My Citi AAdvantage Amex Card Retention Bonus Offer

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Last summer I successfully applied for a Citi AAdvantage Amex and Visa card at the same time for a total of 150,000 AAdvantage miles (dubbed the two browser trick – still available but now down to 100K miles for those two cards) after I met the spending requirements to trigger those bonuses.  Now the $85 annual fees have come due and it was time to decide what to do with the accounts.  I decided to give Citi a call using the customer service number printed on the statement I received in the mail to see if they had any retention bonus offers available for my account.  If you want to skip that step, the direct number to the retention department is 800-444-2568.  I knew from this Flyertalk thread that retention offers are quite common for these cards if you are willing to take the time to call and ask.

Even though I applied for both cards on the same day, so far only the Amex annual fee bill has arrived in the mail.  So, I made a call about the Amex first.  I was very up front and honest with them about why I was calling.  I didn’t call and say “I want to cancel” and see if they then offer something to change my mind, because I frankly wasn’t ready to outright cancel that day if they called me on my bluff.  There are just too many good promos throughout the year that you can maximize by having an Amex, so I would probably prefer to keep that card over the Visa card.  However, I do not need two Citi AAdvantage cards, so I will be cancelling the other card (minus a ridiculous offer to keep it that I just can’t refuse).

When I called, I told them that I had received a bill for the annual fee and I was trying to decide what to do with the card since I haven’t been using it very much lately.  I asked if they had any incentives available to customers to help off-set the annual fee.  I was transferred to a senior customer service agent who said that they could not waive the annual fee on my account, but that there were two promotions available to me.  Just to give a frame of reference, I have used this card some after hitting the initial spending bonus, but I certainly haven’t used it a whole lot.  I’m definitely not one of their “big spender” customers.

The two retention offers that were presented to me were:

1.  A 3,000 mile AAdvantage bonus after spending $500 on the card within the next three months.

2.  An extra 2x on all spending on the card for the next six months.  This would bring the total to 3x on all spending of the next six months.  She said all spending, but from reading other experiences online, it seems likely that there was a 10,000 bonus mile limit for $5,000 in spending over six months.

Getting 3x on all purchases for six months is pretty great – especially since AAdvantage miles aren’t the easiest type of mile to come by.  If you can hit the $5,000 mark in six months without missing out on other category bonuses and/or minimum spending limits for other cards, that is likely the better offer.  However, I chose the first offer to get a bonus 3,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $500.  I did this because I am quickly approaching a credit card churn of my own, and am not going to have a ton of spending to divert to this card.  I would rather have a specific smaller spending goal to trigger the bonus.  With the option I selected I will essentially be earning 7 miles per dollar for the first $500 I charge on this card over the next three months.

I know that $500 is a realistic and attainable amount for me, and I am happy with that offer.  The value of those bonus miles, combined with the American Airlines perks that come from having the card, make it a keeper for me…for now.  I am a little bit disappointed that the annual fee was not waived since it seems that has been offered some historically, but it is understandable that it wasn’t offered to me given that I really have not been using the card a whole bunch.  The whole process took exactly 9 minutes from start to finish, and both reps were US based and very pleasant to work with.  I get to keep the AAdvantage benefits associated with the credit card, the credit limit, the account history, and get 7x for $500 in spending that I would not have received without the call.  Seems like 9 minutes well spent to me.

What would you have done?  What type of retention offers have you recently received from Citi?

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  1. I got nothing for the Amex, so I actually cancelled the card. But I got an $85 statement credit for the visa, which I’m still waiting for.

  2. I received the same offer #2 (“triple miles”) on my AmEx. I’ve scored a few of those bonus miles already from one statement cycle, but will cancel in the next week or two before the annual fee actually hits.

    For the Visa, I received an $85 credit + 750 bonus miles each month if I spend $750+ (for 12 months). I’m keeping the Visa for the perks.

  3. I had a similar experience to the first two posters. I first called to cancel the Visa, and they offered an $85 statement credit and 1000 mile bonus for every month that I spend $1000 on the card. Tried a few days later to get the AmEx fee waived as well, and I was told they could not waive the fee. I pushed a little bit, but they wouldn’t budge. I was offered a few different bonuses to keep the card, but I didn’t really want to pay an annual fee to keep a second Citi AA card. I opted to downgrade to a fee-free card that earns 0.5 miles/$. I won’t be using that card, but I think it is preferable to keep the card open in some form.

  4. I received the same offer from Citi last week – and also chose the 3000 mile bonus after a $500 spend. The rep did tell me I should try to call back closer to my anniversary date, and they may be able to do something about the annual feel. We’ll see – I do plan to make that call (in about a month).

  5. Are you going to cancel the other before the annual fee if you know you are going to cancel? If the fee posts and you cancel will the refund the fee?

