I Am Slashing Credit Card Fees Right & Left, Why You Should Too

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Slashing Credit Card why you should

I Am Slashing Credit Card Fees Right & Left, Why You Should Too

Well I did it, I finally did it, something that I never thought would be possible. I gave the American Express Aspire card the deuces ✌. The card I called hands down the best perks card available.  We finally parted ways even though it is still a great card in my opinion. I downgraded it to the Hilton American Express that comes with no annual fee.  Then I went on to downgrade our Everyday Preferred card to no fee Everyday card.  This week my wife will be calling on her Amex Platinum card, looking for a juicy 50K Membership Rewards retention offer.  If she doesn’t get it we will be slashing the cost and downgrading it to the Amex Gold card.  Why am I slashing credit card fees right & left? Is it because I don’t value the cards anymore? Nope. Is it because I can’t take advantage of them right now? Yup.

My Reasons For Downgrading Each Card

Travel is at a standstill as the country fights Covid-19.  The virus is spreading and flattening the curve seems like it is still weeks away.  And it really feels like we are 4-6 months away from being able to travel at all.  I hope I am wrong there but it doesn’t feel that way right now.

So why would I pay for a travel perks card for 6 months when I can’t travel? This hobby is about maximizing everything we can. Paying $225-$275 to have a card collect dust in my sock drawer for 6 months isn’t maximizing anything.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t upgrade back to these cards in the future but why not save some money while we sit on the sidelines?

Here are my thoughts behind each card I am downgrading:

American Express Aspire Card

The Aspire is still one of the best cards out there and one of my favorite 3 or 4 cards.  But all of the value the card offers requires travel. Plus Amex makes the Aspire perks somewhat difficult to use under normal circumstances, it is even more difficult these days.  The resort credit only works at certain properties, the free night is best used at expensive properties that normally take planning and the airline incidental is harder than ever to use. The earning structure isn’t great for current times either. Add all of that up and it means I would have to do a mad dash to max out these perks when travel starts back up.

My annual fee just posted last month so now was the perfect time to downgrade. Plus now I may be able to snag an upgrade offer down the road which is the perfect scenario.  Once travel ramps back up I plan on upgrading back into the Aspire whether an upgrade offer comes or not.

Slashing Credit Card

Amex Everyday Preferred

The Everyday Preferred is a great earning card.  But the 30 transaction requirements for the 50% bonus make it kind of a pain to max out. That is unless it is your everyday earner. With us being locked down under shelter-in-place orders it is difficult to hit that 30 purchase target.  Plus this card is best used at the grocery store and I will be unable to max that out for the foreseeable future. Pair that up with a likely downgrade to an Amex Gold coming and this annual fee was kind of a waste. I downgraded to the Everyday card and hope for an upgrade offer down the road. But if it never comes it is a prime option to close whenever I grab another Amex credit card.

Slashing Credit Card why you should

American Express Platinum

To be fair this one was on the chopping block before all of this hoopla started. My wife is coming up on her second anniversary for the card and as long as it is past your 12 month mark I would consider downgrading it.  If she gets a good retention offer (30K or above) then we will keep it but if not we will finally be able to get our hands on an Amex Gold card.  I said that I wanted to focus more on Membership Rewards this year and the Gold card is a big part of that. Plus it will rack me 4X earning on my many Walmart Grocery pick up orders.

Disclaimer

Remember that American Express recently added terminology about perks abuse and included downgrades with it.  So if you have already used a good portion of the perks then you may be stuck with the card until the next annual fee. That is something to be aware of when making your decision.

Other Cards To Consider Downgrading

This article just happened to focus on American Express cards but there are other ones that I would consider if I carried them.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s value is heavily dependent on their Priority Pass membership and using the Chase portal at 1.5 cents per point. Those will not be an option for a while. Add in the recent increase of the annual fee I think this is a prime downgrade contender.  The Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Preferred are good options.  Choose the Freedom if you have another annual fee Ultimate Rewards earning card, like the Ink Preferred, and the Sapphire Preferred if you don’t.  You can then upgrade down the road if you want to use the Chase booking portal with the CSR etc.

Another card to look at is the Citi Prestige. The most valuable perk of this card is the 4th night free perk.  It may be a while before you get to take advantage of this perk and the travel and dining purchases are not rolling in like they used to.  The Citi Premier is a great downgrade option and is a better overall earning card in times like these.

Premium airline cards that come with lounge access from Delta, United or American are another one to consider. These card’s value solely relies on the lounge access they offer.  If you are not traveling for 4,5 or 6 months then you are simply tossing money down the drain.

