The Art of the Cancellation Call

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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.

The Points Phone

AMEX gave us a solid gold phone for keeping our Hilton HHonors card open.

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.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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20 responses to “The Art of the Cancellation Call

  1. “No U.S. Airways representative will ever truly understand that airline’s award ticketing rule”. How true! I managed to ticket a MEL-SIN-KIX-GUM/GUM-NRT-PVG-AKL-MEL for 30k miles in J… Irony is that the whole thing when mapped out is 21594 miles butt-in-seat. Quite a good value!

  2. Yay Joel, that is somewhat impressive!

  3. I know this is meant to be satire, but I have a real question related to the topic. When calling to cancel a card, they always ask why. Of course the information they get is useful to them, so it makes sense. But I’m wondering, what’s the best response for a) getting an incentive to keep the card; and/or b) enhancing your chances to get the card again later? Or does your response even matter? Is “I don’t want to pay the annual fee” as good as anything to say? I sometimes say, “I travel a lot overseas and I don’t want to use this card while traveling because of the foreign exchange fee, so I don’t find it meets my needs very well.” This gets me canceled, no further questions, but is it really a good strategy?

  4. @DaveS I always say I don’t want to pay the annual fee in the hopes that they will waive it. Sometimes I will get offered a retention bonus to keep the card.

  5. Tried with CITI and it worked. Tried with BoA and the rep started crying so I hung up O_o

    Thanks for the tips! lol

  6. Just a few months ago I called Chase to cancel my Explorer card which originally was converted from Continental some time in 2011. I really did no need it since I already have two other cards with United (one business plus another that is I believe non existing anymore but still gives me 0% for balance transfer, just in case) and paying an annual fee for all these benefits a 2nd representative tried to ‘sell me’ is non of my interests 🙂 So…. a fee was waived without even asking for it. Therefore, my credit length history will not be shortened drastically while applying for another one.

  7. This is hilarious, I can’t ever get through a posting without tears streaming down my face. One request – please send the emails from billion mile secrets. After the 8th email i got from Darius with pictures from his 2nd honeymoon, of him and Emily once again showing how much better they are than the rest of us – i pushed to spam

  8. I know this is meant to be a satire but i don’t feel that it’s very fitting for the general ‘tone’ of the MillionMileSecrets blog. Just my personal opinion for what it’s worth.

  9. Well this was a total waste of time.

  10. Dairius, I’ve been following your blog since it’s inception. While it’s really developed into a great site, I don’t find that Points Envy meshes well with the helpful/honest tone of the site. There are some useful tips but it’s clouded by weak attempts at humor. It backfires because it’s not funny (like Lucky) and not really satirical. At the end of each post I wonder why you couldn’t give me the tips without the filler.

  11. i very much agree with @Rita and @js and disagree with @Ryan that it is funny but agree that the honeymoon stuff is repulsive.

  12. Seriously have to agree with js. Can you just give me all of the juicy info, and not waste my time with anything that isn’t really really juicy? I mean, after all the time I’ve spent doing nothing but reading blogs, and then doing more nothing, I think I deserve the fruits of your labor. Also, if you continue to post articles that do not appease me, I swear I will write so many whiny comments. Like TONS! I hope you have / will have learned your lesson.

    Also, Gary is way funnier than you too, face!

  13. Sorry above posters, I like these guys.

    And there aren’t supposed to be any “tips” in there, it’s just plain humor.

  14. For real, PE posts make me laugh out loud. It reads like a cracked dot com post. Hilarious.

  15. I loved this post MMS. Keep them coming! Always good to keep things in perspective and make fun of ourselves, as mileage whores, every now and then!

  16. Hilarious! The best satire has a bit of truth to it, and this certainly hit the spot.

  17. Rita is right. This is cute, but a waste of my (our) time. All I want to read about is how to enrich my mileage/point balance. I don’t have any issues with humor.

    By the way, it’s OK for a blogger to take a day off. I (we) realize that you can’t write every day. I think it’s Rapid Travel Chai that recently has been e mailing 1 word or picture blurbs. Bloggers should realize that you’re doing real damage to your brand (being serious) by wasting my (our) time. Its very easy for me to ‘delete’ an e mail, unfriend you on facebook, or stop following you on twitter. You’re doing me a big favor if you continue to waste my time.

    I’m still giving Darius a pass for now on the multiple ‘updates’ on his trip. Darius, I like you. I enjoy what you have to say. Your Southwest Companion pass tutorial was brillant. Please slow down the multi trip reports.

    All bloggers are just one (1) keystroke away from deletion.

  18. I’m new to this so I didn’t get most of the humor, but I do love looking at Million Mile Secrets to get some persepective on this whole thing. So, thanks for your blog! I’m at the stage where I’m considering getting a few additional cards and would like to know how to cancel one of my current ones. Would you be able to give a few tips of Do’s and Don’t’s in the future? Thanks so much for your tips! I’m learning a little more each time I’m able to check your site.

  19. Daraius – you’re the man! Keep it coming!

  20. Dariaus don’t listen to the haters. This is your blog you do what you want with it. My suggestion is to let readers know at the beginning of each satirical article explaining that it is satire. I know you’ve done that with a few articles but I think it would be fair to both parties to do it for all satirical work. I love your work so keep it up.

    “All bloggers are just one (1) keystroke away from deletion.” Is this to be taken as a threat? dhammer, dont’ like it? don’t read it.