Travel-focused cards are some of the best credit card options for small businesses. These plastic bits come with invaluable perks, such as travel credits, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee waivers, and airport lounge access. Plus, many feature tantalizing welcome offers and unique rewards that help businesses save cash regularly.
Unfortunately, these premium cards often come with premium price tags — their annual fees can reach into the hundreds of dollars. And with travel becoming less of a routine for many businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these cards’ perks and unique rewards just aren’t usable right now. As such, you may be wondering if it’s time to cancel your company’s premium travel card.
However, you should know some issuers are lending a helping hand by offering cardholders incentives for sticking around. Called “retention offers,” these special incentives are meant to stop cardholders from canceling their credit card. While retention offers are nothing new in the world of credit cards, they have become more popularly requested because of the current crisis.
Should you seek out a retention offer from your credit card issuer? Want to learn more about what retention offers are? Then keep reading for a primer on what retention offers are and how they can help your business.
Types Of Retention Offers For Small Businesses
Traditional retention offers have been around for a while, with protocols varying from issuer to issuer. We’re also seeing some types of offers become more popular in the face of the current coronavirus pandemic. Let’s take a look at how issuers might incentivize you to keep your card.
Bonus Points Or Statement Credits
The most common type of retention offer you’ll see is an issuer granting extra points or statement credits. In many cases, these types of offers are intended to help offset your annual fee. For example, you may receive a $100 statement credit to counteract your card’s $99 annual fee.
In some situations, these bonus points/credits are given without you needing to spend anything extra. However, it’s also possible that your issuer will require you to spend a certain amount within a set number of months before you pick up the extra rewards — similar to a welcome offer. So this means you might see an offer such as 3,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in three months.
Annual Fee Reduction
You may also be able to get your annual fee reduced (or even completely waived) if you call in and ask. This might wind up being a little better for you because you won’t have to worry about paying all or part of the annual fee before you get credits added to your account.
Occasionally, these reductions are made in the form of targeted statement credits. For example, Chase recently handed out a $100 annual fee credit to select users with the Sapphire Reserve card, which has a $550 annual fee. This credit helped soften the blow during the coronavirus pandemic and especially so because Chase had upped the Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee from $450 to $550 in January.
Extended Welcome Offer Windows
In the face of the current pandemic, issuers have been extending welcome offer windows for select users. A lot of premium travel cards come with meaty welcome offers. However, with the recent downturn, many aren’t using their cards as frequently — potentially harming a cardholder’s chance of hitting their welcome offer’s minimum spend requirement. By lengthening the time to meet this requirement, a card issuer gains goodwill with customers while also encouraging continued spending with eligible credit cards.
American Express was the first major issuer to announce such a change. Early in April, Amex allowed those who were approved for card accounts between the beginning of December 2019 and the end of May 2020 to receive an extra three months to trigger their minimum spend requirement.
Issuers We Know That Grant Retention Offers
A few card issuers have been pretty aggressive with providing retention offers on their premium credit cards. Below is a quick rundown of some examples you may get from popular issuers.
Note: The offers below are examples of temporary offers in response to the coronavirus pandemic and of more general retention offers. For a consistently updated and fresh list on how credit card issuers are providing aid during the coronavirus pandemic — both with temporary offers and otherwise — check out our article on credit card assistance. For more exhaustive lists on retention offers specifically, visit the FlyerTalk forum or MilesToMemories.
American Express has some of the best premium credit cards on the market. Its cards come with great rewards, but Amex also packs in some hefty annual fees — making the cards ripe for retention offers.
Amex has also been one of the most responsive issuers to the coronavirus. As noted earlier, the issuer has lengthened welcome offer windows for card accounts approved between the beginning of December and the end of May. If you qualify as one such user, you get an extra three months to spend the minimum amount for your welcome offer.
Additionally, cardholders enrolled in Amex’s Membership Rewards program are eligible to earn one extra point for purchases made via the Grubhub and Seamless delivery services. This bonus rate began in April and will run through the rest of 2020. You can add this offer to your eligible card through the Amex Offers portal.
Beyond its coronavirus response, American Express has been known to provide retention offers when cardholders call and ask. Example potential offers if you ring up Amex include:
- The Business Platinum Card From American Express: $595 annual fee — 5,000 points immediately, plus 25,000 more after $10,000 spent in 90 days
- American Express Business Gold Card: $295 annual fee — 5,000 points immediately, plus 5,000 more after $3,000 spent in three months
While we haven’t seen instances of Capital One offering bonus points or statement credits, the Virginia-based bank has still been doling out new perks to encourage users to keep and continue using their cards during the pandemic.