  6. -If you keep the card solely for the bonus then I agree you aren’t coming out ahead. It has to be just a portion of the overall reason you decide to keep.
    -Sounds like the Visa is the card where you have a better shot at getting the annual fee waived….interesting. We’ll see what happens when I call about that one!
    -I have never had a problem getting a fee either waived or at least prorated, so I’m not too worried about calling once it is already on the statement. You can always call just before though to be on the safe side.

  7. This is about a retention bonus, but not Citi. I recently called to cancel my United MileagePlus Select Visa and they gave me 10,000 miles for keeping it, plus on the 1 year anniversary I received 5,000 more.
    15,000 miles for an annual fee of $95 is pretty good

  8. called retention department direct last night.
    offered $85 for AA Visa, plus 1000 miles per $1000 spend each for next 16 billing cycles – accepted.
    offered similar deal to you for the AA Amex – told them i needed to think about it and was then offered $25 statement credit, which i accepted.
    whilst on the line, i asked about my HiltonHonors Visa which i’ve only had for four months: offered 5000 HH for a $1000 spend – accepted. they also told me that they have just reinstated the ability to transfer credit lines, so i was able to apply to transfer most of the Amex line (which i will probably cancel in due course anyway).

  9. Wouldn’t the better longterm strategy be to go ahead and cancel the card so you can churn it in 18+ months? Assuming of course the offers (or heck, AA) are still around then…

  10. Same cheesy offer here as well. The guy actually sounded miffed when I declined. I would rather get the clock ticking so I can get the card again and a BIG bonus at that time.

  11. Good post…I will have to do this pretty soon. I wish Chase and AX were as generous with the retention offers.

  12. my retention offer (which I accepted), on my CitiBusinessAA was getting 15k miles if I spend $5k over 6 months. I figured I could divert a few expenses as well as amazon payments to this to hit that target pretty easily.

    I’d have to disagree that AA miles are hard to come by. First of all, there’s the three credit cards you can apply for, though you can only do that once ever 18-24 months now. But also, there’s BankDirect (though since one requires a somewhat sizable chunk of money to generate a lot of miles). You can earn 100 AA miles per $1000 of checking account balance per month ($12 monthly fee). Given today’s paltry bank savings interest rates, that’s actually not a bad return.

  13. Isn’t it better to just cancel the visa and Amex and wait 18 months and churn, then re apply with the 2 browser trick and get another 100K after 18 months?!

  14. I called with regard to the personal AA card and got a onetime $85 statement credit–no spend required and also 750 bonus miles for each month in the next 12 months that I spend $750 on the card; the two parts of the offer were not interconnected. On the Thank you Preferred I got 5k bonus miles with a 1K spend in the next 3 months

  15. Mother in law called and got a one-time statement credit for the annual fee. I personally called Amex about my SPG card and requested a retention bonus and got 2,000 SPG points.

  16. I had exactly the same offers and (as others above) would like to hear MommyPoints’ opinion on the unstated 3rd option to cancel the card so the 18-month “churn clock” can begin on that card.

    Here’s my take:
    3000 points for $500 spend in 90 days is a cake walk, but is equivalent to buying points at 14 cents each. Ugh.

    2x points for 6 months to a cap of 10,000 points after $5k spend is tougher to do (especially if you’re trying to meet spend on new cards) and is equivalent to buying points at 33 cents each. Double Ugh.

    Neither of those options are “worth” the $85 fee on the basis of redemption value, alone. Unless you’ve got some other reason to need AA points, the better option would seem to be: Cancel the card, save the $85 towards the annual fee of another card you DO need to keep, and start the 18-month churn clock on that same card.

    Again, love the blog and would love to hear MommyPoints’ opinion on the “cancel and churn” option.

  17. Not sure why you think this is a good deal, unless it’s as you said, because of the actual benefits of the card, but that would be the only reason why.

    But from a financial perspective, the 3,000 bonus miles are costing you $85 (The annual fee since you didnt get it waived). I mean you can just outright go and buy 3,000 miles directly from AA for $88.50, and then you dont have to spend $500….Or to put it in a better comparison, you can take advantage of the Avis deal of 3,000 AA miles for 1 day rentals, and more than likely you can find a rental for $30….or you could even do Netflix with a new email and credit card, and get 2500 miles for $8.

    So again, you paid $85 for 3000 miles, yet you have to spend $500 to get them. The retention department just got you in a game of 3 card monty in which you shouldnt have played in. Unless of course again, you were going to keep it for the card benefits no matter what.

  18. Two stories:
    Citi AA Visa (mine): 3,000 miles after $500 spend in 3 months, no statement credit. I just finished the $500 spend and my annual fee has not hit yet, so I will likely call for another retention offer.
    Citi AA Visa (spouse): 1,500 miles per month for 16 months as long as we spent $750 on the card each month for the 16 months (note that this was the third option after the first two lesser offers were declined).

    • Thanks to others for sharing their experiences as well! I will probably churn this card closer to the 2 year mark, so will be keeping it another year as there are good benefits associated with this card and I don’t want to establish a strong churn pattern with Citi since I don’t have any other Citi cards.

