You signed up for a great travel credit card and received a fantastic sign up bonus but now a year later the annual fee is due. Your first thought is to call and cancel your card to avoid having to pay the annual fee but what you should do is call your credit card lender and see what offers they have available to you to keep the card. You heard that right, not only do credit card lenders give you large sign up bonuses to entice you to apply for cards but they also have retention offers to entice you to keep your cards.
Process of Getting a Retention Offer
1) Call the number on the back of your card
Once you call the number on the back of your card, work through the automated system until you get to a customer service agent. Never state you want to cancel your card, as some automated systems will cancel your card without you ever reaching the retention department.
2) Tell the agent you are thinking about cancelling your card
Once you reach the agent, tell them you are thinking about cancelling your card. Again it’s very important you state you are thinking about cancelling your card otherwise they may honor your request immediately without you ever reaching the retention department. As soon as the agent hears you say you are thinking about cancelling your card, they’ll ask to transfer you to the retention department.
3) Tell the retention agent you are not receiving enough value from the card to justify the annual fee
Never directly tell the agent you are cancelling the card unless you receive a retention offer or an annual fee waiver. Make a case for why you are not receiving enough value from the credit card to justify paying the annual fee. Once you say this, the agent will generally list out all the benefits of the card. At this point, tell them you understand the benefits though you aren’t able to use them enough to justify the annual fee. At this point, the agent will inform you about an offer they have. Once they’ve given you an offer, ask them if they have any other offers. Often times, agents will have a list of offers but will always offer you the least valuable retention offer first. Don’t stop asking for more offers until they say they do not have any more offers.
4) If you don’t receive the offer you want, hang up and try again
If you don’t receive the offer you are hoping for, kindly tell the agent you would like to think on it and keep your card open for the time being. You can now either call again to receive another agent or wait a day or two and call again. Retention offers change from time to time and may change from agent to agent, so there is no harm in trying again.
5) Ask for a supervisor
At times, a supervisor may have access to a better offer. This may not lead you to a better offer, but there is no harm in trying.
6) Accept the offer or cancel the card
Once you’ve received all the retention offers available to you, you’ll need to decide if the retention bonus is enough for you to pay for the annual fee and keep the card. Never accept a retention offer and cancel your card after receiving it. This can lead you to be blacklisted by a credit card lender.
What Offers Have Others Received?
When you call the retention department, it’s great to know what others have received to know whether you are getting a good offer or not. Since retention offers change from time to time, I suggest you check out the the following threads over at FlyerTalk. Members submit the offers as they receive them and thus the list is very up to date on most cards.
Retention Phone Numbers
In order to reach the retention department, call the back of the card and state you are thinking of cancelling your card. This will generally lead you to be transferred to the retention department. American Express does have a direct line to their retention department.
Never close a credit card without trying for a retention offer as you may give up a chance from keeping a card another year for a reduced rate or free. Many banks are known for being very generous with their retention offers such as American Express and Citi. Credit card companies want you to keep the card because that’s how they make money.
What are your favorite tips for getting a great retention offer?