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Note: This post is satire and you shouldn’t follow any of Points Envy’s suggestions, nor should you break the law. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.
Canceling a credit card (or “cancelling,” when referring to the British Airways Visa) can be a harrowing experience, particularly the first few dozen times. But given that it is as integral to the points game as the reconsideration call, this week at Billion Mile Secrets we will guide you through some of the finer points of this delicate process and share some strategies we’ve developed over the years.
There are few certainties in the points game, but two things we can always count on are: (1) no U.S. Airways representative will ever truly understand that airline’s award ticketing rules, and (2) most of the best rewards cards will charge an annual fee. With regard to the latter, we find it helpful to put each card in perspective before a cancellation call by asking ourself some pertinent questions.
How much is the card’s annual fee, and do you earn points for said fee? How does the card fit into your overall credit card portfolio? Does the card still get you physically excited? Does it look cool? Remember, your ultimate goal here is to maximize your card’s benefits while spending as little cash as possible.
To get ourself in the mood for the call, we generally enjoy a few glasses of fine champagne and have a little sit-down with the card in question. We’ll reread the card benefits, feel the card for a while (front and back), talk to it a bit, maybe taste it, really whatever it takes just to make sure we know what we might be giving up.
Once we feel sufficiently informed, we pick up the phone and make the call. The first rule of any cancellation call is to never, ever, ever use the “c-word.” (It is also usually best not to use the “j-word,” “s-word,” “g-word,” “f-word,” or “n-word.”) Instead, you should let the bank know that you are intimately familiar with the card and its benefits, but that you are beginning to question whether the annual fee makes it a “good fit” for your “alternative lifestyle.”
The first representative you’ll encounter typically has a gruff, lower class voice, but hang in there and they will transfer you over to the cancellation department fairly quickly, where you can speak with someone more appropriate. This person will ask you several standard questions and then maybe offer you a paltry retention offer, typically a statement credit to offset the card’s annual fee and/or a temporary earning bonus.
As in any negotiation, you should reject this initial offer outright and make it known that you are deeply insulted, but that you would like to keep things civil. Next you should mention your “extensive” history with the bank and your disappointment that a previous representative rudely hung up on you. It also helps to let the representative know that you are dating the bank CFO’s daughter and/or son, who told you to mention Promotional Code AFD625X.
The representative may act like they don’t know what you are talking about, but don’t get discouraged. Instead, get really angry. After a few minutes of feigning outrage and threatening to involve Reginald Morgan, we usually get an offer for a statement credit of anywhere from $500 to $2500, as well as a 5x earning bonus on all purchases for the next twelve billing cycles and a one-time bonus of 25,000 to 50,000 points.
Again, the rules of negotiation dictate that you flatly reject this offer. Now is the time to take the discussion to another level. Ask the representative if it is raining outside. If their answer is “yes,” switch to a softer tone and say, “You know, when I see rain clouds, all I can think about is the emotional darkness I experienced when my father committed suicide following the foreclosure on his childhood home by your bank.” Then remain silent until the representative speaks again.
If the representative instead replies “no,” respond with, “Well that’s wonderful. It is raining here,” and then relate the same story about your father’s suicide.
In either case, you will undoubtedly be offered a new set of perks to convince you to keep the card. Most recently, when calling about our United Explorer card, we came away with a new Chase checking account pre-funded with $5,000, more than 100,000 United miles, a United Club card with the annual fee permanently waived, and an increase in our Sapphire Preferred annual dividend rate from 7% to 25% for the next five years.
Of course, we’ve been doing this for quite some time, and your miles may vary. Just remember: the more indignant you are, the better. No matter the result of your first few cancellation calls, we urge you to stick with it, because you really never know what you might get.