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Are your annual fees piling up?  Piggy bank feeling too light?  Do you feel like you need to cancel all your cards?  Well, have WE got a solution for YOU!

Sounds like the start to a bad infomercial huh?  I can’t lie…this post has a little infomercial blood in it, and while some of you readers will see this as old hat, I know it could be helpful to a lot of folks out there.  Every time I hear someone talking about fees, my ears perk up.  “Well, is it worth it?”  “Are you sure you want to pay that?”  “Are you sure you have to pay that?”

Here at Points With a Crew, we all love saving money – even better if we can help you save some money!  Wait a minute, how’d that guy get in here?  Don’t tell him I paid two $450 annual fees this year, or this might be my last post…

So, what do you do when your fee hits?

Ask!  You’ll never get anything from the banks if you don’t ask.  I call the number on the back of my card, and usually start out by saying something along the lines of:

“Hi [insert name of customer representative here], my annual fee hit, and I’d love to see if there are any promotional offers on my account, as I’m not sure if  should keep the card open.”

Often, they’ll have to send you along to a different department.  If the first rep is giving you the runaround, or doesn’t seem to have the power do what you’re asking; be direct.  Ask to be transferred to the retention department.  Once you get there, you can reiterate your request, and see what they come up with.  Hold firm on your needs.  They’ll try and distract you with all of the great benefits of the card, to which I respond:

“Right, I know it has plenty of benefits, I’m just not sure I’ll use it as much in the coming year.  Are there any offers that would help me make the decision to keep it open?”

Usually, after a bit of back and forth they’ll come up with something.  In my experience, it really comes down to two options – retention offers, or credits.  Sometimes, they’ll just waive the annual fee – that’s it.  Ask, and it shall be delivered.  Other times, (more often) the card issuer will offer you some kind of retention offer.  Typically in the form of “Spend X, receive Y” these offers can earn you points, miles, cashback, or a statement credit.

Over time, those annual fees really pile up – use our advice in this post to save some money!

Just do your math, and see if their offer is worth your time!  On cards you’re planning on keeping open anyway, this is a great way to earn a few extra points, or save a couple bucks.  In the past few months, I’ve received retention offers on multiple cards, as well as credit towards bank fees on some of my checking accounts.

If you’re just the teeniest bit cheap ahem, frugal (like me) you’re already avoiding most of the financial industry’s excessive fees.  Still, sometimes it makes sense to pay the fee for a worthwhile product.  I’d argue that I’m getting plenty of value from most of my cards with annual fees.  Still, if I paid all of them, I’d be paying about $2,161 a year in annual fees at the moment.  No thank you.

Five Tips for Getting Retention Offers

  1. Ask.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  2. Know what you want.  Cash?  Points?  Do you actually want to close the card if you can’t get anything?
  3. Be nice!  Customer service reps deal with the crazies every day.  Help them help you.
  4. HUCA – Hang up, call again.  (Often the holy grail of travel hacking.)
  5. Stay organized.  You’ll need to call the bank shortly after (or even before) the fee posts.

Calling won’t always work, but in my opinion it’s always worth a shot!  I’ve had monthly fees (on checking accounts), overdraft fees, interest charges, late payment charges, and annual fees on cards – all waived.  I’m not very demanding in most of my life, but I’ve learned to be assertive when it comes to my financial well-being.  Don’t be afraid to give it a shot!

Remember, ask not what you can do for the banks, but what the banks can do for you.

…or something like that, right?

How’s your luck been with retention offers?  Any tips or tricks for our readers?


Points With a Crew has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points With a Crew and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them

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