Q: I am paying a $20 annual fee for my Chase card. I am about to cancel this and go with my regular no-fee cards. Should I request a no-fee status from Chase?

A: Changes to the rules governing how banks issue credit cards make it strangely awkward for most lenders to waive an annual fee. Meanwhile, revenue pressure has forced many banks to start charging small annual fees on many of their most popular credit cards.

Before we even go down this path, I want you to think about what your time's worth. If you earn more than $20 per hour, investing time into a negotiation with any credit card lender over a single Andrew Jackson might just seem like folly. If you're ready to think bigger, though, it may be time to ask Chase whether you qualify for an account that could save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Why Chase is worth keeping in your wallet

By most accounts, Chase managed itself well enough in recent years to thread the eye of the needle. It absorbed the portfolio of failed savings bank Washington Mutual, including the subprime credit card accounts that bank had purchased in its merger with Providian.

Then, just as parent company JPMorgan Chase & Co. ordered new signs for the former WaMu branches, Chase had to comply with new government rules about the amount of cash in its vaults. That meant closing some accounts and shrinking credit limits on many others.

Having survived this period of turmoil, Chase has returned to the stage in a big way, pumping out major innovations like its Blueprint online budgeting system and a new Ultimate Rewards platform designed around customer experiences. If you held on to your Chase account during this time, you may qualify to bump up to one of the company's new elite cards.

Time well spent?

Sure, you can request a fee waiver from Chase, and a helpful customer service rep may actually offer you a statement credit. However, federal rule changes prevent the bank from removing the annual fee from your account entirely. You'll end up making the same call every year unless you opt into a new account with no annual fee. Make the most of your time by exploring whether you can qualify for some great perks, too.

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