All of Capital One’s first-party travel cardholders (so those with Venture, VentureOne, and the business-focused Spark Miles and Spark Miles Select) can now redeem their miles for delivery service and restaurant takeout purchases up through June 30. Capital One includes DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats among the eligible delivery services. Both consumer travel cards can also have miles redeemed for streaming services (including Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Disney+, and Kindle Unlimited), while the business bits of plastic can have miles cashed in for purchases from wireless phone service providers (including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile).
Additionally, some cardholders have chimed in that Capital One is willing to extend welcome offer windows for business cards, according to MilesToMemories. Per one user who called Capital One, the bank is reportedly allowing until December 31 for them to hit the minimum spend requirement on their Spark business credit card. Note that this extension is not automatic — you’ll need to reach out to Capital One to see if you can get a similar deal.
Citi hasn’t made any widespread tweaks in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the bank is still known for dishing out retention offers on its premium credit cards. Here are a couple of example retention offers from Citi:
- Citibusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: $99 annual fee — $99 statement credit after $3,000 spent in three months
- Citi Premier Card: $95 annual fee — $95 statement credit, plus 1,000 points after $1,000 spent monthly for three consecutive months
Between its first-party credit cards and those offered in conjunction with travel brands, Chase has a number of premium credit cards. With such a deep stable of cards, Chase has been fairly receptive to handing out retention offers in the past. The bank has also distributed several perks for those impacted by the coronavirus.
Most notably, Chase has extended welcome offer windows for those who signed up for a card between January 1 and March 31. If you qualify, you get an extra three months to reach your offer’s minimum spend requirement.
As mentioned earlier in this article, Chase also dished out a $100 annual fee credit to Sapphire Reserve cardholders who have a renewal date between April 1 and July 1. This credit effectively knocked the card’s $550 annual fee down to $450 (although the card previously had a $450 annual fee last year, so it basically winds up a wash for those who qualify).
For those stuck at home, Chase has additionally enabled 5x rewards (up to $500 spent) on delivery and takeout through DoorDash and Tock for Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, and Freedom Unlimited cardholders. This bonus rate runs through May 31.
Those above perks are automatic — no need to dial Chase if you qualify. You might still be able to find some savings if you call in, however. Other example retention offers you might see by contacting Chase include:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: $99 annual fee — $100 statement credit for keeping the card, no spending required
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: $95 annual fee — $50 or $100 statement credit for keeping the card, no spending required
How To Get A Retention Offer
As seen above, issuers have been announcing offers without cardholders needing to reach out. These temporary offers are intended to placate cardholders during the financial downturn that has occurred amid the health crisis. In most situations, if your issuer has announced some sort of perk due to the coronavirus pandemic (such as an extended welcome offer window or bonus points for certain categories), you won’t have to do anything proactively — the perks will be available automatically.
However, for most traditional retention offers, you’ll need to give your card issuer a call on the phone. While this may be more problematic than in the past — issuers are experiencing high call volumes in the pandemic’s wake — the best way to receive a retention offer is by reaching out.
When looking for a retention offer targeted around your annual fee, give your issuer a call via the number on the back of your credit card. Note that you’ll want to do this after your card’s annual fee is posted to your account but before your monthly payment’s due date.
Here’s a couple of tips to help you with your request:
- Come Up With A Game Plan Before You Call: As is the case with most customer service calls, knowing what type of offer you want as well as crafting a script in your head can help immensely. You’ll also want to know what you’re willing to concede and how weak of an offer you’re prepared to take.
- Make Your Request Short & Sweet: There’s no reason to beat around the bush. Simply stating what you’re looking for and how you’d like the card issuer to handle your situation should be enough. Retention offer requests are commonplace for most customer service agents, and any offers available to you will likely be auto-generated by the issuer’s computer system — coming with a detailed sob story probably won’t help much.
- Know That You May Have To Cancel: Some issuers, such as Chase, have instituted new policies where the customer service agent won’t see a retention offer until after they’ve begun the cancellation process.
It’s also worth noting that the offer may depend on how much money you’ve spent on your credit card in the past months and years. Those who have used their card more frequently will have a better shot at actually receiving a retention offer as well as potentially earning a better offer than someone who might’ve spent less.
Should you wind up without a retention offer — or an inadequate one — don’t hesitate to cancel your credit card if you can’t afford its annual fee. Especially with the financial woes facing numerous businesses right now, it’s just not worth throwing away money on a card you won’t be taking full advantage of for the next several months at least. However, hopefully, your issuer will provide some sort of solution. With the right offer, you may be able to keep hold of your card until it becomes valuable again in the future.
If your business is still struggling with its credit card due to the coronavirus pandemic, check out how else issuers are providing assistance. We’ve also written up a guide on how to best use your credit card throughout the financial downturn. For more general guides and resources to help your business during the current crisis, visit Merchant Maverick’s coronavirus hub.
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