Avoid Paying Credit Card Annual Fee

I had two different experiences as I sought to avoid paying the annual fee on my Citi AAdvantage credit cards that I got a year ago.   I posted earlier about how and when to cancel a credit card.   One was for me, and the other was for my wife. I’ll explain what happened to me in both cases.

First Case Study

I called the 1-800 number that I found on the back of the card. I did this while driving to work at about 8:30 AM Mountain Standard time. I got a lady on the phone who was my first contact and I explained that I didn’t want to pay for the next year’s annual fee. I was considering canceling the card if I wouldn’t have the option of getting away without having the annual fee. She mentioned to me that the annual fee could not be waved. I was rather disappointed.

She was pretty insistent ant and wouldn’t budge on her position. I asked if there were any other options. She mentioned that I could switch my current “Gold Level” card to a Bronze level card that had no annual fee. You don’t get 1 point per dollar spent, but they only allow you to have .5 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent. I considered canceling the card alltogether, but I want to make sure that I establish a good credit history. One of the contributing factors to your credit score is the average length of history. If I could get two years out of the card then it would significantly lengthen the average.

Reluctantly I agreed to accept her offer still frustrated that she had won the battle. I considered calling back and trying to get another customer service rep, but I had already given up. After all, it wasn’t that bad of a trade. I obviously won’t be using the card much though and will probably cancel it at the end of next year.

Takeaways:

  • If you get someone who isn’t helpful, try calling back for another rep.
  • They usually can switch you to a card that has no annual fee.

Second Case Study:

This is for the card that my wife has with Citi and is the AAdvantage Platinum.  This is the offer that gave us 75,000 big ones.  We have used some of the points going to Costa Rica and can’t wait for our opportunity to use the next ones too.  I called tonight, a Tuesday at about 7:00PM Mountain Standard time.  The customer service rep who answered was a female.  I explained to her that I wanted the annual fee waived from the Platinum card or I was considering canceling the card.  She mentioned again that the annual fee couldn’t be waived. I was starting to get depressed.

She did however mention that she could get me to an “Account Specialist” or something like that.  She went and got someone else who answered the phone promptly.  He was very friendly and explained that the annual fee couldn’t be waived.  He did however offer to give me a statement credit of $85, which is the cost of the annual fee.  (Where do they get off thinking that there is a difference between waiving the fee and giving me a credit?)  Who cares really, but he also offered me the opportunity to earn double miles in each month in which we spend over $750 on the card.  BONUS!!

I was pleasantly surprised that they were so good to me, especially considering my previous experience.  I’ve learned a few things that I’d love to share with you.

Takeaways:

  • Ask for a “Statement Credit” rather than “Waive the annual fee” with Citi.
  • Always push to get away from the CSR and get to an account specialist.  They are the people who make the offers.
  • Same as mentioned above, just try calling again if you don’t like the offer.
  • Whenever possible avoid paying the annual fee.

Make sure you properly manage your credit by using CreditSesame.com to carefully watch your score.

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