Posted by Guest Author on January 16, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on January 16th, 2015 | by Guest Author

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Retention Bonus Rules & Tips For Each Card Issuer – Get More Than One Bonus Each Year

This post will:

  • Explain banks’ retention department incentives
  • Provide reader some ideas how to exploit these incentives
  • Give bank by bank summary for major credit card issuers
  • Help you to hit more singles and doubles, and an occasional home run

Conversations

If you want to get best retention offers and bonuses, then you really need to enjoy talking on the phone with Customer Service Representatives.  You, at very least need to enjoy a bit of chit chat and make a connection with the person on the other side.  Think of it from their perspective, most people who call are not happy, they are demanding and sometimes are just plain rude.  If you can be polite, ask them about where they live, make a connection to that place, then getting a CSR to help you becomes a lot easier.

Retention Department Incentives

#1 goal of the Retention Department is to keep you as a customer.  It cost them a lot of money to get you, for you to sign up for that credit card, they paid marketing costs, referral costs, so they don’t want you to close your account.  So, if their incentive is to keep you, then that means you should call them a few times a year and see if they still want to keep you!

Get You Retention Offers

There is a misconception that a retention offer will be only given to you if an annual fee is coming up, or you had a card for 11+ months.  This is a myth, you can start getting retention bonuses after you first cycle closes.  That’s right, from personal experience, I’ve had retention bonuses given to me as early as 45 days from my application.  When you call a CSR, just ask to be transferred to a retention department.  Don’t threaten to close the card, just simply ask if they have any retention offers.  If they mention to you that you just recently received a sign-up bonus, thank them for that, but ask again if there is anything available.  Sometimes use of words like “long-time customer” or “goodwill points/miles” will go a long way.

Different Banks, Different Strategies

American Express

I call American Express every 90 days, and just chat with their CSR.  Daytime hours are best, that’s when the A-Team is usually working and they tend to be friendliest bunch.  I ask for goodwill points, or extra miles.  It helps that I been with them for 17 years, but I do cycle a lot of cards with them.  3,000 SPG or 3,000 Hilton points or 3,000 Delta miles for a 5 minute call is worth it.  When your 1 year mark comes around, their standard line is that they do not reimburse annual fee.  When you hear that, ask them to make an exception and offer to talk to a Supervisor.  That has yielded 7,000 SPG, 10,000 HH or 5,000 Delta miles for me.  As always, YMMV.

Capital One

(Added by Will) Capital One doesn’t really offer retention bonuses, but they will waive the annual fee on cards if you mention a valid reason (e.g Citi Double Cash has no annual fee and offers 2% cash back). Data points: 1, 2

Chase

I call Chase about 60 days after I was approved for a credit card.  Chase CSRs are able to check their computer and determine if you have an offer associated with your account.  From personal experience, Southwest cards give 3,000 miles retention bonus around 60 day mark.  So think about that Companion Pass, if you just need extra 6,000 miles after you spent $4,000 on your cards, well these retention bonus miles will help.  Ink gave me 10,000 UR points at 60 day mark, United gave me 3,000 miles.  Again, YMMV.  Of course, at 12 month mark, make sure you do it again, as Chase tends to waive an annual fee if you ask politely.

 

Citibank

This is my favorite bank for retention offers.  Traditionally, I call at 60 day mark, 180 day mark, new calendar year mark and 360 day mark.  I been successful in getting 3,000 AA miles, $95 credit, and 10,000 AA mile bonus all on the same card before the first year was over.  Citibank tend to load their retention offers around these day marks, new calendar year was just a recent discovery for me, but I was able to get some great retention offers for last two years, in January – even though just two months earlier I picked up retention offers on exactly same cards.  Who knows what goes on with Citi IT systems, but you may as well exploit it to your advantage.

 

Bank of America

I had great success and getting annual fee waived after first cycle closes.  Think, Alaska and Virgin Atlantic cards, they charge a fee upfront, but once it posts, you can call BofA and they will usually waive it.  You want extra miles, way about 180 days and call them for a retention offer, usually they will give you a few thousand miles.

 

Barclaycard

Not a lot of experience with retention offers from this bank.  I was successful in getting US Airways annual fee waived when I asked, but aside from that – I just don’t have any other cards from them.

[Editor Update: From my own personal experience Barclaycard is waiving the annual fee on all US Airways cards at the moment from year two onwards. It’s not difficult to get this fee waived at all. They’ll also usually waive the annual fee on the Arrival Plus as well, but you might need to ask to speak to a supervisor, again from year two onwards.]

US Bank

Will usually give you enough points to cover the annual fee on the FlexPerks cards. You could end up just paying the annual fee in cash and then getting more value than you paid by redeeming them for travel.

What Does it Mean For You?

If you don’t mind chatting with CRS from time to time, these retention bonus/offer calls will yield some great return on your time.  Usually these calls don’t have much wait time, as banks have an incentive to talk to you and to convince you to keep the card.  Sometimes a call will not yield any results; however, your batting average is likely to hover around .500 over long term.  It’s all about picking up those singles and doubles, and an occasional home run (10,000 UR points) for about 5 to 10 minutes of your time.  Just remember to be polite, ask other people about their day, their life, and the weather – they will enjoy trying to help you!

