I was recently successful at downgrading my Barclaycard Arrival+ World Mastercard to avoid paying the $89 annual fee. There are varying reports as to how Barclaycard customer service responds to cancellation requests for this card, but the consensus seems to be that Barclay is fairly stingy on waiving fees or offering additional bonus points. There are also many reports on Barclay customer service representatives being capricious and even downright punitive to cardholders they suspect of playing the credit card game. I don’t know how much stock I put in these reports however; internet complaints tend to originate with the angry few rather than the representative majority.
Still, I didn’t want to take any risks, so I when I called I went straight for the downgrade, and skipped asking for the fee to be waived. The customer service representative was happy to assist me and moved the process right along. My current points balance (which can never be 0 with this card) was retained, but I had to forfeit any points accumulated in the current billing cycle (none in my case). She also threw in a bonus 1000 points upon the first use of the new card.
Downgrading a card to the no fee version is a common tactic for avoiding annual fees on cards that waive the fee for the first year. This has several advantages over cancelling the card outright:
- You retain the credit limit extended to you by that account, maintaining your debt to credit ratio.
- Your length-of-credit portion of your credit score steadily increases, instead of suddenly decreasing.
- You end up with the no fee card and its perks, without requiring a credit check.
One disadvantage of downgrading a card is that you are usually no longer eligible for the sign-up bonus for the no fee version of that card. In the case of the Arrival, this means missing out on a 20,000 point sign-up bonus (the Arrival+ had a 40,000 point sign-up bonus). However, this 20,000 point promotion is so far down on my wish list that it would probably have never ended up being worth the credit pull anyway. Aside from the sign-up bonus, the points accumulation and redemption terms are the same for the Arrival and the Arrival+. The only other major difference is that the Arrival charges a foreign transaction fee, whereas the Arrival+ does not.
All in all, my interaction with Barclaycard for this downgrade was a positive one, and I was happy to be able to make it work for the reasons listed above. To find out more about the Arrival+ and Arrival, and their benefits, see my review of the card.