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
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
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.
(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
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.
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.
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.]
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.