Welcome to a weekly feature on the Eye of the Flyer blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
The above photo has to be one of my favorite ones ever. I have used it over and over at events like the Chicago Seminars talks (that has sold about half of the tickets btw). Now sure, I am poking a little fun at homeless people who are desperate for points. Then again, I am sure there are many readers who have found themselves, like me, in the terrifying position of being out of points from some airline or hotel when they NEED points for some vacation or trip. Scary to think about. 🙁
So what is the point of this fun photo? It is all about what you are willing to do for bonus points. One of them is credit card retention bonus offers that seem to be getting harder and harder to earn this year. But just what is a retention offer and what does it take to get one? Is begging really needed?
There are a massive amount of travel cards that have no annual fee. There are also an equally massive amount of cards that DO come with some kind of fee. Some, when you add up the perks you get, you may feel some are worth the cost and you simply pay it year after year. Like what card? Think about the IHG Rewards card from Chase BANK that due to all the perks including a free night cert means I simply pay the small fee for this card year after year and smile each time I write the “check” for that fee. This is hands down the best travel card bargain I know of for years and years and as long as Chase does not mess this card up in some way, I will pay this fee without griping forever!
But then there are ALL the other cards! 🙂 Like ALL, really? Yep, every single card you can dream of that has a fee I call about. I always weigh the value vs. the cost and consider if I am getting value for the fee they are requesting (yes, this is a good word and description) that I pay them to hold some card yet another year. Always remember you can decide each year if you are willing to pay a card fee or not.
Now here is the deal, if I use a card a bunch a bank may make so much in “swipe fees” that even not paying an annual fee makes it worthwhile for them to keep me. For example, a card I spend say $60,000+ a year on has in the past either rebated the (sizable) annual fee or given me tens of thousands of points or some other offer to retain me for another year. But notice the only reason I am able to call and “beg” if you will for these offers is due to HUGE amounts of spending. I am of value to the bank.
Let me share with you another example that really did not work so well. There is another card I keep year after year due to the perks it gives me (think club access, on-board wifi coupons etc.). The fee I pay for this card is sizable and yet I still pay it. This certain card also offers $200 in incidentals credit per year. But I do not use the card for daily charges because there are so many other cards that offer more points for regular purchasing. When I called for a retention offer I had sorta forgotten that I had ONLY spent $200 on the card all year (and got that credited back to me). Thus, the rep was, let’s just say, not really warm to the idea of giving me diddly-squat back for my net-zero spending on this card. I sheepishly worked to hang up this “beg” call as quickly as I could.
The bottom line is a card fee IS negotiable under most circumstances. If you have created enough value for the bank they may, again may, want to retain you. Remember, if they lose you they may not ever get you back or could be forced one day to pay out another new card bonus to get you back again down the road.
So consider all your options when you call each year. A bank may waive the annual fee or offer you bonus points or some spend offer or anything that could offset the cost you pay to keep the card. Maybe “beg” for points is the wrong word; maybe negotiating for points is perhaps a better description. Either way, I am willing to take the time to see what is on or off the table each year. Are you? – René
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