How to get a credit card retention offer

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So you’ve applied for a credit card, you met the required minimum spend, and you’ve earned the coveted sign up bonus. A year swiftly went by and your credit card charged you an annual fee. What do you do?

Don’t close the card just yet. When your annual fee comes due, you come to a decision point. Do you keep the card? Pay the annual fee? Or, do you close or cancel the card?

You also have the option to call & check if the bank has an offer to make it worth your while to keep the card. Some banks (credit card companies) have a way of enticing you to keep the card by extending an offer to you. That’s a retention offer. No, the banks will not simply issue a credit for the annual fee. Not exactly. In many cases, you could be offered a quid pro quo. The bank will do this for you, if you do something for the bank.

In the past, I have received retention offers from American Express, Citi, and Chase. With Chase, the only time I received a retention offer was during the height of the pandemic when travel was on hold. Banks were more lenient at the time, offering incentives to retain their customers. Do remember that retention offers are not guaranteed. They are not always offered. You have to inquire if such offer exists.

Let’s review my latest saga in my attempt  to get a retention offer with American Express.

How to get a credit card retention offer

For this example, you will see the steps that I took get a credit card retention offer with American Express. The card in question is our American Express® Gold Card:

  • Opened it in June 2022,
  • Spent $10,800 ($8,000 spent  in 2022, $2,000 in thru July 2023)
Our American Express® Gold Card is now one year old, the $250 annual fee (rates & fees) was charged in early July. And to be honest, we love this card – why? For $250 annual fee, the card comes with:
  • $120 – Enrollment required to receive Uber Cash (use it for Uber rides, UberEats). You get $10 in Uber Cash each month.
  • $120 – Enrollment required to receive this dining credit benefit (we’ve used it at Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, Grubhub, Milkbar, Gold Belly, and wine.com). You are eligible for up to $10 statement credit each month.
Those two alone get $240 credits, and when combined, they help offset the annual fee of $250. But what I love most about this card is the earnings opportunity of 4x at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X and 4x at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. So if you happen to spend $100 at a restaurant, you earn 400 points. This card is ALWAYS in my wallet.

What do you really want to do?

Before you even attempt to ask for a retention offer, ask yourself:
– do you really want to keep this card
– If the there is no retention offer, or the offer is not favorable, what would you decide to do next
For me, I had every intention in wanting to keep the card, but I’d like to see if American Express had an offer for me to keep the card.

When should you ask for a retention offer

Timing has always been key. You can always inquire about retention offers anytime during the year, but many would take action once the annual fee hits.  That’s the time when many consumers are evaluating their options whether to keep the card or not.

What type of retention offers should you expect

In the past, I’ve been given offers where I could earn bonus miles and points as long as I use the card and meet a certain amount of spend given a time period. I’ve also gotten offers where the bank just simply offered to issue a statement credit to help offset the annual fee.

How to reach Amex Retention Team

You can call Amex directly. For me, I prefer chatting online vs calling on the phone. Why? It’s just so much easier for me to deal with an online agent. Unless you’re gifted with the gift of gab, by all means, feel free to give the bank a call. If not, try the chat option

 

The road to Amex Retention

I signed in to our American Express® Gold Card account, I opted to chat with an agent. On the onset, I only typed ANNUAL FEE. When a rep joined, I explained that “I was evaluating my options, checking to see which credit cards I want to keep, and which ones I might close.”

Expect for the rep to give you the whole song and dance routine about all the credit card FABs (features and benefits).

Then I simply asked if there were any incentives or retention offers that would help me decide if I should keep or close the card

The fact that I said or wrote”close the card” – that’s a trigger for the rep to get me to a retention team

Expect to be transferred to another person (Amex’s Membership Consulting Services)

The next rep will take the time to review the earlier chat transcript and will reiterate the benefits offered by the card. Here’s our conversation:

  • Me: Thank you, and this is why I was reevaluating and hoping to see if there were any incentive or offers for retention. (There was a brief pause)
  • Amex: Because you are such a valued Card Member, you can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 or more on purchases on your American Express® Gold Card account within 3 months of accepting this offer. The value of 30K points can be up to $300 when you redeem these points to book airfare on our travel website or for select Merchant Gift Cards.
  • Me: Ok so help me understand this (I actually knew the answer to my next question, but I needed it in writing)
  • Amex: Sure, do you have any questions about this offer?
  • Me: If I spend $3,000 in restaurants/dining, do I still get the 4x = so I will earn 4 x $3,000 = 12,000 Membership Rewards + the extra 30,000 bonus that you are offering?
  • Amex: Yes, that is correct. The 30K bonus points you will earn would be on top of the regular points you earn on your charges.
  • Me: Then, YES, I will accept the offer.

