Posted by Chuck on October 1, 2014
Free money

Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Chuck

109

Small Balance Credit Card Waiver (Lots of Free 99¢ Amazon GCs)

Updated 3/26/17

Did you know that some banks will waive your credit card bill if it just has a very small balance on it?

Small Balance Waiver

With many credit cards, if the balance on your statement is small – usually 99 cents or less – the bank will forgive it; it’s too small to ask you to pay. Usually it shows up on the bill as a “credit adjustment” or something similar.

Here’s the data that we’ve found so far on how much will be forgiven:

  • Amex – none (however, this seems to vary – some people get $1 waived or even more.)
  • Bank of America – none (occassionally, they do waive as much as $4.75)
  • Barclay will forgive $.99, not $1
  • BBVA Compass will forgive $1 (source)
  • Capital One will forgive $1
  • Chase – none (As of November 2014, Chase is no longer forgiving small balances; however, some are still reporting success.)
  • Citi – none
  • Citizens Bank forgives $.99
  • Comenity Bank no longer forgives $1.99, unclear if they forgive at all (source)
  • Crate & Barrel will forgive $1.50
  • Discover – $2, not $2.01 (most report getting  this)
  • Elan (Fidelity) will forgive $.99 (1)
  • FIA – none
  • FNBO Omaha Amexnone
  • Home Depot card will forgive $.99 (source)
  • Kohl’s card will forgive $.99
  • M&T will forgive $.99
  • Macy’s Amexnone
  • PenFed will forgive $1
  • PNC – none (won’t forgive $.99)
  • Sears Citi will forgive $.99
  • Synchrony – none
  • Target credit card none
  • US Bank – will forgive $1 [Note: they will not forgive the small balance in the month that you are charged $0 for the “annual fee”, but the other 11 months you should get the $1 forgiven.]
  • USAA forgives $.99
  • Wells Fargo will forgive $1.99

Some of this info is based on my own experiences (see below), and some is based on readers comments to this post, on this Reddit thread, and on this FatWallet thread.

How to Use It

This may not sound so easy to make use of, but consider the fact that Amazon allows gift cards to be bought for as little as 50 cents. So after you go through the pain of setting up all your credit cards in your Amazon account, you can just go one-by-one and buy 99 cent e-gift cards on each credit card once a month.

This is especially worthwhile on no-annual-fee credit cards which you are planning on keeping forever; the two minutes you spend adding the card to your Amazon account will get a lot of usage.

This is best used on sock-drawer credit cards; since there’s no balance on the card, you can just purchase the $.99 Amazon gift card and you’re done. But it’s also possible to make use of this on credit cards which you do regular spend on. You can pay off the bill besides 99 cents, and the small balance will be forgiven. This may be considered a hassle for some, but some of us are anyway paying off our credit card balances early so that our credit utilization ratio goes down (see below).

Effect on Credit Score

We know that 30% of the FICO score is based off your credit utilization ratio. We’ve written that anecdotal evidence suggests that the sweet spot for optimizing your utilization ratio is to have zero utilization on all your credit cards, besides for one card which should have a utilization of something under 10% of the credit limit on that card.

How will this $.99 trick effect your credit score? If you leave a $.99 balance on numerous credit cards, will the $.99 balance show up on your credit report and hinder the above mentioned sweet spot?

No. Based on what I see on my own credit report, I believe that for two reasons this will not hinder your credit score at all.

Firstly, in general the balances always get rounded down to the dollar. So if you have a balance of $532.99, it shows up as a $532 balance. In our case, the $.99 balances are showing up as $0 on my credit report, just as all balances are rounded down to the dollar. I would therefore assume that your utilization ratio remains zero.

Additionally, since the credit card issuer is waiving that small balance, they report it as a balance of $0; the waiver is factored into the balance reported. I see this from the balance reported on my Discover card. As mentioned, Discover waives up to $2. On my credit report the balance is showing up as $0, despite the fact that there was actually a $2 balance. Apparently, since they are waiving the $2, they don’t report that balance at all.

Since there are many credit cards which don’t waive small balances, you can use one of those to be your one card which carries a balance, and all the cards which are carrying $.99 balances will be considered as having a zero balance. We’ll thus be able to retain the optimal utilization formula even while playing this $.99 game.

Some Screenshots

Discover

Discover has the highest threshold – they’ll forgive up to (and including) $2, but not $2.01.

discover1$2 is forgiven

 

discover2

$2.01 is not forgiven

US Bank

US Bank forgives 99 cents.

usbank99cent

 

I’m pretty sure that they would not forgive $1, but I haven’t tried it.

