Results from my latest Citi retention call

retention callYesterday I called Citibank to check for retention offers on my cards.  I do this about once a year and usually come away with offers that make my cards well worth keeping for another year.  To get transferred to a retention specialist it’s necessary to tell customer support that you’d like to cancel your card.  Don’t tell the automated system that, though.  Some people have been burned when doing that: the automated system automatically closed their card.  If that’s not what you want, then make sure you’re talking to a person before saying anything about cancelling.

I started with my Citi Prestige card.  After briefly trying to sell me the AAdvantage Executive card, the retention specialist mentioned that there were four retention offers available for bonus points or statement credits.  Would I like to hear the offers?  You bet I would!

Citi Prestige Retention Offers

Here were the four offers that were available to my account (note that different offers are available to different people’s accounts):

  1. For each billing cycle over the next 7 cycles where I spend $1,500 or more I’ll receive a $50 statement credit.
  2. For the next 6 months, I’ll earn 1 extra ThankYou point per dollar for all spend.  Offer is capped at 50,000 bonus points.
  3. Earn 10K bonus points after $3K spend in 6 months
  4. Earn $200 statement credit after $4K spend in 3 months
    [UPDATE: As pointed out by a few readers, this offer actually required spending $4K per month for 3 months for a total of $12K spend]

These were attractive offers!  The challenge was then on to figure out which one I wanted most.  I quickly re-wrote the first two offers to be able to compare across offers more quickly:

  1. Earn $350 after $10,500 spend
  2. Earn up to 50K bonus points after $50K spend
  3. Earn 10K points after $3K spend
  4. Earn $200 after $4K spend
    [UPDATE: Actually $200 after $12K spend]

And if I had more time, maybe I would have looked at the value per dollar of spend (not counting points that the card normally earns).  For convenience, let’s say each ThankYou point is worth 1.5 cents:

  1. $350 / $10,500 = 3.33% rebate on spend
  2. 50K = $750 / $50,000 = 1.5% rebate on spend
  3. 10K = $150 / $3,000 = 5% rebate on spend
  4. $200 / $4,000 = 5% rebate on spend
    [UPDATE: Actually $200 / $12,000 = 1.7% rebate on spend]

When viewed this way, you can see that offer 3 and 4 offers the best return for spend, but it is severely capped as to the max value of the bonus.  Offer 4 is terrible.  Offer 2 is the weakest on a per dollar basis, but has the most upside: 50,000 points.  Offer 1 is in the middle.  It offers pretty good bonus rebate on spend, plus a reasonably high maximum: $350.

Even though I didn’t do this full analysis on the phone, I went with offer 1.  $350 is the annual fee I’ve been charged ever since I temporarily had Gold Checking.  With this offer, I’m sort-of getting the annual fee back in exchange for a steady amount of spend.

The main downside to offer 1 is that I’ll have to make sure to spend $1,500 each month to get the full value of the offer.  Luckily I know ways to automate spend.

AT&T Access More Offers

After accepting the above offer to keep my Prestige card, I asked the retention specialist if he minded checking for similar offers on my other cards.  First up was my AT&T Access More card (this card is no longer available for new sign-ups but you may be able to product change to it).

As with the Prestige, there were four offers available:

  1. For each billing cycle over the next 16 cycles where I spend $500 or more I’ll receive 500 extra points
  2. For the next 6 months, earn 2 extra ThankYou points per dollar for all spend.  Offer is capped at 35,000 bonus points.
  3. Earn 10K bonus points after $3K spend in 6 months
  4. Earn 7.5K bonus points after $1K spend in 3 months

Let’s re-write the offers to be able to compare across them more quickly:

  1. Earn 8,000 points after $8,000 spend (over 16 months)
  2. Earn up to 35K bonus points after $17.5K spend
  3. Earn 10K points after $3K spend
  4. Earn 7.5K points after $1K spend

As before, let’s look at the value per dollar of spend (not counting base points earned regardless).  And again, for convenience, let’s say each point is worth 1.5 cents:

  1. 8K = $120 / $8,000 = 1.5% rebate on spend
  2. 35K = $525 / $17,500 = 3% rebate on spend
  3. 10K = $150 / $3,000 = 5% rebate on spend
  4. 7.5K = $112.50 / $1,000 = 11.25% rebate on spend

Here you can see that the first offer is terrible compared to the others.  I discounted that one immediately.  Offers 3 and 4 are similar, but offer 4 requires far less spend.  So if I were to take either of those offers I’d take offer 4.  Offer 2 doesn’t have the best return on spend, but it has a much higher total upside than the others.  I went with that one: 2X bonus points on all spend, up to $17,500.

The rest of my cards

We stepped through each of my other cards: Forward, ThankYou Preferred, Dividend, Double Cash, and Hilton Reserve.  Some had balance transfer and/or lower interest rate offers that I wasn’t interested in.  None offered bonus points or statement credits.

