There comes a point every year where I spend some time evaluating the different miles-earning credit cards that I have, and whether or not it is worthwhile to continue the card. Almost all of the miles-earning cards I have also have their own annual fee, ranging from $65 to $175 (the highest I am paying right now; definitely not the highest out there).
While many of the cards I currently have are cards that I would gladly pay the annual fee for–such as the Chase Ink Bold or the American Express Starwood cards I have–because the benefits & miles-earning power on these cards pay off for much more than their annual fee. But regardless of whether or not I would continue the card or not, I always like to call into the credit card company to ask them if they have any retention offers available. Depending on the product, there may or may not be a dedicated retention services team. It’s just another way to get some extra miles on your card. Sometimes you’ll get an offer, and sometimes you won’t get anything.
Recently, I called in for two of my cards which I have had open for about a year now: my American Express Business Gold card and my American Express JetBlue card. Let’s preface this with saying that I went into the phone call ready to cancel either cards–although willing to keep the AMEX Business Gold with even a nominal retention bonus, but definitely not willing to keep the AMEX JetBlue card without a good offer. Here’s a quick review of my experience for getting retention offers for these two cards and my final decision:
- Quick annual fee comparison: The AMEX Business Gold has a hefty annual fee of $175. The AMEX JetBlue card has a $40 annual fee.
- Points-earning comparison: Both are AMEX so get the AMEX Sync awards. AMEX Business Gold gets me 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare and 2x on gas/advertising/shipping. AMEX JetBlue gets me 1 TrueBlue pt per $1 I spend. 8 TrueBlue pts per $1 only on JetBlue purchases.
- Other deciding factors: AMEX Business Gold gets access to the OPEN Rewards network. Random savings. AMEX JetBlue gets me complimentary cocktails on JetBlue flights (seasonal). AMEX Business Gold also comes with a number of high-level AMEX benefits including travel insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, top tier roadside assistance, etc.
- Retention offers offered: Offered 15k Membership Rewards points for AMEX Business Gold; no retention offer for AMEX JetBlue.
- My final decision: Closed the AMEX JetBlue card and kept the AMEX Business Gold open, while taking the retention offer.
I spoke with two separate departments for the different cards. Each card had its own department who dealt with retention services–the AMEX Business Gold has its Membership Services department provide me with the offer. 15k was the best the representative I spoke to could offer me. In my head, I already knew that I get well more than $175 a year back on just American Express Sync rewards alone. But I already have multiple AMEX cards and the AMEX Sync offers are still not that friendly for folks with multiple AMEX cards. So in the end, it was really the 15,000 retention offer that pushed my final decision to keep the Business Gold card. The JetBlue one I cancelled because the benefits were not worth keeping the card, even if it was only a nominal $40 annual fee. (Annual fees add up when you have many miles-earning cards.)
Now I’m +15,000 Membership Rewards points I didn’t have before, just for calling in and asking. Certainly not as good as a sign up offer, but better than nothing.
Remember that when you are thinking about canceling a card, it never hurts to call in and ask if there is a retention department or any retention offers available. When they ask you why you’re interested in canceling, just tell them that the annual fee is a little too high–and/or tell them any other reason you’d like. Honesty works well in these situations, as reps are usually pretty understanding. Just make sure that you speak to them politely, and make it sound like you’re on the fence about the decision and that they could sway you either way with an offer.
Readers–what have your experiences with canceling credit cards been like? I would love to hear about your stories–and any retention offers you may have received. My personal belief is that the higher the annual fee, the more likely the retention offer will be more worthwhile. Feel free to post in the comments with your experiences.