Results from my latest Citi retention call

25

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.

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