Can you get a refund on an annual fee after it has posted to your account?

Last year I was convinced to get the Chase / United Mileage Plus Club Card, a card with loads of benefits and a whopping $395 annual fee (now up to $450). At the time, if you walked into a Chase bank to request the card, the annual fee was waived for the first year so I thought, “Why not?” I received a new, metal-backed card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred) that came with 1.5 miles/$1 spent on any purchase – a big benefit in a world where not everything is within a bonus category. For a full year I used the card to pay my rent (yes, a huge windfall for us) and earned thousands of United miles every month. But, when it came time to pay the annual fee, I called to get more information because it was not worth that much money for me to keep the card.

First, before canceling a card you should consider downgrading it to a lower tier (if it exists) so that your credit history retains the length of the account. Barring that, ask the company to transfer your credit to another card within their system and then cancel the card. I had $18,000 of credit on this card so I transferred all but $500 to another one before I cut it short.

Now, in the case of Chase / United cards, you can cancel the card within 60 days of the annual fee posting and still get a full refund of the annual fee. Doctor of Credit has a wonderful summary of all the bank’s rules. So, 14 months after I got the card, I made sure there were no new charges on the account and canceled it. About a month later I received a check in the mail from Chase for $395 that I deposited back into my bank account.

Be wary: some banks only return a portion of the fee; others have restrictive rules. Make sure you know what the rules are for a card you are applying for before you apply for it. Good luck!

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