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I talked the other day about the annual fee coming due on my Starwood American Express card and talked about whether or not it made sense to keep the card. After having no luck with the representatives on Amex’s online chat, I decided to give a call to the toll-free number on the back of my card.
First time I struck out because apparently they don’t open until 9 a.m. :-). But I called again yesterday afternoon and spoke to Maggie in the retention department. She offered me a retention bonus of 500 Starpoints plus 1000 Starpoints if I spent $1000 in the next 60 days (or possibly the reverse of that – I can’t remember)
I politely asked if there were any other offers as 1500 Starpoints wasn’t that much, and she said that was the only offer available. I thanked her, said I would need some time to think about it, and hung up the phone
What to do
So now, what to do. There is also a current offer where you can refer people to get this card for an additional 5000 points, so maximum that would be 6500 points for the $65 fee, an even 1c per point.
But let’s explore the opportunity cost. If I wanted to spend $65, I could buy 13 $500 OneVanilla cards that have an activation fee of $4.95 each, giving me 6500 points in whatever currency I want. I’d much rather have 6500 Chase Ultimate Rewards than 6500 SPG points, due to the greater flexibility of transfer partners to the ones that I actually want.
And that’s even ignoring possible category bonuses. I believe at Staples you can get $200 Visa cards for a $6.95 fee so that is about 9 of those, or $1800 in spend, which would give you 9000 points with the 5x category bonus of the Chase Ink card. Or perhaps there’s an opportunity with the 3x (or 4.5x!) category bonus of grocery stores with the American Express Every Day cards.
Amex Sync offers
Another thing to consider is that American Express has what they call “Sync” offers where you can earn statement credits for purchases with certain merchants. For example, right now there is a $15 off $75 purchase at Home Depot, or $5 of a $5 purchase at Dunkin Donuts (free donuts!) These are typically good for each card that you have. So if you have 5 Amex cards right now, you could get $25 in free donuts.
Canceling this card would mean that I would have one fewer card to take advantage of these offers
What I’m doing
As you might have guessed from the title, I’ve decided to cancel my card. I will need to also figure out a way to keep my points active (Starwood cancels points if there is no activity for one year). But there are ways to do that, such as using points to make a stay, or by using the Starwood shopping portal.
What about you? What do you like to do when an annual fee comes due on a card?