We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

I Got a Big Fat Nothing for a Retention Offer (but Kept This Card Anyway!)

I Got a Big Fat Nothing for a Retention Offer (but Kept This Card Anyway!)

JasminI Got a Big Fat Nothing for a Retention Offer (but Kept This Card Anyway!)Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Jasmin:   My kids will report that I’m full of annoying “Mom-isms” which drive them crazy.  One of their least favorites is “Just do it.  It’s a life skill.

So why can’t I take my own advice when it comes to calling credit card companies to ask for a retention bonus when a card’s annual fee is due?  I put it off until the last minute and get a little anxious before picking up the phone.

It’s an easy call to make (just call the number on the back of your card) if you’re on the fence about canceling an annual-fee card.  Often, the bank will sweeten the pot by giving you an incentive to keep the card and continue using it, like bonus points for spending or a rebate of the annual fee.  But you have to ask.

My Kids Aren’t Shy About Getting on the Horn and Asking for Stuff (or Being in Pictures) … Perhaps I Should Employ Them to Make My Retention Calls 🙂

After thinking “I’ll do it tomorrow” for weeks, I recently called AMEX to ask for a retention offer – and received exactly nothing.  But I kept the card anyway.  Here’s how it went down.

It’s Worth Calling for a Retention Offer

In the past, I’ve had great luck with American Express and Citi offering deals for keeping a card when the annual fee has come due.  A couple of times they’ve waived all or part of the annual fee.  Others, they’ve offered bonus points or an annual fee waiver for completing a certain amount of spending on the card.

For example, Citi gave me a $95 statement credit the last time the annual fee on my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card card came around.  All I had to do was spend $95 in the next 3 billing statements, which was a no-brainer!  Plus, they offered a bonus 500 Citi ThankYou points in each of the next 16 billing cycles so long as I spent $500+ per cycle.

An Easy Phone Call to Cancel My Citi ThankYou Premier Resulted in a $95 Statement Credit and Bonus Points for Spending

AMEX has been similarly generous in previous years.  And team member Keith got a bonus of 7,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points to keep The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN card recently.

So when I finally got up off my behind and called them to ask for a retention bonus on my Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express card, I was hopeful.

Why I Considered Canceling the AMEX Starwood Business Credit Card

I’d put over $9,000 in purchases on my AMEX Starwood Business credit card in the past year, and paid off my balance in full and on time every month.  But given the upcoming changes to the card, I wasn’t sure if it was worth paying the $95 annual fee again.

This card’s been in my wallet for a few years now because Starwood points are otherwise hard to earn.  And the kids and I have enjoyed free Sheraton Club Lounge access just by having the card, which has saved us money.  But the Sheraton Club Lounge access perk is going away on August 1, 2018, which I’m not terribly happy about.

Getting Free Sheraton Club Lounge Access Has Saved Us Money on Food at Hotels Like the Sheraton JFK

Online reports suggested lots of folks were getting retention offers when they called to cancel the card.  But when I spoke to a rep, she actually tried to convince me the card wasn’t losing the perk (so I politely read her the email I’d received from AMEX).  Regardless, she let me know there were no offers available on my account.

I asked her to check with a supervisor.  Nothing.  However, she did remind me of something I’d completely forgotten about…

Starting August 1, 2018, the AMEX Starwood personal and business credit cards will offer an annual free night award (at participating hotels costing 35,000 Marriott points or less) on your card anniversary.  Remember, that’s also the time Starwood and Marriott will merge their loyalty program currencies.

With the Current Marriott Award Chart, You Could Redeem a Free Anniversary Night at the Category 7 Courtyard Waikiki Beach in Honolulu

This new benefit is definitely worth more than $95 annual fee, especially if you use your free night at higher-category hotels or in expensive cities.  For example, you’d pay over $225 per night with tax for a standard room at the Courtyard Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.

I also remembered all the AMEX Offers I’d taken advantage of over the past year with the card.  A quick look at my account showed I’d saved $215 from AMEX Offers in just over a year.  That’s more than double the annual fee.

What Was I Thinking? The AMEX Starwood Business Credit Card Has Saved Me Much More Than the Annual Fee Over the Past Year

It didn’t take much else to convince me to keep the AMEX Starwood Business credit card for another year.  Paying the $95 annual fee is more than worth it between the new annual free night and savings from AMEX Offers.  Even without a retention bonus!

Bottom Line

If your card’s annual fee is coming up and you’re not sure if you want to cancel, it’s worth calling the bank to see if there are any incentives for you to keep the card.  This could include statement credits to offset the annual fee or bonus points for ongoing spending.

Even though I hate making retention calls (I don’t know why, because it’s super easy), I’ve had success in the past getting offers from Citi and AMEX.  But this time, when I called to let them know I was thinking of canceling my AMEX Starwood Business credit card, there were no retention offers on my account.  So while it’s always worth a shot, there’s no guarantee you’ll get an offer.

Despite not being successful this time, I kept the card anyway.  Because starting in August 2018, the AMEX Starwood Business card will offer an anniversary free night at hotels costing 35,000 Marriott points or less, which will more than offset the annual fee.  And I remembered I’d saved $215 in the past year or so with AMEX Offers from the card.  So keeping it was actually an easy decision!

What about you?  Let me know if you’ve recently gotten a good retention offer in the comments!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

  • Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
  • Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • Coming in 2019, 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

12comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Yep just confirmed with Amex and SPG that if your anniversary annual fee date is before August 1 you will not only have to pay the annual fee, but wait a whole year to get the free annual certificate and that is only after you pay the annual fee again. It is a horrible deal in that scenario

Author

Hi Jordan – That’s good info, thanks for letting us know! I agree if your renewal date is coming up soon but before August 1, it’s a lot harder to justify keeping the card.

Same here. That’s part of why I canceled. Point accumulation rate being reduced by 1/3, and can’t take advantage of the biggest new perk (free night) until I pay two annual fees. For $190, I could just book a hotel room somewhere.

And I can still access AMEX Offers with my no annual fee Hilton card.

Author

Hi GC – Yes, 2 annual fees for 1 free night wouldn’t make me happy either. Keeping the no annual fee Hilton card is a much better deal!

I have the Personal AMEX SPG and also called in for a retention bonus. Maybe we were connected to the same person, because she also offered me nothing, even when I asked about the possibility for bonus points. Despite hanging up empty handed, I also decided to keep the card because of that annual free night.

Author

Hi Edwin – Same here! The free night is definitely worth much more than the annual fee. 🙂

I believe you will not get the annual free night unless your annual fee is billed or paid (not sure which) after August 1, so you will have to keep the card another year, pay another annual fee and then qualify for the free night. I had a similar situation of no retention offers on my account and having used the card for thousands of dollars, and I decided to cancel given that the purchases will earn fewer points per dollar after August 1.

Author

Hi Pat – Yes, that’s correct. After August 1, 2018, you’ll get the free night after your account anniversary.

Domestic hotel lounges are pretty awful so not too much of a loss there

Author

Hi Tony – The kids and I have had decent experiences with domestic lounges (especially just for popping in to grab a snack or a couple of bottles of water during the day). But I agree lounges are normally better internationally!

Wow…I wish I got as many Boxed.com offers as you have. I have the Hilton Honors card and I have received only a couple. I like taking advantage of that one!

Author

Hi Steve L. – Don’t know why I got so many but I’m sure not complaining! 😉 It is a very good deal!