Rookie Wednesday: Leveraging the past year’s devaluations for your card retention calls.

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

Big offer. Worth the fee?

Well yesterday was an interesting day to say the very least. Some would say ridiculous, insulting and even insane by Delta and Amex. In my post where I broke the news about the version 1.0 of the changes to the Delta Amex MQD waiver program I suggested if it were to happen a ton of folks would cancel their cards. That may just happen now with the 250k spend change. My guess is very few will have the stomach to put that much real or manufactured spend on a SkyMiles card when SkyMiles are one of the least valuable travel points on the planet. They will go for cards with higher returns or value in their minds. No problem, I totally respect that!

But before you cut up and cancel your Delta Amex cards, or even if you just got one and recently paid the fee, you may want to hold off on dumping the card. First off, if you are past 30 days of the fee billing, Amex is not going to credit your fee back in whole or in part so you might as well keep the card. Damage is already done for a year.

Next, when your fee does bill, consider a retention call. These calls used to be super easy with all banks but now, especially with Amex, they are getting harder and harder. Many times, even if you are a mega spender, if you threaten to close the card if they do not adjust the fee i.e. give you some kind of credit or bonus points for keeping the card they will just say sorry and your only option is to close the card.

$450 credit? Yes please Amex!

But this is not always the case. When Delta shocked Amex a few years ago and changed the Reserve card perk from you and 2 guests for Sky Club access to just the card holder Amex was flexible with the fee for the card. That year I had my entire $450 fee credited back to me for the cost of one phone call.

And this really is the point of today’s rookie post. When you are going to call and ask to have a fee waived you need to look at what changes have happened to the card over the past year. Have they changed any of the terms or offers since you got the card. Ask yourself, is the card worth much less compared to the high fee whatever card is charging you. Can you use these negative changes as a tool to ask the rep, or a supervisor or card specialist, that something should be done to keep you as a card holder another year after such negative changes.

Well, what if they can not, or simply will not, give you a waiver for the fee for a year. First ask to see if they can offer you some random amount of bonus points instead. If no to both you may still have other options. You can ask for a one time statement credit of some amount of dollars. $100, $200 or whatever may be enough to keep you for one more year. Or, if neither of theses works, maybe they have some kind of spend challenge where if you spend some number they will then give you bonus points or a statement credit of some number.

Bottom line with all co branded cards, when one company makes negative changes you can use these to your advantage with the banks to lower your cost to hold a card that may be less valuable either due to the card changes itself or the changes the company with the logo on the card has made during the past year! – Rene


  1. I love you Rene! I just called to cancel my Reserve card due to the $250,000 minimum spend and got a choice of a $400 statement credit or 25,000 SkyMiles. I took the $400. The whole call took 5 minutes. Thank you for all you do!!!

  2. Rene do you think this move will cull the number of Diamonds thus freeing up space in FC for others who are still DM. Thx. Rod

  3. Rod – Yes and no. Here is why I say that. On the face of it is seems that would happen. However, keep in mind Delta wants “20×2020” that is only 20% of 1st class seats not sold. I expect Delta will target all those who drop from DM to PM, who in the past would hope for a free upgrade, with super cheap 1st class upsells before flight. Always remember Delta is 3 steps ahead in thinking how to extract max money from us. 😉

  4. With the Equifax data breech and the concerns about identity theft, how will this affect your thinking on new cards?

  5. Rene, approximately what percentage of your creative spending in 2018 do you anticipate involving gift cards?

  6. @Max – Hard to say. There will be tax payments, a bunch at, and some buying and selling. It will be a large part clearly.

  7. Stupid me paid a bag fee this past weekend because it’s the first time in at least 10 years I’ve flown without my husband and I didn’t realize that only the card holder gets the fee waived, not the authorized user. And, this after the gate agent told me he could waive the fee this one time when I asked him why I had to pay it. Thanks, but I had already paid the fee. So, I’m going to call tomorrow and ask for a $50 fee credit. We shall see . . .

  8. @Gus, thanks for your post. I made a screen shot of it. When my renewal comes up next month I’ll use it when I call the Am Ex retention desk.

  9. I wonder if it would be possible to file a class action lawsuit against Delta under the 14th Amendment (equal protection under the law) in light of the fact that Delta requires those of us who live in the United States to meet Medallion spend thresholds but does not require it for those who live outside the U.S.?
    Are there any constitutional law experts willing to weigh in on the subject?

  10. I called today to cancel my Amex Reserve as my renewal is in April and they made no offer for retention . Pretty surprising as I hit the $60K amount every year and have been a Diamond as well .
    Will be sure to call before end of month and say goodbye to Delta Reserve

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