My Amex Platinum retention bonus: 20,000 Membership Rewards points
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
One of the primary reasons for signing up for a new credit card is the sign-up bonus — some of which can be 100,000 points or higher. But, in order for credit card issuers to make a profit from the relationship, they need those cardholders to maintain their account and use their card for years.
That's why credit card companies will sometimes offer dissatisfied cardholders a retention bonus for keeping their account open. This offer can vary from bonus points/miles to a waived annual fee (generally only on credit cards with lower annual fees).
I'm generally satisfied with my The Platinum Card® from American Express. Despite the hefty $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), the card comes packed with benefits — including up to $200 per year in airline fee credits, up to $200 per year in Uber credits, up to $100 per year in Saks Fifth Avenue credits, up to $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck credit, Priority Pass Select membership and access to Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs, along with Airspace and Escape lounges. Additionally, the public welcome offer is 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
And, those are just the headline benefits. There's a seemingly endless list of valuable benefits offered by the card. Plus, the Amex Platinum is adding even more benefits soon. In addition to earning 5x points on airfare purchase through the airline or through American Express Travel, Amex is adding trip delay, trip cancellation and interruption protections starting Jan. 1, 2020.
That said, this has been a rough year for the Amex Platinum in a couple of ways. In July, Amex made it harder to use the airline fee credit by eliminating reimbursement of airline gift cards. Then, starting Aug. 1, 2019, Amex eliminated the use of Priority Pass membership at airport restaurant locations.
So, when my annual fee posted in November, I called Amex to at least register my frustrations about these changes. I wanted to specifically request that American Express follow Chase (Chase Sapphire Reserve®) and the Citi (Citi Prestige® Card) in offering a general travel credit rather than a restrictive airline fee credit. At the time I called, I hadn't used a dollar of my airline fee credit as I was locked into Southwest — which is famously low-fee.
The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
From past experience, I knew that you generally have to indicate to a phone agent that you're considering closing your account before you get a retention specialist. But, that wasn't the case for my call. After I aired my grievances about the changes, the phone agent said that Amex wanted to make sure that I was satisfied with my membership and asked if I'd be interested in being transferred to a retention specialist. I accepted.
The retention specialist's initial offer wasn't bad: a $200 statement credit for spending $3,000 in the next three months. Out of curiosity, I asked if the same offer was available as a 20,000-point bonus rather than a $200 statement credit. After checking, the agent confirmed that he could do that offer. So, I happily accepted.
At TPG valuations, those 20,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $400. That's a nice return on $3,000 of spending — especially as this bonus is in addition to the points that would otherwise be earned.
That same $3,000 of spending could be enough to earn a lot more points or miles through a new credit card sign-up. However, after signing up for dozens of cards in the past few years, I'm intentionally slowing down my new credit card sign-ups as banks continue to add restrictions on sign-ups. So, I'm thrilled to be able to earn these 20,000 bonus points without having to sign up for a new credit card.