There of course other options as well but I don’t want to go into every single one. What I would say is take a look at all of your annual fee cards and decide if you need them over the next 5 or 6 months and go from there.

Final Thoughts

Most of the cards I discuss in this article are very good cards that offer, people that know how to use them at least, outsized value. That isn’t what this is about though. The truth of the matter is you will not be able to extract that value for a little while so does it make sense to save some money now?  Remember you should be able to upgrade back to the card at a later date if you need to.  Also, only consider this if you have had the card for 12 months or more.

Share your thoughts below.  Have you considered slashing credit card fees too?  Which cards have you downgraded?

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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49 COMMENTS

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49 COMMENTS

  1. I just got off the phone with Citi about the A/Aexecutive m/c …no help with the annual fee…ok to downgrade to platinum with 99 Ann fee or blue Mileup with no Ann fee

  2. Interesting datapoint. After I downgraded my Amex Hilton Aspire card to the no annual fee version I wasn’t credited with the full amount of my $450 annual fee. They still charged me $11.10 for the 9 days after the annual fee originally posted on my account until the date I contacted them for the downgrade!! Seems a bit mean spirited especially when there’s no way to use the travel benefits right now. So be aware it’s not a completely free transaction. YMMV. Stay safe all.

  3. i called american express re my delta skymiles platinum select card and canceeling it and was I entitled to the incentiver of 50,000 mrs points or a $500.00 statement credit and they had n idea what I was talking about nor did the delta mileage program no on seemed to know what you were talking about.
    the same exaxt problem occured wihen Amercan Advantage Citbusiness Premium Select card no clue what I was talking about and wanted vto know where this info was from???? Please explain? thank byou!

    • Carole – retention offers are very YMMV. It differs from person to person you just have to ask if there are any retention offers on your account.

  4. A good reason to cancel Chase cards is the abysmal customer service now. Between my 5 Chase cards, I’m paying $900/year in fees, about to rise to $1000. I imagined that with a fancy card like CSR, I might be able to telephone a rep when needed. Nooo.

    They’ve also canceled benefits that I rely on. E.g., I booked a trip costing over $10K last year on CSR because of the protection in case the operator went bust. No such protection now.

    In fact, I’m thinking of shorting JP Morgan stock. Given their stated cost per new account, and thinking that other people are thinking like me, they’re about to lose a lot of money.

  5. I have a question. Has anyone “chatted” with Amex and asked if partial annual fees could be credited during this downtime as we can’t travel and utilize the benefits of a platinum card or even other cards like Reserve, Altitude etc

  6. I’ve been trying to contact Citi for a week to try to get retention offers or do a downgrade. Can’t get thru. I’ve been on hold up to 2 hrs. Tried to secure message them. Haven’t heard back. Any suggestions? My af is coming due!

    • The only way to get a retention offer is to speak with a rep unfortunately. I would try calling first thing in the morning or late at night.

      • Isn’t the Retention dept only open til 5pm? That’s what one agent told me. But which time zone, I don’t know…

        • I do think they have different hours in retention depts vs regular customer service but I thought with Citi that the first line reps could normally see offers.

    • yup can really do anything with that but that means you got welcome offers for all of them so it was still a good value proposition 🙂

  7. What if Amex won’t upgrade you back to these cards in the future? (Amex can reject your application for any reason)

    • That is possible. I haven’t heard of it happening before but things could always change. It is a risk I am willing to personally take.

  8. Does anyone know if AMEX gives you an immediate free night cert if you upgrade back up to the Aspire? I’m in the same boat as both my wife’s and my Aspire annual fees have hit. We already used our airline credits for the year, so no more value there, but had planned on a Maldives trip in March/April of next year. The free night cert extension means we’d be giving up four free nights if we can’t get anything upon re-upping later this year. It’s making it a tough choice.

    • If you know you will use the free nights then I would just keep it. When my wife upgraded to it she did get the annual free night even though they claimed she wouldn’t. But I don’t think you can count on it.

      • I’ve seen some dp’s that seems to suggest the same thing…it happens from some, but not all.

        I’m really surprised that AMEX isn’t doing anything besides offering to downgrade. Even a modest spending offer would help a lot of folks like us decide to keep the card. The CSR said that they aren’t doing retention offers because the certs are good for a full year, so can be redeemed after the current crisis abates. When I asked about the rest of the card’s benefits being unusable for the foreseeable future, she said, “well, that’s why we’re offering downgrades to a no-fee product.”