Wrap Up

With a single phone call, I managed to get two nice retention offers.  With my Prestige card I’ll earn a total of $350 in statement credits, and with my AT&T card I’ll earn up to 35,000 bonus ThankYou points.  The latter is especially sweet because I use that card for most online purchases since the card natively earns 3X for those purchases.  With this offer, I’ll get 5 points per dollar.  Plus, the AT&T card offers 10K bonus points each year with $10K spend, so I’ll earn even more.

Despite the recent downgrades to the Prestige card, I’m happy to have an excuse to keep it another year.  I do tend to get very good value from its 4th Night Free benefit.  And the AT&T card was a keeper anyway, so I’m especially happy with that offer.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. With the impending death of the Citi Hilton Reserve, what are you planning? Especially if you use the spending requirement for HHonors Diamond status, is it worth it to Preemptively get the Amex Surpass to use that next year?

    • I’d recommend waiting to see what Citi offers existing cardholders. There’s no hurry to get the Amex Hilton Surpass, but when the Surpass’ 100K offer returns, you might want to jump on it then.

      Personally, I don’t bother with Hilton Diamond status (I have it through 2019 due to a status match, though). I will spend $10K on the Reserve for the annual free night though.

      • On a related note: My citi Hilton Reserve card annual fee posted on 7/21, and I want to cancel it. But I’m still waiting for my free weekend night certificate after spending $10k to post. I assume citi won’t offer me a retention since the card is going away end of the year. Will I still get my free night certificate if I cancel the card now or should I wait till I get the certificate and then cancel thereby risking having to pay a prorated annual fee on the Reserve card? Thanks

        • I’m not sure, but if you value the certificate at more than $95 (and I would), I don’t think I’d cancel before getting it.

          Unfortunately, my anniversary date passed in April and my certificate didn’t come until late June, so it might not come for a while yet.

          If you do decide to cancel it, I’d be interested in hearing the outcome if you don’t mind updating. That said, as Greg said above, I’d consider keeping it for now anyway. I’m certainly going to hold mine until we find out what Citi plans to do with them.

        • I definitely wouldn’t cancel. From what I understand, you should be receiving a credit for pro-rated AF at the end of the year when they presumably PC you to a different card, so that free night cert will really only cost about $50. I recently signed up for this same reason: getting 2 free night signup bonus for what should be about half price AF.

        • Or if I do keep the card till end of year, would they award another 1 free night cert as long as I meet 10K spend? That would be another free night cert for only $50 if the AF will be pro-rated as WR stated below…

        • Cindy: I am definitely working under that assumption and planning to both hit the 10K spend hoping for a cert and I’m leaning towards 40K for status as mine is scheduled to end in February.

  2. Just a note, I also took the 1st offer on an Citi AA card. The first month starts within 48 hours of making the call to the end of the current cycle. I lost the first months $50, because I only had 3 days until statement closed. I only received credit for 6 cycles. I would have paid more attention to timing if I knew about this offer.

    • Bummer. Just to clarify: the first billing cycle is the current billing cycle. When it ends depends upon your situation. In my case I just happened to have spent almost exactly $1500 during the current cycle (thanks to my trip to Amsterdam) so I’m all set for the first billing cycle and I’ve setup monthly automated Kiva deposits beginning Sep 1.

    • I had a similar offer for my Premier card but the Rep clearly said that the month cycle is “30 days from the start of the promotion” and is not linked anyway to your regular billing cycle. I am working based on it and hope I heard it correct.

      • Same timing for my offer on Premier received in late June. I went over the timing in detail with the Rep as it was the first time I received a Citi retention offer that wasn’t tied to billing cycles. I am also working it based on the offer language. They should be able to pull the phone call recording if there is any issue. I thought at the time that the change in dates may have been related to losing the below arbitration, but now that I hear Citi isn’t using the new dates across cards, probably wasn’t.
        http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2017/06/09/fine-print-beating-citi-arbitration/

    • A few weeks ago I took the same offer four days prior to statement closing , discussed with rep about issue of getting credit for current month,charged $1500 the next day and it didn’t post in time . Called CSR who ended up giving me a $50 credit for that month as a courtesy

  3. what to do if the retention executive say that i do not have any other offers on the ATT More cards except balance transfer offers. Should i hang up and try to call again??

  4. I also received the same offer for $200 credit for spending $4000/ month for the next 3 months. $12000 spend for $200 is not the best use of organic spend . Even ms would be more productive for earning new card bonus points. I chose option 1 but will probably only do 4 months of $1500 spend to earn $200 statement credit. That brings the $450 annual fee down to $250. The $250 airline credit bring me back to a 0 fee. I buy $250 of Southwest tickets and with my companion pass get $250 of tickets free for my wife. So even with the July 23rd reduction in Prestige benefits I’m ready to go another year and see what cards get dealt then.

    • I think that 3.3% cash return on organic spend is quite good,($50 back on $1500 every statement) . Can also justify simply buying 3 $500 vanilla reloads at CVS every month, it’s still money back even after fees for the cards.

  5. When you have a Citi card giving card points (such as Thank You points) rather than third party points, do you empty your account of points before making retention calls? I would think making such a call when you have a point balance would give card rep the clue that you are not really planning on following through with your threat.

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