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With just about every credit card issuer, you have at least 30 days from the day your annual fee posts to call and close the card with a full refund. Capital One will do this, although they won’t allow a product change after the annual fee posts without keeping that fee (something to be aware of).

But in all cases, if your annual fee posts and you don’t want the card anymore, you can get your annual fee back if you close/cancel the card.

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Make that “almost all cases” – because it turns out that Bank of America takes some liberties here and that refund is at their discretion.

I only learned this via my wife’s debacle cancelling her Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa.

Last year, she asked if they could waive the annual fee and they did.

This year, she asked again and was told no waiver was available, so she said she’d like to close the card and get the annual fee refunded. This was less than 2 weeks from the date the annual fee posted.

The agent told her that she would definitely get the annual fee credited back and not to worry and they ended the call.

A week later she saw the annual fee was still there and the payment due date was approaching, so she called back.

This time, the rep looked at her account and said that because she received a waiver last year, she wasn’t eligible for a refund on this year’s annual fee.

Of course, she protested. a) this wasn’t a “waiver” – the card was already closed and b) the representative told her in plain English that the fee would be refunded.

Overhearing the conversation, I nudged her to ask for a supervisor which she did.

Unbelievably, the supervisor parroted the same line – that because the fee was waived last year, having the card even one day after the annual fee posted this year meant there was no hope of a refund. We asked that supervisor to listed to the first call when she cancelled it. He pretended to and came back to say that the rep never said that – a blatant lie. He then offered to snail mail us a copy of their Terms and Conditions. Umm, no thanks.

I said “Let’s just hang up and we’ll call back tomorrow”

So she did and got a very nice rep that said that indeed the annual fee should have been refunded and she’ll take care of it.

A few days later, with the fee due in 3 days, she called in again and the agent said it was in progress, that she should cancel the autopay, not pay the annual fee and not to worry about it.

Sure enough, the statement closed with the annual fee still there plus interest.

So we called again and the rep said that there was a note that the request for the annual fee refund was denied. Yes, denied. Like, how is that even a thing? The card was closed two weeks after the fee posted and the representative promised the refund.

Note that she was never late with a payment or anything while having the card. All on-time payments via auto pay (and frankly not much use of the card).

We again asked for a supervisor who said the previous agents were incorrect and the fee could not be refunded. Finders, keepers!

I advised that we would truly like to avoid a CFPB complaint but given that all their calls are recorded and BofA representatives speak for the company, that was where we were headed. So we asked for HER supervisor.

She advised her supervisor would call us back within a few days.

In the end, that same supervisor called back and quite politely stated that she’d listened to the previous recordings and would refund the annual fee and the interest.

Assuming that actually happens, the problem is solved, but I wanted to write this as a caution to all of you, since so many of us open Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa cards (given that they are nearly the only way to earn Alaska miles).

Mark your calendar for a few days before that annual fee hits and if you aren’t going to keep the card, let them know you won’t be renewing. Generally I always advise keeping a card a full 365 days, but if they are playing these kinds of games, you need to protect yourself.

Bottom Line:

If I thought this was one rogue agent going off script, I wouldn’t have written this. That three reps and two supervisors all repeated the same line about the refund being denied because she had an annual fee waiver the previous year and that, once an annual fee posts, a refund is “at their discretion” was a bit too much of a coincidence to think this isn’t happening to others and if I can save even one MilesTalker the hours we spend on this, then this post was worth it.

Thoughts?

Let me know below in the comments, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at the South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

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