I know that in the last 2 years a LOT of people have signed up for a LOT of travel rewards credit cards from all the major banks to earn miles on all of the major airlines and hotels. The bonuses in 2011 for credit cards were insane. We may not see bonuses that high for a longggg time because banks were budgeting a lot of money to draw in credit card consumers after the financial crisis of 2008/2009. Yet, while I say that, there’s 10+ cards with huge sign-up bonuses on my TOP DEALS Page.
I for one signed up for a LOT of cards in 2011. It seems like about every 1-3 months now I’m canceling credit cards that are 12 months old and I’m receiving Annual Fee charges of $89 – $150 per card. By paying an annual fee every year, you will eventually negate most, or all of the benefits of the miles you received, so I generally cannot recommend to consumers or myself that you keep high annual fee cards. Everybody’s situation is different though, so you should weigh it out for yourself.
You should always first ask them if they will waive your annual fee or give you miles/points for keeping the card passed the 1 year anniversary. Sometimes they will do it, sometimes they won’t! They have offers available for each person generally based on what their computer generates.
Here’s some of the cards I canceled recently and how the process went:
Citi American Airlines Visa & American Express cards:
In 2011 I got both of these credit cards for 75,000 American Airlines miles each for a whopping 150,000 AAdvantage miles just for getting 2 credit cards and putting my bills on them for a couple months. Talk about free travel being easy! To this day I still haven’t spent all of these, in fact I have over 200,000. Whoops!
I called Citi and explained to them that I was just charged the $89 Annual fee on both cards and it didn’t really make sense for me to keep both cards. I asked to get the fee waived or receive miles instead. They couldn’t offer me a statement credit, but they offered me a variety of offers for receiving 2 miles per $1 spent instead of 1 mile per dollar spent, based on spending a certain amount. Or else they could offer me 3,000 miles for spending $500 within 3 months. That was the best offer for me as these are not my day to day credit cards anymore, so I wouldn’t want the 2 miles per $1 spent. So I took the 3,000 miles for spending $500 (6 miles per $1!) on my Visa card b/c it had a higher credit limit, and had them cancel my American Express card. Done.
Delta American Express card:
This was one of my first credit cards that I got a few years ago. At the time when I was younger and not traveling as much, it did the job for me, and I took a few free flights b/c of it. I never use it these days. The first year I had it the annual fee was waived, the 2nd year I had it they gave me 10,000 miles for the annual fee when I called to cancel it if they didn’t offer something. This year I called in, and had seriously only used it for no more than $100 charges I would think, so I wasn’t surprised when he couldn’t offer me anything to keep the card. Boom, canceled.
Barclay’s Airtran Visa card:
I’m going to be straight up honest with you. I’ve never flown on Airtran, and neither the Sioux City or Omaha airports fly on Airtran. So why the heck did I get the Airtran card last year? Because they were in the middle of merging with Southwest, so the 16 Airtran “credits” I earned (that’s how their point system worked) ended up turning into 2 free one ways or 1 free round trip AT ANY PRICE on Southwest once the points systems merged! I used one of the one ways recently to fly one of my friends out to see me on a $300 ticket!
I called, & explained my case about the annual fee which has become almost like a pre-written script these days since I’ve been doing it for so long and so much these days. They couldn’t offer me anything and I wasn’t surprised. I had only spent the minimum on the card to get the miles and then never used it again. Canceled.
I’m currently in a debacle with Chase trying to cancel my British Airways Visa card b/c I accidentally PAID my annual fee without noticing it. I’ll post more about that later as well as more card negotiations as there’s more rain falling this summer on my annual fee city!