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I’ve been taking a considerably more upfront approach to how I handle calls to a bank’s retention agents after I very nearly had one of the best cards that I hold accidentally closed down in July last year. Fortunately, an abundance of honesty on these calls doesn’t appear to be doing me any harm as I’m still getting some reasonable deals when I ask if any retention offers are available.
Chase Ink Business Plus Card
The Chase Ink Business Plus Card is one of the best cards in my portfolio but is no longer open to new applicants so after my foolishness last year nearly got this card closed down, I was a little wary of calling Chase for a retention offer when the card’s annual fee hit.
Nevertheless, a key manta in the miles & points world (as in life) is “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” so I picked up the phone and called the number on the back of my card.
I had already decided that I wasn’t going to play games or to act as if I was in some way displeased with the card and I certainly wasn’t going to suggest that I was considering cancelling it (that’s what got me into trouble last time!), so when an agent answered my call I didn’t even bother asking for the retentions department.
When the agent asked me how he could help I simply said that the card’s annual fee ($95) had recently posted to my account and that I was wondering if there were any offers targeted to the card that may help me offset the cost. After a short pause the agent asked if I was considering canceling the card to which I gave a very swift reply – no – after which I fully expected to be told that no offers were available. I was wrong.
Instead of telling me to go pound sand, the agent said that he’d take a look to see if he could find any offers that may be of use and, within a minute, he offered me a $50 statement just to keep the account open.
Considering I had absolutely no intention of closing the account and as I was very grateful to have been given any kind of offer at all, I accepted the offer, thanked the agent for his time and ended the call.
Result: Annual fee of $95 effectively reduced to $45
Citi Premier Card
The Citi Premier Card became a lot more useful to me when it was refreshed and started to offer 3 points/dollar on groceries purchased all over the world (before that, it lay in the shadow of a number of other cards that I hold) and it got even more useful this weekend when Citi announced that, temporarily, points earned by the Premier Card can be transferred to the American Airlines AAdvantage program in a ratio of 1:1.
Still, the card comes with a $95 annual fee and I don’t believe in paying out cash that I don’t have to so when the fee hit my account, I gave Citi a call to see if I could get the fee reduced.
A with my earlier call to Chase, I didn’t ask to speak to the retentions team and I didn’t play any games with the agent that answered my call. I simply explained that I’d like to explore any options open to me that would help reduce the cost of the card’s annual fee.
This agent didn’t ask if I was considering cancelling the card (if asked, I would have said no) but said that she’d take a look at my account to see if any offers were available. Once again, an offer was forthcoming in under a minute as the agent suggested that I could earn a $95 statement credit in return for spending $95 in the next 30 days and, once again, I accepted the offer, thanked the agent and ended the call.
Result: Annual fee of $95 effectively reduced to $0
The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card
The Ritz-Carlton Card is no longer open to new applicants but it can still be obtained by upgrading a Chase Bonvoy credit card and if you can make the most of the card’s yearly benefits, the $450 annual fee doesn’t look quite so daunting.
With this card, I very nearly didn’t bother calling in to see if there was any kind of retention offer on the table as with it offering $300/year in airline fee credits (which are a lot easier to use than the airline fee credits offered by the Platinum Card® from American Express), an annual Marriott free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points, Priority Pass membership, upgrade certificates for Ritz-Carlton properties and, among other things, a Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit, I didn’t think that there was any chance that I’d be given an offer….but I ended up calling nevertheless.
Once again I was upfront and honest with the agent that answered my call – I never suggested that I was considering cancelling the card and I made sure to only say that I was looking for a way to help offset some (or all) of the annual fee.
Surprisingly, the agent didn’t then proceed to read me a list of the Ritz-Carlton Card’s benefits in an effort to show me how the $450 annual fee was justified (this usually happens a lot when you call up looking for a retention offer on a card that comes with a lot of benefits) but, instead, took less than a minute to offer me a $150 statement credit just to keep the card open.
As I’ve already suggested, this was more than a little unexpected and when I got over my initial surprise, I thanked the agent, I accepted the offer, I mentioned that I thought that it was generous, and I ended the call.
Result: Annual fee of $450 effectively reduced to $300
Three calls resulted in three retention offers and that’s always pleasing. A three offers were more than fair but I’m particularly pleased with the retention offer on the Ritz-Carlton Card as between the free night certificate and the airline fee credits I suspect that I’ll claw back more in benefits than I’ll pay to keep card.
Also, while I suspect that the events of the past 15 months probably had a lot to do with the ease with which I managed to get these three retention offers, I think that all three calls demonstrated that you don’t have to be disingenuous when you call up a bank to try to get a retention offer – sometimes just straightforward honesty works just as well.
Total Result: $640 of annual fees effectively reduced to $345