How to Get Credit Card Retention Offers [Strategies & Policies]

Retention

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You’re probably familiar with the life cycle of credit cards. Usually, you sign up for a particular card for its perks such as amazing lounge access or maybe even some awesome statement credits. In many instances, it just doesn’t make sense to keep your cards open.

For example, if you previously traveled a ton for your work or business and have transitioned to a less “road warrior” lifestyle, you might be calling into question some of the benefits of your cards.

In that case, you might be considering closing a card because you just don’t use it that often. If you’re on the fence and you see value in keeping your cards open, there is a way to sweeten the pot for you: retention offers.

Credit card retention offers are best defined as one-time incentives extended from card issuers to continue your card membership. Most of the time, the big banks spent a good chunk of money marketing their credit cards, funding initial welcome bonuses, and offering recurring benefits.

Credit card issuers really don’t recuperate their initial investment until later on down the line, which just goes to show how favorable credit card rewards are for savvy consumers. In this guide, we’ll be discussing the characteristics of retention offers and walking you through the step-by-step process to check for retention offers across different banks.

What Kinds of Retention Offers Are There?

Points versus cash man holding cash
Image Credit: Asier Romero via Shutterstock

Retention offers typically come in a few main types:

Annual Fee Waivers

One of the main reasons why you’d consider canceling a card is because there’s a hefty annual fee you feel uncomfortable with. If you get an annual fee waiver, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of the card for another year without having to pay for an annual fee.

Statement Credits

Another incentive you can receive is a 1-time statement credit to keep your account open for another year. Typically, these statement credits are usually less than the annual fee.

Statement Credits With Required Spending

This offer is the same above, but the amount is usually greater than the annual fee. The catch is you have to spend a certain amount within a deadline to get the statement credit.

Bonus Points

You can also be offered bonus points for keeping your card open. These retention offers come with a small sum of points, and typically will not exceed the value of an annual fee.

Bonus Points With Required Spending

This last retention offer is usually the most desirable. This particular type of retention offer comes with the largest points bonuses for keeping your card open. However, they come with a spending requirement within a certain timeframe.

Why Should I Pay Attention to Retention Offers?

Retention offers can really sweeten the deal if you’re on the fence about closing a card. Obviously closing a card could be a lose-lose situation in which the banks don’t keep you as a valued customer and you don’t get to enjoy the same perks on the card that you used to.

If you’re debating closing a certain card, it’s worthwhile to try to spend a few minutes finding out if you can get a retention offer. You might be able to earn a nice pile of points for keeping your account open!

How to Get Retention Offers From the Major Banks

When it comes to the actual strategy for getting a retention offer, it’s generally pretty simple:

  1. Call the card issuer.
  2. Explain that you’re considering closing the card.
  3. Wait for their response.
  4. Accept or decline the retention offer(s).

Sounds pretty straightforward?

You generally want to only pursue retention offers when an annual fee is posted. In the past, you could ask for retention offers mid-cardmember year, and depending on the circumstances, you could have qualified for a retention offer (for no real reason at all).

This borderline abusive behavior has resulted largely in fewer people getting retention offers, so it’s pretty much only a good idea to ask for a retention offer if it makes sense, which is usually when an annual fee is posted to your account.

American Express

There are so many phenomenal choices for American Express credit cards, and it truly is one of the best brands. If you’re considering closing your Amex cards, follow these steps to see if there is a retention offer available for your Amex card.

  1. Call the Amex retention number: 800-452-3945 during the hours of 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST.
    • You can also call the number on the back of your card and request to speak to the retention department.
  2. Enter your full card number.
  3. You’ll be connected to a representative who will verify your identity by asking you for your billing address, last 4 of your Social Security number, etc.
  4. After you’re verified, you can explain, “I’m currently holding the Amex ___ card, and I just recently saw that the annual fee was posted. I’m considering closing the card, but I wanted to check if there were any retention offers available to me first.”
  5. The retention specialist will likely ask you about your card usage throughout the year, whether you get benefits from the card, or if you’re considering closing solely because of the annual fee.
  6. Then, the retention specialist may be able to pull up a retention offer. If not, you’re most likely out of luck.
  7. You can accept the retention offer, and the retention specialist will read a legal disclosure to you to continue your next year of card membership.

Hot Tip: After your retention phone call, you’ll usually get an email confirming your continued card membership, which gives you proof of the retention offer. Keep track of that for your records in case anything happens!

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the smaller players in the overall rewards landscape, though there are many Bank of America credit cards that offer great rewards.

The appeal of Bank of America has traditionally been on its fantastic Preferred Rewards program, offering some amazing cash-back opportunities if you have also banking accounts with them.

Nonetheless, Bank of America offers some unique co-branded airline credit cards:

If you’re considering closing your Bank of America card, you can follow these steps to try to get a retention offer:

  1. Call the number on the back of your card to get transferred to a phone agent.
  2. After getting connected, you can say something like, “Right now, I’m holding a Bank of America ___ credit card, and I’m considering closing the card because I saw the annual fee post. Are there any retention offers available for this account to help me make a decision?”
  3. Accept or decline any available offers.
  4. Usually, Bank of America will not provide a retention offer. Occasionally, you might see a retention bonus of 2,500 miles or a one-time statement credit.

Barclays

Barclays is one of those banks that you don’t really associate with rewards. There are some valuable Barclays cards out there, such as the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®, and The JetBlue Plus Card. 

Here’s how you can see if you qualify for a retention offer with Barclays:

  1. Call the number on the back of your card.
  2. Once you’re forwarded to a front-line agent, you can explain, “I am holding the Barclays ___ credit card, and I just saw the annual fee post. I’m considering closing the card, and I was wondering if any retention offers were available that could help me make a decision?”
  3. Accept or decline the available offers.
  4. Usually, Barclays will provide a small retention offer, in the vicinity of 1,000-2,500 miles.

