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Credit cards are one of the most lucrative places to get airline miles and hotel points on the cheap.  If you’ve followed all the steps in my Beginner’s Guide, you will probably end up getting a credit card (or 2, or 20) for the signup bonus. When you have as many credit cards as I do, periodically you need to go through and do some housekeeping.  I spent probably 45 minutes on the phone last Saturday taking care of a few housekeeping items, and I thought you might be interested in the results

Annual Fees

I don’t like annual fees!  (Who does?).  I had a Citi AAdvantage card whose annual fee of $95 is canceled the first year, but my one year anniversary just passed.  These cards are fairly well-known to be easy to get the fee waived, and it was no different in this case.  The phone agent immediately issued a $95 statement credit for the fee

Interest chargeschaseink

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be signing up for credit cards to get travel bonuses if you can’t make the full payment each month.  Normally I immediately set up an auto payment in full as soon as I get a new card, but there apparently was a problem getting it set up on my Southwest Business card, so I ran into a situation where I was charged a late fee and interest.  Again, these are typically pretty easy to get waived if you call (and assuming you have a good payment history), and I was able to get that taken care of with a few minutes on the phone

Retention bonuses

I actually got 2 retention bonus offers.  The first was on my Citi AAdvantage card.  Again, this is a pretty common retention offer – if I spent $1000 on the card in any month for the next 16 months, I’ll earn a 1,000 AAdvantage mile bonus.  I’ll probably end up doing this – maybe it will be one of my goto Amazon Payments cards?  I actually heard recently that the 16 month offer may be a sneaky ploy by Citibank to lock you into a retention offer so when you call NEXT year, they won’t be able to waive the annual fee since you’re still in an existing retention offer.  We’ll see how that plays out next August.

The other retention offer I got was for my Chase Ink card.  I really like the Chase Ink card – not only does it give me lots of free money at office supply stores, but it even got me into a snazzy airport lounge for free.  But since my wife applied for one a few months ago, we don’t really need to have 2 of them.

I was trying to downgrade to the no-fee Chase Ink Cash card (which still gives 5x on office supply stores), but the agent said that Chase did not allow downgrading of cards (which was the first time I’d ever heard of that).  She did give me an offer of 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points if I spent $5,000 in the next 3 months, which seemed like a bit much.  Apparently I have 180 days to decide, so I do still need to call back on that.

What would you do?  Is 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points worth the $95 annual fee?

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