Every so often I will do a full overview of my wallet. In doing so I will list out every card i’ve got and decide if its worth keeping or if I should cancel. Sometimes I forget to do this and get charged an annual fee for a card which belongs in the cancel pile. Today was such a day as I logged into my Citi.com account to see I had been charged $99 as the annual fee for my Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card. You may remember that I tired to cancel this card 2 years ago, but was offered a sweet retention bonus. Today I had no such luck.
Deciding if the Card is Worth it
Before I get into how my call with Citi went, lets go over the benefits of this particular credit card. It recently underwent a face lift and began offering users 2x on restaurant purchases, as well as 2x on gas stations. Previously the card only offered 2x on American Airlines purchases and 1x on everything else. Those earning rates remain the same. Other perks for this card include:
- Reduced mileage awards
- $100 American Airlines flight discount after spending $20,000 in a calendar year
- First checked bag is free
- Preferred Boarding
- 25% Inflight food & beverage savings
- 50,000 point sign up bonus
While the perks are okay given the fee, they’re not something I’m really able to make use of. When I fly on American its usually in first class so the checked bag and priority boarding isn’t helpful. 2x on restaurants and gas stations is okay, but I get 3x on dining with either my Propel or Sapphire Reserve. As for gas stations, I neither have a car nor visit gas stations. 25% in flight savings is a nice addition but I would have to spend $400 to break even, and thats not happening.
The card might be okay for your wallet, but it had no place in mine. I currently have enough AA miles to qualify for a single domestic first class saver ticket, and didn’t plan on spending enough to get another.
After being hit with the fee I decided to call up Citi and see what they may’ve been able to offer me this time around. I verified my information and was then connected with a customer service representative, who politely asked me to verify my full name. After doing so I began to explain my situation. I explained that I was recently hit with the annual fee but that I was caught off guard after not having received an email or a letter telling me it would be charged. I went on to explain that I didn’t see a ton of value in the card and was wondering if there was any offer available to keep me on as a customer. Otherwise, I told the representative that I was ready to cancel the card.
The response I received was firstly “We cannot waive the annual fee”. I explained that I was not looking for a fee waiver, rather I was interested in a retention bonus of some kind. Be that bonus points for spending $X of dollars, or some other offer. The follow-up from the agent was that “You’re not eligible because the card has not been active for the past several months.” I was somewhat taken aback by this as I’d recently spent just over $1,000 on the card (thanks to Citi Private Pass). Surely that was a mistake, right? The agent explained that the card had several non active months in the past year and for that I was deemed ineligible.
At this point I decided to continue with the cancelation, which was easy enough. The immediate upside is that I don’t have to pay $99 for something from which I receive little value. The downside is I no longer have access to those benefits, or Citi Private Pass which I’ll miss.
The interesting thing about this process was being told that I was not eligible for a retention offer because I had non active months on my card. Remember, last time I called about a retention bonus on this card I had no problem being offered one. Now, companies generally won’t offer multiple retention bonuses on the same card but the reasoning this time has me wondering. If I had spent say $100 a month on the card, would I have been eligible?
In hindsight, I should’ve asked the rep to verify, but didn’t. Lesson learned? Citi might be looking at how much money you’re spending on their cards before deciding to offer you a retention bonus or not. For that reason, if you decide you want to try and go after a bonus at year end, it might behoove you to spend some money on the card today.
I’ve finished my minimum spend for the Wells Fargo Propel sign-up bonus, next is the Amtrak credit card. After that I’ll start looking into additional cards to add to my portfolio. Cards i’m considering include; AAdvantage Aviator, Amex Platinum, and JetBlue Plus.
Which card do you think I should get next and why?