The Art of the Cancellation Call

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The Art of the Cancellation Call

Million Mile SecretsThe Art of the Cancellation CallMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

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.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 33,000+ 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!

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!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Load more