Posted by Chuck on April 1, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on April 1st, 2015 | by Chuck

39

My Retention Bonus Offers & Lessons Learned

We have a great post on getting retention offers from credit card issuers, see Rules & Tips for Retention Bonus Offers, but I never got around to doing much of these on my own cards. I finally got to it on three credit cards and the results were impressive.

Citi Dividend

I have a sock-drawered Citi Dividend card whose last real use was at drugstores during Q1 2014. That’s a full year of dormancy. After being transferred to the retention department, I mentioned that I was considering closing or product-changing the account and was wondering if there’s any retention bonus offers on the card.

It wasn’t clear to me how retention offers would work on a cash-back card like the Dividend, since most of the reports that we’ve heard were about offers on points cards like the Thank You. The card also does not have an annual fee and I wasn’t banking on any great offer or any offer at all.

But Citi pulled through with offers very similar to the ones which people are reporting on the Thank You cards. Here were the two options:

  1. 3% cashback on all purchases
  2. $100 for spending $3,000 within 6 months

I asked if there were any other offers and was told that there’s one ‘lump’ offer and one ‘spend’ offer.

 

Now, the 3% sounds enticing (from memory it was for 6 months), but when you break it down it’s not as good as it sounds. See, the Dividend card has a cap on $300 in rewards per year and the rep confirmed that this bonus offer would be subject to that limit. Essentially, my choice was to get 3% cashback on $10,000 in spend (total = $300) or to get 4.33% cashback on $3,000 in spend ($100+$30 in ordinary rewards on $3,000 in spend).

I took the second offer of $100 for spending $3,000. This will also give me some room to use the card at Best Buy in Q4 2015 to buy gift cards.

Citi Thank You

Once I was on the phone, I asked if he could check if there’s any offers on my Thank You Preferred card as well. (Learned this from Grant.) I felt a little funny because the card was only around 2 months old at the time and I hadn’t even yet finished meeting the minimum spend requirement (I know…unforgivable). To my delight, the rep had no problem checking up the offers on that card. It didn’t seem to have registered by him that it was a new card. [After the call, I took a better look at our original post on retention offers and saw mentioned there clearly that you can call Citi after 60 days, but it somehow didn’t solidify in my head at the time.]

Here were the available offers:

  • 10,000 Thank You points for $3,000 in spend within 6 months.
  • 4 additional Thank You points (5 total) on purchases made at supermarkets, gas, and drugstores for 3 months. Limit on 35,000 points total.

I took the first offer of 10,000 points for $3,000 in spend.

On the spot, I was trying to calculate which offer was better and he waited a minute for me to decide. In the end, I took the first offer since I didn’t know how much I’d be able to do in those categories within 3 months being that I wasn’t going to be home for part of the time. (I hate doing these stuff away from home for fraud-alert reasons and more.)

Afterward, I recalculated and realized that this was a mistake. Firstly, I forgot about the fact that Target is often coded as a grocery. Second, I somehow didn’t get in my head that 35,000 points at 4x is just over $8,000, an amount I could have dealt with.

All-in-all, I’m happy with the offer I got, though in the future I’ll be sure to look up what others are mentioning having been offered so that I can put a minute of thought into it before calling.

What’s especially interesting is that it should be possible to do your initial minimum-spend and your retention offer-spend all in one shot. If you call after 60 days and then immediately do the spend, that spend would work for your initial-spend requirement as well, assuming a 3 or 4 month required-spend time frame.

Chase Southwest

While I was on a roll, I called up Chase about the annual fee which was almost due on my Southwest Premier card. I was planning on cancelling the card anyway but why not net a few extra points before then.

I got the standard offer of 3,000 points, besides the regular bonus that all Premier members get of 6,000 points on anniversary. After the points posted, I cancelled the card via secure message. This was done within 30 days of when the annual fee posted and they had no problem refunding the annual fee as per my request (not sure if it would have happened automatically).

[READ: Annual Fee Refund Rules For Each Card Issuer]

 

Afterwards I realized that it was good that I called when I did because it takes some time for the bonus to hit your Southwest account. If you cancel the card before the retention bonus (or the annual bonus, for that matter) hits, you’ll lose out on it.

Thus, the best process for cancelling a Southwest card is:

  • call in slightly before the annual fee is do to get a retention offer
  • pay the annual fee when it posts
  • wait for the retention points and for the annual bonus points to post
  • close the account within 30 days of when the fee posted

 

Lessons Learned

All told, it was probably 15 minutes for me to get the above 3 offers and I’ll net over $200 in value from them.

Here’s some lessons I learned:

  • Citi is especially nice with these retention offers. From my experience, the rep just looked at it as goodwill offers, not so much a question of whether you’re about to close your card. In fact, after getting offers on my 2 Citi cards, the rep asked if I have any other cards for him to look up (I don’t). This really changes the calculus of holding Citi cards with annual fees since we can hopefully recoup that and more by holding onto the card.
  • You can get offers on a cash-back card like the Dividend. I’m optimistic that the Double Cash would also be able to get offers.
  • You really can get an offer from Citi on newish cards. In fact, you may even be able to meet the retention-spend and the initial-spend in one shot.
  • Do your homework first. It’s worthwhile spending a few minutes acquainting yourself with the different offers which are usually offered  for this card so that you can make a better decision in the event there are a few offers.
  • Plan the timing. With Chase Southwest cards and other similar cards, be sure to call in well before you intend to actually cancel the card, so as to give time for the bonus to post.

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JGM
JGM

Did you specifically ask for a retention bonus? Did you try to cancel the card and get transferred to retention? I kinda messed up a call to Barclays last night and will call back in a few days.

PedroNY
PedroNY

great to hear you got an awesome ROI for your 15 minutes of calling a couple of banks!

Cheers,

PedroNY

physixfan

I tried Double Cash this morning. I was told that my history with Double Cash is too short to have a retention offer. Actually I applied Double Cash when it just launched, so I think Double Cash is just too new to have any retention offer, hope it will have some in the future.

Sam
Sam

Like a broken record, I have Citi Exec that I plan to either cancel or PC to other citi card. I am sure many others were on same boat. In your opinion, what’s best? Cancel it and live with a ding on my credit score for a while? or PC it to Citi double cash or TY? I already have Fide amex 2%, Cap1 2% and Barclays 2%.

marshdom
marshdom

Thanks for prompting me to make a call. I don’t traditionally think to do it until AF time, but have been meaning to get more strategic about doing it more frequently. Unfortunately I didn’t do quite as well as you. I’ve had a Citi TY Premier for only a couple months and just recently finished the initial minimum spend on it. The retention rep pointed out to me that I had just completed that min spend and got a big bonus, but I told her: “now I have to think about whether or not this is going to continue to be my go-to card!” She made three offers, unfortunately none as good as the grocery one you were offered. She led with spend $300/month and get an extra 500 TY points per month for 16 billing cycles (a decent deal, but I didn’t want to be locked down to this offer for 16 months). Then she offered 1 extra TY point per $ for grocery (I was hoping for 4!!) for 3 months (up to 35k TY points). Finally, she offered 5000 TY points for $1000 in spend over 3 months. I went with this final offer. Not bad considering I just got my min spend bonus!

I also kind of “complained” about the 3x TY going away for Dining/Entertainment on 4/19/15. She didn’t say she could do anything about that. Did I read somewhere recently (here?) about that 3x offer maybe being able to be extended for current card holders??

Todd
Todd

Thanks! I called citi on my dividend card and got 5% back on everything for 3 months. Easy with $300 redbird. I also called on an old Simplicity card and got spend $3k get $100 back. Looks like only got the the thank you card to call on at this point

Parkerthon
Parkerthon

….and this is why I love this blog. Of course YMMV. But it’s like an easy to follow evolving set of advice you aggregate that gets honed and shared again. Excellent for all. Thanks Chuck and PedroNY.

physixfan

How can we confirm that the retention offer already working?

flyerfan
flyerfan

Just called Chase 2x about my southwest card, opened in late January. Both reps said Chase got rid of the retention department. Neither one offered me anything, despite all the talk on this site of 3k bonuses. Said account was too new. One said you don’t typically get retention offers before 6 months of account opening.

Did I just get unlucky with unhelpful reps? Should I HUCA?

William Charles

I would HUCA, Chase definitely has a retention department.

harv
harv

I just called citi regarding my Forward card and asked for the retention department. I was offered 3k points if I spend $500 w/in 3 months if I did not cancel. I accepted.

trackback

[…] My Retention Bonus Offers & Lessons Learned  –  Doctor of Credit     Great feedback on retention offers, schedule some time to chat on the phone with a hopefully nice agent. I would do that too if I spent less time bringing you this amazing blog with my Alexa flirting spectacular content lol. […]

AAsuited
AAsuited

Called today and got like 5 offers for my Prestige (opened Feb 2015)

I took the 4x thank you points for Grocery,drug store, and Gas (up to 50,000 pts) 6 month time limit

Looks like a 12,500 spend to get 50,000 pts = 62,500 total?

Thanks for all information you post

Will post later all the other offers I got

William Charles

That’s a very nice offer indeed.

AASuited
AASuited

Retention offers

Citi Prestige (opened Feb 2015)

1) 200 credit for 4000 spend in 3 months
2) 175 credit for 4000 spend in 3 months
3) 15,000 thank you points for 6000 spend in 6 months
4) 10,000 thank you points for 3000 spend in 6 months
5) 35,000 thank you points at 4x for grocery, gas, drugstore (8750 spend in 6 months)
6) 50,000 thank you points at 4x for grocery, gas, drugstore (12,500 spend in 6 months)
7) 35,000 thank you points at 4x for other categories
8) 50,000 thank you points at 4x for other categories

ATT universal card (no annual fee 9 yrs)

1) No bonus offer in account. However she added 2500 TY points for being long time customer
No spend requirement. Said it might take 1 or 2 statement periods to show. Only took about 4
days to show in account

Executive card (June 2014)

1) 1000 bonus miles for 1000 spend for 16 months each statement month. Was hoping for a
statement credit. Cannot convert to Citi Double Cash until the 450 annual fee posts. Took offer

I think calling during the day time hours is best for any retention offers for any issuer whether citi, chase, or Bank of America.

All my conversations with Citi retentions Reps went smoothly and pleasantly. I kept asking the Prestige Rep for other offers other than statement credits. Said I had some large upcoming spending and was trying to offset the 350 annual fee. Step by step went through all the offers tied to the account until deciding to take the 50k points with grocery, drugstore and gas. There might have been more offers. However I was looking for the 50k offer specifically.

These retentions can be like a bonus without the hard inquiry

1) Prestige (mega home run)
2) ATT (single)
3) Executive (bunt single)

William Charles

Those Citi Prestige offers are VERY nice. Well done.

AAsuited
AAsuited

Correction to the offer in Prestige #1,#2

1) 200 statement credit for 4000 spend in each 3 months (12,000 total)
2) 175 statement credit for 4000 spend in each 3 months (12,000 total)

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[…] bonus and this offer was ripe for the taking. I held off for the past few weeks, waiting for all my retention bonus points to come in. This way, in case there was a need to close out one card in order to open another, no points will […]

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