Well, IMO it definitely falls into a gray area, so I’m curious to see what readers think. I had a conversation with a fellow blogger few days ago, and wanted to share the gist of it. I won’t name names because I’m not writing this post as some sort of “calling out.” I really don’t want to embarrass anyone or put them on display.
Anyway, the conversation had to do with my post on Club Carlson credit card. I mentioned that it might be worth paying $75 to renew it so one can get 40,000 points out of the deal. My fellow colleague said that you can basically have your cake and eat it too by getting the renewal points and then immediately canceling the card. In fact, that’s what he/she did recently and the agent offered to refund $75 which, of course, he/she accepted.
The thing is, the annual fee is technically not considered a payment for the points. The points are simply a perk in exchange for renewing the card, just one of the benefits. Once they hit your loyalty account (in this case Club Carlson) and you redeem them, it would be very hard for bank to claw them back even if you cancel the card and get a refund of the fee.
Back to the blogger story. Nothing wrong or devious going on here and if I’m being honest, if the bank rep really wanted me to have the money back, I would have graciously accepted. Our whole hobby revolves around finding loopholes and taking advantage of banks’ generosity. No need to pretend, I am a bit of a parasite.
Still, I like to think of myself as a parasite with principles. Don’t get me wrong, I have done things that smelled a little bit rotten. But one thing I don’t do is call the bank after receiving my renewal perk and ask for an annual fee refund. I don’t know, it just feels wrong.
Let me draw a real-life parallel. Say you are single and this guy asks you out. You don’t really like him that much romantically, but he is very nice. One day he makes an offer to take you to this fancy restaurant. He says there is no obligation, he just wants you to get to know him better. In fact, if you only want the free meal, that’s fine with him. Well, the truth is, you only want the free meal, but he just keeps on asking.
Ok, you go, get a fancy dinner and even though the guy is nice, it’s clear there is no potential for a long-term relationship. So, when he asks you if you would be interested in dating, the answer is No. But, he is a friend, so you offer to meet him once a year at the same restaurant (when there is a special deal going on) and split the check. You like the food, you want to be on good terms with the guy, so it’s a win-win. It’s kind of like that with getting a sign-up bonus and then renewing the card while paying an annual fee.
To me, getting a refund on the fee after collecting the points equates to agreeing to a second date, letting the guy pay the bill, and then dumping him right afterwards. Is it wrong? Well, no. Is it a little tacky? I think so. Speaking of, have you seen Weird Al parody of the song “Happy,” called “Tacky” ? LOL
That said, maybe I’m just overthinking this whole thing. Obviously, banks are not single, desperate guys who are looking for love. They are for-profit institutions. As long as you play by the rules, who is to say what’s tacky and what’s not?
So, readers, what is your opinion? Are you tacky and proud of it? Don’t hold back, no judgement from me.
P.S. See this post on Doctor of Credit for annual fee refund rules for each card issuer.
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