When an annual fee on your credit card is coming up, and you’re not sure whether to keep the card for another year or to close the account, it’s best to evaluate the overall value you get out of being a cardmember.
Do you wish to keep unlimited lounge access? Do you often stay at a certain hotel brand or fly a certain airline exclusively? Are there other perks you are not quite ready to let go? If the answer to these questions is no, then it’s safe to say it’s time to churn that card, unless you call into the retention department before closing the account to see what kind of an offer you might get by keeping the card open for another year.
Living in Salt Lake City gives me limited airline options because Delta has a major hub here, and it makes more sense for me to fly the airline as it is the cheapest option on most routes. I’ve been a Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express holder since 2009. I’ve always paid the annual fee and benefited greatly from just checking in bags for free alone, not to mention saving money with Amex Offers or booking award flights with accumulated miles. However, at the time of call I had not planned any trips with Delta for this year, and I’d decided to reevaluate my relationship with Amex. I called the retention department line.
You can view a list of credit card retention phone numbers here.
I was on hold for about 10 minutes before a customer service representative answered. I politely explained I did not have any Delta flights planned for this year and would not be using the free bags perk, and that in the last few months I had shifted most of my travel spending to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card because of earning double miles on all airlines, not just Delta. I asked if Amex would waive the $95 fee. The rep straight up said there’s no option to waive the fee, but he’d be more than happy to look into offering a retention bonus to keep me as a customer. Great!
They say your mileage may vary, and boy, did it vary from the retention bonus examples I’ve read about online before calling! The rep said the best he can offer is 1,000 miles now and another 2,000 after spending $1,000 on the card in the next 60 days. That’s it. No statement credit. No more miles. Nothing. I asked a few times if there’s a better offer to match my value as a cardmember, and he said, “Not on this card.” He then offered to downgrade my account to the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card with no annual fee, but I wasn’t interested.
To be honest, this isn’t exactly how I envisioned this conversation. I’ve been a cardholder for many years, have put quite a bit of spending on it (~$19K last year), and 3,000 miles is all I was offered. So, If I took the annual fee and bought 3,000 miles with it through delta.com, it would cost me $105, and I wouldn’t have to spend $1,000! When converted to dollar amount, it seems as though Amex values my membership at $30. The worst part is, I took the offer. I don’t know why. I panicked. But the rep was firm. There were no other offers.
Since then, I have completed the spending. The first 1,000 miles posted a few days after the phone call. The additional 2,000 miles posted the day after I hit $1,000. I also have booked a short trip to California for Memorial Day holiday weekend, so at least I’ll get another $50 worth of value out of the card because I always check in a bag.
Have you gotten a retention offer on this card or any other cards before? What was your experience?