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Annual fees on travel rewards cards can add up. You can avoid those fees with a little negotiation. Here’s how to get a credit card retention offer.
You can save money on travel using credit card rewards but annual fees can cost thousands of dollars a year.
Some people only keep a credit card for the signup bonus. But there are advantages to keeping a card forever. Travel credits, free lounge access, elite status, and other perks make some cards too valuable to cancel. But no one wants to pay the annual fees.
That’s why you can avoid paying those fees by getting a retention bonus. Keep reading to find out how to get a retention offer.
- How to Get a Credit Card Retention Offer
- 1. Use the Card
- 2. Don’t Miss Payments
- 3. Call Before Annual Fee Is Due
- 4. Don’t Pay Your Annual Fee
- 5. Call vs Chat
- What to Say to Get a Retention Offer
- Best Time to Call
- Possible Retention Offers
- Tricks to Get a Better Offer
How to Get a Credit Card Retention Offer
The best travel rewards cards have high annual fees.
You’ll pay $550 a year to renew your Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Hilton Aspire. While the American Express Platinum cards (learn more: personal and business) have an annual fee of $550.
If you have all three of these cards, you’ll pay $1,650. Plus the annual fees on your other travel rewards credit cards.
Got lots of cards? You’ll pay almost $3,000 in annual fees unless you can get your annual fees waived.
Hoping to get a credit card retention offer? Follow these steps to get bonus points and waived annual fees for keeping your credit card open.
1. Use the Card
Your chances of the bank offering you a retention offer are better if you use the card. When you use the card, you’re valuable to them.
Even if you pay the balance in full every month.
Because they make money from transaction fees. The more you spend, the more they make.
Pro-tip: Banks close accounts for inactivity. So make a small charge each month to reduce the risk of them closing your card.
2. Don’t Miss Payments
Part of being a good customer and one worthy of getting a retention offer is when you don’t miss payments.
In other words, pay your bill in full and on time.
Pro-tip: Even one late payment could jeopardize your good standing. Consider paying your bill before the due date.
3. Call Before Annual Fee Is Due
If you’re looking to get a retention offer, you should call before your annual fee is due.
Some people have called shortly after their signup bonus posted. Be cautious with this approach. The banks are closing accounts of customers they deem not worthy.
Don’t be a lame customer.
Pro-tip: The best time to call is after your annual fee posts and before you pay the bill.
4. Don’t Pay Your Annual Fee
Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Call for a retention offer before you pay your annual fee. Not after you’ve already paid it like I did. 🙁
There’s no incentive for the bank to waive your annual fee if you’re already paid it. They won’t refund it or offer you bonus points. Because they have your money.
Pro-tip: Don’t autopay your bills. The best way to avoid mistakenly paying your annual fee is to pay your credit card bills manually.
5. Call vs Chat
You’re more likely to get a retention offer when you call vs using the chat option.
Calling lets you establish a relationship, make a connection, and can get you a better offer than using the chat option.
Pro-tip: Before you call, know what you want to say and what you want.
What to Say to Get a Retention Offer
When you call, be nice and polite. It goes a long way towards getting what you want.
Who wants to help a jerk?
Not sure what to say to get a retention offer? Try this prompt:
My annual fee is coming up and I’m not sure if the card is worth keeping. Is there someone I can speak with? Are there any offers on this card?
They should transfer you to the retention department. If not, ask.
Once you’re speaking to a retention account representative, repeat what you’ve already said, or
My annual fee is coming up and I’m not sure if the card is worth keeping. I love the $300 travel credit (or whatever popular perk). But am not sure if that alone is worth paying the annual fee. I’m disappointed that the price protection benefit is no longer offered (or whatever perk has been discontinued or changed).
Pro-tip: Call during regular business hours Monday to Friday the week your annual fee posts.
Best Time to Call
The best time to call the retention department is on a weekday between 9 am to 10 am EST.
Usually, the more senior and experienced representatives work the early shifts during the week. You want someone motivated, knows what they can offer, and gives you the best retention bonus.
Calling first thing means you get them fresh and eager for a win. Their job is to keep you from canceling your card.
If you wait too late in the day, you could get someone who’s inexperienced, had a bad day dealing with rude customers and is in no mood to be generous.
Pro-tip: Banks keep records so HUCA (hang up call again) doesn’t always work. Although, YMMV (your miles may vary). It doesn’t hurt to try. The worst thing they can say is no.
Possible Retention Offers
The retention departments job is to keep customers. Keeping an existing customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one.
These are some possible retention offers you could get.
1. Waived Annual Fee
A waived annual fee is the most common retention offer. This means you don’t have to pay your annual fee.
Some people call every year and to get their annual fees waived.
Pro-tip: Cash is king, but sometimes points are better.
2. Bonus Points or Miles
Who doesn’t like cash, right? The banks like cash just as much as you do.
So, instead of waiving your annual fee they may offer you bonus points or miles. But there’s usually a catch.
You have to spend a certain amount of money to get the bonus points or miles.
Pro-tip: After you’ve met the required spending, continue using the card. Even if it’s for small purchases. (See Tip #1 above under how to get a retention offer.)
Tricks to Get a Better Offer
There are several tricks to get a better offer when you want a retention bonus.
1. Don’t Interrupt
In negotiation, the first one to speak loses. Be patient and don’t interrupt.
Pro-tip: The representative may offer you a list of choices. If you immediately accept the first thing they say you could lose out on something better.
2. Counter Offer
If you want something different than what you’re offered, give them a counter offer.
Be clear about what you want. You won’t get what you want if you don’t ask.
If you’re looking for points, counter with double what you’re willing to accept. For example, “What about 50,000 points?” or “What’s the most points or miles you can offer me to keep this card?”
And if you ask for something that they are allowed to give, they have to give it to you.
Pro-tip: Have your counter offers ready before you call.
Travel rewards cards can help you travel more and spend less. But there’s a hidden cost…annual fees. You can avoid paying thousands of dollars in annual fees by getting a retention offer.
Common retention offers are waived annual fee and bonus points or miles.
Know what you’ll accept to keep the card. Be prepared to walk away aka close the card or pay the annual fee if you don’t get the offer you want.
Some cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum cards (learn more: personal and business) are worth paying the annual fee to keep. So don’t call hoping for a retention offer on a card that you aren’t willing to close.
Remember, you can always counter the offer.
How often do you call to get a retention offer on your credit cards? Do you have any retention offer tricks? Feel free to comment.
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Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.