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Basic Guide to Credit Card Retention Offers

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What is a Retention Offer? 5 Years ago if you asked me this question I’d be scratching my head with confusion in response. Fast forward to today and navigating the World of Retention has become a regular conversation at Basic Travel. Banks and Credit Lenders invest a lot in gaining new customers. Once you’re in, they don’t want to lose you and will often provide some great incentives to keep an account active. This is where the Basic Guide to Credit Card Retention Offers comes into play!

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In this Basic Guide, you’ll find:

  • What is a Retention Offer?
  • Examples of Retention Offers
  • Is there Always a Retention Offer Available? 
  • 5 Steps to Making a Retention Offer Phone Call
  • A Third Option to Consider before Closing a Credit Card

What is a Retention Offer?

Basically, a Retention Offer is an incentive that a Bank or Credit Lender is willing to provide a customer to keep an account open. Technically, Retention Offers extend beyond the basic banking world, think anything that is subscription/contract based (Netflix, Internet, cell phone, etc.).  

Examples of Retention Offers

Retention Offers certainly can vary through Banks and even specific Credit Cards. Most often these Offers include a Waived or Reduced Annual Fee, Bonus Points, or a new Spending Promotion to earn More Points & Miles. Sometimes the Retention Offers are only available once per account while others you can get every year. It’s important to note that these change frequently and typically depend on the amount of money that is spent on an account. 

Is There Always a Retention Offer?

Unfortunately not, these do vary and change quite a bit throughout the year. If there is no Retention Offer, that is one more factor to consider when evaluating the Cost of an Annual Fee.

5 Steps to Making a Retention Phone Call

Step One – Call the Phone Number on the Back of the Credit Card 

Step Two – Choose the options that lead you to the Account Closure Representative. This can be done by verbally saying “I want to close my account” or “Customer Service Representative” for the automated phone systems.

Step Three – Once you’re on the phone with the representative, be honest about why you are considering closing the account. Perhaps the Annual Fee doesn’t justify the benefits or your not getting much use from the points & miles anymore. Be sure to explain what you like about the card and what drew you to it in the first place. 

Step Four – From here one of two things will happen. The Customer Service Representative may preemptively throw out a retention offer or will discuss moving forward with closing the account. 

  • If the Retention Offer sounds great, accept it and move on. Don’t be hesitant to ask for more if the offer still doesn’t make sense after evaluating the ROI on the Annual Fee. The worst answer is “No” and it doesn’t hurt to ask. 
  • If there is not a Retention Offer provided, this is where you ask for one! Again; the worst answer is that there are none and it doesn’t hurt to ask. It can be as simple as saying “I really did like this card before and am wondering if there are any Retention Offers Available?” 

Step Five – The phone call has been placed and you’ve investigated whether there is a Retention Offer for your account. You heard the offer or lack thereof and can make a decision on keeping the account open for another year. The final option to consider is taking some more time to think about the offer (or no offer) and making another call later. Our Basic Travel Facebook Group Members have done this and received different offers by making more than one call. Again, this isn’t guaranteed and if the first offer sounds great I’d suggest accepting it! 

A Third Option to Consider Before Closing a Credit Card

If the retention offer does not justify keeping the account open, I’d suggest inquiring about downgrading the Credit Card. Most Credit Cards that carry an Annual Fee have no-annual-fee options within the same card family. It’s very likely that there is an alternative card that has no annual fee or a lower annual fee which will do a few things. First, it will help Build your Credit Score. Continuing the on-time payment history and having more available credit will lower the overall utilization. Second, it will leave the door open for upgrade offers down the road! 

Learn how to Build Your Credit Score with These 5 Strategies 

Basic Breakdown

Learning about the Basic World of Retention Offers has made a big difference for me over the years. Credit Cards that I use to evaluate as a close would be switched to remain open when calculating my return on investment with the retention offers included. Have you received a retention offer below? Did it end up pushing you to keep the account open? I’d love to hear your answers down in the comments or over in our 4,000+ Member Basic Travel Facebook Group! 

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