A well-timed retention offer yields 18.75x without a new account

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The points parade marches on.

I was going through credit card statements the other night when I realized that the annual fee posted on my wife’s Platinum card. In late 2020, she had opened the vanilla Platinum card via the 100K + 10x offer that we wrote about extensively (long since expired, but even better you can get 125K + 15x at the time of writing – details here). Yesterday morning, she chatted to see if there were any retention offers available and that worked out very well. If you opened a Platinum card around a year ago (many readers did), it is well worth chatting before closing to see what they can do.

Too many Platinums

Between my wife and I, we currently have four Platinum cards open (three personal and one business). That’s a lot of annual fees for benefits that overlap in many ways.

It therefore made sense to consider dropping one of the Platinum cards. Which one to drop and when is sort of an interesting question because while the annual fee on the Platinum card increased to $695 earlier this year, the new fee only kicks in on renewals as of January 1, 2022. That means when my wife’s annual fee posted late last month, it was “only” $550.

That lower fee makes it slightly easier to justify keeping the card, but only slightly when considered in the larger context of the the barn full of ultra-premium credit card studs in our stable. Dropping the recently-renewed Platinum card now might make sense.

That’s why my wife chatted for a retention offer. Sure, we can eke some value out of the annual credits and I’m happy to buy myself something I don’t need at Saks now and then, but to justify keeping the card we’d need something more.

Asking for a retention offer via online chat

I’ve written in the past that Amex retention specialists are available via the chat function during weekday business hours (I believe from 9am to 5:30pm Monday through Friday). You can of course call and speak to a retention person, but if you’re like me you may appreciate something that can be done with half a brain while you are multi-tasking.

My wife logged in to her account and pulled up the chat tool in the bottom right corner. She told the automated chat responder that she wanted to speak to a representative and then wrote that the annual fee on her Platinum card recently posted and she hasn’t been traveling because the kids can’t yet get vaccinated (true) and that she was leaning toward cancelling that Platinum card unless there are any offers that make it more attractive to keep.

The initial rep who picked up the chat had to transfer the chat to a retention specialist. That specialist asked whether my wife was familiar with the newly-enhanced benefits as of July 1st. Before my wife even finished typing a response to say that she was aware and it wasn’t tipping the balance for her, the rep came out swinging with an offer for 55K points after $4K spend within 3 months of accepting the offer.

That sounded great — 55K after $4K in purchases is more like a new card welcome offer — in this case without opening a new account. At a base level, the points are worth $605 to her since she also has the Schwab Platinum card and can redeem for deposits to her brokerage account at a value of 1.1c per point. She gladly accepted.

The representative sent through some disclosures about how my wife was accepting an offer to keep her account open and how the long claw of the Amex rewards abuse team would find her even in the darkest hiding places if she tried to close this account before 12 months pass (in hindsight, I guess that whole bit about the claw was just implied). My wife agreed to keep the account open and the offer was activated.

I’ve noted this in the past with other issuers, but for those who might wonder I’ll add that you do not need to have paid your balance to zero to discuss closing the account and retention. I used to think that a retention specialist wouldn’t take you seriously if your account had a balance, but that wasn’t the case. We had made some purchases during my wife’s current billing cycle which won’t be due until sometime in January and that didn’t make any difference. Again, that bit of knowledge is probably second nature to some readers, but at some point in the past I would have assumed that I needed to pay and wait for the payment to clear before I could discuss canceling so I note this for those who would have made the same incorrect assumption.

A lucky stack with the old +4 referral bonus

Juicing things a bit farther, my wife had referred someone from this Platinum card with the referral offer that was around until 12/1/21 (since expired). That means she is currently earning an additional 4 points per dollar on all spend on up to $25K in purchases over the next couple of months.

The fact that she has that extra 4 points per dollar offer surely makes it sound crazy to consider cancelling, but because I am very fortunate to be a blogger we were able to get referrals and trigger the +4x offer on several cards. The truth is that we are unlikely to meet the full capacity that we have on the +4 offer as-is (and as I’ve previously written, stacking the +4x with additional cardholder bonuses on some of the business cards adds a lot of capacity to spend beyond 5x).

However, taken together with the retention offer, the +4 from the referral bonus will be great. Thanks to stacking these bonuses, the $4K in purchases required to meet this offer (if completed before her time runs out on the referral offer) should yield:

  • 4K points at 1x (base earnings on spend)
  • 55K points from the retention offer
  • 16K points from the referral offer (+4)
  • Total = 75K points

That’s awesome.

