A few weeks ago I decided to cancel my Chase Southwest credit card. I got it almost a year ago because it had a 50K points bonus that was granted on the first purchase, which is almost unheard of these days, and even though I don’t fly Southwest very often I knew the points would come in handy at some point. FYI, the current offer is 50K points after $2K spend.
Today I have about 40K of those points still in my account. While I admit the one Southwest flight I took was one of the more enjoyable economy class flights I’ve taken in a while, I also knew that Southwest flights aren’t in my future. Besides, Chase cards are valuable and there are plenty that I don’t have yet, so it might be a positive to lighten the Chase side of my wallet. I decided to call and cancel my card, and was curious what they’d offer.
In case you’re not familiar with cancelling cards that have yearly fees, you should know that credit card companies usually try to keep you on as a customer by offering something. Sometimes it’s waiving the annual fee, granting you extra points (that may have a value greater than the annual fee), or some other type of incentive to keep you from cancelling the card. I really had no plans to keep the card but I was still willing to hear an offer, in case it was worth my time.
I called in and said “I’d like to cancel my card.” The person, who was a real American and answered almost immediately (which I love about Chase), said “I’m sorry to hear that. May I ask why?” I simply said that I didn’t think I was using it enough to justify the annual fee. She responded “OK, I’ll go ahead and close your account.”
Okay, wait a second. Where was my retention offer? No points, no waived fee, no nothing. That part of the conversation literally happened in 45 seconds of talking. I was a little shocked, but I wasn’t upset since I really did want to cancel the card anyway.
Anyone who’s been reading about points and credit cards knows that a retention offer is very common. There’s an entire FlyerTalk thread on it. Points, Miles, and Martinis recently wrote that their very same Southwest card was being upgraded without them even calling in. Just Googling “Chase retention bonus” comes up with dozens of results from the various points blogs about the different offers available, yet I got nothing.
I found this interesting, but then I read InACents’ post regarding a similar experience (plus a lot more interesting information on referral links). Two cases in which nothing was offered to retain customers of a certain product, both from Chase. It’s hardly enough to say that Chase is cutting back on retention offers, but I did find it interesting.
But all was not lost. My credit limit on the Southwest card was only $3K. I knew losing this amount of available credit wouldn’t impact my credit score very much if at all so I wasn’t worried, but I didn’t want to lose that credit either. Thankfully the Chase representative asked me if I’d like to transfer my $3K credit line over to my Sapphire Preferred card. I said “well, I don’t really need that high of a credit limit on that card.” She responded that I might as well do it because there’s no credit impact, and if I were to ever request a credit limit increase later there would be. That’s a no-brainer, so I agreed to the transfer.
It’s worth noting that at least in my case, I did not put very much spend on this card. I wasn’t really a profitable customer as far as Chase is concerned. I basically took the points and ran, and Chase likely recognized that, so perhaps this was a huge consideration in me not being offered anything. Either way it worked out great for me because I got 50K Southwest points, worth over $800 in Wanna Get Away fares, plus I got to move my credit over to my Sapphire Preferred card, all for no annual fee.
Try not to expect a retention offer/bonus if you plan on canceling a card soon. I find that it’s always better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed, so prepare accordingly before making that call.