  19. @ mommypoints, what do you mean by “There are just too many good promos throughout the year that you can maximize by having an Amex, so I would probably prefer to keep that card over the Visa card.”???

    Aren’t they generally for Amex cards issued by Amex, not Amex cards issued by other banks…I’m thinking of Small Business Saturdays, etc. what’s the best one you could do with a Citi-issued Amex?

  20. Interesting. I just got a slew (well, 3) bonus offers from Citi last week. One for TY, which was 5X on all purchases for ~2 months (but with a 2500 point limit.)

    The other two were on my AMEX and Visa that come up in Sept. I didn’t realize (until now) that those offers are worthless if I were to cancel. I did sign up, but I guess I’ll have to make the call and see what they offer. I assume we only need to keep one AA card between the two of us for the free bag benefit, so…

  21. This is unrelated to this post, but it is a question for you regarding credit cards. My wife is looking for a card both for utility and also to help build up her credit. We have 2 young children (4 months and 2.5 year old), so we are still buying a good deal of diapers through amazon, among other things. So we were thinking about the amazon credit card. Do you have any thoughts about that one? When it comes to travel cards, I have a usair card, and I just got my new Hyatt card, and I am very excited about that. But since she is just getting into the credit card game, it seems like that amazon card might make sense.
    I hope you are enjoying your trip (no passports for my young ones yet)
    love the blog

  22. I cancelled my AA Amex a few weeks ago when I got offered nothing to keep it. Today I called about the Visa and was told they couldn’t waive the annual fee, but could give me a statement credit for $85. Uh, OK, I’ll keep the card! Especially since it has a $20k limit.

    No offer of bonus miles, but I did get a targeted email offering 3x points on grocery, drugstore, gas, and restaurant purchases through September (up to $1,250 in spend). That comes on top of their recent 3x points on any purchases up to $3,300 I got as a retention bonus on both cards when I called 3 months ago – I wish I could have gotten that again!

    @abodyofevidence – I have called maybe 5 times about shifting credit limits and each time I’ve been told that it would require a hard credit inquiry. I was sad to see my $15k Amex limit go away. Glad you had better luck. Citi has been a PITA compared to Chase/AmEx about shifting credit limits, in my opinion.

  23. Here’s a thought – do credit agencies count how long you’ve had a cancelled card? Average age of accounts is part of your credit score… so if you kept this Citi AAdvantage AmEx another year, wouldn’t it help even if you ended up cancelling it later. Unless they only count open accounts… Anyway not enough to justify the annual fee alone, of course.

  24. @SCparent
    when discussing the credit line transfer (which went through fine within 24 hours), they said it would probably need a hard enquiry. we said we were only interested if it was a soft enquiry. they said they would try it without, and if it needed a hard enquiry they would cancel the request. they seem to have a few teething problems with the reimplementation (some cards allow immediate transfers, others like our AA to HH need to be dealt with by a credit line specialist).
    fwiw, i too am keeping one of the cards, because the new AA benefits outweigh the desire to churn.

  25. YMMV

    July 30th, 2012

    Just got around to making the call today to the 800 number you provided. “Reviewing my credit card usage, have received statement with $85 fee. Any options?” Offered $95 statement credit with 5 charges within 3 months. Took it! Phone call took 2 minutes. Thank you very much. Saved $85 and made $10.


  26. When calling to cancel the Amex I was presented the option to convert to the basic Citi Thank You (no fee) card and it even came with a bonus offer of spend $300 to earn 6000 Thank You Points. I figure now I get to keep the credit history.

  27. Just recieved a retention offfer for my $50 per year Citi Amex. $50 statement credit and double miles on $750 spend for 16 months.

  28. I was also offered the 3000 miles for the $500/3month spend when I called the direct line. They asked me if I was transferred and I said yes.I assume they may not be as generous if they know you are calling directly. I plan to cancel the card and then churn it up the road after the miles post. (my annual fee is not due for quite a while)

  29. I was offered $125 statement credit after spending $500 within 3 months if I keep my Citi ThankYou Premier. I did not take it and cancel the card anyway.

  30. Just called and got the following with the same agent at Citi: Visa – waived $85 fee; bonus 500 miles/month with minimum $500 spend/month. Ok to not meet the requirement each month. Good for 16 months. Amex – cannot waive fee, but was offered a one time bonus of 3000 miles for $500 spend.

  31. I have both the Visa and Amex. The Visa annual fee is due this month so I called today. They offered me the $95 statement credit OR the 3k miles, but not both. They said since I have both, they waive the fee on the Amex (which is true) so I’m getting “two cards for one annual membership fee.”

  32. Right out of the gate, the retention specialist offered $95 statement credit if I make 5 purchases (no minimum purchase amount). Easy 5 minute call and helps my average age of accounts. It’s like having a no annual fee card with 10% rebate on miles redeemed and free checked bag. Love it!

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