How a Quick Phone Call Earned Me 12,000 Points

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We’re currently deciding where to go with our Citi points. One option: Stockholm!

Around this time last year, I talked about how we’d just started a new round of card churning with the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier cards.

It was a good combo – we earned 100,000 Citi ThankYou Points between the card bonuses, as well as a lot of extra perks from the Prestige card alone.  To date, we’ve received:

  • $500 in air travel credits ($250 reimbursement per calendar year)
  • a $90 statement credit for Global Entry
  • Admirals Club access for me while on a work trip ($30 value in the wine I drank alone)
  • Priority Pass lounge access for the hubby and I on our lackluster Sandals trip (an $80 value in food, drinks and internet).

So, despite the fact that we paid a $450 annual fee for the Prestige card, we essentially got $700 of value, before even taking into account the bonus points — in other words, we MADE $250 by getting this card. And by Citi’s own calculations, the bonus points we got between the two cards are worth somewhere between $1,000 – $1,600 in travel.

However, the Prestige card is up for renewal next month and the hefty fee did cause us to take pause; it didn’t seem worth it to keep it for another year. But since I’d set a reminder on my calendar to call in advance of the fee being assessed, I had a little bit of leverage.

So, I called Citi to see what could be done.  If I cancelled the card outright, I’d lose all the points I’d earned from the account within 60 days.  Since we’re not quite ready to book a trip with all these points, that wasn’t a good option.  I was hoping they would agree to waive the fee entirely, but it appears that wasn’t an option either.  However, I was able to negotiate an additional 4 points per dollar spent on restaurants for the next six months, up to a 50,000 point limit, if I agreed to keep the card.

Considering that we have several trips coming up these next few months, I think we could easily expect the additional bonus from this promotion to be worth 10,000 – 15,000 additional points (so between $100 – $240 in value).  When combined with the additional $250 in airline reimbursement we’ll get in 2017, and the ability to hit up a couple more lounges on trips through the next year, the card will once again pay for itself, and it buys us another year to figure out what to do with our points hoard.

Making that phone call isn’t specific to Citi, either. Whenever I open a new travel credit card, I immediately add on my calendar a reminder one-month before the card anniversary. Then, I can call and negotiate, or if necessary, cancel. It’s just a fundamental step of the travel hacking game that a lot of people forget.  But considering how productive it can be, it’s definitely worth it!

Header photo courtesy of Flickr user Olof Senestam under a creative commons license. 

Whitney