What Recent Negative Citi Changes Mean to You and Your Family

I’ve briefly mentioned this new development on Friday, but it’s a pretty big deal, so I decided to devote a separate post. So, what’s the fuss all about? Well,  Citi has decided to limit sign-up bonuses to one offer/per 24 months/ per “family” of cards.

But apparently,  there is a short window of opportunity. Chuck from Doctorofcredit has reached out to Citi and their media rep has said that these new changes will go into effect on August 28th. I trust Chuck and can’t imagine that Citi would intentionally lie about something like this. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to confirm it via secure message before applying (save the screenshot).

  What’s changing and why should you care?

The old  language had a restriction in place where you would only get the sign-up bonus if your previous card ( the same kind) was closed for 24 months or longer. Reportedly, conversions to a different product also count, but I’ve seen mixed data on this one.

The new language indicates that you will not get the bonus if you have (or had) the card in the same “family” within the last 24 months. Here is an example:


It’s important to note that business cards don’t count as they are considered a separate product, at least for now. Keep in mind, you can only apply for one Citi card every 8 days. So, at least in theory, you can help yourself to two more Citi cards before the deadline. Of course, most regular folks won’t be doing that, so you’ll have to choose just one.

Obviously, this new rule is more restrictive than it was before. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you opened Citi Thank You Premier Visa in December of 2015, right before Citi pulled the bonus. You got the points and recently closed or downgraded  the card. You never got around  applying for Citi Prestige.

If you wait till August 28th, you won’t be able to get a sign-up bonus on Citi Prestige for close to 24 months. Makes sense?


There are only three Citi “families” you should care about

1) Thank You points earning cards

Those are:

Citi Prestige card (The best available offer pays me commission. If you apply in-branch, you might be able to get the offer with $350 annual fee.)

Main details of the offer:

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay at hotels booked through Citi Prestige® Concierge
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • The annual fee of $450 is not waived, but you can make up for it with calendar year $250 credit.

Citi Thank You Premier card

Currently doesn’t offer any sign-up bonus, so we don’t care about any other details. Pass.

Citi Thank You Preferred 

The bonus is only 2,500 points on certain flavors of the card, so once again, we don’t need more details. Pass.

The strategy:

If you had Citi Thank You Premier or Citi Thank You Preferred card within the last 2 years, I strongly recommend you consider applying for Citi Prestige before August 28th. Yes, it stinks to settle for 40,000 points instead of 50,000. Still, it sure beats not getting anything at all. And who knows, Citi Prestige may not be around in 2 years, by the time you are finally eligible for the bonus.

Of course, the choice is yours because for many, the annual fee and $4,000 spending requirement are deal breakers. I recommend you read my post on Citi Prestige as most of the information still applies. Per Citi media rep, if you apply before the end of August, you will still get all the old benefits of the card, even though they are not listed on the landing page. Those include Admirals Club access and ability to redeem points on AA-operated flights at 1.6 cents apiece.

Yes, the offer is lower than it was before, but it’s still pretty good. I do recommend you apply ONLY if you can handle the spending threshold and paying $450 upfront. There will be other deals, I guarantee it. As far as I know, all the links for 50,000 points bonus are dead, but if I’m wrong, please, let me know in the comments.


2) AAdvantage miles earning cards

Those are:

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard (the best available offer pays me commission)

Main details of the offer:

  • Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you with guest privileges
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • Annual fee of $450 is NOT waived.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard (here is non-affiliate application link)

Main details of the offer:

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy Group 1 Boarding on American Airlines flights
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back — up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles each calendar year
  • The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year

Edit: you might also want to read this DoC post on Gold version of Citi AAdvantage offers.

If you can get matched to 40,000 or 50,000 miles bonus, it would be a great deal.

The strategy:

If you recently had Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard (with $450 fee) and are eligible for Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, you should probably consider applying for the latter. Of course, make sure you didn’t have it open within the last 24  months.

The math isn’t quite so simple if the scenario is reversed. On the one hand, getting 60,000 miles for $450 is a pretty good deal. Plus, you’ll get access to Admirals Club lounge, though I don’t value that benefit highly. On the other hand, spending $5,000 in three months will be tough for many.

I’m actually in a position where this is my last chance for sometime when it comes to applying for Executive version. However, I’ll pass. I’m keeping my eye on US Bank Flexperks offer tied to Olympic medals (will  do a post as soon as we know the final count).  Sure, AAdvantage miles are still valuable, but at this price I’m just not a buyer. That said, if you need to top off your account for a specific award, it could very well be worth it.

Some of the best uses of 60,000 miles: 4 one-way tickets to Canada, Alaska, Central America, Mexico or Caribbean. Note that flights have to be available via MileSAAver (lowest) level.


3) Hilton points earning cards

Those are:

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card (the best available offer pays me commission)

Main details of the offer:

  • For a limited time: Earn 75,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember
  • No annual fee.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card (here is non-affiliate application link)

Main details of the offer:

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • Annual fee of $95 is not waived.

The strategy:

If you are a Hilton lover and had one of these cards within the last two years, you may want to consider picking up the other version. It’s definitely a good time to apply for Hilton Reserve offer due to extra $100 credit on Hilton stays. That being said, make sure you can easily utilize weekend certificates because they expire 12 months after date of issue.

If you  currently have Hilton Reserve card, you may want to look into  Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card. That offer is at an all-time high, so if you feel you can use Hilton points in a near future, now is the time to consider it. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait a long time before you are eligible. I wouldn’t go out of my way in order to get it, but once again, your situation may be totally different. See this post for more details on Hilton program and instances  where it can be a great deal. 

Bottom line

This is yet another negative hobby development, but  not a huge surprise. The economy is doing relatively well (for now), and banks don’t feel like getting fleeced by savvy miles and points enthusiasts. It’s not going to get better, at least not in a short term. The key, as always,  is to adapt and stay calm. Sign-up bonuses are a windfall, not a birthright.

Readers, what are your Citi plans?

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4 thoughts on “What Recent Negative Citi Changes Mean to You and Your Family

  1. Sign up as much as I can as long as I don’t have to pay annual fee!
    I have a question for you and anxiously want to find out the answer. I called Citi and the rep. gave me the standard answer of “not receiving sign up bonus if had the card for the past 24 months.”
    I received a mailer for the Platinum Select AA card for 50,000 miles sign up bonus. I closed the Platinum Select AA card account in April.
    The term says it is only valid for new accounts. Then below that it says “if you are existing Citi/Aadvantage cardmember, you are not eligible for this offer on your existing account,”
    So in your opinion do I get the bonus if I apply?


    • @Sheila To be honest, I’m not sure. We usually get those Citi mailers as well, but they contain “24 months language.” If yours doesn’t, there is a chance you’ll get the bonus, but my feeling is that Citi will try to weasel out of it. Have you considered applying for Gold version instead before new rules kick in on August 28th? Check this post http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ymmv-citi-aadvantage-gold-card-40000-mile-bonus/ It looks like you may get matched to 40K miles or possibly 50K, though there are no guarantees.
      I really hate to give definitive answer on this one because it’s impossible to say what Citi will do in this particular case. Personally, I would probably go for Gold just to be on a safe side.


  2. Thank you for your prompt and honest response.
    It is hard to decide whether to take the risk or not. Probably do more research first.


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