Million Mile Madness, Credit card planning: Citi

Background: Early in January, I introduced the idea of challenging myself (and anyone foolish enough to join me) to earn a million points in one month. So, starting March 1, I’ll do everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. As a reminder, I don’t expect that a million points will have been credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I’ll track all of the points that I expect, and I’ll declare victory if the expected total is over a million. Oh, and to keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

Previous Million Mile Madness posts include:

Credit Card churn planning

In order to earn a million miles in a month, I plan to sign up for quite a few credit cards with the best signup offers. These won’t get me all the way to a million points, but they’ll go a long way. First, though, I need to plan carefully.

Last week, I reported my plans regarding Chase credit cards and Amex credit cards.  With regards to Chase planning, I said that I hoped to get the 55K United MileagePlus offer, but that one seems to have dried up since then (please correct me if I’m wrong).  So, I’ll probably go with my backup plan of the MasterCard version of the Sapphire Preferred card for 40K points. With regards to Amex planning, I said that I would sign up for just one card: the Platinum Mercedes card for 50K points.  Since then, a 50K offer for the Premier Rewards Gold card surfaced (see this post for details).  If that one is still around on March 1st (Friday!), I’ll go for that one instead.  Unless, maybe, I can get both?  Anyone know?

In this post, I’ll discuss my thoughts and plans concerning Citibank credit cards, and I’ll follow up in future posts with similar discussions about Barclaycard and others.

Current cards

I currently have the following Citibank credit cards:

  • Forward
  • ThankYou Premier
  • American Airlines Amex
  • American Airlines Visa

I signed up for the two American Airlines cards this past July.  I signed up for the Forward card in October, and I renewed the Premier card in December after accepting a $75 statement credit offer to not cancel.

From what I’ve read about Citibank, it seems that they are very firm about not approving more than 2 cards in approximately a 65 day period.  So, I’ll try to get just two Citi cards with this churn.

My Plan

The best current Citibank offers, in my opinion, are the 50K American Airlines offers detailed in this FlyerTalk thread.  Many people have successfully churned these cards every 18 to 24 months, but since I signed up for the personal versions of these cards about 8 months ago, it’s too soon for me to go for the same cards again.  Luckily, there is a business version of the same offer so I can go for that one.  For my second card, there are several good options.  I could try for the 30K Mastercard AA offer since that’s different from the cards I already have.  Or, I could go for one of the Hilton cards such as the Hilton Reserve card which offers two weekend nights at almost any Hilton property worldwide.  Ironically, though, I’m most interested in a card with a tiny 6000 point signup bonus…  In my recent post “ThankYou!” I mentioned that Personal Finance Digest found a working link to an application for the ThankYou Preferred card that offers a year of 5X earnings at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores.  Frequent readers will understand why I really want that one.  I think I’m willing to forgo some signup bonus points in order to get in on that deal.

So, this plan leaves me with 50K AA miles after spending $3K, and 6K ThankYou points after spending $300.  I’ll earn at least 3K AA miles from the $3K spend, and 5 X 300 = 1500 points from the $300 spend.  So, in total, I’ll earn at least 60,500 miles & points.  That’s not an amazing haul by itself, but remember that I plan to earn many other points from Chase, Amex, and others.

Reader Feedback

Please let me know what you think about the above plan.  Do you have other ideas or suggestions?

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  1. Would you count thankyou points towards your million mile challenge? Thankyou points are pretty easy to rack up. Also, have you received 1099s in the past for Citi bonuses?

    • Jewsus: Yes, I would count ThankYou points towards the million mile challenge. Since I have the ThankYou Premier card, each TY point is worth 1.33 cents towards airfare, which is pretty good!
      JR: Thanks! I’ll have to check that out!
      MileageUpdate: That’s true, but I’d rather show a variety of techniques for getting to a million rather than relying on just one technique. So, while I’ll definitely do some of that, I’ll try not to overdo it.

  2. Can you really get the AA MC if you’ve recently gotten the Visa and Amex versions? Isn’t it any AA personal card within the last 18 mo that will disqualify you?

    • Preacher: At least one person on FlyerTalk reported success getting the MasterCard even though they had the Visa and Amex cards. I’d like to see more evidence though before advising that approach!
      JR: Yes, that was my experience too. A few weeks ago I was able to see the 50K offer after signing in, but since then only the 30K offer has shown up.

  3. I just did the United card last week after transferring 1,000 to a new UA account. But I know others who did the same and nada. YMMV

  4. Sara and Preacher: I did and I saw the 50K offer two weeks ago and now it is only 30K. I have tried to remove cookies, clear catch, nothing worked.

  5. Great – so you’re going to go out of your way to dump every possible earing solution on your blog at once in an effort to show abject greed. Awesome man, really awesome. It’s this sort of showmanship and lack of common sense and discretion that makes people resent bloggers. Will you be trying to 1 up Darius by posting youtube videos of your methods?

  6. I’m also going to try to apply for Mastercard Chase Sapphire Preferred. I downgraded my Visa CSP to regular already. I have to wait a bit because I’m applying for a big loan, but I will post my results after!

  7. I am just wondering with so many hard pulls in your credit profile,how can you still get new credit cards approved easily? Are you going to calling the backdoor number to beg for the approval every time?

    • Sean: I expect that a number of applications will be auto-approved. For the rest, yes, I’ll call the reconsideration lines and ask for approval. As Adnan said, they (especially Chase) will often let you move some credit from an existing card in order to approve the new card.

  8. @sean if reconsider line wont give you a card, just opt to cxl a card from the same bank and transfer the credit, to get approved.

  9. FM, do you know if the “ThankYou Preferred card” 5X is only given to new applicant? And whether I can convert one of my citi ThankYou cards (regular thank you or premier) to the Preferred card and also get the same 5X categories?

  10. @Jack Just called citi to convert a platinum select card to a thank you card. They were ok with the conversion but the 5x categories for a year are only good on new applications. They didn’t even allow me to convert to a dividend card that earns 5% cashback this quarter on drug stores.. I could have really used that. The platinum select card will just gather dust now

  11. i just logged into my UA account and clicked the Mileage Plus tab and the 50K plus 5K offer appeared. Not sure why some get the pitch and some don’t.

  12. I was able to get the 50k United offer to show yesterday…I just used the same method today to double-check, and it showed again. My offer is actually showing the $50k +$50 statement credit, which I wasn’t expecting. Here’s how I got it: 1) Loaded some fresh miles in the account (from 2) Logged into my account on 3) Booked a dummy AWARD trip from DFW-LHR on random day in Sept. 4) Selected the economy award option to get to the “Review Trip Itinerary” page. 5) The offer showed up in a small banner on right side of the page. Clicked through and received the confirmation page with 50k bonus after $1k/3 mo spend, plus 5k for auth user, and $50 statement credit. This may be targeted to my account, but maybe it’ll help you out.

    • Nick: Thanks for the details. I tried to replicate this. I moved 1K miles from UR to United, then tried booking an award. Result: 30K offer. I tried again with an Incognito window in case the offer was in cache, but still got the 30K offer. I’ll check again tomorrow.

  13. FM, I have tried that trick at least twice (transfering 1K from UR to UMP). It worked a few weeks ago. Not anymore. Anyway, I went to the branch this morning, applied and got approved.

  14. Hi, FM

    Thank you for the message. Unfortunately, I am done with citi and need to wait for another 3-6 months.

    Hopefully buying VRs by citi cards are not accounted as cash advance, as I heard someone was charged in this way.

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