I have 19 credit cards. I know, it’s probably a bit too many. But in my defense, I have a specific reason (and a good one) for each credit card that I opened. For example, the reason I’m having two Barclay Arrival cards is because I wanted to get 60,000 bonus miles, which is worth >$600 for travel, and to take advantage of their 0% Intro APR for Balance Transfers. And why do I have a Citi Hilton Visa Signature card? Because I needed free hotel stays at Hilton (which I did, more than once). You see, I never blindly open new credit cards, and I know not to keep a balance on my credit card(unless it’s a 0% APR card which I’ve taken out the balance for a small fee and made higher investment returns on the balance). I make credit cards work for me.
If you are like me and would like to get free air tickets, hotel stays, or simply free money, opening new credit cards is a fantastic and easy way. However, before you do that, make sure to understand that these credit inquires do stay on your credit report for two years, which makes it harder for you to get a new line of credit, and it affects your credit score (read this post about how credit cards influence your credit score).
Anyway, even though I’ve already closed several credit cards in the past couple of years, with years of credit card churning, I still have 19 credit cards left in my wallet. Since I’m planning to do some real estate investing, I’m taking steps to get my credit report “mortgage-ready”. I’ve already increased my credit score by >70 points in just a month, but right now I still have too many open lines of credit which I need to reduce the number of.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I have 11 credit cards that I should get rid of. Two of them still have rewards on them – I redeemed them for cash and I’ll close the account later when I’ve actually got the rewards . So I’ll start with the remaining nine cards first.
How it happened
I started calling customer service with the number found on the back of each card. I thought this would be a quick and easy process, and it was, until I started talking to a Citi customer representative, when I remembered something called “retention offers”. If you don’t know, when you call your credit card company asking to close a credit card account, in order to keep your business, the credit company may give you a retention offer/bonus, which could be in the form of increased cash back in a limited period of time, or simply a high bonus reward after you finish some spending requirement. It didn’t take me long to close my Amex, Barclays cards, but Citi was different. After calling in stating I wanted to close my Citi Dividend card, I was transferred to an “Account Specialist”. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: Hello, I’d like to close my Citi Dividend card please.
Citi: Oh I’m sorry to hear that. Can I ask why you wanted to close the account please?
Me: I have too many credit cards in my wallet. I’d like to trim it down by keeping only the ones that I really use. Unfortunately I rarely use Citi Dividend so I’d like to close the account.
Citi: I understand. But do you know that Citi Dividend offers you blablabla (benefits of the card, e.g. 1% cash back and 5% rotational category ). Do you still want to close the account?
Me: Yes I am aware of these card benefits but I’d still like to close my account.
Citi: Okay. Actually we have a special offer for you, if you use your Citi Dividend card in the next 3 months, for any purchase you’ll earn an additional 4% cash back. Meaning for every day spending, you get a total of 1%+4%=5% cash back, and for May and June if you shop at Drug Stores or Fitness Clubs(5% rotation category this quarter) you’ll get a total of 9% cash back. Would you be interested in that offer?
Me: That sounds like a good deal. Blablabla(asking if it’s real, getting confirmation)
Citi: blablabla (explaining in more detail like effective dates, purchase category etc.)
Me: Okay, if that’s the case I think I’ll keep this card for now.
Citi: Fantastic. Please keep in mind, that offer will start in two days and it’ll end after 3 months.
Me: Got it. Thanks a lot!
Citi: You are very welcome. Is there anything else that I can help you with?
Me: Nope that’s it.
Citi: Okay, have a good day!
Me: Thanks, you too.
Done. Simple like that! Now I have a credit card with 5% cash back on all my spending, and 9% on drug store/fitness club purchases! It does have a time limit of 3 months, and a reward cap of $300 (annual reward cap for Citi Dividend), however, I can probably take advantage of the entire $300 rewards by getting gift cards from CVS. I’m contemplating getting visa gift cards there which I can use everywhere else.
How about other credit cards?
Since I have called to close quite a few cards, below is a summary of how each card was handled.
Citi Simplicity – retention offer: 2% cash back for 6 months, cash back capped at $100
Citi Hilton Hhonors Visa Signature – No retention offer
First National Bank of Omaha Amex card – retention offer: 5.99% APR balance transfer with no fee
Amex Blue Cash Everyday – No retention offer
Barclay Arrival – No retention offer
BestBuy credit card – No retention offer
Most of the retention offers are not that great so I closed these accounts anyway. But the Citi Dividend offer definitely stands out. A card with 5-9% cash back on all your spending is unbeatable!
Do you have a Citi Dividend card? If you want an additional 4% cash back on this card, try calling their customer service and see what you can get. And good luck!
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