Planning for Citi Prestige 75K and Premier 50K offers

The Citi Prestige and Citi Premier cards are currently offering 75,000 point and 50,000 point signup bonuses, respectively.  That’s excellent, but many of us aren’t eligible.  Before applying it’s important to review Citi’s application rules and compare to your past 24 months of Citibank applications, account closures, and product changes.

As a reminder, you can find application rules for each major bank on our Best Offers Page.  “Jump to” the bank you’re interested in to find the “App Tips” section:

Jump to: AmexBOABarclaycardCapital OneChaseCitiDiscoverTD BankUS BankWellsOther

The Citibank App Tips section currently looks like this (but this will be updated as things change, so always check the Best Offers page for updated info):

Citi
App
Tips
To apply for a card within the same brand, must wait 24 months after opening or closing account Hard inquiries are NOT combined when approved same day Max 1 personal card per 8 days Max 2 personal cards per 65 days Max 1 business card per 95 days
Check application status here.
If denied, call reconsideration here:800-695-5171 (personal); 800-763-9795 (business)

Get Both Cards?  Nope

I’d love to sign up for both offers, but under current Citibank rules that’s not possible since the cards are within the same ThankYou brand.  Specifically, both applications state the following:

Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

The good news here is that the Citi AT&T card, which also earns ThankYou points, is not considered part of the same brand.

Get One Card?  It depends…

Many readers have undoubtedly signed up for and/or cancelled one of the three ThankYou cards (Preferred, Premier, Prestige) in the past 24 months.  If that’s true for you, then you can’t get the Prestige or Premier bonus until you get past the 24 month window.

What about product changes?

When Citi introduced the 24 month within-brand rule, I guessed the following to be true:

If you upgrade or downgrade, within a brand, the clock will not reset.  If you product change from one brand to another, the clock will reset (and this will affect both brands)

When I wrote that, I figured that I would soon receive data points that confirmed or disproved my theory.  But I didn’t.  I heard from several people who were told by Citi reps that the theory was true and from others that were told that it wasn’t true. A recent post by Julian Kheel supports my theory, but it is again the word from Citibank people, not anyone’s actual experience.  Julian’s post does add an important addition to the theory though.  He relays the following “official answer” from Citi:

If they have converted but their account number has not changed, they will still qualify for the bonus.

Interestingly, the “official answer” is much broader than my theory.  In this case Citi seems to be saying that product changes from/to any cards (not just ThankYou cards) are fine as long as your credit card number stayed the same.  I’m very skeptical about that.  However, one part of the answer makes a lot of sense: you have to keep the same account number to avoid resetting the clock.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what Citibank phone reps or officials say about the rules.  What matters is how the rules are actually coded.  And we don’t know.

Through the Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook group I tried to get real world data, but with no luck so far.  And, for the same reason, Doctor of Credit posted “How Does Downgrading/Product Changing A Citi Card Affect Your 24 Month Eligibility? (Hint: We Have No Idea).”  In the comments of that post, at least one person confirmed that a product change from a ThankYou card to a Citi Dividend card caused the clock to reset, but his credit card number did change.  No one has yet offered hard data regarding a within-brand product change where the account number remained the same.

Some Flyertalk threads (mostly regarding Citi AA cards) assert that product changes do reset the clock, but I’m not convinced.  There are many people confidently asserting that this is so, but no one has offered definitive proof as far as I can tell. And in the few places where I could find reports of real world experiences, we don’t know whether or not the account number was changed.  In related threads, some people reported that downgrading from Prestige to Preferred resulted in new card numbers. That shouldn’t happen (and usually doesn’t), but if it does, then I’d believe that the clock would reset in those examples.

My best guess about product changes

We still don’t know for certain how this works, but here’s my best guess:

If you upgrade or downgrade within a brand, and if your account number stays the same, then the clock will not reset.  If you product change from one brand to another, the clock will reset (and this will affect both brands)

What will I do?

My wife last applied for a Premier card in August of 2015.  Since then she hasn’t opened, closed, or product changed to/from the Preferred, Premier, or Prestige card.  So, she can soon apply for the Prestige 75K offer, but will have to wait a bit for the 24 month clock to reset.

Our records indicate that my wife applied for the Premier card on August 13 2015.  Both her TransUnion and Equifax reports agree.  That said, Citi always pulls from Experian for us, and her Experian report simply lists the account open date as August 2015 without a specific day.  It’s unclear exactly when Citi’s 24 month clock will reset.  The safe approach will be to wait until September 1.  Hopefully the 75K offer will still be around by then.

