The Dreaded Call – My Recent Retention Experiences at Three Popular Banks

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Photo by Sean MacAntee
Photo by Sean MacAntee

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Recent Retention Call

The thing about most rewards credit cards is that they involve an annual fee. While most cards waive that fee the first year, when renewal times comes, decisions have to be made.

I generally do my best to avoid annual fees on credit cards unless I am getting some benefit in return. A great example of a card which gives sufficient return is the Chase IHG Rewards Club card. It gives me a free night every year for my $49 annual fee. Truly a great deal!

Sometimes I end up with duplicates of cards as well. Thanks to the Citi Executive 100k offer earlier this year, I have several American Airlines credit cards. I also have more than one Chase Ink and Arrival Plus. All of these products recently came up for renewal, so I opted to call the banks to hear their retention offers and/or close the accounts.

Why Keep Cards Open

Other than wanting the actual card benefits, there are a couple of reasons to keep credit cards open.

  • Lengthen your credit history and average age of accounts which helps your credit score. (Find out more on how credit scores are calculated.)
  • You can use existing accounts as leverage when opening new accounts. For example, you can offer to shift credit and/or close existing accounts to make way for new ones.

My Recent Retention Experiences

Citi AAdvantage Visa & Amex

Citi Aadvantage Credit Card Offer

These two cards were opened about two years ago using what was known as the “two browser trick”. By submitting two separate applications in different browsers within seconds of each other, it was possible to get two cards and bonuses instead of one. That loophole has unfortunately closed.

The Retention Offer

When both of these cards were up for renewal the first year, Citi credited the account for the amount of the annual fee with no strings attached. This year I was offered a credit against the annual fee after spending $1,000 within three months. Additionally, I will get a bonus 1,000 miles for spending $1,000 per month for the next 16 months.

The Verdict

I decided to accept the offer on both cards. Both of these accounts are well seasoned at this point and are helping to build my long term relationship with Citi. I see the $1,000 spend requirement as a fair trade off to get the annual fee credit.

Barclay’s Arrival Plus

Get Arrival   Barclaycard Travel Community

I currently have two Barclay’s Arrival Plus cards. It is one of my favorite credit cards and the best for everyday spend in my opinion. (My review.) Recently one of my two Arrival Plus cards came up for annual review.

The Retention Offer

I was not offered a credit against the annual fee. Instead, Barclay’s offered a downgrade option. I could change my Arrival Plus to either the Barclay’s Award card or the no fee Arrival card.

Verdict

Since Barclay’s can be tough on applications, I opted to close the Arrival Plus. This gives me a better chance of being approved for another card soon with them. Unlike Citi or Chase who let you shift credit and/or close old accounts, Barclay’s can be very tough if you have to call reconsideration.

Chase Ink Bold

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My final reconsideration call was for a two year old Chase Ink Bold. Last year Chase offered 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points to keep the card, which I saw as worth it given the category bonuses and other benefits of the card.

The Retention Offer:

10,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $5,000 in spend.

Verdict:

I am not sure if I will complete this or not. We have four total Ink cards in our family and I am thinking about letting this one go. To avoid having to call back, I did accept the retention offer, since I have to wait for my next statement to close before cancelling the account or I will lose my pending Ultimate Rewards points.

Conclusion

It can be tricky to decide which cards to keep open and which offers to accept. The decisions seem to get easier as you gain experience and make more of these cancellation phone calls. I generally don’t call on accounts I am not willing to close, but some people have success with that strategy.

Either way, I highly recommend thinking twice before paying a high annual fee on a credit card. Most simply don’t provide enough benefit in return. Remember that ditching that high annual fee card might open up room for a new sign up bonus as well! It is the circle of credit card life!


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9 COMMENTS

  1. My husband was offered 15,000 United miles last year on his Chase Mileage Plus card, and 10,000 miles this year.

    I received an extra 3,000 miles (for a total of 6,000 miles) for the second year on my Chase Southwest business credit card.

    Chase offered no retention bonus on my United business credit card so I closed it.

  2. Shawn, I closed my Arrival Card in anticipation of getting another one along with the signup bonus. I see you got a second one w/o closing the first. Any tips for getting approval for that second card as Barclay is at times fussy?……….Thanks for all the work you do.

    • I think the key is to wait 6 months between apps and to not have too many other Barclay’s cards. You basically need to get instant approval on your app. Their system doesn’t automatically bar you from having multiples of the same card, however their reconsideration reps won’t allow it to happen. The second a human looks at it then you are done.

      Before my 2nd Arrival app, I cancelled a US Airways card and went down to just one card. Now that I have cancelled the 1st Arrival, I will probably apply for the US Airways offer. Hope this helps!

    • I go with the “My annual fee just posted (or will post soon) and I’m considering to close this card. I love the card and the benefits of the card, but it is hard to justify paying the annual fee. Is it possible to waive the annual fee?”

      At that point, the rep will say that they can’t waive the annual fee, but they can offer you _____. You can negotiate the offer slightly or ask if there are any other retention offers available. If you stick with this script/game plan, you should do pretty good.

  3. Have 8 chase cards. Have heard 8 is about the limit on chase cards. Is that true? Also I downgraded a CSP to CS for longevity purposes. Thie seems contra to what should be done if there is a limit of 8 cards. Comments

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