This was was a guest post that was submitted by PedroNY who is very active in the points & miles community. I’d like to thank him for taking the time to submit this guest post, I had no idea you could get retention bonuses so often so I’ll be spending some time talking to some CSR representatives soon. If you think you have a good idea for a guest post, consider submitting one (if we use it, we will give you $50). If you just want to let me know about something to cover on the blog then contact me



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any more information no how to get Barclays to cancel the fee on the US Air card?

By US card, I guess you mean the Aviator cards. Their “Retention” people won’t cooperate
but you can chat up the regular customer people and get fees waived.

Awesome post!

Awesome info and data points. 1.) Didn’t realize these retention offers could be solicited so casually and frequently. When you hear retention offers it always sounds like you have to threaten to cancel the card with a risk it will be cancelled or you can’t get squat. This perspective and experience is a major revelation. 2.) Appreciate you breaking down different banks and taking time to detail your tendencies of what has more success and what amounts you’ve received.

Thank you very much PedroNY for the post.

i am glad you find it helpful.
Cheers,

PedroNY

Brilliant post – will try this out!

Thanks for the helpful post, PedroNY.

As another data point, I just called Citi. I’ve had the Platinum AAdvantage for 9 mos. now and no previous history with Citi. The rep said that there were no offers on my account, but that marketing is constantly testing out new offers and distributing them to accounts they think could benefit from them. She suggested that I call back at the end of my first year to ask for an offer as one should load by then, but that there is no rhyme or reason as to when you will find one on your account since the retention department does not actually create the offers. I was nice and conversational (maybe even too nice?) and might not have pushed hard enough. Figured I’d share FWIW

The quality of the posts increased in the last few months. Continue the good work.

Thanks, Anon. We’ve been working hard on this.

Are retention offers only available on points cards, or can they be gotten for cash back cards?

Both but a lot more common on points/miles cards as they typically have annual fees whilst most cash back cards do not.

Is Barclays waiving the annual fee for the recent US Air card of 50K miles offer? The miles post after the annual fee is paid. So did you call them after paying the fees to waive it off as a credit to your account? Or do i call them to waive it before i pay the fees? In which case how do the miles post?

Very helpful and informative, thanks! But I also wonder about the US Air card. My understanding was I had to pay the fee to get the bonus miles. -no?

Sorry, I was talking about year two onwards.

I got the US Airways card in Sept. Do you think I can still get them to waive or credit me for the annual fee? Thanks!

Data point: I called Citi earlier in the week about my AA personal card. Told them I had a US Airways card with the exact same benefits (now with AA), a higher CL, and a lower annual fee ($89, as opposed to $95). They told me they’d give me a $95 statement credit (to offset the annual fee), if I made $95 or more in purchases over the next 2 billing cycles. In addition, they offered 1000 extra miles for each month I spent $1000 on the card, for the next 16 billing cycles (total 16000 extra miles — essentially 2x miles on each $1 up to $1000 a month).

Shonuffharlem

This offer is available to all for a couple years now.

Hi William, really fantastic post, along with a lot of the other content lately, as people have been pointing out. Will definitely be trying this out. In your experience, do all of the above techniques and logic apply equally to business and personal cards?

Yes, in my experience more so with business cards. Although I hadn’t been calling as often as Pedro!

I assume you place a separate call for each card with each issuer (SPG / Platinum for Amex; Sapphire / United for Chase, etc.)?

Of course, American Express can’t give you a retention bonus for the SPG card.

I think the question was do you make separate calls to Chase for each Chase card you have; do you make separate calls to AmEx for each AmEx card you have, etc.

Hmm, not sure I understand — why wouldn’t Amex be able to give you a retention offer for the SPG Amex card?

Sorry, I meant to say that Chase can’t give you a retention bonus for the SPG card. Been a long weekend.

Thanks MileHighBug, that makes more sense. In the past I have, but that’s because I have only been calling when the annual fee becomes due. Maybe Pedro can better answer this question?

If you find a great CSR, and they have access to all of your accounts, you may as well ask them at that time.

I do practice what I preach, I called Amex Platinum Biz today, had a lovely conversation, they gave me $100 — that was after about 8 minutes on the phone. I had this card for about 5 months.

Cheers,

PedroNY

Great post! Thanks for these great tips, I agree with a comment above – quality of your blog which was always great is becoming better everyday!

Thanks, Pedro! No one of us can keep up with every single angle, and you’ve done a great job covering this one. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I try not to let the fact that I got a retention bonus earlier in the year factor in to my decision to keep the card or dump it when the fee actually comes due.

Thanks for the post! I just called Citi for my executive card and they gave me 5000AA miles after $1500 in spend each month for the next 3 months and $100 statement credit. Which sounds great! The only problem is my annual fee comes up sometime in March. Does anyone know if I try and downgrade my exec card to another card after hitting the spend qualifications if it will still post? The CSR said my account had to be open for them to post. Also does anyone know if Citi prorates annual fee refunds if say, I close/downgrade 2 months after the annual fee hits?

@conrad You have 30 days from the statement delivery date to cancel for a full refund, which Citi enforces as 37 days from the statement closing with the fee. Cancel your card before then and you get the $450 refunded. There is no refund of the fee, prorated or otherwise, after that.

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