Why You Should Ask for a Credit Card Retention Offer

by Natasha Gabrielle | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on April 16, 2021

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Some card issuers will provide cardholders with a retention offer, or incentive to keep their accounts open.

If you have a credit card with a high annual fee, you may be wondering if it's time to cancel or downgrade the card if you're no longer using all of its perks. While this is an option, you should first consider whether it's worth asking for a credit card retention offer. Many top credit card issuers offer loyal customers a discounted annual fee, or they'll waive a fee altogether to keep your business. Keep reading to learn more about credit card retention offers and to see why it may be a good idea to ask for one.

What is a retention offer?

A retention offer is an incentive that a card issuer gives to a cardholder to keep their membership. Credit card companies don't want you to cancel your card because they want to make money off your spending and regular use of the card. Credit card retention offers vary, and not all cardmembers will get the same offer -- or be given an offer at all.

What kind of retention offers exist?

Credit card companies offer a variety of retention offers. Here are some examples:

  • Statement credits (cash back to your current balance)
  • Discounted or waived annual fees
  • Bonus points

Some companies are more likely to offer a retention offer to someone who has been a loyal account member for a significant period. It may be harder to get a retention offer if you've only had the card for a year. But there's no way to know what offer may be available unless you ask.

Ask for a credit card retention offer

It's always worth asking for a credit card retention offer. Why? Because you may be missing out on free points, statement credits, or a discounted annual fee. Usually, companies won't present an offer to you directly because they want to charge you for your annual fee and renew your card.

If you're thinking about canceling or downgrading your card, first reach out to your card issuer and see if they'll give you a desirable retention offer. You might not want to renew your card because of an expensive annual fee, but it might be worth it if you're offered a discounted annual fee or more bonus points for maintaining your membership.

The bottom line

It's easy to ask for a retention offer. Call the number on the back of your card, be friendly and kind, and explain that you're thinking of closing your account due to the annual fee. You can either ask right before the annual fee is about to be charged or directly after the fee posts to your account. As a general note, most card issuers have a grace period of 30 days during which you can cancel or downgrade a card and get a refund on a recently posted annual fee.

So take a few moments out of your day to ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they'll tell you an offer isn't available. And if the outcome of that call doesn't work for you, consider getting one of the best no annual fee credit cards instead.

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