        • I don’t think the banks know what to do at this point but I know their swipe fees have fallen off a cliff so I think they are dropping their marketing budgets to match.

    • When I upgraded my Hilton Ascend card to the Aspire card last year it took two months to receive the Free Weekend Night Award in my Hilton account. I didn’t receive any upgrade bonus but I did want the Diamond status for an upcoming stay in Hawaii. I just downgraded to the no annual fee card yesterday following Mark’s lead.

  9. Good article. We are doing the same. I’ve gotten through with no hold time when calling Amex. Annual Fee due on Delta Platinum. They didn’t offer any retention (despite reasonable annual use) and I didn’t ask. Cancelled. Did ask for retention on P2 Aspire (no usage) and was rejected. Decided to think it over but it’s hard to make the Aspire pencil with flight credits restricted and little certainty of using the annual resort credit. Within $1k (annual) of earning Hyatt free night w WoH card and put it on ice to complete the spending later in the year. Too many credits and certificates already—clock ticking on all of them.

    • The only real reason to keep it is for the free night – but they are getting harder and harder to use each year with their devaluations.

  10. Since you’ve now already owned the Aspire card, I thought Amex’s once-in-a-liftetime language would now keep you from upgrading back to it

    • *For now* that doesn’t apply to the Hilton cards. Amex usually offer upgrades even if you’ve had one of these before.

    • Nope you can upgrade or sign up for a card as many times as you want. The once per lifetime only pertains to the welcome offer (which is really like 7 years and not a lifetime).

  11. I am going to save over $300 this month alone on Business Plat Amex offers. $60 on any insurance, $35 on cell phone, 10% on Lowes up to $100 back, 10% at Dell up to $1500 back, etc. They have recently ramped up offers on this card in a serious way. No way would I dump it.

    And repeatedly loading ~50 cents to your Amazon account to hit 30 transactions a month is just BEGGING for Amex to cancel you as a customer. Forever. They have dropped people recently for less. The days of playing such games are over.

    • I have received all of those offers on the no fee BB+ and with them limiting offers to only one card it makes people less willing to pay the annual fees imo.

  12. Mark,
    Load funds to your Amazon account in 50c increments. It takes about 5 seconds per load. You’ll hit your 30 transactions in a matter of minutes. I typically do 50c, 51c, 52c, …and so on. Reason being, in the event Amex cancels a transaction that it believes is a duplicate.

    • Yeah I have done that in the past I just don’t find it worth it unless I have large spend on the card which won’t be the case for the foreseeable future. I can see it still working for others but it doesn’t work for me right now. Most of my grocery spend is going on my Surpass for the $15K free night and I don’t have my other normal ways to max out the grocery spend right now so it was better for me to downgrade instead.

  13. Mark, timely post good job. I think travel as we “knew it” has/will change. How long will it take people to walk onto a packed main cabin and fly long distances let alone short trips? A while I think. Your correct it’s time for all of us to take a look at the number of cards we have and whats important and whats not. I submit to you its wise to spread what cards you have around to different issuers. In the 2008 financial crisis Bank of American gave us a knee jerk reaction wholesale cancelling of credit cards, our business card was canceled because we hardly used it, since then I have avoided BA. One should have a Chase, Amex, Citi etc. hedge your bets!
    As a side note I think the winner is Hilton in getting ahead of this mess with their FF something I know I will remember

    • Great point on having cards with each bank in cash they slash credit lines etc.

      Yeah I think people will remember which companies treated them well and which ones didn’t when this is all over.

      • Marriott it appears will be the biggest loser, Hilton the winner. Actually their response convince me when consolidating odd point balances with Amex/Chase etc to transfer to Hilton for future use. Closed my Hyatt CC, more to come!! At least it will reduce emails

        • Yup and I think United lost a lot of people from this. I will never fly Frontier again because their agents are so poorly trained and understaffed.

        • I was very impressed that Hilton waived my non-cancelable fee when I ran to the airport from Singapore as Trump announced the European border closings. Hyatt also waived the policy when my son’s graduation was canceled. These are the companies I intend to do business with going forward.

  14. I don’t understand the articles stating why should should get a new CC now. I don’t know about you, but my CC spending is now approaching zero, so I would not hit any spend bonuses.

    • I think it is because they think the big offers around right now will go away soon. But as you say those min spends are much higher than previous offers too so I am not rushing into anything. I will grab some $3K or less offers though.

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