My first credit card was with a famous bank I’ll call Big Fat Bank. I got it my senior year in college, I think. For years it was my primary card, but eventually Sugar Daddy and I acquired other cards that earned rewards and we started using those instead because…well, you know, there were rewards. Anyway, I had kept the BFB card all this time, mainly because we paid our auto insurance with it–BFB actually brokered the deal with the auto insurance nine years ago, and it was a very good deal, and so that was how we came to pay our auto insurance with the BFB card. I think SD also had his E-music membership on there for whatever reason, but those were the only things that had gone on the BFB card for years because we had these other cards with the rewards, see, and the only reward BFB got us was this cheap auto insurance, and that was nine years ago, but we were loyal because of it nevertheless.
Anyway, we got a letter in the mail a few weeks ago from BFB, saying that it was now going to charge us a $60 annual fee for the privilege of using our BFB credit card–which was fine because BFB was perfectly within its rights to charge us an annual fee to use its credit card. But since we have these other cards that don’t charge annual fees and also earn rewards and that we use to make the vast majority of our credit purchases anyway, we decided that we would just use those cards to pay for everything–including our auto insurance, since the insurance company doesn’t care how we pay for our auto insurance so long as we pay for it–and cancel the BFB card because why pay an annual fee for a card you hardly use and don’t need to use at all?
While I was on the phone with BFB to cancel the card, the customer service representative tried to get me not to cancel the card. “I see that you’ve been with us for fifteen years [sixteen, actually, but who’s counting?] and that you pay your bill in full and on time every month. Is there anything we can do to get you to stay?”
Now, I didn’t think this person was actually serious because it’s a very dumb question. I’ve been with them for fifteen (sixteen, actually) years and haven’t bothered canceling the card before because they weren’t charging me an annual fee. Now they’re charging me an annual fee and I tell them I’m canceling the card specifically because I don’t want to pay the annual fee, nothing personal, and they’re still wondering how they can get me to stay? But I played along and told them that I’d be happy to stay if they didn’t charge me an annual fee. Do you think they decided to waive the annual fee? No, I didn’t think you did because you’re smarter than that. And you were right.
No, they would not waive the annual fee–which, again, was fine with me. It’s no skin off my nose if BFB wants to charge an annual fee for the privilege of using its credit card. We’re free agents, BFB and I. They are free to charge an annual fee for their credit card or not charge one, and I am free to pay the annual fee or not use the credit card. BFB chose to charge an annual fee, and I chose not to use their credit card anymore. It’s nothing personal. I, for my part, completely understand why the bank would charge an annual fee. From what I understand, they’re not doing very well these days, and it’s not as though people like me–people who hardly use their cards and pay them off in full each month–are making BFB any money, so why shouldn’t they charge an annual fee? Why wouldn’t they? They’d almost be stupid not to.
On the other hand, I have other credit cards, cards that don’t charge an annual fee and also have other incentives for me to use them. I don’t carry a balance on the BFB card, so it is no trouble at all for me to quit using it. I would be stupid to pay an annual fee for the privilege of continuing to use a card that I hardly ever use in the first place and that doesn’t offer me any particular incentive to use it aside from an altruistic impulse to save the credit card company from going under. Not almost stupid, but actually stupid. I would have to be sentimental to the point of mental illness, and that, my friends, I am not. (Not when it comes to financial decisions, anyway. We can explore the issue in further detail another time.)
So BFB and I parted ways amicably, just before SD and I left for Japan a couple weeks ago. The customer service representative (who was perfectly lovely, I must say) told me that they hated to lose me as a customer, but I don’t think they hated it so much at all. “Hate” is such a strong word. If you really hated to lose someone, you wouldn’t charge them an annual fee to make them go away. But that’s neither here nor there.
A couple days ago I received a correspondence from BFB in the mail. I’ll give three guesses as to what it was, and the first two don’t count.
[Cue Jeopardy theme song…wait for it to finish…bum da dum, ba dum dum DUM]
If you guessed “an application for a new credit card with NO ANNUAL FEE!”, you are absolutely right!
I’ll give you three guesses as to what I did with it, and the first two don’t count.