Barclay’s

I only recently got a Barclay card (the Arrival), and I noticed in the pamphlet that came with the card that they’ll bill me for any balance of $1 or more. They didn’t say if less than $1 will be forgiven, or if it will roll into the next bill. I tried it out, and…

barclay 99cent

the 99 cent balance was forgiven.

 Amex, Fia, Citi, BoA, Synchrony

These card issuers don’t seem to forgive anything.

amex2

A recent Amex statement

citi9cen

A recent Citi bill with a 9 cent balance.

 

fia99cent

From a recent FIA Amex statement.

synchrony99cnet

From a recent GE/Synchrony statement

As for Bank of America, I have no personal data since I don’t have any BoA credit cards, but I believe it runs through the same Fia Card Services, same as my FIA Amex mentioned above which did not forgive a $.99 balance. The Frequent Flyer reports likewise that BoA did not forgive a $.50 balance.

 Our Verdict

We’re obviously not getting rich on this, but it sounds like a cute way to get $5-$10 in Amazon gift cards per month with minimal effort. Please comment below with any additional (current) info, and we’ll update the post to reflect the additional information.

It’s worth noting that some banks might not take kindly to this, so keep in mind the small risk. Doing sporadically should be fine.



109 Responses to Small Balance Credit Card Waiver (Lots of Free 99¢ Amazon GCs)

  1. Bruce Wayne says:

    doc any idea about Wells Fargo?

  2. Stephen Lioy says:

    I assume that means no points awarded on the balances?

    • Chuck says:

      Haha, good question. But I imagine that there were points awarded for the small balance. In any case, I’d rather the full 99 cents, than the point I would get for that dollar of spend.

  3. Mordy says:

    I have to disagree with 2 of them, both with which I had experience with in the past 2 months
    1) Amex forgave me $2
    2) Discover made me pay a $1 they forgave me the previous month in the next months statement

    • Chuck says:

      Very interesting. Weird that something like this isn’t across-the-board.

      Couple of questions:

      1) Which particular Amex card was it that they forgave the $2? (Maybe some higher-end cards, or maybe business cards, they try to be nice about.)

      2) Had you gotten a bunch of small balance credits before on Discover, or was this your first? I’ve gotten the $2 credit three times already, and they never made me pay it the next month.

  4. amex says:

    i had amex bill closed on .03

  5. Chase says:

    What about Cap One?

  6. Ren says:

    This happened to me with a Kohl’s card for an amount less than <$1.
    It was a year or two ago. Sorry, I don't have access to that account any more.
    Kohl's Credit was administered by GE Capital, but they are now serviced by Capitol One (ugh).
    I don't remember who was servicing it at that point.
    So, it could apply to any private label card from GE Cap or Cap1.
    Sorry for the light info, that's all I have.

  7. Albrecht says:

    Years ago I was charging .99 at Kohls on my store card until I got tired of asking the cashier to charge .99 on the card and see them screw it up and charge the complete amount instead.

    It just happens that a couple of months ago I started experimenting again with my set of credit cards and found the following:

    Capital One will write-off .99
    Citi Sears will write-off .99
    Discover will write-off 1.99
    Penfed Visa & Amex will write-off .89

  8. Sam says:

    Yup! Chase no longer forgives 0.99… In fact they just closed one of my bills on .02!!!
    Thanks for the updates.

  9. jj says:

    Here’s some clarification on the mixed US Bank reports: you will get the 99 cent balance forgiven 11/12 months of the year, but not the month where you are also charged a $0 “Annual Fee”.

  10. Eliza says:

    I have a long relationship with BofA. For the first time this Feb they waived a balance of $1. http://imgur.com/xtIzzgT

  11. Anthony says:

    If we do this with our cards, does it count as utilization? In other words, will this reset the clock of “inactivity” on our cards so they don’t get closed automatically?

  12. Elliot says:

    Discover hasn’t waived a 0.99 balance for me – not sure if they changed their policy or if I’m just unlucky!

  13. BenT says:

    Thanks for this! I’m giving USAA a try this month…

  14. whocares says:

    I didn’t know Discover would waive $2. Will have to take advantage of that. I had assumed it was maybe up to 50 cents.

  15. Mark Zhang says:

    I tried $0.99 with BMO Harris credit card, and they did not waive it. It is now in my statement.

  16. whocares says:

    I have gotten the discover small balance credit of $1.99 for the last 2 months in a row.

