you’ll save a lot of time and energy if you decide to contact a credit card representative from the beginning.
For example, if you know for sure that there’s a charge on your card that’s fraudulent, don’t waste time looking for help online. Just call your provider right away.
How to Skip Being on Hold
Often the most troubling part about credit card customer care is the time you have to spend listening to elevator music before someone can talk to you. You may be able to figure out how to skip being on hold with some providers, though.
Many credit card customer service departments let you call in, reserve a place in line and get a phone call back when it’s your turn. If yours has an automated system in place, it should inform you of this option when it first requests that you hold.
Even when credit card providers don’t offer this service, there are ways you can skip being on hold. Here are some suggestions for avoiding being placed on hold:
Calling during an optimal window: Credit card call centers’ hours vary, but all have times when they’re less busy. In general, studies have shown that you’re best off calling early in the morning (before 8:00 a.m., when possible).
Emailing: Some credit card providers provide a customer service email address, an option you can use if you want to skip being on hold to speak with a credit card representative.
Messaging: Credit card customer service may also be available via online chat. Communicating with a credit card representative via instant messenger can be faster than other methods.
Don’t let the potential difficulties of speaking to a credit card representative stop you from doing so. With a little bit of forethought, you can significantly increase the odds of a positive experience.
Which Method is Best?
When you need help with a credit card problem, calling in and solving it online are both viable options. Ultimately, the best method depends on the issue you’re having.
If you have a common issue that others are likely to have encountered, you'll probably be better off solving it online. If you have a complex situation that you need to explain to a human being, go ahead and contact customer service. Either way, with the strategies above, you should get your answers quickly and efficiently.
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