My alternate title for this post was – “How to Earn $380 an Hour!” but I thought it was just a little too cheesy/scammy! 🙂
As you know if you read any of my net worth updates, I have a few credit cards. Actually, I have three right now – 2 Citi AAdvantage cards and 1 Chase Marriott card (which I just got recently). I’m not going to turn this post, or this site, into a credit card review – but I want to talk to you about my LEAST favorite part about having credit cards – the annual fee!
Because I have two AAdvantage cards with Citi, they waive one of the fees automatically, so I only have to pay $95 a year, which isn’t horrible. BUT – that’s still $95 I would rather not pay just to have their credit card. I use these cards whenever possible, and just the fees that Citi collects from the merchants I use makes them hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year. On top of that, I’m an excellent customer. I always pay
on time early, I don’t call their 800 number and bug them, I just use my cards and pay them off at the end of each month.
Of course, if I just made minimum payments or didn’t pay off the full balance each month then Citi would probably like me a lot more. That way they could charge me an exorbitant amount of interest – currently 13.24% and 15.24% because I’m such a good customer!! Even though I pay off my credit cards each month, I still make Citi a lot of money, so I feel it is unfair to charge me a fee for the luxury of having their cards. This is especially true since Citi has put up their annual fee for the AAdvantage cards in the last few months. While I don’t remember exactly what it used to be, I think it was $50 or so a year. So when I looked at my October statement and saw a $95 “membership fee” I knew I needed to act!
I’ve heard anecdotal evidence recently – both online and from a couple of friends – that Citi has stopped waiving annual fees, so I was a little nervous about the process. To begin, I just called the customer service 800 number on the back of my credit card and was put through to “Kelsey” in Kentucky. I explained that while I was happy with my card, I didn’t want to pay the annual fee. She said that she couldn’t help me, but would put me through to their promotions department who should be able to take care of it. Somehow during the transfer to promotions I was hung up on…whoops!
I immediately called back and was connected to “Liz” in Maryland. I explained what I had talked to Kelsey about and said “I’d like to talk to someone about having my annual fee waived”. Well, Liz wasn’t as accomadating as Kelsey, since she shot back with – “you are aware that we aren’t waiving fees anymore, right?”. Obviously I wasn’t, as Kelsey had just informed me that it should be fine, so I replied with “well, in that case I’d like to talk to someone about closing my account then.” All she said to that was “ok” and transferred me over to “Jackie” – location unknown – but a “senior specialist”, who promised to take care of me.
Jackie apologized that I had been previously hung up on – explaining that their phone system had been malfunctioning – and proceeded to tell me how much Citi valued me as a customer. She explained that if I closed my account I would still have to pay an annual fee on the other AAdvantage card (it is currently waived because I have two cards). I told her that I loved the card, just not the fee. Jackie was very helpful and was able to offer me a great deal – as long as I make 5 purchases of any amount in the next three months Citi will give me a $95 statement credit – equal to the annual fee. Of course I accepted (I use this credit card to buy gas and at Sam’s Club – so 5 purchases will be easy) and I look forward to seeing my “congratulations promotional credit” applied to my account sometime in the new year!
The first call that ended in me being hung up on took about 5 minutes and the second took about 7 minutes or so. Adding in the time to dial/get the card out/etc the entire process probably took about 15 minutes and I will wind up with $95 for 15 minutes work – or about $380 an hour for my efforts!
Steps to Take
As you’re tracking all of your expenses very carefully you may run into a situation like this in the future. If you find yourself faced with an unexpected, false, or just a charge you don’t want to pay, follow these steps:
- Research the Charge – Do some online searching on Google/wherever and see if others have seen this charge and what they’ve done about it
- Be Prepared (to walk away) – Some charges might be small and insignificant and you’re ok paying them, but others could be deal breakers. If you run into one of these deal breakers, then prepare yourself BEFORE your call to cancel the account or take whatever action is necessary to avoid the charge in the future. You need to make up your mind on if this is a deal breaker BEFORE you talk to the company, because the people you talk to will be trained to keep you as a customer.
- Take Action – Once you’re armed with your research, call/email/chat/etc with the company about the charge and see if you can get it reduced, removed, or credited to your account
- Repeat – If you don’t get the result you’re looking for the first time, try again. Different customer service agents can have different interpretations, moods, etc so call back until you find someone willing to help. Also, start asking for a supervisor and they can usually be more accommodating of non-standard requests.
- Post Your Results – Come back here and let us know how you did!
On the surface, this $95 isn’t a big deal to me and my aspirations of financial independence. When you dig a little deeper you realize that $95 here, and $25 there really adds up! In finance we refer to these smaller amounts as “leakage” and if you can stop the leakage, you will have more money to put towards your goals. So what are you waiting for? Get going and I’ll see you soon!
Thanks for the pic - this is NOT an affiliate link, fyi!