    I did NOT get my most recent Discover Deals cashback when I used a 3rd party giftcard to pay.

    In the past, I did.

    Worked for Walmart, did not work for petsmart. Both times paid with store gift cards.

    Cant really complain to discover because I didn’t pay with discover.

  17. Srini says:

    I got a balance of $1.89 written OFF by Discover IT cashback card…all these days I was thinking it was only $0.99.
    Next statement I’m going to try with $2

    Thank you DoctorOfCredit 🙂

  18. whocares says:

    I have been doing $1.99 for the last few months at discover. Havent tried $2.

  19. jamie says:

    Is there any organization that will accept a credit card donation of less than 0.26 (as a purchase , not a cash advance) ? if so, does it have a way to set this up automatically on a monthly basis? I was able to pay my phone bill this way for years but they just went to a $5 minimum

  20. Srini says:

    Another card to the list (this doesn’t forgive, but just so that the list gets updated):
    First National Bank of Omaha (FNOB Omaha) Amex card – doesn’t forgive any balance.

  21. Jeff says:

    Discover forgave a $1.55 balance for me this month. AND I got 5% quarterly cash back for ground transportation on it.

    • BL says:

      As mentioned above, Discover IT small fee adjustment can be up to $2. So juat leave a $2 next time and they will write it off. You can try it in next month 🙂

  22. Srini says:

    I usually charge or leave $0.99 on my Capital One Credit Card…
    This time I made a charge of $1.00 – let’s see how it goes…

  23. whocares says:

    Does this work for the new Fidelity Visa via Elan ?

    I just got mine yesterday.

  24. Socks says:

    Will this actually count as “using” the card in order to keep it active for sock drawer cards? Or do you still have to report a balance on it so that the card won’t get closed?

  25. Emla says:

    blurgh?

  26. Roger says:

    Any word on merrick bank, cabellas, and any of the gas cards?

  27. Who cares says:

    Has anyone tried this with the new Fidelity Visa ?

    Thanks.

  28. Roger says:

    Cabellas visa- put out by World’s Foremost Bank , forgave $0.98 of mine. I am looking into Merrick.

  29. DXO says:

    $1 is forgiven by US bank.

  30. Roger says:

    I am having a hard time figuring how how to work this. If my capital 1 due date is the 22nd- then what day do I want to owe 99 cents?

    • Fiby says:

      The due date is irrelevant. It’s your statement closing date that you’re concerned about.

      Pull up an old statement. It’ll tell you somewhere that your billing cycle was from day A to B.

      I just pulled one up, it’s for 3/24 to 4/23. So on 4/23, I want to owe $1 (Capital one waives up to $1, not up to 99 cents). When your statement closes, they’ll see that you would have a statement balance of $1, and they just waive it.

      This particular statement has a due date of 5/20, which I don’t care about.

      Make sense?

  31. Albrecht says:

    Now that Fidelity cards are owned by Elan (subsidiary of US Bank), $0.99 is written off – result of my personal experiment.

  32. allmail89 says:

    interesting stuff

  33. Pingback: Credit Card Reference Pages - Doctor Of Credit

  34. arch says:

    Has anyone done this long term, say every month for at least a year?

  35. Logan says:

    Not gonna lie, this seems like a good way to get on a banks shit list for a buck. What makes you think they won’t just close your account after 12 months in a row of doing this? No data points about this so WNT

  36. Albrecht says:

    Nothing is going to get closed, has been doing it methodically for at least 4 years.
    This also keeps dormant accounts active, as an added benefit.

  37. Herb Riede says:

    Comenity waived $2.11 for me. I ordered 2 x 0.99 + 0.12 tax just to have activity (with free shipping!) on 1/2, and by 1/7 it was adjusted off!

  38. Noname says:

    FNBO is spelled ‘FNOB’ on the list. (Don’t publish this comment.)

  39. arch says:

    BBVA compass forgave $1 on NBA card on 01/22, haven’t tried higher amount

  40. Gadget says:

    I would have never thought to do this. If it were not for the devious minds of the Internet I would have been clueless.

    Maybe the qoute of this article should be changed to “Save Money By Short-Changing Your Bank”?

    There are two ways to use this information in this article;

    1) By the article title, ONE small purchase per month. But that only works well for sock drawer cards that normally never get to see the light of day. (Turns out most of my cards that are in my sock drawer don’t waive anything)

    OR

    2) For the transactors of the group, (those who always pay off their entire CC bill each month, typically after the statement closes), you are accustomed to use your grace period so you get the free loan. You would now have to pay your expected statement balance before it gets produced, BUT you would now short-change the bank by the amount listed. THIS method ONLY WORKS if you pay your anticipated bill BEFORE the statement gets generated.