Capital One

Although Capital One has traditionally focused on low- or no-annual-fee credit cards, it’s entered the ray of rewards credit cards. Even though Capital One offers potentially great rewards, you may be considering closing your Capital One cards in favor of other cards, such as those from Chase.

In this case, you’ll want to follow these steps:

  1. Call Capital One’s retention number at 877-513-9959 or the number on the back of your card.
  2. Enter your full card number.
  3. You’ll be connected to a Capital One representative and be asked to verify your information.
  4. When the verification process is completed, you can say something along the lines of, “I’m currently holding the Capital One ___ card, and I just saw my annual fee get posted. I’m considering canceling the card, but I wanted to see if there were any retention offers available.”
  5. The customer service agent will try to figure out what sort of relationship you have with the card, what are your spending habits on that specific card, the types of benefits you used, etc.
  6. Usually, the retention offer will only be in the form of a statement credit or annual fee waiver.
  7. Accept or decline the retention offer.

Chase

Chase absolutely has some of the best credit cards in the world. If you’re considering closing a card with Chase, you may want to try asking for a retention offer before proceeding.

You can follow these steps to contact Chase:

  1. Call Chase at the number on the back of your card and tell the automated prompt that you want to talk to somebody in “retention.”
  2. You’ll be connected to either a specialist or to listen to your retention offers via an automated prompt over the phone.
  3. If connected to a specialist, you can say something like, “I’m currently holding this Chase ___ card, and I saw that my annual fee was charged on my account. I’m thinking of canceling the card, but I wanted to see if there were retention offers available that can help me decide.”
  4. The customer service agent will either be able to pull up your offers or won’t have access to any.
  5. You can accept or decline the retention offer.
  6. Sometimes, if the customer service agent tries to close the account at your direction, they will see a last-minute pop-up for a retention offer, which you can either accept or decline.
  7. Chase rarely offers retention bonuses, but it may occasionally offer a statement credit.

Citibank

Citi offers a top-notch rewards system. Chiefly, the Citi ThankYou Rewards ecosystem makes some Citi credit cards nearly unbeatable.

You can follow these steps to contact Citi:

  1. Call the number on the back of your card. You’ll want to explain to the automated prompt that you’re looking for a “representative.”
  2. You’ll be connected to a front-line customer service agent.
  3. You can say something like, “I’m currently a Citi ___ cardholder, and I noticed that the annual fee was assessed to my account. I’m considering canceling the card, and I wanted to check for any available retention offers before I committed to closing the card.”
  4. They’ll pull up any available offers, and you can accept or decline them as needed.
  5. Usually, Citi will offer bonus points on ordinary spending, but it also offers statement credits.

U.S. Bank

The last major bank that we’ll be discussing is U.S. Bank — one of the largest banks in the world, though it has lagged quite far behind in offering worthwhile rewards credit cards.

Some of them include the ultra-premium U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card and the SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card that earns Korean Air miles

Here’s how you can get a retention offer:

  1. Call the number on the back of your card.
  2. When you’re connected to a customer representative, you can explain, “I’m currently holding my U.S. Bank ___ credit card, and I just recently saw that my annual fee posted to my account. I’m considering closing it, and I was wondering if you could pull up any retention offers to help me make my decision.”
  3. Accept or decline the available offers.
  4. Usually, U.S. Bank will not provide retention offers, unless it’s for its premium credit cards. When it gives retention offers, it’s usually quite a nice amount, ranging from 10,000-15,000 points/miles.

Final Thoughts

Overall, closing down your credit card can hurt your credit score by reducing the number of open accounts, your credit utilization ratio, and more.

We walked you through the benefits of retention offers, what types of retention offers are available, and the process for checking retention offers with the major banks.

You can avoid closing down credit cards if you’re on the fence by phoning up the card issuer and checking for retention offers. Who knows — you never know if you’ll qualify for one, even if you don’t put much spending on your card, without asking.

So now, you have a great idea of how retention offers work and how you could potentially get them.


Frequently asked questions

How do you get a retention offer on a credit card?

The main way to get a retention offer on a credit card is just to call up the bank directly and ask.

They will look at your spending habits, your duration of card membership, and other factors to determine what your retention offers could be.

When should I call for a retention offer?

The best time to call for a retention offer is after a credit card’s annual fee posts.

How do I get an Amex retention offer?

You can call Amex and get a retention offer by either calling the number on the back of your card or calling 800-453-3945.

What is a retention offer?

A retention offer is a one-time incentive offered by banks to continue your card membership and keep your card open.

Are retention bonuses negotiable?

99% of the time, these retention bonuses are not negotiable. The only exceptions that exist are if you have massive amounts of spending on your cards every month that would warrant potentially higher retention offers. Think of $100,000+ in monthly spending on 1 single credit card.

What is a reasonable retention bonus?

A reasonable retention bonus could be any amount of statement credits, miles, or points that would offset at least part of the annual fee.

Different banks offer varying sizes of retention bonuses. However, a reasonable retention bonus is 2,500 points for cards that have a $100 or less annual fee, 10,000 points for cards with a $200 or less annual fee, or 20,000 points for cards with a $600 or less annual fee.

How do you negotiate a retention offer?

You can’t really negotiate a retention offer at all. These retention offers are usually determined by the card issuer’s system; there’s really no way for a customer representative to change something that is determined by an algorithm.

Can you cancel a credit card to avoid annual fee?

Yes, you can. However, it is generally better to downgrade than to cancel because you may lose your credit history from the previous card by canceling. When you downgrade, you’ll usually maintain the same credit history.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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