Citi Churning Rules – Bad News

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Citi Churning Rules – Bad News

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Another one bites the dust.

Earlier this year, Chase began limiting card members in a rule that’s known as “5/24” (see Chase – The Other Shoe Drops’), followed by AMEX which hammered another nail in the coffin by limiting ALL of their credit card bonuses to once per lifetime.

Well, yesterday it was Citi’s turn. I was planning on waiting for more data points to come out, but I thought I’d quickly share this.

citi new restriction

Here’s what the box in red reads:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi®/AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

Let’s break that down and analyze it:

  • “American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles are not available if you have had any…” – This means, other than the Business version, you cannot get the bonus of any AAdvantage card type, if…
  • … You opened OR closed that card type in the past 24 months.

Example Scenario:

January 1, 2015: Open and approved for Citi AAdvantage Platinum World Elite Mastercard

January 1, 2016: Annual fee on the above card comes due, you close the card. You will be unable to open ANY Citi AAdvantage cards.

Some FAQ that have emerged over the past few hours:

  1. Does this apply to other Citi Cards? YES. This applies to Citi ThankYou, Citi Expedia, Citi AAdvantage and Citi Hilton products.
  2. What’s excluded? Costco Business and Citi AAdvantage Business cards.
  3. What should I do with my Citi cards that are currently open? KEEP THEM OPEN, or reset the 24 month clock from closing. Even if this means paying an annual fee. Try for retention; and if they don’t budge, keep trying. Keeping the card for another year is worth the ability to reopen the product.
  4. Which Citi cards should I get if I am able? That’s up to you, but I’d recommend getting the AAdvantage Platinum, or Executive (but not the Gold), Citi Hilton Reserve over the No Fee Citi Hilton; in terms of ThankYou products, only the Prestige has a bonus. Wait to apply for Premier, as the Premier has no annual fee for the first year, and only $89 after that
  5. I just opened a new Citi card – what should I do? That depends on your specific situation. If it’s your first of the co-brand, like a Citi Hilton Reserve, you could just keep it open, or get the bonus and close. But once you close, your 24 month clock resets. (I personally would keep the card as the annual fee is manageable and it comes with Hilton Gold status). The only product to consider closing after you get the bonus, if you just opened it, is the Citi Prestige.

There’s No Time Like the Present + Tracking

In this constant changing game of devaluations and churning, there really is no time like the present. Only last week I applied for the Citi Hilton Reserve for my wife (and was approved). I’m glad I did. We’re both pretty maxed out on our Citi products (they don’t have many), but I was looking forward to getting some more American Airlines Miles from the Citi Executive card.

A Word About Tracking

If you don’t have an Excel spreadsheet/Google sheet for your credit cards, open one NOW. Being able to go in, filter by bank (Citi in this case), I was able to see when I can reapply for my next Citi card.

Some Thoughts

We’ve seen this trend by the major banks to crack down on those of us who churn and chase sign-up bonuses.

American Express’s once-per-lifetime limitation is draconian and alienates all consumers, whereas Chase is in a position to limit the products they offer (because they have so many products and customers). Citi, on the other hand, has never had the strongest co-branded portfolio. This move is actually pretty smart.

Think about it: most consumers probably have 2-3 credit cards. Having multiple American Airlines credit cards from the same bank probably doesn’t make much sense to most people.

They’ve also, smartly, excluded business cards.

Don’t despair! Things change. It’s definitely a blow. But like we discussed when Chase and AMEX changed their rules, this requires further adaptation and planning.

As more data comes out on whether or not Citi is strictly enforcing this new rule, if there are any zombie links, or workarounds, I’ll be sure to post an update.

– The Miner


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