Whether you do this by phone or online, the rep will need to confirm with you if you have decided to keep the card open, or to close the card, or if you’ve decided to accept a retention offer.

What if you don’t like the offer

First of all, acknowledge the first offer, and ask, if there’s another offer. If there isn’t, ask the rep for a deadline when you need to make a decision. Why? Especially with American Express, the retention offer changes. What’s offered today, could be different tomorrow. If you decline an offer today, and decide to accept that offer a few days or a few weeks later, if the offer is no longer available, they will not be able to give you the same offer. You are then subject to whichever offer is available at the time of your call or chat.

For me it’s worth my time to evaluate my credit card situation. But I need to make a decision if I want to keep it open, downgrade or cancel the card. And in the process of doing so, I wouldn’t know if an offer was available unless I reach out directly to the credit card company.

There’s usually a grace period from when the Annual Fee was charged, and up until when you could exercise to cancel. I have another American Express  card that I’m trying to get another retention offer. I don’ like the offers given to me so far. So I’ve decided to still keep the card. The annual fee was billed on July 9, and I was advised I had until Aug 8 to decide.

If I don’t get a good offer that works for me, I’ll be canceling on or before Aug 8th. Some cards might give you an option to cancel AFTER you’re charged the annual fee, and prorate the difference and give you credit. So you will just have to work and inquire with the bank as far as your options.

Lastly, before deciding to close or cancel – ask the credit card company if there is a NO annual fee version that you could downgrade to. If so, I would take that option vs closing or canceling the card. 

Did I get a great offer?

For a card that we tend to use quite a bit, knowing that we max out on the $120 dining credit and $120 Uber credit – this card already pays for itself. My offer is to earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® after $3K spend. Many tend to value Amex points at 2 cents per point, so with 30K points x 2 cents = $600….that more than covers the $250 annual fee. And for me, I’d be stretching the value of my Amex points so much more when I book premium cabins.

I’m sure others have received better offers, but remember there could be different factors:

  • your loyalty – # of years with the bank 
  • spending history

And with that, I’m happy with mine. I’ll keep this card for another year.

UPDATE: Why we declined the retention offer on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

We opened up The Business Platinum Card® from American Express last year. The $695 annual fee (rates & fees) was charged on July 9th. We had until August 8th to decide to keep the card, or downgrade the card, or close the card.

My downgrade options

Per American Express, “We do offer the option to downgrade to the American Express® Business Gold Card annual fee of $295/year (rates & fees) or the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express annual fee of $95/year (rates & fees).  This will ensure prorated refund of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express fee and that you can keep the same card numbers, spending power and APR.”

I declined this option. Downgrading does not give us the option to earn a new sign up bonus.

The retention offer

For nearly a month, I reached out to Amex via phone and chat, and the offer remained consistent.

  • Spend $20,000 in 6 months
  • Earn 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards®

To make this offer worth it…but

If we spend the $20,000 on the 5x qualified spend, that will be 100K Membership Rewards® plus the 20K.  That is 120K Membership Rewards® . Then, If you will use it for travel it is normally more or less $1200. That you can use to pay the annual fee and for other charges.

Why we declined

Knowing my spend history withThe Business Platinum Card® from American Express, we usually use it for 1x type of everyday spending, and for me, I’d rather spend $20,000 on a new credit card minimum spend. So we opted to cancel vs accepting the offer.

What happens to all our American Express Membership Rewards®

Fortunately, we already have The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express meaning, the points from our Business Platinum Card® from American Express will not be lost. They will all stay with The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express.

 

If you have tips or success stories, let me know. Good luck.

 

For more travel deals and tips, follow me on my travel page on Daddy Travels on Facebook Group or Instagram or YouTube or Twitter

Editorial Disclosure – The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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