Amex Retention Offers
It seems like I have grabbed quite a few American Express cards over the years this time of the year because the annual fees are rolling in. Not surprising, since I did rack up almost $8,000 worth of them last year. Over the past week I have been going back and forth with reps checking in on my Amex retention offers. Too bad I didn't have Brian's trick to cut the line to the Amex retention department then. It takes a bit longer via chat but it is best when dealing with an unwilling partners accounts (aka my wife). I'll share my results on three American Express cards when it comes to retention offers:
Also be sure to check out our full guide on retention offers if you want more info on them.
Charles Schwab Platinum
First up was my wife's Charles Schwab Platinum card. I wasn't expecting anything because she got an offer on it last year. Amex is unlikely to give you two retention offers in a 13 month period, although it does happen on rare occasions. They came back with a big fat zero, as expected.
We decided to cancel it since we didn't need it for the time being. I had already cashed out any Membership Rewards points on her account at 1.1 cents per point, a perk of the card, and used up whatever credits I could before reaching out about the retention offer.
As the closure was going through the rep slid in some language about retention offers and losing points if I cancelled within 12 months. That instantly put me on high alert. I knew we had taken a retention offer last year but I assumed it had been 12 months since doing it because it was only a few days away from the due date for the annual fee. Before okaying the closure I asked if it had been over 12 months since we accepted the last offer. She informed me that we had taken one exactly 12 months ago, to the day.
In my opinion this was a bad rep because this should have been told upfront, as it has in the past. She was going to let it slide by with just an indirect mention of the terms. I said I would reach out again tomorrow to close it then when the 12 months was officially up. That is just what I did, closing it the next day. Was that overkill? Would Amex come after our points because we were a few hours short of 12 months? I would hope not, but I wouldn't put it past them.
Amex Business Platinum
Next up was asking about Amex retention offers on one of my Amex Business Platinum cards. This is one of a few that I have from all of the no lifetime language offers going around. This card was only a year old so I was somewhat expecting to get some kind of offer. Since these no lifetime language offers keep rolling out in, and I can easily replace this card, it would need to be pretty good for me to keep it.
Before the chat I had set my bar at 40,000 – 50,000 points with no spend, or at least minimal spend. These kind of offers are rare but do happen. The rep did come back with a 40,000 point offer, but it required $10,000 in spend over the next 3 months. I informed them that the spend was just too much to make it worth it.
I would have earned 5x points on that $10,000 in spend (the bonus plus 1x normally) but that wasn't all that enticing with the $695 annual fee. If I only had one Business Platinum card I probably would have taken it, since I do value the perks and credits. With a chunk of them overlapping some I passed on this one. I could see why some others would take this though. It is just hard for me to justify with all of the targeted offers floating around on Amex's business cards.
Amex Gold Card
Last up was the retention offer try for my Amex Gold card. My plan had been to close this since I already hit some of the U.S. supermarket spend cap ($25,000 per year). I could then have my wife refer me a few months down the road, get the refer a friend bonus for her, and get a fresh $25K cap this year. That would also reset on January 1st, essentially giving me up to $50K in spend that first 12 months. Timing applications like this can be a big windfall when you get more advanced in your miles and points game.
The offer came back, and it was pretty good. I could earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000. If I did that $3K in spend on groceries that is a return of 14 points per dollar on that spend. An earning rate that is leaps and bounds better than the Amex Platinum offer above. I hesitated for a minute here, changed course and accepted the offer.
Why Did I Change My Mind?
What had me change my mind? Well, we didn't have those +5x earning at US Supermarkets for starters. If we had that this would have been an easy decision to follow my original plan of attack. Without one of those amazing offers I looked at our other refer a friend bonuses. The top one my wife had was for 25,000 Membership Rewards points, which is decent. That is 5,000 points less then the retention offer, but didn't require any spend either.
The other consideration was that we had already spent $9,000 into the $25K cap on US supermarkets this year too. That would get reset with a new refer a friend sign up as well, racking up 27,000 more points. When comparing the two options, the close and refer plan would be 22,000 hypothetical points ahead now. On the flip side, those 22,000 points would require more spend overall too.
This is where laziness made the decision for me. For 22,000 points did I want to recreate that $9,000 in spend. It would only net me 2.4 points per dollar on the spend when comparing the two options too (22,000 points / $9,000). I am ready to give myself a little bit of a break and the payoff just wasn't there to motivate me. A side benefit is that this decision has Amex seeing me keep a card open another year, which can never hurt.
Amex Retention Offers: ToP Thoughts
Hopefully this shows you that Amex retention offers can cause some unexpected headaches and bit opportunity at the same time. It is best to have a game plan in place before going into the chat or call. Also have options two and three prepared in case you are offered something unexpected.
I was able to do some quick math on my Amex Gold chat because I had an idea of what I was giving up to take it. That was in terms of the referral offers we had available and the amount of spend we had already completed. On the flip side, being prepared made it so I was able to stay strong and pass up a big 40K offer. If I hadn't been prepared I could have been tempted by a big number that just doesn't really work for me right now.
Your thoughts, limitations and goals will be different from mine so you may come to different conclusions on which offers are worth taking and skipping. No matter what conclusion you come to the process should be similar anyway.
Good luck out there & share some of your recent Amex retention offers in the ToP Facebook Group.