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TPG reader Aaron sent me a message on Facebook to ask about credit card retention offers:

“What are your thoughts on the bonuses card companies offer to keep you from closing an account? I called to cancel my AAdvantage Gold card and was offered my choice of a waived annual fee ($50), 3,000 miles or two Admirals Club vouchers.”

Card issuers want you to use their products, which is why they offer not only lucrative sign-up bonuses to get you to apply, but also retention bonuses to keep your business if you’re thinking about closing your account. Whether you’re on the fence about paying an annual fee or just weeding out cards that don’t provide enough value, calling to inquire about retention offers is definitely one of the steps you should take before canceling a card.

Retention bonuses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Usually you’ll receive points/miles or a statement credit, but you might also be offered perks like lounge passes, elite-qualifying miles or certificates for a free hotel night. Which one you should go for depends on your own preferences and travel plans. I use my monthly valuations to help me decide between points or cash, but I might forego those options for some other benefit that better suits my needs (like stay or night credits when I’m trying to requalify for hotel elite status).

Aaron’s three choices are worth roughly the same amount (to offset the $50 annual fee), and none of them require any further action on his part, so there’s little reason not to go for it. However, some retention offers function more like a sign-up bonus, so you have to spend a certain amount over a set time period. You might also be given several options with different values, like 3,000 points after spending $500 or 10,000 points after spending $1,500. Generally, I’d go for the biggest offer you think you can earn without overextending yourself financially.

Before you close an account, call to see if your card issuer can offer some incentive to keep it open.

My experience has been that Citi is the most likely to offer a retention bonus but that Chase and Amex tend to offer the best incentives (when they offer anything at all). Your experience will depend a lot on your level of business with the card issuer: You’re more likely to receive an offer if you’re a long-time cardholder and you use your card regularly, or if you also have a banking relationship.

If you think your offer doesn’t match your value as a customer, don’t be shy about politely stating your case. Bonuses are often pre-loaded, so the agent you speak to might not have the authority to offer you more. In that case, try speaking with a supervisor who may have access to more information about your account and should be better able to accommodate you. As I often say, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

For more info about canceling a credit card, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.