I currently have both the Citi AA Amex personal card and the Citi AA Visa personal card. Since, I obviously want to avoid paying two $95 annual fees this year, I called to cancel my Citi AA Amex, which has an annual fee coming due this month.
Calling The Citi Retentions Department
Sometimes I call to cancel a credit card despite the fact that I want to keep the card open, but in this case I really preferred to cancel my card. I simply do not need two AA cards, and since I am an AA Gold member, many of the benefits of the card (1 free bag, priority boarding, etc.) do not save me any money.
When I call the credit card retentions department, I always follow these rules:
- Always call during the week and during business hours. Many banks only staff the retentions department during the week, so if you call over the weekend the front line customer service department may not have a retentions agent available and will simply cancel your card.
- When you speak with retentions specialist, always start off by telling them that you like the card and that you value some of the benefits. Make sure that you are specific about what benefits you value, for instance earning 1 mile per dollar on purchases, getting 1 free checked bag when flying on American Airlines, 25% discount on inflight purchases, etc. If you simply tell them you want to cancel your card and do not indicate that you know anything about the product, they will assume that you are not the kind of customer they want and will be more likely not to offer a retention bonus.
- Sometimes it pays to ask if there are any other offers available. I have heard from people that Citi will offer you anywhere from 1-4 different offers. Some are a simple rebate of the annual fee, others are miles bonuses tied to spending. Unless you get an offer that “wows” you immediately, it may be worth asking if there are better offers available.
- If you don’t get an offer, or don’t get an offer you like, don’t be afraid to hang up and call back. I’ve encountered instances with Citi and Chase where I didn’t receive a retention bonus, but called back a few days later and got 15,000 miles. It’s sometimes a crap shoot, and may be influenced by factors that you have no control over like what their internal retention goals are how they are tracking towards their goals.
- Spending on the card can often increase your chances of getting an offer. I have had cards that I put very little spend on and was not offered a retention bonus, but cards that I did spend quite a bit ($5,000 – $15,000) on in a year, I received a generous retention bonus.
As you can tell the credit card retention game is just that…a “game.” It’s a game of cat and mouse. Banks want to keep good customers, who spend a lot on their cards, and who pay their bills on time. Customers want credit card benefits and rewards like earning airline frequent flyer miles, but want to avoid paying outrageous credit card annual fees. If you take the right approach you can win the game more often than not. In fact, it’s much easier that you think! You just have to be disciplined, be aware of when you credit card annual fees are coming due, and take 10-15 minutes out of your day to make a phone call. More often than not you will come out ahead, hopefully with no annual fee, and a bunch of airline miles to boot.