I enjoy the benefits of travel rewards credit cards but I do not like to pay hefty annual fees.
Many premium rewards credit cards waive the annual fee for the first year.
But when your one-year anniversary rolls around, the fee will post on your credit card statement.
Call the Bank to Request a Fee Waiver on Your Credit Card
Here’s a hint:
- Don’t close your credit card account when the annual fee comes due without calling your bank first.
- Ask the bank representative what incentives they can offer you to keep your account open.
- Ask what other offers may be available so you can weigh all the options.
The banks spend a lot of money to recruit you as a customer. They advertise on TV, in magazines, and on websites. They send out multiple mailers. They pay affiliate commissions. They offer refer-a-friend bonuses. Moreover, many banks offer generous sign-up bonuses worth $400-500 or more.
The banks would lose all their “investment” in you if you close your account after the first year.
Ask and Ask Again
You might be surprised how generous some banks are and how anxious they are to keep you as a customer.
Before or after your annual fee posts, you can call the issuing bank and find out whether they are willing to waive the annual fee or offer points or other incentives for you to keep the account open. Some banks have a grace period of 30 or 60 days after the annual fee posts during which you can cancel the card without paying the fee. Check with your bank on their policy.
I had a number of anniversaries coming up on my cards this spring. I called the banks, and here are the results. These are just a few data points. Everyone’s credit and spending record are different and everyone may have different offers available.
Chase Bank Offers $95 Statement Credit on Ink Plus Business Card
I have had the Chase Ink Plus business credit card for just one year. Before the annual fee posted, I called to inquire about retention bonuses. Right off the bat I was offered a credit of $95 on my account to offset the $95 annual fee. I accepted this offer. I am happy to keep this credit card open because I find the five times Ultimate Rewards points it offers for office supply purchases to be quite valuable.
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card: No Soap Radio
Another card I had with Chase was the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card. This card has an annual fee of $69 which comes with a 3,000 mile bonus. In past years, Chase has offered me an extra 3,000 miles to keep this card open. This year, I had no luck with an increased offer, and I closed the account.
Meanwhile, I will continue earning Chase Ultimate Reward points with the Ink Plus card, which can be transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
Barclays Bank Cancels the Fee on the AAdvantage Aviator Red Credit Card
When US Air merged with American Airlines, my Barclays US Air credit card became an American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red Card. When I called Barclay’s, I was told that there would be no annual fee for the first year of the Aviator Red card, because it was a new product. However, an $89 annual fee did post on my statement. I called the bank again and they rescinded the fee.
I will keep the card open for the coming year, because it offers a ten percent rebate on flights booked with miles, discounted award tickets, and free checked bags for myself and my family.
Citibank American Airlines Card Offers 3,000 Miles
I have both the business and personal Citibank American Airlines Platinum Select cards. I called Citibank to inquire about the grace period on my business Citibank American Airlines Platinum Select World MasterCard. While I was at it, I asked if they had any special offers available. Citibank offered me 3,000 miles just for asking!
When the annual fee came due, I called again but there were no retention offers available so I cancelled my business card. I already have another American Airlines business credit card (see above) and did not see the need to keep two cards open.
A few weeks later I called Citibank to inquire about special offers for my personal American Airlines Platinum Select World MasterCard. This time I was offered 3,000 miles, but I must spend $500 on the card within the next three months in order to receive the bonus. They had several other offers available, but this seemed the least troublesome. I will inquire about retention offers when the annual fee comes due.
Amex SPG Credit Card
Amex recently announced that it was raising the annual fee on its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit cards from $65 a year to $95 a year. My annual fee comes due in August, and I was told that the increased fee will not take effect at that time. Even at $65 a year, I am hard pressed to justify paying an annual fee to Amex.
In years past, I have never gotten more than 1,000 SPG points for calling in. When the annual fee posts I will decide what to do depending on which special offers are available.
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Hey, two out of three banks ain’t bad! If you would like to share your experience in the comments below, it will help other readers who are seeking fee waivers or other bonus offers.