Bottom line

Getting 75K total points after $4K spend without opening a new account is terrific. In the end, that’s an average of 18.75 points per dollar spent assuming we complete the spend while her +4 bonus is active. The nice thing is that this 18.75x is on all purchases. Looks like we won’t miss the 19x that I’ve been earning at small businesses and restaurants on my Platinum card too badly.

I know that many readers must be in a similar boat with a Platinum card opened about a year ago thanks to the increased offer of that time and a chance to triple dip annual credits by applying in December. If you were considering canceling after using some 2022 credits in early January, it might be worth chatting with a representative and giving Amex an opportunity to change your mind. They might just invite you to march back into the points parade.

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[…] “amex no retention offer” is an offer from American Express that allows users to get up to $695 (69.5K Points) in […]

Scott

45,000 MRP for $4K spend today via chat. Yesterday via phone wasn’t offered anything.

Steve

Are there any good, solid data points on how many times a person can request a retention offer, especially for the personal Platinum card? Is this something a person could do annually or just once?

Katie

Thank you!! We were just able to get a retention offer on my husband’s Amex Platinum (on day 30 after the annual fee posted). First I tried on the chat; no offer, but they gave the phone number to try speaking with a retention specialist (1-855-857-7657). I called and explained how living in a rural area we can’t take advantage of a lot of the benefits, and travel is still looking sketchy, etc. I’m not sure that was even necessary, and she quickly offered 40K pts or a $400 statement credit after $3K spend on the next 3 months. I happily took it and we kept the card, especially since the annual fee was still $550. The increased $695 fee won’t kick in until December (2022).
So, thank you again… If I hadn’t read this article and the comments, I likely would have forgotten to even try for a retention offer. And I almost definitely would have given up after the chat, and missed out on a free $400!

Jak

Perfect timing for this post. My annual fee hit a couple of weeks ago. I did the chat thing as described by Nick and got $400 credit for spending $3K. No other offers were available so I accepted. Thanks!

Jan W

Strangely, when I chatted online they suggested I downgrade to the Green ($150 AF, I think), then when I asked directly, told me there were “no retention offers via chat.” But directed me to Membership Consulting Services Team at 1-855-857-7657. Got 40,000 MR after $3K in 3 months. Never had it happen that way before…

Katie

Your comment gave me the extra encouragement to call the number after being denied in the chat, and sure enough, I got the same offer–thanks!!

Wolf

Thanks, Nick! The reminder was well worth it! Almost overlookwd that AF had posted almost a month ago. Contacted Amex chat today and got the 40k MR points after 3K spend offer. Considering that I did not plan to close or downgrade the card, that’s free money!
Great job, guys! All the best for you and FMs in 2022! Keep it up!

Captain Greg

Boom, got 55k MR for $4k spend in 3 months. Holla!

Ken

Wish I had seen this before I re-upped about a week ago. I’m a newbie at asking for retention offers but after a number of offers she gave me 400 dollars off the 550 renewal fee this coming year so not really all that bad. Required 3k spend which I paid an insurance premium to cover. I am not a big AMEX user to begin with but do use the Uber, streaming and airline credit easily. Also like the late checkouts hotel credits etc etc.
southwest codes the upgrade benefit to be covered and this way I get 5 exit rows per card covered per year. Well worth the cost of the card after this 400 rebate. Guess I could have ground on her harder, but that’s just not me!

Jim Jones

Thank you. My AF posted last week and will hit the January 2022 statement. Was offered the 40K miles for $3K spend even with a balance of $5K showing. Accepted.

Ankur

Nicely put –

Austin James Winnick

Hey Nick Thanks For The Great Blog Post. I Know I’m In The Super Wrong Section LOL. But..I’m 27 And My Credit Is Around 680, Pretty Shitty Huh.. Anyway I Have A Small Business, A Handyman Company, I Was Seriously Affected By Covid And Lost Over $12,000 In Money spent for my overall company. I have bank records of monthly 3k-5k deposits from customers and so on. I’m In Dire Need Of A Business Credit Card & Bank Account. Could anyone help me with the basics of starting off with setting up a business bank account and business credit line. My father started helping me but then suddenly passed away a few months so I’ve had shit of luck with helpm plus I’m caring for my mother who has been struck with stage 3 brain cancer and stage 4 lung cancer and our previous nurse stolen over 6k from us… Taking advantage of my mother… I’m sorry for ranting but I’m 27 and I’m basically stuck in a 40 years Old (+) body and mind to run a household just fine… Please Any Advice I’ll Take Openly. If you would be a blessing and reach out via Instagram (@Bigdawgaustindareseller) I’ll be patiently waiting .

