My Experience Canceling Various Credit Cards & All The Retention Offers

One of the most important attributes to being a successful travel hacker is organization. I think it is one of the most under-discussed and overlooked skill needed to master this hobby of ours. Every month, I set aside several hours to do my “homework” and go through all my credit card accounts to ensure I haven’t been hit with fraudulent charges, missed any payments or have any annual fees currently due. I’ve been especially focusing on cards with annual fees as many cards are worth it in year one (especially since many annual fees are waived for year one) but not so much afterwards.

My goal this time around was to reduce the annual fees I am paying and going through my monthly homework, I identified 6 cards that could meet the chopping block. I thought it would be an interesting and informative post on how I came to the decision on each card and what (if any) retention offers were made. I think the offer made on my wife’s Ritz Carlton card was the most interesting but I’ll let my readers decide that.



Card 1: Citibank American Airlines Platinum Select – $95 annual fee

I opened this card two years ago to earn 50,000 miles + earn 10% back on AA award redemptions. The annual fee was waived for the first year and last year I accepted a retention offer for a $95 statement credit if I charged $95 to the card within 3 months of the annual fee. Now the annual fee was due yet again and I called to see what retention offers were available. I got the same offer as last year but I declined it this year – why? Well, within the past year my former Barclays US Airways MasterCard was converted to a Red AA Aviator card that offers the same main benefit of 10% back on AA award redemptions (along with other perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding etc). I didn’t need two cards with the same benefits so I chose to axe the Citibank version of the card to restart the 18 month clock to get the card again.

Card 2: Barclay Arrival Plus – $89 annual fee

This was my favorite cash back card until the recent changes made (increasing the minimum award redemptions from $25 to $100, only getting 5% points back, no Trip It Pro, etc.) caused me to rethink why I needed this card. I liked using the rewards from this card to buy Uber credits in $25 chunks since you could earn the 2,500 points required by spending only $1,250 (which wasn’t hard if you MS’ed). However, now in order to break even on the card with the $89 annual fee, I would need to spend a ton on this card each year for it to be a better value than a no annual fee 2% cash back card like the Fidelity American Express or the Citi Double Cash which just wasn’t going to happen. My retention offer was to downgrade to no annual fee 1% cashback version of the Arrival card but why would I chose to put any spend on that card when I have better 2% cash back alternatives available? I quickly dismissed the offer by stating exactly that and my card was closed moments later.

Cards 3/4: Chase Ritz Carlton Visa x2 – $395 annual fee

My wife and I both signed up for the 140,000 point offer on this card last year which was possibly one of my favorite signup bonuses from last year. We timed these applications right and for paying the $395 annual fee, we each got 140,000 points, $600 in airline gift cards ($300 annual airline credit which we were able to use 2x since it is a calendar year based), Marriott Gold status and 3 Ritz Club level upgrades. We enjoyed the perks in year one but for year two, there is no compelling reason to keep the card unless you are a frequent Ritz customer (which we aren’t). It is a card you never want to put spend on and since we already used the $300 annual airline credit this year, I didn’t see a reason to keep the card.

The retention offer on this card was interesting though it was only offered it on my wife’s card and not mine. If she spent $5,000 in 3 months, she would earn 5,000 bonus points (yawn) AND a free night certificate for any 1-4 Ritz Carlton (say what?!?). I quickly debated the value of this and while I think this offer is definitely worthwhile for some, I passed. We’d still be paying $395 for this free night and there aren’t any Ritz Carlton stays planned for the next year so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to use the free night. I do recognize that if I had a use for the free night, I should have taken the offer as I could wait till January came around, used the annual $300 airline credit since it would be reset (though it has gotten a LOT harder to buy airline gift cards to use this credit) and then cancel the card in early 2016 to earn a pro rata annual fee rebate (if Chase does that, I’m not sure). This was the best retention I received on any card and one that should be seriously considered if you don’t have concerns over using the free night and/or using the $300 airline credit.

Cards 5/6: US Bank Club Carlson Visa x2 – $75 annual fee

I’ll make this one quick and easy. Basically, US Bank destroyed the value of these cards when they took away the last night free when using points. It really was an offer too good to be true – if done right, every 2nd night was free! Well, once the program was gutted a few months back, these cards were useless to me. My wife and I both cancelled them and cited the loss of the last night free on award stays as the reason. Neither of us got any retention offer, bonus points or offers for a free night like others I know were offered. Should I have HUCA’ed? You bet but if I’m being honest I want nothing to do with US Bank and/or Club Carlson so I was more than happy to cancel the cards without trying to get a retention offer. I don’t recommend doing this but in this case, I really just didn’t care.

Even after cancelling all these cards, my wife and I still have 36 different cards open between us. Over the next few months, I’m sure we will be cancelling more of them as I am really evaluating if a credit card’s annual fee makes it worth keeping. If this post turns out to be popular or readers request it, I’ll write a similar summary post when I do my next round of cancellations and retention offers.


11 thoughts on “My Experience Canceling Various Credit Cards & All The Retention Offers

  1. Thanks for posting about these cancellation. It really makes us evaluate the value of keeping certain cards open. It’s interesting to hear what banks will offer you to retain your business. Please follow up with your second round.


  2. This was a good read! I started the whole miles/points game last fall and am coming up on some annual fees within the next few months (Sapphire, US Airways-now-Aviator, Southwest) and plan to review the same, using this as a guide. Thanks!


  3. For the AA platinum visa – I just cancelled yesterday and was offered 1k bonus for 1k spend every month for 16months. So 2x on first 1k spend. Declined as I need to meet the min for the Axp platinum 100k


  4. […] PointsCentric posted about his experience cancelling various credit cards & the retention offers. […]


  5. I called to cancel my arrival plus a couple of months ago. They offered me a 1,000 point bonus ($10) for switching to the Barclay rewards MasterCard and making a purchase. I figured why not, then I would cancel once that posted. They never took away my ~950 arrival plus miles after the conversion, but the 1,000 points never came in. I called and they added the 1,000 points on top of my 950. I then noticed they wouldn’t let me redeem less than 2,500 points which was a change (with no notice) from the previous 1000 minimum. They added another 1,000 so I could redeem. So I got a $30 bonus for switching cards. Not bad. I’ll cancel soon.


  6. For Citi, I thought the rule (from reports I’ve read online) was you can’t apply for the same card if you had OPENED or CLOSED the account. So since you had the card open for two years, meaning more than 18 months, you could have applied for the card again. However, since you closed it, you reset the clock. Please correct me if I’m wrong!


    • Nope you’re right. I chose to restart the clock because I already have too many AA miles (900k between the two of us) so when I didn’t get a great retention offer, I didn’t mind canceling knowing I would have to wait 18 months if I wanted another


  7. What did you use the $300 credit on, from the Chase Ritz? We got the card earlier this year, and have not used all of the $300 yet (just used $100 each for Global Entry). Was thinking of getting $200 in AA gift cards (since SW and UA don’t work), but I would be gutted if I didn’t get reimbursed for them.


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