How Not To Feel Marginalized As An Existing Cardmember
Artem Varnitsin/ EyeEm/ Getty Images It’s standard procedure for credit card companies to offer incentives…
Artem Varnitsin/ EyeEm/ Getty Images
It’s standard procedure for credit card companies to offer incentives to sign up, whether it be through large welcome bonuses, 0 percent introductory periods and other methods. But as an existing cardmember, it’s easy to feel left in the cold, with seemingly fewer opportunities that match the value of the sign-up perks.
While it may not seem like it at first glance, many of the best credit cards continue to offer numerous perks for current cardholders. Let’s look at some of the credit card benefits you may qualify for with rewards credit cards you already own.
Keep an eye out for 0% APR offers for existing cardholders
It pays to open promotional emails from your credit card company, which often extend surprisingly generous offers, like a 0 percent intro APR for long-time cardholders. You can also contact your card issuer or look for special offers in your online account.
While credit card companies don’t exactly have a formal process for getting a zero-interest offer, the following tips may improve your odds of obtaining an interest-free period:
- Pay off your balance. Once you’re a cardholder, your card issuer’s primary motivation is to get you to actively use your card for purchases. If you pay your balance off, the credit card company loses out on potential earnings. As such, you may have a better chance of getting a 0 percent intro APR offer if you pay most or all of your balance before asking for a zero-interest offer.
- Request a retention offer. If all else fails, contact customer service and voice your desire to close your account. A retention agent may extend a zero-interest period to motivate you to remain a cardholder. Of course, your issuer could grant your request to close your account without compromise, so you shouldn’t try this strategy unless you’re genuinely ready to close your account.
Look for card-linked offers
Card-linked offers allow you to earn merchant discounts or cash back rewards when you make a purchase with your card at participating businesses. Generally, you’ll receive a discount at the register or a rebate as a statement credit or cash back.
Many card issuers offer card-linked deals to increase customer loyalty, and the data backs up their strategy. A study from financial technology platform Wildfire Systems Inc. reveals that 82 percent of higher-income households value rewards, and 85 percent of Gen Z and millennial consumers say the opportunity for rewards influences their shopping decisions.
Chances are, your credit card already comes with an offer program outside of the card’s ongoing rewards rate. A few of the most well-known offer programs are BankAmeriDeals, Amex Offers and Chase Offers. With these platforms, you must activate each promotion by viewing all the special promotions on your bank’s website or app and linking the offers you want to your credit card. You’ll receive a statement credit or cash back once you complete a qualifying purchase.
Maximize monthly or annual statement credits
Annual statement credits are another perk you can enjoy long after you open a credit card, and most of the biggest players in the credit card space offer them.
A credit card statement credit is money you receive from a credit card company or a merchant, and the refund appears on your account statement as a credit. Remember that while a statement credit lowers your account balance, it doesn’t apply to your minimum payment. Credit card companies require you to make at least the minimum payment on your card balance every month.
While most card issuers offer annual or cardmember anniversary statement credits, some provide smaller credits on a monthly basis. For example, American Express awards American Express® Gold Card members with a $10 monthly dining statement credit you can use with select merchants, including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory and Wine.com (up to $120 annually). But you won’t receive the credit automatically. To take advantage of the credit, you must activate it online or call the number on the back of your credit card.
Refer to your card’s benefits guide to see which statement credits you can enjoy. Here are a few annual statement credits offered by major credit card companies:
Look for annual spending bonuses
Many travel rewards cards encourage your loyalty and reward you by offering annual spending bonuses that rival the card’s initial sign-up bonus. Some cards also offer upgrades to elite status by meeting specific spending thresholds.
Typically, these rewards come in the following forms:
- Airline bonus miles. Many airlines offer annual miles bonuses to reward your spending. For example, a variety of Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards reward you with 1,500 Tier qualifying points (TQPs) for every $10,000 you spend on an eligible Southwest card per year, without limits.
- Hotel elite status boosts. If traveling comfortably is the name of your game, you’re probably keen on achieving certain elite statuses to boost your hotel benefits. For example, various Marriott Bonvoy credit cards offer 15 to 25 Elite Night Credits each calendar year, meaning you can work your way up to different elite statuses within the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Free hotel nights. If you have a hotel credit card, it’s worth checking your benefits guide or contacting a customer service representative to find out the requirements for a free stay. Many hotel cards offer at least one free hotel night annually when you meet a particular spending benchmark on your card. In the case of Marriott cards, you can score an annual Free Night Award with cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card*.
The bottom line
The initial credit card sign-up bonus and perks you receive when you’re approved for a credit card can be substantial, but the fun doesn’t have to end there. By taking advantage of interest-free periods for existing customers, card-linked offers, statement credits and annual bonuses, you can continue to reap rewards long after you sign up.
To find out which benefits are available to you as a long-time customer, check out your card’s benefits guide or contact your credit card issuer — and don’t forget to open messages from your card issuer that appear in your inbox. Many of these messages include time-sensitive offers that deliver substantial rewards with reasonable requirements.
*The information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.