Credit card retention offers: you could be missing out on easy points if you’re not using this tip

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Simply making a quick phone call to the bank that issues your credit card could get you some free easy points. When you call a bank to cancel a credit card, they’ll sometimes offer bonus points or a statement credit as an incentive to keep the card open another year. This is known as a “retention bonus.”

When I first started in our hobby, I was sheepish about asking banks for retention offers or to waive annual fees after the first year of trying out a card. Maybe it was a fear of rejection or sounding stupid. Now I do it with no issue.

One of the MMS team members recently earned an easy 7,500 Amex Membership Rewards points as an incentive to keep The Business Platinum Card® from American Express active for another year.

Retention bonuses are never a guarantee — but you have nothing to lose by calling to ask for one, especially if you’re planning to cancel the card anyway. I’ll share more about the retention offer experience, and explain why 7,500 bonus Amex Membership Rewards points was enough reason to keep the card open for another year.

Travel will commence again soon — but if you’re considering canceling your cards to save money now, let the bank know your thought process! They may even be more generous during this coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Retention bonuses after one year of card membership

With the Amex Business Platinum, you can earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.  Amex welcome bonuses increase and decrease every so often, and it’s important to apply when the bonuses are high. That’s because Amex only allows you to earn the intro offer on each card once per lifetime.

Several of us on the team qualify for small business cards because we have side-gigs like Airbnb, reselling merchandise on eBay, contracting houses, etc. The Amex Business Platinum doesn’t have jaw-dropping bonus categories for business owners, so we end up spending mostly with cards like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card for business spending to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points (our favorite miles and points currency, incidentally). But the Amex Business Platinum card does have some great ongoing perks:

  • 5 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar when you book airfare and hotels through the Amex travel portal
  • 35% of your points back for all First Class or Business Class flights booked through the Amex travel portal using Pay With Points
  • 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the Amex travel portal using Pay With Points
  • Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for airline incidentals with your selected airline (luggage fees, in-flight food & drink, etc.)
  • Ability to book hotel stays through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
  • Access to airport lounges (Delta, Priority Pass, Airspace, and American Express Centurion Lounges) Enrollment required for select benefits.
  • Bonus points or statement credits when taking advantage of an Amex Offer
  • Terms apply

Despite all of the perks, the card does have a $595 annual fee ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022) (see rates and fees) , which is not waived the first year. None of us on the team mind paying annual fees — but each year we evaluate whether the card benefits justify the expense.

If you’re unsure that keeping your card open another year makes sense for your personal situation, you should call the bank to ask for a retention offer.

2-minute phone call = 7,500 Amex point retention offer

Upon calling the phone number on the back of the Amex Business Platinum card and navigating the automated Amex telephone prompts, a live customer service representative answered the call. Your call doesn’t have to be long-winded, even something as short as: “Hi, I’m considering cancelling by Amex Business Platinum card and wanted to see if you were offering any incentives to keep the card open.”

The representative will then check your account, and list any offers available. In this case, she said they could offer 7,500 Amex Membership Rewards points or a $75 statement credit. MMS estimates that Amex points are worth around 2 cents each — so points were a much better deal. The representative read a disclosure and stated that the points would deposit within a few days.

With a simple incentive like this, it’s not difficult to justify paying the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) with the 7,500 bonus points, $200 annual statement credit for airline incidentals, savings with Amex Offers and access to Centurion Lounges.

Keep in mind, retention offers can vary, including no bonuses at all. You can check this FlyerTalk thread to see what others have been receiving recently. In my experience, you’re more likely to get a retention offer if it’s a card you’ve used frequently.

Bottom line

We always recommend you give a card a try for at least 11 months to see how you like it before you decide to keep it or not. Many cards even waive the annual fee for the first year to encourage customers to test it out.

If you do decide to cancel (or if you’re unsure what you want to do), it’s always a good idea to give the bank a call and see if they’ll give you an incentive to keep the card. Sometimes you’ll get bonus points for spending a certain amount, or a rebate toward the annual fee. It’s an easy call to make – don’t be shy! Just let the bank know you’re on the fence about keeping the card and ask if there’s anything they can do.

It’s also worth mentioning that you should downgrade your credit cards whenever possible, as opposed to canceling them. It’s super easy — read this post on downgrading credit cards. And this post about canceling credit cards.

If you have any experience earning a retention bonus, sound off in the comments below. And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card info like this delivered to your inbox.

For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, click here

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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