[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. For current terms and conditions, please see card agreements. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
The first rule for most couples is to never fail to commemorate an anniversary. Credit card issuers seem to want to recognize the anniversary of when customers began their relationship with the issuer too. But rather than giving chocolates or sending flowers, banks are offering valuable points, miles and other rewards to their loyal customers. That’s nice of them, but like sending flowers, these bonuses are also meant to offset potential hurt feelings, as that’s the same time of year when customers are billed their annual fee.
So are these credit card anniversary bonuses worth more than the annual fee?
Cards That Offer Anniversary Bonuses
Hyatt Visa Signature Card from Chase. This card offers customers one free night stay at a category 1-4 hotel every year, but cardholders must also pay a $75 annual fee. Nevertheless, a free night at a category 4 hotel such as the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capital Hill or the Andaz West Hollywood can be worth $200-$300.
Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card from U.S. Bank. Club Carlson is the rewards program for Radisson hotels and several other brands. Its credit card offers 40,000 renewal bonus points each year, but there is also a $75 annual fee. Like the Hyatt card, these points can be redeemed for free one-night stays worth several hundred dollars.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles card from American Express. This card offers cardholders a domestic economy class companion certificate each year. When used, travelers pay the regular price for one ticket and can add a companion for merely the cost of taxes and government fees. Unfortunately, the certificate is only valid for travel within the 48 contiguous United States, although exceptions are made for residents of Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who begin their travel from home. The rest of us can forget about a free ticket to Hawaii. There is a $150 annual fee for this card, so the value of this benefit will exceed the cost of an additional ticket in nearly every case.
Can You Keep It if You Cancel?
Just as some people in relationships may initiate a breakup after accepting a gift, cardholders may wonder if they can wait until after they have received their anniversary bonus to cancel their card. Surprisingly, some card issuers actually permit customers to do this. For example, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card from Chase deposits bonus points into cardholders’ accounts when their first statement is issued after their card member anniversary. If cardholders then choose to cancel their accounts before paying the annual fee, the anniversary bonus is still retained. On the other hand, Delta only awards its companion certificate “upon renewal,” which means that it is only given once the annual fee is paid.
By understanding how credit card issuers retain their customers through anniversary bonuses, cardholders might discover that these rewards can be used to help celebrate their own special occasions.