Thank you and God bless, and again Merry Christmas & A Happy Holidays.

LJA

Would Amex chat agents look at previous conversations? Wondering if it’s a bad look to chat in about a retention offer on a card when the previous history for (a different card’s) retention chat is still around

LarryInNYC

Called Wednesday on my platinum card and got bupkiss. Messaged Thursday on the same card and got an offer.

Pam

Thanks for the very unexpected Christmas gift, Nick! For grins I just chat with AMEX. I first of all forgot I was given a points retention offer last year on my Green card, so at that point thought it was all over based on the AMEX rules you posted. I subsequently earned 40k more this yr to upgrade to Gold then 100k (& $150 credit) to upgrade to Plat 2 months ltr.

Lol the agent said in light of the change in acct terms she’d give me a $150 statement credit to keep the acct open another year. It has been exactly 30 days since my $695 AF posted.

Thanks again!

Pam

(& I’d already paid the AF)

Vince

First retention chat to AMEX – 40K points for 3K spend; with the AU bonus of 20K on 2K spend, that will be 63K points for the 3K spend (making sure we use the right cards along the way) – if my math is right, that’s 21x!

WR2

When there’s a massive AF, 18.5x is the wrong way to look at it. What’s the ROI on what you have to pay? (Value of points and incremental benefits)/(AF + other expenses like Plastiq to make MSR).

I’m leaning more and more towards not paying any more mega AFs, as the so called benefits are becoming unusable, only being used because they are there, a pain to track, and usually causing me to spend even more money than I would. Centurion access has lost its lustre, can’t remember the last time I was in one, and I usually have other options anyway. I’ll be looking at low AF opportunities only, where it’s basically a straight discounted point purchase play.

LarryInNYC

I just got Centurion access at the start of this year and used the lounges consistently and to good benefit and, while a little crowded, except for one crazy visit in DFW they’ve always been much, much better than the Priority Pass alternatives and, often, they’re my only option in the airports I’m passing through. Given that I get the full benefit from the airline credit on Southwest, I still really like the card.

Lee

Can you elaborate on the “full benefit from the airline credit on Southwest” bit?
I can’t seem to lay claim to that credit unless it’s to upgrade boarding position with Southwest.

LarryInNYC

It’s been widely reported (and my experience confirms) that an airfare charge to Southwest under $100 (some people say $109) will trigger the credit. That said, I booked a $59 flight on 12/23 and the credit has not yet appeared.

Dave

I received the 40,000 points for $3k spend offer in the chat yesterday to keep my personal Platinum open. My wife received 30,000 points for no spend to keep her Gold card open a few months ago. Both experiences were relatively painless, maybe 10 minute each. This was our first renewal decision with each card.

Nick and Greg (and team), thanks so much for the great content. You guys are the best in the business.

Grant

For my AMEX Biz Plat, I called the AMEX Biz retention department and they were able to give me a $595 statement credit without any spending required. I was surprised and happy to accept that offer without asking about any other offers.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to the Frequent Miler team and loyal readers 🙂

BLOGGERGEORGE

did you get their extention phone number?

Grant

AMEX Business retention team: 866-376-4552 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST.

Sayeed

Thank you for the tip. Just did it for P2 and got a 40,000 points after $3k spend in 3 months offer.

Ed D

Same here.

LarryInNYC

Timely post as I’ve been obsessing over retention on my year-old personal platinum in a series of posts in Frequent Miler Insiders. I got nothing over the phone but the next day, 40k for 3k spend.

My wife just started the Resy offer (with +4) so most of our spending is accounted for during the next 3 to 6 months, but I think I’ll make this happen as well. I value my relationship with Amex and don’t want to get on the naughty list.

Lukas

Are there links to the offer of 20,000 points for $2k spend? All I have is $4k spend requirement now though I swear I had the $2k spend earlier when I looked at it.

Lukas

That’s right, thank you. I see it now.

Lukas

Do purchases by authorizes users count towards this $4k spending?

Lukas

Oh sweet, added 4 people 🙂

Kyle

18.75 seems like selective math. You had to pay $550 to get the bulk of that return. Ignoring the 4x (which you note you have on other cards and didn’t need this retention to use) and assuming Schwab cashout, you’re coming out about $99 ahead when factoring in the AF.

Captain Greg

Yes, but you are also getting paid $99 to keep all the benefits of the platinum card. I’ll take it!

LarryInNYC

There’s always some selective math involved in evaluating these offers. In your case you’ve ignored $200 airline credit and $200 hotel credit which might be “good as cash” for Nick.

harv

I accepted an upgrade from Gold to Platinum last July. I just got hit with a $695 annual fee charge. I asked via chat if a retention offer was available and got a $400 statement credit if I spent 3k within 90 days. I asked if there was a retention offer involving MRs and was told “no.” I accepted the retention offer.

Pam

@ harv – what bonus/offers did you receive when you upgraded from Gold to Plat 5 momths ago?

harv

spend 6k within 6 months to get 75 MR points and a $150 statement credit.

Pam

Thanks. We got ours about the same time so was wanting to compare (I posted my own results above). Your $400 statement credit is awesome! Wish I’d gotten that instead since I would be spending $3k anyway while still earning 5x on restaurants/grocery stores from the uograde bonus

jeph36

I am not a retention pro like Nick, so I let my card Platinum stay open and paid the fee a week or two ago. I figured I would downgrade in late Jan after using some credits and come out a little ahead. My question now is: even though I paid the fee should I ask about a retention offer?

Rob

Too late now, your leverage in securing a good offer is the credible threat that you may cancel. You have already showed your hand for this time around. I would wait until next December and call before you pay the annual fee.

LarryInNYC

Retention isn’t really a “leverage” game. There isn’t any negotiation — either the computer shows offers for you or it doesn’t. Based on collective experience, with Amex, it seems likely that you’ll receive offers once your fee has posted and for about 30 days after it posts. Whether or not you’ve paid the fee doesn’t seem to matter to the Amex algorithm.

I have a feeling the situation is more complex than described here. Everything in the comment is a guess on my part; I have no actual knowledge.

First of all, I’m guessing that agents are incentivized to get you to keep the card open without giving you anything of value, as if there’s a pot of money assigned to get you to keep a card open and if they don’t give you the money then they get to keep some of it.

While I’m sure the agents are not empowered to create new offers for you I’m guessing they’re not required to give you the offer that shows up on your account. During my original retention phone call (in which I was not offered anything to keep the card open) I really felt like I was playing chicken with the agent to see who would blink first.

Finally, while I don’t think that it should make any difference to the algorithm whether you’ve paid the fee or not (as long as you’re within the 30 day refund window) there are all kinds of factors that might go into that algorithm, some of which are within your control and some of which aren’t. I’m sure there’s a complex model within Amex that represents the value to them of a particular card account, taking into consideration interest payments, net point “payout” per dollar charged, consumption of credits, other cards that you have open, history of opening and closing cards, and quite possibly factors outside your account such as total retention “budget” for that month or something.

Pam

I like thinking about making these calls in the way you’ve presented, sure takes a lot of pressure off. By continuing to only ask if AMEX has any offers available on my account I don’t feel any need to engage with an agent on what I’m doing/not doing with my card for more value or any of the other time wasters they want to throw in my way. Just read me what’s on the computer, I’ll decide if that’s sufficient, & we can both get back to our business. I’m ready for my 2022 calls! Merry Christmas, Nick

Rob

Interesting, I did not know you could get your annual fee refunded right after paying it. Kinda feels like an accepted contract at that point, but that is good to know. I still probably won’t test it myself, as it is easy enough to make the call before paying, but good for jeph36.

Nun

What do you have to lose if you try?

I don’t second guess banks’ reasoning. Sometimes they want to throw money at me and sometimes they don’t want to fix a missing $10 promotion.

EricF

I’ve read that AmEx will refund the AF up to 30 days after the closing date of the statement in which the AF posts, so you do have leverage up until that point. I just got a retention offer on the vanilla platinum for 55K points for $4K spend over 3 months, 27 days after the closing date of the statement the AF posted in.

jeph36

As a follow-up, I just did a chat today (Dec 27). My AF had appeared on my statement Nov 23, same date as the statement close, and then was paid Dec 17. FWIW, I still have some additional spend on the new statement, but never carry a balance. The agent gave me the 40K for $3K in 3-months offer which I took.

Jags

Happy to say I beat you on a deal for once. My Platinum card received the same retention offer, I have the 4x offer on it, and I just added an AU for 20k after $2k spend. So that will be $4k spent for 95k points.

Captain Greg

Thanks for this data point. I’ve had the option to add another AU sitting in my account, but I did this in May already and didn’t know if it would work again. Sounds like it will!

Captain Greg

Oooo, yes. Good call! I need to call about retention offers, but I also have another 20k offer to add an AU waiting on that card. Don’t have the 4x, but the two bonuses will be nice if I can make it happen.

Brant

Exploring, tracking and exploiting all these points and miles opportunities sounds like a full time job to me.