[Disclosure: I do not earn any compensation from the links on this article]
Beginning on/around Sunday, August 28, Citi bank’s new rules regarding churning their credit card products will go into place. This may be that Sunday is the last day under the old rules, or the first day of the new rules. Either way, I’d apply now (especially since you’ve probably applied for the Sapphire Reserve already).
Their new cards state that the card member bonus:
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.
Keeping this in mind with their other rules – only one of any Citi product within 8 days – let’s assume this is the last card you’re going to get from Citi per family for the next two years, you want to be strategic and apply for the card that will give you the best short- and long-term returns.
Let’s break this down by family of card.
Citi AAdvantage Gold – 25,000 AAdvantage miles
This is the standard offer, which sometimes goes up to 30,000, for $750 spending in three months. There are no Priority or Group 1 benefits, so unless you’ve gotten all other Citi cards, I’d skip this.
Annual fee is waived for the first year.
TIP: After being approved for this card, send a secure message to Citi asking them to match you to the higher offer of 30,000 AAdvantage miles.
Citi AAdvantage Platinum – 50,000 AAdvantage miles
This is the Citi AAdvantage workhorse (but thankfully Barclays is coming out with new AA-earning cards soon!) and I’ll be sad to not be able to churn it for the next two years. It comes with free checked bags on domestic travel for you and several companions and Group 1 or Priority boarding.
The annual fee is waived for the first year.
Citi AAdvantage Executive – 60,000 AAdvantage miles
This is Citi’s AAdvantage premium card with a $450 annual fee. There are of course the Priority and Group 1 boarding/security and free checked bag benefits, but where it outclasses all other Citi cards is that it provides Admiral’s Club membership. Membership. Not access. Membership. This means that you, and your authorized users can enter the Admiral’s Club anytime you’re near one. You don’t need to be flying on American – which is what the Prestige requires.
American Airlines Admiral’s Club – Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
There are other benefits for those seeking status – but let’s skip that for now.
The sign-up requires $5,000 in spending over three months. Though that’s doable, it’s a bit more than the standard $3,000 AND the bonus is only 10,000 AAdvantage miles more than your workhorse Platinum version.
Citi AAdvantage Business
This product is currently exempt from the new rules. Though, there’s no time like the present because who knows when Citi could change that? Either way, you could always get your last Citi product before August 28th and then this product sometime after.
Sign-up, annual fee and benefits mirror that of the Platinum product. The one exception is the earning structure.
(My) Winner: You probably already have the regular Citi AAdvantage Platinum, so I’d go for the Citi Executive AA – the annual fee isn’t worth it, so chuck it after the sign-up bonus is earned. Of course, if you don’t have the Platinum, get that – it’s also easier to swallow that annual fee after the first year.
There are two Hilton products provided through Citi.
Citi Hilton Reserve – Two Free Weekend Nights & $100 Statement Credit when used at a Hilton property
This is the superior of the two cards, offering Hilton Gold status (very similar to their top-tier Diamond status) as long as you hold the card and the most lucrative part is the sign-up bonus.
You’ll earn two weekend nights (Friday, Saturday or Sunday night) after spending $2,500 in four months of opening the card. These nights can be used at any Hilton that has availability. Some great properties include the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem and the Conrad Tokyo – amongst many, many others.
The only downside is that these nights expire one year after earning them. So if you have no use for them (or don’t anticipate having a use for them), you may want to skip this card. After all, let your travel wishes drive which points/miles/certificates you earn, not the other way around.
This card offer also comes with $100 statement credit after a purchase at any Hilton of $100 or more. So that purchase can’t be less, but if it’s $105, you’ll get a statement credit of $100 – and yes, there are rooms that are nice and cheap for not much more than $100.
Use your two Citi Hilton Reserve nights to stay the weekend at the Conrad Maldives Overwater Bungalow – Image Courtesy of Hilton
Finally, after spending $10,000 within a cardmember year (so 12 months from opening), this card earns you a free weekend night at any Hilton. I think with Citi’s new rules, this card is a keeper, at least for me.
Citi Hilton No Fee Visa – 75,000 Hilton HHonors.
For a limited time, this card is offering 75,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 in three months. There is no annual fee. The status provided is the lowest level at Hilton: Silver.
While the Reserve seemingly blows this card out of the water, your Hilton points take longer to expire (and making a purchase on this card would extend them). So if you have no use, you’re probably better off with this product.
(My) Winner: Citi Hilton Reserve for its sign-up, status and yearly benefit.
ThankYou Preferred – 10,000 ThankYou Points
If this is the last Citi ThankYou card you can get from that family (and no other Citi cards at the moment), then go for it. Otherwise, if you haven’t had any other Citi cards, I’d hold off for a more lucrative offer.
ThankYou Premier – No bonus at the moment
Citi pulled the bonus from the product several months back and we have yet to see it reappear. For a mid-level card (similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Premier Rewards Gold), it offers no-fee the first year – then $95 – but a solid earning structure and a decent sign up bonus at the time: 50,000 or 40,000 ThankYou points.
ThankYou Prestige – 40,000 ThankYou Points
This is the only ThankYou product with a sign-up bonus. So, if you have no ThankYou products, you’re probably better waiting it out to see if this goes back up to 50,000 or the Premier comes out at 40/50,000. If, however, you already have opened a Premier or Preferred, I’d go for this product.
Right now the annual fee is somewhat worth it, but once it loses Admiral’s Club access and a lower redemption on cash American Airlines tickets, I’d seriously consider cancelling this card… Except it would reset your Citi clock to 24 months for any other ThankYou products. That’s not worth it.
(My) Winner: If you have no ThankYou cards, it doesn’t matter now – wait for the premier and then decide; otherwise, if you’ve gotten other ThankYou family products, go for the Prestige.
Could be interesting once you run out of other cards, but this is a lackluster product with not much to offer. Review coming soon…? #DesperateTimes
Scenario 1: You have not had any Citi cards – Wait for the best offers, but it will be two years from opening or closing any of the above products.
Scenario 2: You have one Citi per product family (Premier and AAdvantage Platinum, for example) – you will be ineligible from receiving the bonus on the Gold/Executive or Preferred/Prestige for two years – go for one of the other one’s before Sunday.
Scenario 3: You have/had every Citi card recently and are ineligible for the bonuses. Keep those cards open, otherwise you’ll have to reset the 24 month clock for each family once a particular product is closed. If you’re opening or recently opened a premium card (Executive or Prestige) – try to keep it open, or close right after you earn the bonus to keep the 24 month ineligibility window short.
Between now and Sunday (or Saturday), you’ll only be able to get one Citi product of a certain family for two years. Make the strategic choice and don’t listen to others – just yourself!
If the hardest part to swallow is the annual fee – work out the math – does it make sense to keep the product open for another year? Or is the product just good for the sign-up bonus?
Citi’s rules have gotten more complicated. Hit the comments if you have any questions about Citi churning policy or procedures
[Disclosure: I do not earn any compensation from the links on this article]