Last February, I applied for several new points and miles cards. I can’t believe how fast a year can zoom by – before I knew it, I realized all of the annual fees have posted. Of course, I immediately got on the phone to see if the fee could be waived or if I would be offered some type of retention offer. In the past, I’ve been offered some pretty generous retention bonuses, so I was pretty optimistic this time around; however, I feel my retention bonus offers were quite “blah” to say the least. Here’s how I made out…
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa: I applied for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa (not the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card with the $99 annual fee) during the time a lucrative 50,000-point sign up bonus last year (offer now expired). The card came with a $69 annual fee which was not waived. Of course, paying $69 for 50,000 Rapid Rewards points was definitely a great value. When I made the call to cancel, I went in with the expectation that the retention specialist would at least offer to credit the $69 annual fee since I am in good standing with Chase, and I had already paid a $69 fee upon opening the account. However, that was not the case. It took me a long time of going back and forth before getting offered anything. Finally, the agent said she would throw in 3,000 extra Rapid Rewards points if I remained a card member. Since Southwest is a fixed-value rewards program, I value each point at ~1.67 cents, which is an approximate $50 value. The card also comes with a 3,000-point bonus for each year of membership. Was this a “wow” retention offer? No. But, I figured ~$100 in Rapid Rewards points was worth the $69 membership fee.
American Express Business Platinum card: I definitely maximized the value of my American Express Business Platinum card over the course of the year. Not only did I apply during a targeted-offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards points, but I was also able to get my Global Entry fee reimbursed, my $200 in airline credit, lounge access, etc. (I’ve outlined how to truly maximize the card’s benefits in this post). When I called to cancel, I was offered absolutely nada, but I still didn’t go ahead and actually cancel. Why not? Here’s why: I am already getting a $200 airline credit per calendar year (which is in essence – $400 since I plan to utilize my airline credit for 2015 in January before my year is up) on top of another $200 courtesy credit as a result of the loss of Admiral’s Club access. Right there alone is $600 in airline credits for a $450 annual fee. I also will continue to have Centurion Lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, Platinum Concierge, etc. My favorite perk of all still continues to be the AmEx sync promotions and Small Business Saturday as a way to get “free money”.
Ink Plus® Business Card: The Ink Plus was one of my favorite cards because I loved earning 5x Ultimate Rewards points while buying Visa gift cards at Staples. I definitely was hoping to get another year out of it. When I made the call, I knew it was going to be blah from the start. Not only was I on hold for 28 minutes before being connected to a customer service rep (was everyone calling to “cancel” or what?), but when I finally did connect to one, she wasn’t exactly the most pleasant. Before I even finished my spiel about wanting to cancel, she interrupted me saying “Ok I will close out the account and issue you a $91.82 check for the value of your points that are sitting in your account. Whoa there lady, not so fast. I told her I’d prefer to hold on to the points and transfer them to a travel partner instead since I value the points much higher than 1 cent per point. I then said, “listen, I’ll hold on to the card, but can you at least offer me some type of retention bonus for being a customer in good standing?”. She put me on a long hold and then told me she can offer me a bonus of 10,000 extra points if I can spend $5,000 on the card within 3 months, aka a “spend challenge”. I personally find it annoying to have to complete yet another “minimum spend”, but I can easily knock of $3,000 with Amazon Payments and the rest I could do with normal spend, so I agreed. Plus, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points is valued at $220 (2.2 cents each) in my eyes, so it was “worth it” to pay the $95 fee.
How has your luck been with retention bonuses recently? Did I just get the short end of the stick this time around, or are you finding that offers are just becoming more “stingy” all around? Would love to hear about your experiences.