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:
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):
|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?