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I don’t believe in paying any more for my credit card collection than I absolutely have to so, every time an annual fee becomes due on one of my cards, I go though a process of evaluating exactly what the card offers me, what I’ve got out of the card in the past year and what I see myself getting out of the card in the future.
I’m reasonably good at being realistic with my evaluations (I don’t have an emotional attachment to any of my cards) so I’m pretty good at cutting out cards that have ceased to offer me enough to warrant their cost (that’s why I no longer hold the Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard).
Right now I can see a very scary-looking $550 fee sitting in my Platinum Card account and I’ve been considering what to do about it for almost a month.
I’ve already written about my thoughts on the Platinum Card and why I’ve been considering getting rid of it so I’ll just focus on my call to Amex and what I’ve decided to do.
My Amex Retention Call
As soon as a representative answered my call I asked to be transferred to the “retentions department” because “I’m considering cancelling my Platinum Card”.
I have no idea if that’s what Amex actually calls its department that incentivizes customers not to give up their card(s) but using that terminology has always seen me transferred to the department I want to talk and this time was no different.
I explained to the retentions representative (I think she mentioned that she was a manager) that I was struggling to justify the hefty $550 annual fee that Amex now charges for its shiniest card and I explained that the card had lost a lot of its value (to me) ever since Citi upped the earnings on its Prestige Card to offer 5 points/dollar on airfare.
The representative then started to list all the benefits of the Platinum Card and I attempted to bat each one away as politely as possible….
Centurion Lounge Access – “I hardly use Centurion Lounges any more and, when I do, they’re often overcrowded”
Priority Pass membership – “I hold two other credit card which also offer me Priority Pass membership so I don’t really need a third”
Airline Fee credit – “I have trouble using this effectively as I don’t often incur airline fees”
Uber credits – “I’ve had so many issue with Uber recently I prefer to use other ride sharing services” (the representative could see that I haven’t been using the credits)
Marriott Gold status – “I hold Lifetime Marriott Platinum Premier elite status so this doesn’t really help me at all”
Hilton Gold status – “I rarely stay at Hilton properties so this isn’t really an incentive for me to keep the card”
Saks 5th Avenue credit – “I’m not really a Saks shopper and I had trouble making the most of the credit in the second half of last year so this isn’t really something that interests me“.
At this point the agent gave up and didn’t bother to mention the Global Entry credit, the rental car elite status or any of the other remaining benefits of the Platinum Card.
There was a pause and I wasn’t convinced that the representative was going to offer me an incentive to keep the Platinum Card….so I put it out there.
“Do you have any incentives that may help me offset some of the $550 annual fee and make it easier for me to justify holding on to the card another year?”
The representative said she’d “take a look” and, in a matter of seconds, confirmed that she could offer me two options:
- 20,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in 3 months or
- A $200 statement credit after spending $3,000 in 3 months
I value Membership Rewards points at 1.5 cents each so the first offer is worth $300 to me and would be the offer to take out of the options presented to me.
I decided to think about the offers, thanked the representative (who made a note that I would call back to choose an offer or to cancel my card) and I ended the call.
I’m taking the 20,000 bonus points and I’m keeping the Platinum Card for one more year – here’s why:
- My annual fee effectively goes down to $350 for the year once I net off the value of the 20,000 point incentive
- I’ll buy a couple of $100 American Airlines gift cards to ensure I get the full $200 airline credit this year – that will effectively reduce my annual fee to $150
This $150 will get me….
- $100 of Saks credits which I’ll do my best to use economically.
- Access to the LAX Centurion Lounge when it opens this year (so I can review it for the blog).
- Access to the London Heathrow Centurion Lounge when it opens this year (so I can review it for the blog).
- Access to the Plaza Premium Lounge at Heathrow T5 (the best non-BA lounge in the terminal and it doesn’t take Priority Pass)
- Hilton Honors Gold status
- Elite status with Hertz and Avis (I already hold status with National)
It will also ensure that if Amex makes any moves to improve the Platinum Card’s offering in an attempt to keep up with the competition I’ll be in a very good position to make the most of any changes.
When I listed out the benefits that I genuinely believe I’ll use in 2019 keeping the Platinum Card for another year was an easy decision to make.
I can see that I’ll get back more than the value of the annual fee by accepting the Amex incentive and holding on to the card so that’s what I’m happy to do….but the Platinum card will be back in the spotlight this time next year.