I recently called to cancel an old American Express card that I’ve had for many years. I cut the card up in earlier this year, and had stopped using the account several years ago. It was time for the card to be gone for good.
When I called to cancel I was promptly transferred to the “cancellation department” where I was given the hard sell. I was told why I should keep the card, and asked why I would want to get rid of the card when there were SO MANY benefits, all with no fee?
The Hard Sell
Here are some of the tactics the customer service rep on the other end of the phone line used to try and get me to stay.
- You’ve been with us for 8 years, why would you want to cancel?: They made an emotional appeal to me reminding me that I’d been a loyal customer for 8 years, and why would I want to cancel a card I’ve had for that long? It’ll hurt your credit! (I don’t care) Stick with a company you know!
- You know there’s no annual fee attached to this card. It won’t hurt you to keep it!: They asked me why I would want to cancel this card when there was no annual fee? just keep the card, you’ll find a use for it soon! (that’s what I’m afraid of!)
- Did you know there are a ton of benefits to having this card?: They asked me if I realized all the benefits that this card had. Free rental car insurance, replacement value on stolen items, travel insurance etc. After they rattled off the long list of benefits, I told them that I knew about those things, but I still wanted to cancel. A lot of those benefits are duplicated through other insurance I already hold anyway.
- How about if we lower your rate, or do a 0% balance transfer?: They then made their final ditch effort to get me to stay. They offered to lower my interest rate, or do a balance transfer at 0% for another card. I told them that I’m not using credit anymore, and that i just wanted to cancel the card. Having exhausted her script, the rep finally agreed to cancel the card.
Don’t Give In – Cancel The Account!
Don’t give in to the appeals to keep a credit card that you don’t need. Remember these things about credit cards:
- You will probably spend 12-18% more when you use a credit card instead of cash because spending cash hurts more.
- Depending upon credit means you’re always dependent upon the credit card companies and their whims. Remember, as the bible says, “The borrower is the slave to the lender”.
- You’ll probably be paying a ton of interest and late fees. Most people intend to pay off their credit card bills every month, but can’t because life comes knocking. This means they are paying interest, and late fees if they send the payments in late. Instead of depending upon credit, set up a fully funded emergency fund for when those unexpected bills com knocking.
- Having a card means you’re more at risk for identity theft and fraud. If you have no card, you automatically lower your risk!
If you have an account that still carries a balance, wait to call and cancel the card until you have it paid off. I’ve read that credit card companies will actually raise people’s rates if they cancel before it is paid off. Instead, cut up the credit card, pay it off as fast as possible, and then call to cancel as soon as it is paid off.
Have you ever called to cancel a credit card and gotten the hard sell? What were the reasons your representative gave you that you should stay? Did you still end up canceling the card?
Stay strong! Last time I canceled a card, they offered a lower interest rate — for six months. But after that, it would back up.
If your card company is raising rates, it is possible to “freeze” the account at the current rate until it is paid off. Then you cancel. But you won’t be able to access the credit line. Which may not be a bad thing.
Of course they want to keep you. They hope you carry a balance so they can collect interest from you! One thing to be careful of though is to keep your oldest card for credit score purposes. Also don’t cancel a card before a major purchase like a house or a car as it will affect your credit score.
It’s good to cancel cards that you’re not using, but never cancel your oldest card. When you do, you lose the credit history associated with that card, reducing your credit score (we can argue the importance of your credit score elsewhere).
I still keep one of my first cards active, just for the history.
Since we’re paying cash for most everything nowadays, (we just paid cash for our last car), and we’re already in a house we plan on staying in for years to come, we don’t really have a big need for a “good credit score”.
For emergencies instead of using a credit card like most people, we have 3-6 months of expenses saved up – which should cover most contingencies.
Yeah, I canceled my AMEX card last year and it was kinda fun. The guy wanted to know why, and I told him I wasn’t using credit anymore. At all.
He prodded some more, and told me I could transfer my balances (I countered with, “I have no credit card balances”).
He then said that I should keep the card for “emergencies.” I told him that I had a 6-month cash emergency fund.
One final plea, and finally I said, “Look, I know I could keep my card open. But this is my way of stickin’ it to the man.”
He couldn’t argue with that! LOlolol.
My Journey says
Why cancel it? I understand you aren’t using the card, but what harm is the REAL harm in leaving it open? Put the card in a draw and just let it sit.
The card is no longer there, and no longer a temptation to use. I’m trying to live without credit, and just having the card there means that at times you’ll be tempted to use it for that big screen tv, or that trip to Europe. No card? No temptation.
Funny about Money says
Amazing story! I’ve never been high-pressured to that extent when canceling. Even more amazing is Kacie’s report: “The guy wanted to know why, and I told him I wasn’t using credit anymore.”
What nerve! Does anybody ever tell people who ask questions like that “it’s none of your business”? Or the more polite version: “Why do you want to know”?
Andy @ Retire at 40 says
This story sounds familiar and oh so tiring. I just wish companies would listen when you want to do something like cancel a card.
Ha ha, ya have to laugh at credit card companies. They come up with all the lies about why you *need* their credit card. Well, here in little old New Zealand, cancelling a credit card does NOT affect your credit rating. If the credit card company cancels the card it most certainly does.
Phoned up to cancel once and got the spiel. Told the woman that I wanted to cancel. Why? she asked. None of your business I said. She started in on all the reasons why I should keep it and I just said Stop! I want to cancel. If you don’t cancel it right now I will lay a formal complaint with the Commerce Commission. This call has been recorded right from the start. Started screaming that it was illegal to record without the other persons knowledge, that it was underhand yadda yadda yadda. I told her again to STOP!!! I told her, it is NOT illegal for me to record a phone conversation without informing her. Underhand? Why? If you are honest and doing what is right and ethical you don’t have a problem. 2 seconds later she said I’ve just cancelled the card, but you’ll regret it. I said fine, now note that the account was closed at the customers request. And make sure I get written confirmation… She did, and I checked the credit score company to see if any adverse comments on my file. None. Pays to be persisitent eh?
yes they do these things really you are true as when I also call for cancellation of card that was the first question which they ask to me which you also mentioned is that ( Did you know there are a ton of benefits to having this card?: ) but I directly say, yes, I know but I don’t need it anymore so please just cancel it as soon as possible…. :) and they do this…