In December 2014, my wife and I applied for one final US Airways MasterCard for an easy 50,000 miles before it went away for good and since then, that card has been converted to a Aviator Red card. Now a year later, the annual fee just posted on both my account and my wife’s so we rang up Barclaycard to see what retention offers were available.
Before we called, I had already decided that I was willing to pay the $89 annual fee for both cards. The biggest reason was for the 10% rebate of AA miles when you use this card to book any AA awards. You can get a maximum rebate of 10,000 miles per year per person which is worth ~$150 to me. Another main reason to keep the card for us was to hopefully get targeted for one of their bonus spend promotions which are usually quite lucrative. Lastly, we do have a handful of domestic flights on AA this year so the priority boarding and possibly the free checked bag benefit might come in handy though this didn’t factor much into my decision to keep the card. Notably I did not factor in the 10,000 anniversary miles as those already posted to our accounts and we’d be able to keep the miles even if we cancelled the cards.
I started with my card and called the number on the back of my card to start the process. I got a front line agent on the phone and once I mentioned I wanted to close my account, she immediately transferred me to the retention department at Barclaycard. There I had a nice gentleman named Tom whose goal was to try and keep me as a “loyal” Barclaycard customer.
He inquired why I wanted to cancel and I causally mentioned that I already have the competing the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select card (which may or may not be true anymore) that has almost identical benefits so why should I pay an annual fee on both cards. Without another word, he immediately offered to waive the $89 annual fee and additionally pointed out the annual fee on this card was only $89 while the one from Citibank was $95 implying I should cancel the Citibank card instead.
I told him I appreciated the offer to waive the annual fee but I wanted to know if there were any other retention offers that I was eligible for that included miles (it is important to be direct in what you are asking for). After giving him a minute to look at the “promotions page”, Tom came back with this beauty of an offer – 5,000 AA miles for spending $1k in 3 months. That’s a great offer as I am essentially earning 5x on all purchases up to $1,000 in spend and combined with the annual fee being waived, this would be an easy, free 5,000 miles for keeping a card I wanted to keep all along.
Once he confirmed that was the only offer with miles on my account, I accepted it and then asked him to check my wife’s account for a similar offer. After getting my wife to confirm her identity, we were able to skip all the nonsense about why she wanted to cancel the card and he simply just offered my wife the same exact deal (annual fee waived + 5,000 mile promotion) as me. Of course, she took it and we thanked Tom for essentially paying me and my wife to keep our cards open for another year (ok, I didn’t really say that last part).
Let this post serve as a reminder to always try for a retention offer even if you would be willing to pay the annual fee. For this card, I knew a lot of people have had success getting a retention offer so the odds were fairly high we would get the annual fee waived at a bare minimum. The 5,000 miles for spending $1,000 in 3 months is just icing on the cake. I will definitely be taking advantage of that to earn 5x for my non-bonus category spend. And if you happened to targeted (usually via snail mail) with an offer such as 15,000 bonus miles for spending $500/month over 3 months (or other similar offers), you can stack these offers to really rack up the miles without having to pay an annual fee.