Like most banks, American Express makes it easy for you to apply for one of their credit cards. In most cases, this involves filling out a form with your personal and financial information and if you pass the algorithm, you get instant approval.
The same can’t be said for closing an American Express card or any credit card. Once you’re a customer, they want to keep you as one. When you go to cancel a card, that’s their last chance to make their case.
It’s possibly the end of a relationship. The customer has made up their mind that it’s over but the bank tries to keep things together. The bank says things will be different (a temporary bonus category) or gives a nice present (bonus points or waving the annual fee). If the price is right, maybe the customer stays.
However, to plead its case of why you shouldn’t cancel and to possibly give a retention offer, the bank needs to have a conversation with you. This used to require a phone call to speak to a representative and then possibly a retention specialist. American Express has also allowed, for a while now, for you to have these conversations by secure chat.
When logged into your account in a web browser, there’s a chat bubble in the bottom right corner.
If you’re using the AMEX mobile app, go to the Help tab, scroll to the bottom and select “Contact Us.”
I used this feature to contact American Express about closing my Green Business card. I had my mind set on closing the card as it served no purpose but if AMEX offered me a nice stack of Membership Rewards points for keeping it open, I’d consider the offer.
I clicked on the chat button and the automated system took over. I chose the option to cancel my card. I’ve read reports of people having their card canceled instantly when choosing this, but since there’s a legal disclaimer you need to agree to when closing a card, I took my chances.
My request was forwarded to a live agent in around 1 minute. They confirmed which account I was looking to close and asked me why. I said it wasn’t worth the $95 fee and I had other cards that were better. They also asked why I signed up for the card initially, which I thought was interesting. The rep then sent me the card’s benefits, which aren’t very good and said that I could earn more points if I used it more. For 1 MR per dollar spent, no thanks.
Then they did the same thing as last year when I called to close the card. They tried to sell me on getting the no-annual-fee Blue Business Plus. I said that I had considered it but not for right now.
Feeling that no retention offer was coming, I asked if there were any offers to keep the card and was told that there was nothing they could offer me at this time. I was asked if I wanted to continue to cancel and I said yes. I was sent the legal statement about closing the card, which I agreed to and the account was closed. The $95 credit for the annual fee should post in 2-3 days.
In all, the chat took about 20 minutes. Maybe the exchange took a bit longer than it would have on the phone, but I could get things done in another browser while I waited for the rep’s responses. FWIW, I’d much rather get things done via chat when possible and leave the phone calls to when it’s absolutely necessary.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary