Miles Earn and Burn flags an interesting data point from reddit (and suggests there are others): Amex is offering some cardholders a bonus to downgrade a card rather than cancel. To be clear, this is different than a traditional retention bonus but is rather an incentive to downgrade when a customer has made up their mind to cancel. There is obviously no guarantee that you’ll get this type of offer, but it is great to know it exists.
According to the data point from reddit, the cardholder had an Amex Platinum card and had received a retention offer at their second annual fee. Amex generally only offers a retention offer every other year at best (and even then there is no guarantee that you’ll get one).
At the next annual fee, the Platinum cardholder called to cancel the card and was offered an opportunity to downgrade to the Gold card for a bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after $1,000 in purchases in the first year. While that isn’t a huge downgrade bonus, it is nice to get offered a bonus to product change to a card that is probably a much better fit for most people. And thanks to Amex’s new family language, those who have or have had a Platinum card before are not eligible for a welcome bonus on the Gold card anyway, so getting this 25K after $1K bonus might be the best option.
Again, there is no way to know who will be offered a downgrade bonus and I wouldn’t expect it to be universal. Nobody fully understands how the retention algorithms work, so you’ll either have an offer or you won’t (though I would expect that odds may increase once your annual fee posts and you’re within the window to cancel and get the full fee back). If you have a Platinum card up for renewal and you haven’t been able to get or don’t want a retention offer on that Platinum card, hopefully the agent will offer you a bonus to downgrade.