I think we can all agree that 2020 isn’t a great travel year and for travel credit cards that means many if not most of the cards vital benefits are obsolete – but which banks will actually agree to give you a refund or discount on the annual fee?
When it comes to these credit cards one has to identify the primary functions and benefits of the card and then put it in relation to the annual fee in order to see how hard one should press for a fee waiver / discount or possibly cancel the card.
Right now I have the following basic travel credit cards (plus some others but lets stick to those I have exclusively for travel purposes):
- American Express Gold Card (USA) – $250 Fee
- American Express Bonvoy Card – $95 Fee
- ANA Card USA issued by First National Bank of Omaha – $70 Fee
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – $550 Fee
- Chase IHG Premier Card – $89 Fee
- Chase World of Hyatt Card – $95 Fee
- JAL Card USA issued by First National Bank of Omaha – $20 Fee
- Lufthansa Miles&More Senator Mastercard issued in Germany – No Fee
All of these cards serve a specific purpose in my card portfolio and while the earning benefit of the ANA and JAL card issued in the U.S. isn’t great these cards do give me a good discount at the onboard and airport duty free when flying to/from Japan which I use a lot. But let’s go step by step.
I contacted Amex (USA) about a discount on the Gold and Bonvoy card. They declined a discount for either card and argued that the Bonvoy card comes with a hotel certificate that should make the annual fee worthwhile and the Gold Card has an airline credit (very inflexible) of $100 per calendar year as well as a $10 monthly dining credit (which I can’t use because it’s only good at partner merchants in the U.S.).
I decided to keep the Bonvoy card as I agree with them that I can make decent use of the cert despite the current situation and will downgrade the Amex Charge Card to Green next month since I already have other Charge Cards issued by Amex ICC. Amex did offer generous data, cellphone and streaming credit for their Platinum and Green cards.
Chase offered me a $100 discount on the Sapphire Reserve which anyone already got earlier this year following their initial announcement that they would increase the price from $450 to $550. They probably figured that it’s not the best time to hit people with another 100 bucks in fees and reimbursed it as a credit. They declined a discount on the hotel cards citing the certificate value, I agreed with that.
The CSR is my main credit card due to their great earning ratios and honestly I don’t think I’d cancel it unless something drastic happens. The $300 annual travel credit is as good as cash for me so the remaining leftover is covered by the card benefits such as earning ratio on travel and restaurant spend plus Priority Pass. Lyft membership and door dash benefit is useless to me.
Chase did recently shut down two of my other cards that were essentially drawer cards. they probably wanted to limit their credit exposure but this wasn’t good as I lost about $20k in credit lines and my score took a small hit from that.
First National Bank of Omaha
By far the worst bank I’ve ever dealt with in terms of customer service. Rude and cocky with a stinking attitude whenever you contact them. Needless to say the denied any discount for the two cards I hold with them (ANA and JAL card). Because I saved well over $500 this year alone (until March) at duty free I decided to keep the cards. Another reason is the very high credit line I have on the ANA card and cancelling it really wouldn’t be good at all for my credit score.
First they tried to say since the fee was charged with this months billing statement it couldn’t be refunded or discounted at all even if I’d cancel the card. Obviously complete nonsense, a bank can always give your a credit for whatever reason they feel like. After pushing them on that they said they could refund the fee if I decided to cancel it. No attempts at all to retain me as a customer, I will get another ANA card in Japan soon and then kick this one to the curb.
How to approach the credit card companies?
If a card is really of no use to you then you should get rid of it, especially if it’s an expensive card. I did outline the lack of benefits to the representative on writing or on the phone. The $100 discount on the Chase Sapphire Reserve was fair but that came automatic not because I asked for it.
Bottom line is that any U.S. bank I contacted refused a discount of the card even some or many of the benefits attached to the card can’t be utilized right now. Ironically the easiest to deal with was my old Capital One Quicksilver card, they waived the $39 annual fee immediately without even pressing hard. This was my first card and C1 has been pretty good in customer service over the years.
I’m using most cards heavily but banks appear stingy to offer anything right now. Companies like Amex who are known to offer decent retention offers have scaled back as well (I haven’t received an offer from them in the last two years despite frequently using the cards).
Most if not all hotel cards on the market do pay pretty much for themselves by the way of a free night and other benefits. With other cards it’s not as easy. What is your experience when it comes to dealing with credit card companies this year?