Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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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 1-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.
Retention offers typically come in a few main types:
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 an annual fee.
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.
This offer is the same as 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.
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.
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.
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!
When it comes to the actual strategy for getting a retention offer, it’s generally pretty simple:
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.
There are so many phenomenal choices when it comes to the best Amex credit cards, and American Express is truly 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.
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!
Here are some examples of retention offers we’ve seen for popular Amex cards:
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 BoA.
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:
In general, we see statement credits being offered: for example, the Alaska Signature card has seen statement credits of $100 after spending $1,000 in 3 months.
Retention offers from Bank of America can offset the annual fees on these cards, but it generally won’t earn you bonus miles.
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:
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:
In our view, the best Chase credit cards are some of the top credit cards the market has to offer. 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:
For example, we have seen the following retention bonuses offered:
You can follow these steps to contact Citi:
We’ve seen the following retention offers:
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:
Here are some of the retention offer data points we’ve seen:
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.
The information regarding the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card and SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The JetBlue Plus Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The World of Hyatt Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
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.
The best time to call for a retention offer is after a credit card’s annual fee posts.
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.
A retention offer is a one-time incentive offered by banks to continue your card membership and keep your card open.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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