The reason I wanted to write this post was due to something a new reader said in an email. That person mentioned that he doesn’t want to sign up for cards just for bonus’ sake. Why? Because it’s too much hassle to cancel them later on.
So, recently, I’ve had to put one of my cards on the chopping block. I wanted to time how long the entire process would take. It was a Citi Thank You Premier, so I had to log into my online profile and send a secure message:
This took about a minute total. Ten minutes later I got a message in my email account saying that I got a response from Citi. I logged back in, and the card was already canceled. Thank You, Citi, pun intended.
Note that first I redeemed all my points tied to that card, see this post for more. Citi is quite different from other issuers in this respect since the points expire after 30 days even if you transfer them to another account. With Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can send them to your spouse for free as long as they have Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus.
When it comes to American Express, you would have to have a card that earns the same type of rewards in order to preserve your stash. They don’t do “mix and match” the way Chase does with their Ultimate Rewards program, as in combine points earned via Chase Freedom with those earned via one of their premium cards.
Note that I’m referring to bank-issued points. If you have an airline or hotel co-branded credit card and the miles or hotel points are already deposited in your account, you won’t lose them.
Back to cancellation. Most card issuers have a similar process. Well, except one: Bank of America. Six months ago I had to cancel a card, so I sent a secure message. To my shock, I got a response that I needed to call in order to do it. I don’t know if that’s their standard policy or I just got a super eager agent intent on keeping me as a customer.
Of course, when I called I was given a speech on how great the card is, blah blah blah. I did get it canceled, but it was an annoying process, for sure. If I had to do it with every single offer, I would be much more picky with my choices.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to repeat the process again in a few months with Bank of America Spirit MasterCard, only this time my husband will be the one calling (gasp!) I’m trying to select an appropriate reward in advance.
Fortunately, Bank of America doesn’t usually have the most lucrative offers. So, if you are just starting out, you will most likely end up going with Chase, American Express, Citi or Barclays. All of those issuers let you cancel via secure message, at least the last time I checked.
With Amex, you’ll usually have to do an online chat with a rep, but it’s no big deal. Plus, sometimes they will end up offering you a perk to keep the card. As I’ve said many times, if you like a certain product but don’t want to pay a fee, always try to get a retention offer. You won’t know until you ask.
Generally, if I’m certain I’ll end up canceling the card later on, I avoid putting any recurring charges on it as to avoid future hassle. I also tend to do it at 10 month’ mark to give myself plenty of time to avoid the annual fee. Of course, sometimes there is an option to convert the card to a no-fee version.
My point with this post is not to encourage readers to do something they are not comfortable with. I think everyone needs to find the right balance when it comes to how often they sign up for credit cards. In general, my advice for busy families is to pick a few good long-term products and get 1 or 2 new bonuses per year IF they can easily manage it. The choice is yours.
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