April 07, 2020


If you sign up for a bank money-market account, you will find it a convenience in handling routine deposits and payments. Transactions may be limited to six per month.

It pays interest if you keep the balance above, say, $2,500. But the interest rate at most banks is as low as three-tenths of l percent on a balance of several thousand dollars. That was no problem in the era of low interest rates, but it’s ridiculous in these days when rates are rising and a certificate of deposit pays up to 4 percent or more. Of course a CD ties up your money for a set period.

But it turns out that that there’s a way out of this bind. If you ask – but only if you ask – some banks will immediately increase the rate on the account to around 4 percent. Banks don’t generally volunteer this opportunity. Many depositors don’t know about it and unsuspectingly continue to make what amounts to a nearly interest-free loan to the bank.

Having to ask is nothing new. Credit card holders often find that if they are late with a payment and face a penalty fee they can simply call and get the fee waived. And card companies that charge an annual fee have been known to cancel the fee if a card holder complains. They don’t want an angry customer switching to another card company.

Telephone companies also sometimes give ground to complainers. If the monthly bill seems too steep, just call in. You may find that the company just happens to have a special reduced rate. All you had to do was ask.

Some hotels have a special designation in their computers for reductions they make when a customer complains that the room was dirty or the people next door kept the TV blasting long past bedtime. They call it “customer appeasement.”

You can play the game, and you might say it puts money in the bank.

But you’ve got to ask.

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