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Surprisingly Meh: Turning Down a Best-Ever Amex Retention Offer

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American Express Retention Offer

I’ve been there.  That high you get from picking up an American Express retention offer – I’ve felt it, too.  It’s not at the same level as picking up a big signup bonus, but it can be in the neighborhood.  For years, I’ve taken bigger steps back from such offers, even if I decide to ultimately accept one.  Indeed, my wife just declined a noteworthy one a few nights ago which we may have accepted in years past.  Today, I’m getting into this offer and why I turned it down.

A Best-Ever American Express Retention Offer?

Late the other night, an Amex chat agent offered my wife 30k Membership Rewards with $3k spend if she agreed to keep a Gold card open for another year.  I don’t recall us ever receiving an American Express retention offer that high on a personal Gold.  Indeed, the Gold is one of my one-and-done Amex cards, and a chat agent has rarely given us a reason to question that strategy.  Still, without too much effort, we turned down this new, seemingly best-ever offer.  But why?

American Express Retention Offer

The Annual Fee Brings It Down

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of all those zeros.  Indeed, earning 30k bonus Membership Rewards points, not including the regular earn, on just $3k spend is solid.   With spend in the 4x categories, that’s 42k Membership Rewards, which I would have cashed out at 1.1 cents per point for $462.  But the Gold’s $250 annual fee nets only a $212 win.  Why do I only consider it a $212 win?  Because the wife and I have other Amex Golds from previous plays.  This Gold wouldn’t have brought us anything big we value that the others don’t already provide.  That’s next.

I Wouldn’t Have Used the Card, Anyway

It’s remarkable how other opportunities, whether card bonus categories or targeted spend offers, have caught up to Amex’s previously-noteworthy 4x earning.  We didn’t come close to maximizing the $25k supermarket categories on this Gold card last year.  I didn’t see that changing at all for the next twelve months, either.  Regardless, I didn’t want to lock myself in for another year, anyway.

Slots Are Currently at a Premium

In a vacuum, accepting the retention offer would’ve been a no-brainer.  But Amex generally adheres to a 5 credit card and 10 pay over time card limit policy for individuals (my wife was at the maximum of the latter).  More importantly, opportunities abound with Amex currently, particularly on the business side.  Long story short, I assessed that the pay over time slot was worth way more than $212 (or even $462) to me over the next few months.

The Benefits Are Minimal

The other two most well-known benefits of the Gold are probably the monthly $10 Uber and Dining Credits.  For my family, those are the two most superfluous credits in the entire hobby.  It’s comical to think we don’t want any more “free” dining or rides, but it’s basically true.  We’re getting plenty of credits for these things elsewhere, and we don’t need more reasons to dine out, either.

American Express Retention Offer

In My Back Pocket

But I can have my cake and it eat, too (sort of).  How?  We turned down the retention offer and immediately gained access to that pay over time slot.  And in the future, if we ever decide my wife wants another Gold card, I can refer her to the card and pick up a bonus that way.  If an individual will truly want the card again for reasons beyond the retention offer, the referral bonus can largely replace it.  And again, individuals obtain referral bonuses without any spend requirement, unlike retention offers.

Sure, the retention offer could be higher than a future referral bonus.  But I’ll happily risk that for the extra flexibility of the additional slot now.

American Express Retention Offer – Conclusion

When it comes to the American Express retention offer concept, the only one we’ll consistently accept is the optimal one on our Amex Schwab Platinum cards.  Why?  Because it’s the only card my wife and I each plan to indefinitely hold.  Every other Amex card is annually up for debate.  Perhaps in a more boring Amex age, if that ever exists, I’ll be more open to retention offers on other cards.  We shall see what the future holds.  I’ll have fun in the meantime and encourage you to do the same!

How did you handle your most recent American Express retention offer?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. As an AMEX holder for 39 years, I turned down an AMEX Platinum offer for the same reasons: I can get the same benfits someplace else for less. And, some of the benfits are useless at least for me.

    There is not an Equinox within any reasonable distance- and I have for a nationwide gym a short distance away for $84/year. Similarly I had Global Entry and TSA from other cards, besides which membership is for 5 years. So that ” benefit” was again meaningless.

    But what irked me the most was AMEX’s decision to give up to 100K to brand new cardmembers, some of whom would ditch the card after one year, but would not offer anything near that to a long term customer. Loyalty is a two-way street, something which AMEX forgets.

  2. I recently turned down Hilton Amex Aspire retention for 10,000 points or $50 credit for $1000 spend. I told them to beat it. $550 annual fee was no longer worth it to me


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