The annual fee is due for my Delta Reserve American Express card. But I truly couldn’t definitely decide whether or not to keep or cancel it. With upcoming, sweeping changes across the Delta American Express spectrum, I called Amex to see if they had any good retention offers.
Here’s what happened.
My Reasons for Canceling the Card
That $450 annual fee — increasing to $550 late next January — certainly tops the list. Yes, I generally can use the companion certificate to offset the annual fee. But because it’s restricted to certain fare classes, I sometimes have to compromise on flight dates, times, and airports because of availability. I ended up using this year’s companion certificate on a coach ticket to surprise my nephew at his football game because first class was way too expensive.
I have the Delta Reserve Business card and put far more spend on that than my consumer product. MQM spend boosts become “Status Boosts” next year; personal and business Reserve cardholders can earn 60,000 MQM per card — as opposed to the 30,000 MQM limit now. That pretty much makes one of the cards superfluous.
While I spend into the low-ish six figures each year across my credit cards (here are the cards I actually use right now), I can maximize my earnings on products with better earnings. (The American Express Gold Card is my go-to for dining and grocery stores. Chase Sapphire Reserve for most non-airline travel purchases, for example.)
Plus, I was just approved for a Chase Freedom card and need to get spending on that puppy.
My Reasons for Keeping the Card
Yes, the companion certificate (about which I just complained) was a reason I wanted to keep the card.I’m optimistic I can find $450 worth of airfare that it will zap out at some point over the next 12 months. Even if, yes, it’s in coach.
Plus, I like that any spend — usually just from Amex Offers — counts toward my MQD waiver totals, too.
The Sky Club guest passes coming soon to a Delta Reserve card near you will come in handy during some work trips. And I enjoy gifting Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credits to friends, family, and colleagues.
So it was just up to American Express to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
The Amex rep who handled my call was a pro. She had a fun personality and was very knowledgeable about the card. I soon learned she’s a supervisor and proud Amex employee who’s been with the company for 15 years.
(Fun fact I discovered during the call: Amex reps generally work across all products on either the personal or business side. For example, my rep’s next call might have been about the Platinum Card from American Express, the American Express Green Card, or Blue Cash Preferred card. But she doesn’t deal with, say, Delta Reserve Business card or Business Platinum card matters.)
Not surprisingly, she (politely) had answers for each reason I gave her for wanting to cancel:
- card redundancy with the business version (“Yes, you have a number of American Express products and we appreciate it! But you can use this card for personal expenses.”)
- the high annual fee (“Yes, I certainly understand but the companion certificate…”
- the occasional difficulty of using the companion pass, and the fact I rarely use it. (“Well, you used it this year, I see…”)
- that morning I was approved for a Chase Freedom card and have been using my Sapphire Reserve card more often (“Chase is a great company and has cards with great benefits.”)
She then offered me 30,000 bonus SkyMiles if/when I spend $4,000 within the next 90 days.
Meh. That certainly was underwhelming. I value 30,000 SkyMiles at about $300 — well below the card’s $450 annual fee.
I asked if there were other retention offers available. She said there was a $300 statement credit available after spending $4,000 in three months.
I asked if she had anything available for, say, 45,000 SkyMiles after spending $3000 or even $4000.
She said no and assured me hers were the best retention offers available to anyone.
I decided to cancel.
I even briefly considered downgrading the Delta Blue Amex but decided against that so I can be eligible for that card’s (meager) welcome bonus at some point.
But then I told her to stop.
I figured that essentially $150 out of pocket for a $450 credit card isn’t bad. I know I’ll get at least $150 worth from it next year.
I agreed to the 30,000 SkyMiles. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a killer redemption or Delta flash sale where I can kick up their value a little more.
Plan Going Forward
Because I have until mid-February to meet the spending challenge, there are only two times I will use my personal Delta Reserve card through December 31:
- it’s my only American Express card targeted for an Amex Offer I might actually use
- onboard food and beverage purchases (if any) during my remaining Delta trips in 2019
But once the clock strikes midnight on January 1, I’ll bust out the card for purchases in traditionally non-bonused categories (primarily personal taxes and online purchases).
What Do You Think? Would You Have Kept the Card?
I’m curious to hear your opinion. Should I have canceled the card? Or do you think I made the right decision? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!
Please note that due to my upcoming travel and work schedule, comments might not be moderated until mid-to-late morning.
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