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Credit card rewards can be a great way to earn a little bit of extra money. If you’ve got good credit and the financial means and discipline to pay your bills in full each month, then a rewards credit card can give you extra cash or travel rewards. There are many credit cards that have no annual fee, but some cards do come with an annual fee. If your credit card’s annual fee has come due, it’s time to decide whether or not the card is still providing you with enough value to justify its annual fee.

What Is a Retention Offer?

Banks and card issuers spend a lot of money trying to acquire new customers. They also want to keep their existing customers since a customer kept is one less customer that they have to acquire. So in many cases, if you say you’re considering closing your credit card, a bank will offer you a retention bonus offer if you agree to keep your card open. Here are a few examples of retention offers that you might see:

  • A cash statement credit. Banks will rarely waive the annual fee but they might offer a statement credit for the exact amount of the annual fee.
  • If it’s a rewards credit card, they may offer bonus airline miles or points for keeping the card open.
  • You may also get a spending challenge where you get bonus points if you meet a spending threshold over the next few months.
  • Or, they may say there are no offers available.

Once you are aware of the offers that are potentially available, you can make an informed decision about whether it still makes sense to keep or cancel the card.

Getting Ahold of the Right Department

When calling for a credit card retention offer, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind. Different banks and credit card issuers are structured in different ways. Sometimes there is a specific retention department that handles these types of calls, and in other cases the first agent you talk to will be empowered to check for any retention offers.

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The most important thing to understand is that you should not definitively say that you want to cancel your card. If you specifically say that you want to cancel your credit card, you may find that the agent proactively cancels your card before you’re ready for it. It’s best to say that you’re thinking about or considering canceling your card.

Along the same lines, you don’t want to use the bank’s automated phone system to cancel your credit card. Again, you may find that the card gets automatically canceled before you can even speak to anyone about any retention offers that might be available.

Deciding Whether to Cancel Your Credit Card

Once you’re aware of whether there are any retention offers, you can decide if keeping the card makes sense or not. Depending on your own specific situation, it’s possible to pay an annual fee and still come out ahead. This can happen when the benefits of keeping the card outweigh the cost of the annual fee.

So even without a retention offer, if the card is valuable to you, then it can make sense to keep it open. On the other hand, if the credit card isn’t worth the annual fee to you, then close it. You’ll just want to make sure that you’re aware of how closing a credit card affects your credit score.

Staying Organized

If you’re at all serious about earning credit card rewards, it is imperative to stay organized. Being organized with your credit cards can mean knowing which cards to use at which stores. But it’s even more important to stay on top of your card’s fees. How you organize your credit card information depends on how many cards you have and your own style. A simple spreadsheet might be enough, or you might prefer a personal finance app like Mint or Personal Capital.

However you organize your information, make sure to know when your credit card’s annual fee is due. That will keep you from paying the annual fee without realizing it. It will also help you know when it’s time to call in to check on a retention offer.

The Bottom Line

Credit card retention offers can be a great way to get a little bit of extra value from your credit cards each year. Before paying a card’s annual fee or closing your card, call in to your credit card company. They may provide you with a retention offer or offers that are worth more than your annual fee. Taking advantage of a retention offer is a win-win proposition. The bank keeps you as a valued customer, and you get to keep a little bit more cash in your wallet.


Dan Miller

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of, a site that helps families to travel for free and cheap. He is an expert in all things personal finance, and his work has been featured in Forbes, NerdWallet, Bankrate,, Rocket Mortgage and Intuit Mint. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and six kids.