Occasionally, there are situations where I feel on the fence about a specific card and call and try to get a retention offer. Sam from Milenomics wrote a post about his success on getting 25,000 Membership Rewards points for keeping his Amex Gold Premier card. A great deal.
He also mentioned that he can’t think of one card that would be worth paying a fee on. Obviously, I disagree, since I paid $49 to renew my Chase IHG card quite a few times. Let me add that I rarely, if ever, disagree with Sam. In the comments section, he did suggest I at least email Chase and see if I could get some free IHG points for keeping it.
Even though I won’t be doing it since it just feels wrong with all the value I get from that card, his advice does have merit. Sometimes you can have the best of both worlds. You don’t have to lie and say you will cancel the card when you don’t have any intention of doing so. But you can call or email and simply ask if there is a retention offer available.
Let me tell you about my recent experience.
Last June I applied for a CITI AAdvantage Mastercard that came with a 50,000 miles sign-up bonus (still available). Well, the annual fee of $95 was coming due, and I hate fees of any kind, unless they provide a perk of some sort upon renewal.
Originally, I planned to make a redemption for flights to Europe and tack on a free one-way from Las Vegas. Since AAdvantage card gives 10 percent rebate on up to 100,000 miles each year (the amount I planned to use), it would have been worth it to pay the $95 fee. However, one way add-ons are no longer allowed. Plus, I ended up using BA Avios for all in the party, as I wrote last week.
A bit of a blast from the past
My husband got the same card a few years back, and I talked him into calling and asking for a retention offer when the fee was due last May. The CITI rep started doing the usual dance about how the card is the best thing since sliced bread and totally worth $95 (hmm, that sounds familiar). To which my husband said: “Cancel it.” I was gesturing emphatically: ” NO, NO, NO! Let them talk to me!”
You see, I didn’t really want to cancel the card since we had AA flights coming up and this card lets you check several bags free of charge, which would save us close to $150 on a roundtrip flight. However, I didn’t really want to pay $95 either.
I was afraid if we ended up missing the flight due to kid’s sickness, I would have paid that money for nothing. The IHG hotel night certificate can be used within 12 months and redeposited if canceled. But we only had one flight on American that year on a specific date. So it was “use it or lose it” when it comes to the free checked bags benefit.
I never instructed my husband to say the word “cancel,” but that’s what he did anyway. After some wrestling with him, I got ahold of a phone and the agent offered me a $95 credit. I accept! My husband said to never ask him to do it again.
After our AA flights were behind us and the $95 credit posted, I canceled the card. I did pay the annual fee, so I wasn’t a complete parasite.
Back to the present day
I was hoping for the same offer for my card this time around. No dice. The agent said the best she could do was a bonus of 3,000 miles after spending $500 in the next 3 months. Not good enough. I told her to just cancel it. We have no AA flights coming up any time soon, so no incentive to keep the card.
The agent’s voice then changed and she said: “I see you got 50,000 miles bonus on this card.” Long pause. She knew, she knew. And the CITI agents… they usually don’t know.
So I told her, on second thought, I’ll just accept the offer. Maybe it’s just my paranoia, but I had visions of her pulling out the CITI black list on her computer and getting ready to type in my name. She didn’t say: “I thought you might,” but I’m pretty sure she was thinking it.
What I didn’t say was that I will cancel the card anyway after I get the 3,000 miles. And so I did. As soon as the bonus posted, I sent a secure message to CITI in my credit card profile to avoid paying an annual fee. Three thousand miles is most certainly not worth $95 to me, and I doubt to anyone in this hobby. Still, it’s always a good idea to check what the retention offer is. As long as there is no black list, of course!
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Picture credit goes to rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.