    The downside to option 2 is that you will now lose many days of free loan float (20-25 usually), and by completely paying off a purchase, you could lose some of your rights to dispute (fine print on charge-backs can vary – not legal advice – not a lawyer). That being said, I wouldn’t do this on a CC used for large purchases; just on a CC used for routine stuff that you know is not going to be disputed.

    I successfully did method “2” this month with Capital One QuickSilver & waiting on the Discover to close for this month. I too am a little worried about getting on the banks bad-side, but I have too many cards and if they closed one or two I actually might be grateful. I believe if enough people start doing this, I imagine policies will change, but eat up before it gets cold!

  41. C says:

    Just got a bill for $1.99 from Comenity after years of it being charged off.

    • Harsh says:

      This. I had been looking for this if anybody else had the same experience. They haven’t waived my $1.99 balance two statement cycles in a row now. I’m going to try leaving a $0.99 balance now.

      • R says:

        Tried 1.99 on Victoria’s secret, total rewards (all comenity bank) and got a bill. Will try 0.99 too and let you know

      • R says:

        I’ll try 1.98 and 0.98 since @harsh is gonna try 0.99. I’ll come back on next statement

        • Harsh says:

          They don’t waive $0.99 either. Just got my latest bill for $0.99. I think Comenity has stopped waiving small balances completely.

  42. Debbi says:

    Just found this thread as I was trying to figure out why I didn’t get a bill from Home Depot. Turns out that after making a couple of purchases and returns, I had a balance of .99 and they wrote it off. So you can add them to your list, don’t know what the max is, but we know that they will at least forgive .99 or less. I don’t think I would try to do this deliberately, for me it’s not worth the risk of screwing up your credit or getting an account closed for such a small amount of savings.

  43. Chuck says:

    Thanks @arch @c @harsh @Debbi

    Added the data points.

  44. Z says:

    Bank of America did not even forgive $0.01 on my Cash Rewards card.

    New Balance Total
    Current Payment Due
    $0.01
    $0.01
    Total Minimum Payment Due
    Payment Due Date
    $0.01
    05/10/2017

  45. Adidas says:

    How do the CCC feel about this? If you do this on a regular basis will they take adverse action or close the account?

  46. Gus says:

    I feel like I need to get that $2/month from Discover to try to make up for the times they don’t pay out on Discover Deals.

  47. Sam Johnstone says:

    I have data point for TD Cash Credit Card. They used to write off $0.99 until last December. Maybe they still do, but since December they quietly and automatically reject my Amazon giftcard reloads. The devious part is that it looks like you succeeded, and the order appears to go through. You even get an email from Amazon. But then the money never shows up in your gift card account. I wondered what happened, but then I found the orders under “cancelled orders” even though I myself never cancelled them. They somehow got auto-cancelled by TD. This started happening at the same time (December ’16), for both my wife and my TD Cash cards. Has anyone seen this before?

  48. Gadget says:

    DP: US Bank (Cash +) forgives $1.00. I tested it after noticing DXO’s comment above from last year. I pay off almost all of the expected balance before the statement gets generated, and they forgive the buck on the statement end date. Maybe it would be different if I did the $1.00 amazon reload method – don’t know.

    It does make sense banks do this. Most people use bill pay now, and most bank’s bill pay sites do not accept an amount less than $1. Wish the big 3 (Citi, Chase, & Amex) would get onboard. Last month I had to bounce around online and find one of my banks to pay Citi 49 cents.

  49. Gadget says:

    DP: Concur, Barclay will forgive $.99, not $1. Tested $1 and it failed miserably.

  50. Adam says:

    thought now that FIA/Fido is part of the US Bank/Elan portfolio that the USB rules (above) would apply. finally decided to try it out last month. but nope, no forgiving of small balances. atleast not $1 on my statement that just closed.

    • stvr says:

      It had been working for $0.99 just like the other USB cards. This month it didn’t work for me though…

  51. Calvin says:

    I tried on Elan (US Bank) Fidelity card, and it seems $1 won’t work, $0.99 works..

    I posted my result at https://churner.co/credit-charge-cards-small-balance-credit/

  52. Pat says:

    For BBR BOA forgave a $4.75 purchase. Be aware.

  53. Fidelity says:

    Does discover still waive $2? I’ve been doing $1.99 consistently

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