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The whole goal of the points and miles hobby is to get the maximum benefit at the lowest out of pocket cost. Many of the best cards have annual fees and it always makes sense to call your credit card companies at least once a year to see if you can get any retention offers. The Points With a Crew “Complete Guide to Credit Card Retention Offers” walks you through the process with some tips that can improve your odds of success.
How Long Before the Annual Fee Should I Call?
I typically call one to two months BEFORE the annual fee posts to my account. I believe you have more leverage by doing this. If you are successful, you can pocket the bonus and still have time to decide if you really want the card before the annual fee posts. If you are not successful, you can still try again right before or after the annual fee posts. I used this strategy last year with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card. I called once and was offered a $99 retention payout. After a few weeks I decided to cancel the card anyways and when I called to do so I was actually given a second $99 retention offer which was enough to convince me to keep the card for another year. Sadly, this year my first retention offer request for the Southwest Premier card was unsuccessful, but I’ll be trying again in a few weeks.
Here’s Another Great Opportunity to Ask for Retention Bonuses!
Another great time to try for retention offers is when a bank changes the benefits that a card provides. The banks are extremely competitive and when a customer balks at a product change they will often do what they can to retain your business. Citi recently slashed numerous benefits from their credit card lineup. While I didn’t need most of the benefits that were removed from my CitiBusiness /AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, I figured this could be an opportunity to try to get a retention offer. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my main go to card and covers most of the benefits that the AAdvantage Platinum card lost anyways.
The only advantages that I would miss would be the access to earlier boarding and a free first checked bag for me and up to four travelers on my reservation. However, since I recently signed up for Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Card which provides these same benefits and offers 65k miles bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases plus an additional 10k miles after adding an authorized user who makes one purchase, cancelling this Citi card would have no disadvantage. (The only downside with the Aviator offer is that the $95 annual fee is not waived for the first year). This is the ideal situation because there was no downside from a benefits perspective if I did decide to cancel the card.
The morning I decided to call Citi, I was driving and had twenty minutes until I would reach my destination which I hoped would provide enough time. I navigated through the IVR in a few minutes. and had a rep on the phone in no time. I jumped right into it.
Me: Hi! I hope you’re doing well. I’m thinking about closing my card as the change in benefits has me pretty frustrated right now.
Kelly: I completely understand Mr. Loehr. However, the card does still provide many other benefits.
Me: I understand Kelly, but I can’t justify the annual fee. Given the change you have had in the offering is Citi willing to provide any goodwill adjustments.
Kelly: You have been such a great Citi customer and we value your business. Would you be willing to accept a $100 credit with a purchase of at least $100 as a goodwill offer?
Me: I appreciate you working with me Kelly and I will accept this offer. Thanks!
Kelly: Thanks for your continued business Mr. Loehr. This credit will show on your next statement. Thanks for being a Citi customer.
We said our goodbyes and I looked at my phone when hanging up. Four minutes and forty-six seconds. I still had fifteen minutes to listen to a podcast and had made $100 with a quick phone call. My annual fee is not due to post until September, so I still have a few months to decide whether to keep this card open and to pay the $99 annual fee. Maybe I will call again in August and see if I anything else is available.
Have you had any luck with retention offers recently? Tell me about it in the comments below!