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I got 5000 Ultimate Rewards Points for canceling a card!!
A little background first on retention payments:
Sometimes credit card companies will give bonus incentives to their customers in order to persuade them to keep a card a second year. This is called a retention bonus or payment. A retention payment might be a waiver of part or all of the annual renewal fee, a statement credit, or extra points or miles. I did not know about retention bonuses until I got to know others in this industry.
The idea is this: (1) the love affair is over…. you got your bonus, and you are on the fence over whether or not to keep a credit card upon renewal in a few months; (2) you call the bank or credit card company, and speak to the employee – ask if there is a retention specialist or supervisor that handles such matters; (3) you explain that you are unsure whether you want to renew, and ask, in your own words, if there is anything to sweeten the deal, or make it worthwhile for you to renew the card. You may get lucky, you may not. File this under….. my favorite category ——> hey, you never know.
A little over a year ago, I got the Chase British Airways Visa Card. I got it during an amazing, amazing bonus – the annual fee was not waived, but the sign-up bonus was a whopping 100,000 British Airway (pre-Avios) Miles!! With this, Mr. Will Run For Miles (who incidentally doesn’t run, but that’s another story) and I are going to Argentina next month.
Recently, British Airways Visa had a good dining promotion for dining at Michelin Star restaurants in New York City. Essentially, this is the deal: “Use your British Airways Visa® Card at any NYC MICHELIN Guide 2012 star-rated restaurant through July 31, 2012. Dine once and receive a $50 statement credit. Dine twice and receive another $50 statement credit for a total of $100. Minimum purchase of $50 each time you dine.” Here is the link —-> MICHELIN Promotion.
So, I wanted to cancel my British Airways card, but I also wanted to partake in the Michelin Promo. Since my card was about to expire, and I wasn’t hungry at the time, I decided to purchase $50 gift certificates at two of the restaurants on the list for later use. In fact, I did some research and found two restaurants on the Michelin list that also participated in New York City Restaurant Week. I’d heard that, although the Chase website said to allow 8 weeks or more for the $50 credit for the dining promotion to issue, in fact, the credit usually appeared very quickly. Such was not the case for me. The credits were not posting, and I was passing the 60 day limit after renewal to cancel a card without penalty.
I phoned Chase on more than one occasion to discuss my renewal/retention options. Each employee gave me a different story. More than one agent told me that, with the British Airways Visa, I could cancel after the credit posted, and even if that was more than 60 days after the renewal date of the card, I would receive a pro-rated return of the $95 renewal feel. Alternatively, I was offered 1,000 Avios to renew the card (a minuscule amount, in my opinion).
Finally, the $50 credit appeared on my statement and I phoned Chase to cancel the card. Again another story. Now, I was told that I could not receive any return of my $95 renewal fee – that the information the prior agents had given me was ludicrous and wrong. This agent did offer me 5000 Avios as incentive to keep the card. Another call, another story – that’s not how it should work.
Next call, I was transferred to a supervisor, Aubrey. She was specifically employed to deal with issues such as this, and, importantly, had the power to resolve these issues. She stated that the $95 renewal fee is NOT returnable after 60 days and apologized profusely for the misinformation I’d been given by prior Chase reps. Aubrey said she wanted to make it “right” for me. She offered me three choices. The first two were predicted, the third blew me away.
Choice 1: Close credit card. period.
Choice 2: Keep credit card. Receive 5000 Avios points. (this was the choice I was prepared to accept, until Aubrey set forth the terms of Choice 3).
Choice 3: Move my 8,000 credit limit from the British Airways Visa card over to my Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Card – Receive 5000 Ultimate Reward points – and close the British Airways card.
Bingo. This was an awesome offer. Sure, I “lost” the $95 on the renewal fee, but I gained two trips to Argentina, and two lunches to Michelin Star restaurants (I am going to Aldea today for lunch). More importantly, I received 5000 Ultimate Rewards points – technically valued at around $60, but realistically worth at least $100. And, since Chase moved my credit to another card, this entire transaction is much less likely to affect my credit rating.
There are so many lessons here.
One is not to believe every agent. Another is not to wait to take advantage of a promotion, especially if you are thinking of closing your account soon thereafter. Another is not to give up. To ask questions and explore options. I’ve also been thinking that maybe its time to buy a notebook and write notes on every conversation such as this that I have with credit card reps. I think that this would be very helpful in keeping all my information together.
So, in the end, I got 5000 Ultimate Rewards Points for canceling a card!!
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Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.