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How long can you wait to get an annual fee waived?

by on Wed December 31, 2014 • 7 Comments


The new year is a good time to take stock of what’s in your wallet.

Your travel goals are reset, new cards have emerged like the Amex Everyday and Everyday Preferred, and benefits from others like the Citi Prestige® have changed.

So you might be thinking whether one of the cards you have now is worth keeping once the annual fee comes due.

While getting an annual fee waived when you cancel a card after the fee hits your statement is completely at the discretion of the bank, we did contact each of the major banks that handles travel rewards cards, and got a sense for current exception practices.

You might find these useful as you plan your strategy for 2015.

Here’s the rundown:

  • American Express – Can be waived for up to 1 billing period after the fee is assessed, and prorated on an 11 month basis after.
  • Bank of America – No set policy, though generally if you pay your balance off and close an account a fee waiver could be considered
  • Barclaycard – 60 days after the fee hits.
  • Chase – Many cards give you 60 days after the annual fee hits your account, which is often on the 1st of the month. There are some exceptions. United co-branded cards for example have a generous 180 days during which you can get the fee waived if you change products or cancel.
  • Citibank – 30 days after the statement with the fee is generated. After that it can be prorated based on what month you make your decision.
  • US Bank – 30 days after the charge is assessed.

And you might find if you try to cancel a card the bank may offer you a special incentive to stick around and keep your account open, like extra points, or a reduction of fees.

So it’s always worth calling up and asking what’s available if you’re on the fence about keeping a card in your wallet for another year.

Again, the above guidelines are always subject to change without any announcement as they aren’t formal parts of the cardmember agreements.

And your own experience may vary, as these kinds of things are case by case.

As for any points or miles you have earned during the year, with bank points such as American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards you have to keep at least one card that earns those points open in order to keep what’s in your account. An alternative is to transfer the points out to a transfer partner program before you close your account.

For traditional airline and hotel points with co-branded cards, the points in your account are yours regardless of whether you hold a card or not.


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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived


Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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7 thoughts on How long can you wait to get an annual fee waived?


      @Boon – We have too. But checked multiple times and 60 days was the answer we got, specifically asking about Arrival Plus and US Airways. For what it’s worth each time we were routed to the offshore call center – and of course these things can be case by case.

      Note that we were asking about a situation in which you plan to outright cancel the card, not a product change or retention request.

  1. PedroNY

    Great post, thank you for putting it together. From experience, Chase Ink cards are 180 days as well.



  2. Wade

    if you have already paid the annual fee and have a zero balance at the time of closing the card, how do they refund the annual fee? Thanks!


      @Wade – Generally there is some balance in the month you decide to cancel, but a ‘credit’ (or negative balance) is possible. It varies by bank, but they can cut a check to handle a negative balance on a closed account.


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