My first major set of credit card applications was October 2012, where I got a Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa, a Citi American Airlines Visa, a Citi American Airlines Amex, and a Barclays US Airways card. I decided to outright cancel the Bank of America Alaska card in preparation for applying for a new one for my last set of credit card applications, although I ended up downgrading instead to a no annual fee card (which still charged me an annual fee, but that’s the subject of another post). I also decided to cancel the Citi AA Visa, as I definitely didn’t need two American Airlines credit cards.
That left the Citi AA Amex and the Barclays US Airways card. If you redeem American miles frequently, then holding a Citi American Airlines card is a good idea because you get a 10% mileage rebate on all redemptions up to the first 100k miles you redeem each year (i.e. you can get up to 10k miles back this way), and 10k American miles are worth more than the $85 annual fee for most people. In addition, I decided to hold onto the Citi AA Amex over the Visa because of the chance that Amex Small Business Saturday would offer rebates to Amex cards used at small businesses, which would further offset the annual fee. However, I wasn’t wedded to holding onto this card since I can add another Citi AA card to my next round of credit card applications in January, as the 12+ month churn cycle for Citi cards still seems alive and well.
For the Barclays US Airways card, I was a little bit on the fence. I signed up for a version of the card that gives 10k bonus miles every year, which again is generally worth more than the $89 annual fee for most people. But what made me decide to hold onto the card was the offer that I got for a 25% mileage rebate on award redemptions, and this offer was targeted to this credit card. So given that holding onto this card will earn me 32.5k miles (10k from anniversary bonus; 22.5k from a 90k award redemption to take advantage of the 25% rebate offer), I think it makes sense to keep it for now.
So for the Citi AA Amex card, I decided to call the number on the back of my card to see what they could do for me about the annual fee. When I told the phone rep that I wasn’t sure whether or not the annual fee was worth it to me, she told me about all of the meaningless benefits like priority boarding and a free checked bag (meaningless to me because I’ll be AA Executive Platinum next year). When I told her that I didn’t care about those benefits, she offered me 500 miles to keep the card since I was a valued Citi customer.
500 miles? I thought she was joking. But she was seriously offering me 500 miles to pay an $85 annual fee. 500 miles is worth maybe at an extreme valuation $10 to me. At that point, I was mildly offended, so I told her to just cancel the card if Citi valued my business at 500 miles.
At that point, she came up with a much better offer: a one-time statement credit of $95 (the annual fee is only $85), and the opportunity to earn 1,000 bonus miles for each of the next 16 billing cycles where I spend more than $1,000 on the card. I don’t need to do anything to get the $95 statement credit, and 2x miles on all spend for the first $1,000 spent each month is pretty compelling. Offer accepted. I’ll be sure to start bringing this card to me whenever I go to CVS for the next 16 months.