Once you’ve been getting credit cards for different sign-up bonuses and benefits for long enough, eventually one of the cards you have will be discontinued. One day the bank will stop accepting new applications for the card, and you’re in credit card limbo. Most of the time, banks will allow you to keep the cards open and continue to offer the same benefits as before. This can be for months, years, or even decades after the card is initially ended.
The most common reason a card is discontinued is that the bank is refreshing a product and decides to relaunch the card with a new name and new benefits. However, there are sometimes where a bank just decides that the card is no longer a good fit for their portfolio. Another reason is contractual, such as when AMEX lost the Costco contract or when Citi’s Hilton agreement ended. In these instances, you’re not able to keep the old product and will either be offered a different card from the old bank or the equivalent card from the new bank.
Back to discontinued, yet still active, cards. Should you keep them? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
I have a collection of cards in my drawer no longer available for new signups. They’re not ones I use all the time, or hardly at all, but I have reasons why I haven’t canceled them yet.
IHG Rewards Club Select
Oh, the IHG Rewards Club Select. I think I’m going to keep this card as long as Chase will let me. I’ve already given a full review of the card, but as a reminder, for the card’s $49 annual fee you get several benefits including automatic Platinum status, 10% rebate on award stays and a free night certificate (now good at hotels costing up to and including 40,000 points per night).
I could upgrade to the IHG Rewards Club Preferred card, but that card has an $89 annual fee and provides a fourth night free on award stays and the same free night certificate. Instead, I applied for that card and now have both since the benefits stack (Book a four-night award stay, get the 4th night free and 10% rebate).
American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card
This is all that remains of the SPG Amex. While it’s taking up an AMEX space in my wallet, there are several reasons I’m keeping this card. For the $95 annual fee, I get a free night certificate to use at any Marriott Bonvoy property costing up to 35,000 points, This can come in handy when you need a single night stay at a hotel which otherwise would cost over $200. For 2021, this card is also offering a $10 monthly dining credit, which I use to replenish my Starbucks account.
In addition, having a personal Marriott co-brand card provides 15 nights credit towards status. This helped us keep Marriott Platinum status through 2022.
We also have a personal Marriott card from Chase and if we’re going to get rid of one card, that’s the one we’re ditching.
Barclays American Airlines Aviator Red Card
I know the Barclays Aviator Red card isn’t “technically” a discontinued card since you can still apply for it. However, the version I have isn’t one you can reapply for today.
This card was originally the US Airways Mastercard. When American merged with US Airways, the card was rebranded as the Aviator Red.
The unique thing about this card for me is that when I signed up for it, I managed to get in for an offer that provided 10,000 miles on each card anniversary. So I’m paying $95 for 10,000 points every year. The card still provides benefits like the first checked bag for free. We have plenty of American points and no use to redeem them, but we also fly American a bit (even if they don’t let us bring our rollaboard bag without a fight, more than once), so the free bag perk comes in handy. I’ve also called several years for a retention offer and Barclays waived the annual fee (and still paid the 10,000 miles).
Alas, American did away with the 10,000-mile bonus. Without that extra perk, there’s not a great reason to keep this card anymore. I do have an upcoming American flight where we’ll be checking bags so we’ll break even or more not having to pay the baggage fee.
American Express Optima Platinum Card
See that Member since 1992? That’s the main reason I keep this card. For those who remember, the Optima card was American Express’s first dabble into the credit card market, as they previously only issued charge cards (to learn the difference, check out this article). Since I had a Green Amex card, they offered this card to me.
It does earn membership rewards points at one point per dollar spent. For a while, it was worthwhile to keep because I was able to sign up for AMEX offers with this card (until AMEX shut down adding offers to multiple cards). It occasionally will get offers targeted to this card that I don’t see on my AMEX co-brand cards, so it does have some value. For now, the only other reasons I keep it are because the long account history helps my credit rating, and I’m also able to transfer some of my credit lines to this card if I’m looking to cancel one of my other AMEX cards. Eventually, it will go away, but for now, I keep it for sentimental reasons.
Four examples and four different reasons to keep a discontinued credit card. You could categorize the reasons as follows:
- Benefits not provided by the replacement card
- The negative impact of applying for a new card
- Length of account history (negative credit score impact if closed)
- Sentimental reasons (not really a good reason to keep a card)
Just like all my other cards, I still review these cards once a year to see if they still fit into my card portfolio. I have no reason to cancel the no-annual-fee card, but the IHG, Marriott and Aviator cards need to earn their keep, or they’ll end up meeting the shredder.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary