Published on April 1st, 2015 | by Chuck39
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.
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:
- 3% cashback on all purchases
- $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.
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).
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
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.
Related posts on our site:
- Retention Bonus Rules & Tips For Each Card Issuer – Get More Than One Bonus Each Year
- US Airways Barclaycard Annual Fee Coming Up? Call Retention.
- Citi Credit Card News: 3x Everywhere Retention Offer