In my case it has been over two years since I’ve had any activity with opening, closing, or product changing the Preferred, Premier, and Prestige cards.  I still have a Prestige card open, but I don’t want to product change it: it seems to have been grandfathered under the $350 annual fee that I got from previously having Citibank Gold checking and I don’t want to risk messing with that.

I have two good options for myself: I can apply for either the Premier 50K offer or the Prestige 75K offer.  Even though I still have the Prestige card open, Citi is known to approve additional cards of the same type.  And even though the $450 annual fee is charged the first year, I can get $250 in airline credits twice in my first year of card membership.  As long as I use the Prestige card to pay for $250 or more in airfare before my December statement closes and again before the next annual fee hits, I should be able to get $500 worth of airfare reimbursed in exchange for that first year $450 annual fee.

My thoughts above seem to favor applying for the Prestige card, but there are other things to consider…  The Premier card’s 50K offer requires $4K spend vs. the Prestige card’s $7.5K spend.  And the Premier card is less work.  With the Prestige card I would have to remember to use the card to pay for airfare in order to “get back” the first year annual fee.  With the Premier card the first year annual fee is waived automatically.  With either card, I’ll downgrade to the Preferred after a year.

Since I already have a Prestige card and there are few additional benefits to getting a second one, I’ll go for the Premier card.

Summary of my plans

I’ve decided to do the following:

  • My wife: Wait until September 1 to sign up for the Prestige 75K offer if it is still available.
  • Me: Sign up for the Premier 50K offer.

What will you do?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. “The truth is that it doesn’t matter what Citibank phone reps or officials say about the rules”

    I tend to think what they say does matter, because if they issue guidance like that, posted as a public notification on a media outlet such as TPG, they are beholden to the offer. It would be very successfully argued that such a posting was essentially a false, misleading or deceptive claim about a product. And while they may not have to worry about one person suing, if they broadly implemented a strategy to then deny many people, they are certainly open to class action.

    • …except that in signing up for a credit card, you give up your right to a class action lawsuit, don’t you? Isn’t it all arbitration?

    • Yeah, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think they get a pass from complying with the FTC truth in advertising laws because customers agree to arbitration.

  2. I just got my fresh, new Premier card and I’m working on the minimum spend… I signed up for it in June 2015, downgraded to Preferred in June 2016 and still have that open.

    I will report back if I earn the 50K.

    Thanks for your articles, Greg.

  3. I was approved yesterday for my second Prestige. Applied for both Prestige and Premier in June 2015 and both remain open. It did require calling in (no instant approval).

    • You only get the 4th night free when either booking through the thankyou.com portal, or booking through the prestige concierge over the phone. You won’t get that benefit by booking directly through a hotel or any other third party.

  4. Once again, how long do you have to cancel a Citi Preferred/prestige after fee is posted to close/product change a card and have the fee refunded? is it 45 days after the statement closing date where the fee appears?

  5. My husband downgraded his Premier to Preferred in 5/13/2016 with me as authorized user on his card. Does the clock for 24 months set for me too (as authorized user)? I have never applied for Premier before, if I do now will I get the bonus ? Thanks in advance. Shaun

  6. Greg or Expert on here,
    got a premier in 12/2015, then changed to preferred in 12/2016 with acct # stayed the same (reps told me the system shows that i never have the premier, only preferred since 12/2015); also have a prestige’s AF for 1 yr & its 2nd AF is now due in 9/2017 & already tried to change the prestige to preferred requesting to keep the same acct #, but 3 reps so far told me that the system will issue a different acct #; since can’t keep the same acct #, my concern is that my TY will reset, so didn’t downgrade; called retention but got no/nada offer for the prestige.

    as i don’t think my TY acct was rest after downgrade the premier to preferred, hope to get a premier for 50k pts available at this time, when should i apply for the premier & what should i do with the prestige if still wanting to downgrade/cancel? what’s the advice/suggestion, folks? TIA

  7. When do you think the prestige will have a new signup bonus again? Can I apply for the premier to get the Signup bonus(since it’s still available) and then upgrade to prestige(since I’m interested in its perks)?
    Any other suggestions or thoughts would be helpful

    • I don’t know when a bonus will return. Yes, that’s a good plan: sign up for the Premier for the 50K bonus and then upgrade after you earn the bonus. Some banks require that you wait a year before upgrading but I don’t think Citi has such a rule.

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