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After opening a bunch of cards over the years, there are some that you keep forever, while others you don’t. There are many reasons to keep cards open, such as specific benefits, no annual fee, and status. In the case I’m going to write about, I was going to close my card because I already have huge credit lines with this bank, and I’m looking to pare down my arsenal of cards ahead of the next “App Party” later this year. However, this experience reinforced the mantra of “Don’t cancel that credit card until you negotiate” because you never know what will happen.
I opened this account back in January 2012. One of my first forays into the miles and points life beyond my trusty Chase Southwest Visa and American Express Starwood cards. I had read about the opportunity to open two cards at once, using two different browsers, to be able to get approved for both the Visa and the American Express versions of the American Airlines cards from Citibank.
With the offer at the time, you could get 50,000 miles and $150 flight credit for each card, with the annual fee waived the first year, after spending $3,000 on each card within 4 months. $750 a month per card is not hard to do. Just ask my wife… LOL! Just kidding, she can be more frugal than me sometimes!
After meeting the minimum spend requirements, I was the proud new owner of over 106,000 miles. 50,000 miles from each card, plus 3,000 from the minimum spend.
These 100,000+ points went a long way towards the 280,000 miles I used for my recent trip to New York, Paris, and Madrid with my wife, our son, and my mother-in-law. After flying economy class from LAX, we had a 3 day stopover in New York for free, spent 10 days in Paris, and stayed overnight in Madrid while flying Business Class all the way home… which included having FREE access to the Business Class lounges in Paris, Madrid, and New York. We flew in off-peak season, so the tickets were 20,000 miles there in Economy and 50,000 miles home in Business Class.
What To Do At Renewal Time?
I knew that I didn’t want to keep BOTH cards and pay the $85 fee on each, so I decided I would keep the American Express version since it offered a higher credit limit.
There are some positives for keeping at least one of these cards:
- 10% rebate on miles used, up to 10,000 miles (on 100,000 miles used)
- Priority Boarding
- No fees on 1st bag checked for up to 4 people on the same itinerary
After deciding that I would close the Visa version, I called in December 2012 (2 months before the fee was to hit) to see if they could entice me to keep the card.
How To Make The Call To Close Your Card
- Call Customer Service and tell them that you are concerned about the upcoming annual fee and you are unsure whether the benefits are worth the cost
- They will reiterate the benefits and try to convince you to stay
- Tell them that you are still unsure and ask if there’s anything they can do to help keep you as a customer, such as waiving or reducing the fee, offering some points, etc.
- The rep offered me a bonus 3,000 miles if I spent $500 on the card within 3 months
- I took the offer with the intention of still closing the card, if nothing else changed
- Say Thank You
I Completed The Challenge, Now What?
I met the challenge of spending $500 in 3 months the first few days considering that it was Christmastime. The 3,000 points posted to my account, so I waited until the fee hit my account.
I again called Customer Service and asked what they could do for me since I was still unsure whether the benefits outweighed the annual fee of $85. This time, they had nothing else to offer me.
Instead of closing the card, I asked what cards I could downgrade to so that I could keep the account open. Open accounts are like currency in the miles and points game. You can take some of the limit to fund a new card, or you can close the current card and exchange it for a new one when talking with the underwriters. Plus, the longer your cards are open, the better it factors into your credit score because Account Longevity is worth a good chunk of your credit score.
I downgraded the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Visa into the Bronze version. The benefits aren’t worth mentioning because there really aren’t any… 1 point for ever $2 spent, for example. The only saving grace is that there is no fee.
Why Close It Now?
I’m preparing for the next round of cards to apply for later this year, so I’m cleaning up my report a little by closing cards that are approaching the annual fee or that have small limits. It can take a couple of months for the information to make it to the bureaus. And, I learned that Citibank won’t transfer credit lines between accounts.
I called Customer Service to cancel… and, guess what, they offered me another 3,000 mile for $500 challenge! Score!!!
Nothing like free miles. I’ll spend $500 on the card to get 3,250 miles, or 6.5 miles per $1, which is better than any other card can offer.
At the end, I’ll still most likely cancel the card after the points post… but not until after I see what they’ll offer! Free points are 4 Razor worthy.
What would you do? Would you keep the card, or close it? Have you closed any cards recently? Which ones? Why?