The Strangest Credit Card Retention Phone Call & Why I Downgraded My Club Carlson Visa Card

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club carlson visa downgrade

US Bank Retention & Club Carlson Downgrade

Yesterday was the fateful day where I had to decide what to do with my Club Carlson Visa Signature. The annual fee was charged on my statement just shy of 30 days ago and the payment was due by the end of the day yesterday. I had set a calendar reminder to make sure I didn’t miss it and when it popped up on my phone I made sure to call.

To be honest, I don’t really care about keeping the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card. After they eliminated the Bonus Award Night, the card lost a lot of value to me. While the card still does give 40,000 points annually (the no annual fee card gets the free night after $10K spend too), I just am not a huge fan of their properties and I have an abundance of points in other programs.

Keeping the Card for my E-Cert

club carlson visa downgrade
I’ll probably use my free night to stay here.

The one thing I am interested in though is my free e-cert that US Bank agreed to give me. They said that would take 6-8 weeks to hit my Club Carlson account and I am still waiting. I feared if I cancelled my Club Carlson credit card, that they wouldn’t give me the e-cert. I sort of wouldn’t blame them either.

So my plan shifted to downgrading the card to the no annual fee version in order to keep the account active while I wait. I also have a US Bank Gold Checking account which is free because I hold a credit card. My wife does have a Flexperks cards as well, but I am not sure if that is worth keeping. At this point having a no annual fee card that locks in the free checking is a side benefit.

The Phone Call

club carlson visa downgrade
The relatively unknown no annual fee Club Carlson Visa.

When the calendar reminder popped up on my phone I immediately pulled out the Club Carlson card and called in to US Bank. The rep who answered was pleasant, but strange. I explained I either wanted to cancel my card or downgrade it to avoid the annual fee. I have dealt with US Bank retention before and wasn’t expecting any sort of offer to keep the card and I didn’t get one.

Almost immediately the agent started saying I could definitely get the no annual fee Club Carlson card. Good news! Then she said to get it I would just have to go online and apply for it as a new account. She also said I could apply for the Cash+ card or any other US Bank offering. How generous of her?!?!?

Of course I didn’t want my credit run and I didn’t want a new account, so I inquired about a product change. She said it wasn’t possible. I then pushed a little and told her I was informed it was possible on a previous call. (The truth is Julian the Devil’s Advocate told me about it.) After placing me on hold she tried to save face and say it isn’t available to most people, but I was eligible. (I believe everyone is eligible.)

club carlson visa downgrade
The annual fee credit has already posted.

To give you a sense of how quick this call was, when she placed me on hold I walked outside to the mailbox to get the mail. By the time I had returned home (less than 2 minutes) the entire call was over. Once she confirmed I was eligible for the conversion, she said it was done and rushed me off the phone. Before hanging up I inquired about the annual fee credit and she said she would do it. Unlike with other banks there were no scripts and no verbal agreements. The account was converted in a snap.


In the end I was successfully and rather painlessly able to downgrade my Club Carlson Premier Credit Card to the no annual fee Club Carlson Rewards Visa card. While the process was the most informal I have ever come across, I am glad the agent was able to do it and I eagerly await my e-cert.

As for my relationship with Club Carlson, I’ll enjoy the free night, but I have been trying for years to love their properties and their program and it just ain’t happening. The Bonus Award Night sort of clouded my view for awhile, but once the cloud of that benefit lifted, I realized it was time to break up. I’m not saying we won’t ever get back together, but the time has come to move on.

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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    • No gold status. The only benefit is 3X at Club Carlson and a free night after $10K in spend. I haven’t had much success with Club Carlson Gold status and figure I could always pick this card up again (or the business version) if I decide to switch back to Club Carlson.

  1. Shawn, this is good to know. My husband and I are keeping the card for this year (his renewed end of July, mine end of August). His 40K just posted and mine will probably post next month. Today we got calls from US Bank from a nice rep who said that we were both getting the e-cert for a free night.
    Next year we will consolidate points in one account, and downgrade to free cards or cancel if they won’t downgrade us at that point.
    In April 2014 we stayed 2 nights in Brussels (was OK- we were hardly in the room) & 6 in Amsterdam where we were given a lovely, large canal view room, and we have London Mercer Street (4 nights) and Dublin (4 nights) coming up in November. If the e-certs post soon, we might try to add a night in London if available. So I think we did OK for our outlay of $$ – annual fees and buying some points was sub $700, the rest came from 1 very cheap weekend night with that huge promo bonus this spring and just meeting the spend threshold to get the original 85K signup bonus and then a little extra spend for each of us. Think it was a fair deal to get what will be 18 free nights plus 80K points total in our accounts.

  2. I haven’t stayed at a lot of their properties… Amsterdam, Chicago and Milan.

    I wasn’t impressed with Amsterdam. It was just okay.

    Chicago and Milan were very nice experiences. Both hotels left small gifts and a handwritten note. The Radisson Blu in Chicago is in a great location and has very nice amenities. The building is famous architecturally.

    Milan was just last week. The MC comes with Gold status, so we were upgraded to a suite and given free breakfast (25 Euros each for 3 days) without asking. There really isn’t a cheap place to get breakfast near the hotel. We probably would have eaten there anyway. 150 Euros free breakfast more than paid the $75 annual fee, even without the 40,000 pts.

    With 5 pts/$, it is pretty easy to rack up points.

    Since my strategy includes laying off applications for a while and concentrating on MS, Club Carlson MC stays for a while.

    I do wish they were a transfer partner though.

    • Yeah I have heard Chicago is good and want to stay there. We stayed in Copenhagen on this last trip and I wasn’t impressed. Stockholm was alright, Brussels was a bit rundown. I have also stayed at a lot of their properties in Easter Europe. Again, nothing fancy but not terrible. It just isn’t a very valuable program for those hotels since they cost so much on points. Probably the best value are lower category Country Inns in the U.S. There are some decent comfortable properties for only 15K points.

    • I suppose it could happen, but I was given the certs based on being a cardmember at the time. They never told me I had to even keep the card. I certainly don’t think they’ll take away the certs for keeping a version of the card. Only time will tell I guess.


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