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Credit cards are a net money maker for banks. Banks make a lot of revenue from annual fees, interest and transaction fees. The first credit card that I got was an American Express card. This was way before I even had an idea about how loyalty programs work, let alone knowing any details about them. Even after many years of being in the miles and points ‘game’, you always reach that point where you have to make that decision. Your annual fee is due. Should you keep or cancel? This is especially a consideration if your card has a high annual fee. If you’re smart about putting your case forward, then you’ll have a pretty good success rate in getting a retention offer for renewing your card.

Loyalty is a two-way street

Before we get into the details of how you should lay your case forward, let’s get the basics out of the way. The main motive here is not just to call and ask for free points and statement credits. Banks make money because of the business you offer. The purpose of your conversation is to request them to provide you with an incentive or a retention offer, in order to keep your business.

Demonstrate your value

When you call in for a retention offer, you need to strike the correct tone. Explain to the rep how you are a customer in good standing. Following that, clearly elucidate any problems or shortcomings that you think the credit card has. The more specific and genuine your concern, the more likely you’ll have a positive response.

Be concise and clear

Most banks have retention departments that have set budgets. It’s always best to lay out your case in the most concise way possible. Always make sure you have a few talking points ready, so that you can make your point clearly.

Retention Call Script

I’ve previously written about how I’ve received lucrative offers for credit cards during the time of renewal. I’ve had the most success rate with American Express, especially on their high annual fee cards like the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum.

Here’s how I usually structure these calls. You can replace the bank name and card name and tailor this to your situation.

Me: Hi, I just realized that the annual fee was charged to my card. I’ve been a customer with [insert bank name] for over 10 years now. However, I’m not sure about whether I should renew this card for another year.

Rep: May I know the reason why you’re considering this?

Right after this, you may usually see the rep read a laundry list of the benefits of the card. This is the first move. At this point, the rep is looking to see if you can be convinced to renew the card without them having to offer you any renewal bonus.

Me: Yes, while I love benefits X and Y, I just read that benefits A and B are being reduced. Also, I’ve changed my travel patterns, so I’m no longer in a position to fly with Airline C. As a result, I’m not able to fully utilize the rebates and credits on offer.

Please ensure that your reason for cancellation is specific and clear. At this point, you’ll probably get a first hint of what the bank wants to offer you.

Rep: Thanks for being a customer with us since XXXX. We really value your business and would like to offer you 10,000 points. Let me know if this works for you and we’d be happy to keep your business for another year.

At this point, it’s your call whether you want to take the initial offer or play hardball. There are pros and cons, depending on which option you choose. If you’re looking to get a better offer, you can always politely ask if there’s a better offer available. In my experience, I’ve mostly gotten pretty good retention bonuses at the first request, especially from American Express.

The Pundit’s Mantra

Banks set out budgets in order to keep their loyal customers. Your offer may be in the form of a statement credit or in the form of miles/points. In certain cases, there may also be a spend requirement in order to get the retention bonus. It’s always worthwhile to call and politely request for an offer before you decide to cancel.

In my experience, I’ve had a great success rate in using this template to keep getting renewal bonuses each year on the Amex Gold card, having gotten at least 10,000 Membership Rewards points each time I’ve asked. I hope this post was able to shed some light into the mechanics of an actual retention call.

Which has been the most lucrative retention offer that you’ve received? Let us know in the comments section.

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