Citi’s new speed limit: 135,000 points per year from signup bonuses

As reported by Doctor of Credit, Citibank has changed their signup bonus rules.  Previously, you had to wait 24 months after opening or closing a card in order to get the exact same card again (with the bonus).  Now, you have to wait 24 months after opening or closing a card in order to get a bonus on any card within the same brand.

Citi's new speed limit

This change has severe consequences for those who repeatedly sign up for cards for their signup bonuses.  With the new rule, for example, if you recently closed a Citi ThankYou Premier account, you’ll have to wait 24 months from the date of closure before signing up for the Citi Prestige card (which is also a ThankYou branded card).  Doctor of Credit posits that these new rules go into effect on August 28th (even though the new rules already appear in the applications).

You can always find signup rules like these on my Best Offers Page which shows App Tips for each major card issuer.  On the Best Offers page, look for the “Jump To” links, like this:

Jump to: Amex, BOA, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, TD Bank, US Bank, Wells,Other

If you click on Citi, for example, the Best Offers page will scroll to the top of the Citi offers section which (at the time of this writing) includes the following application tips:

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)

A possible culprit for Citi’s new rules

Previously, you had to wait 24 months after opening or closing a particular card before getting the signup bonus again for the same card.  However, there was a known loophole: When you sign up for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard, Citi will automatically convert that card from a “World MasterCard” to a “World Elite MasterCard” within a few months.  After that conversion, the cardholder used to be able to get the signup bonus for the World MasterCard again without waiting 24 months.

While I never took advantage of this loophole myself, I believe that many people signed up for the World MasterCard every few months.  Some suspect that Citi’s new rules were at least partially motivated by the desire to fix this loophole.  Of course this “fix” goes far beyond the actual issue, but perhaps Citi wanted to ensure that they closed similar loopholes as well, if any existed.

Of course, there’s a simpler alternative theory: perhaps Citi simply wanted to crack down on the practice of “churning” credit cards.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter why they did it.  It’s simply the new reality.

A smidgen of hope?

The only potential good news I can see in this change is the possible return of Citi Premier signup bonuses.  The Premier card used to have a 50K signup bonus.  The bonus dropped to 40K and then disappeared altogether.  That has struck me as truly bizarre since Citi had recently turned the Premier card into an outstanding travel rewards card — one that in many ways is better than Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card.  Why wouldn’t they continue to aggressively attract new customers?

It’s possible that Citi had temporarily axed the Premier signup bonus because of card churners.  If so, the new signup bonus rules may be enough to convince Citi that it is safe to bring back the bonus.

Or, maybe this is just wishful thinking.  We’ll see.

My Citi Upgrade / Downgrade Theory

A key question regarding the new rules is whether product changes reset the 24 month clock.  After your first year with a new card, there are two primary options for eliminating ongoing annual fees: cancel or downgrade to a no-fee card.  Obviously cancelling a card will count as closing it and will reset the 24 month clock.  Downgrading, though, may be different.

Suppose you downgrade a ThankYou Premier card to the no-fee ThankYou Preferred card.  How long then would you have to wait before signing up for another ThankYou card?  24 months from the downgrade?  Or, 24 months from the last time you really opened or closed a ThankYou card?

Under the old rules, the general consensus has been that product changes did cause the clock to reset.  But, I’ve heard of several cases (including via a personal communication with Charlie, author of Running With Miles) in which people received signup bonuses shortly after a product change.  In my mind, the answer with respect to the old rules was unclear.  And, the answer with respect to the new rules is at this point just a guessing game.  So, I’m going to guess…

With no evidence whatsoever to go on, here’s my theory:

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)

  • Example 1: Downgrade from Citi ThankYou Premier to Citi ThankYou Preferred
    If my theory is right, downgrading from one card to another within the ThankYou product line will not reset the clock. In other words, you won’t have to wait 24 months from the date of the downgrade to get a bonus when signing up for a new ThankYou card.
  • Example 2: Downgrade from Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard to Citi AAdvantage Gold MasterCard
    If my theory is right, downgrading from one card to another within the AAdvantage product line will not reset the clock. In other words, you won’t have to wait 24 months from the date of the downgrade to get a bonus when signing up for a new AAdvantage card.
  • Example 3: Product change from Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard to Citi ThankYou Preferred
    In this example, the product change crosses brands.  My theory is that this will be recorded as closing the AAdvantage card and opening the ThankYou Preferred account.  If true, this change will reset the clock on both brands.  In other words, you would have to wait 24 months after this product change to get a bonus when signing up for a new AAdvantage card or a new ThankYou card!

Please keep in mind that this is just a theory.  It will be quite a while before data points appear to support or contradict it.

A safer option

When an annual fee comes due, you could take a risk that my theory is right and downgrade to a no fee or lesser fee card within the same brand.  The risk, of course, is that I may be wrong and that action may reset the 24 month clock.  A safer approach is to just pay the annual fee and, optionally, call each year to see if any retention offers are available.  After 24 months, you can sign up for a new card (even the same card that you still have open, if you like) and then close or downgrade the old card.

270,000 points & miles available every two years

Based on current signup bonus options, there are still quite a few opportunities for points, miles, and free nights.  Since the 24 month clock works within each brand, it is possible to get one card from each brand as listed below every 24 months:

  • ThankYou Consumer Brand: Up to 40,000 points every two years (found here)
    • Citi Prestige: 40,000 points after $4K spend in 3 months
    • Citi ThankYou Preferred: 10,000 points after $1K spend in 3 months + $100 credit after $100 Live Nation purchase.
  • ThankYou Business Brand: Up to 20,000 points every two years (available in-branch only)
    • CitiBusiness ThankYou: 20,000 points after $3K spend
  • American Airlines Consumer: Up to 60,000 miles every two years (found here)
    • Citi® Platinum Select AAdvantage® World MasterCard: 50,000 miles after $3K spend in 3 months
    • Citi AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard®: 60K after $5K spend in 3 months
    • Citi® AAdvantage® Gold MasterCard®: 25K after $750 spend in 3 monthsCiti's new speed limit 135K
  • American Airlines Business: Up to 50,000 miles every two years (found here)
    • CitiBusiness® AAdvantage® World MasterCard: 50,000 miles after $3K spend in 3 months
  • Hilton: two free nights or 75,000 points every two years (found here)
    • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card: 2 Free Nights + $100: 2 Weekend Nights after 2.5K spend in 4 months + $100 statement credit after $100 spend at Hilton in 6 months.
    • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card: 75K after $2k spend in 3 months
  • Expedia: Up to 25,000 points every two years (found here)
    • Expedia+ Voyager: 25K Expedia+ points after $2K spend
    • Expedia+: 15K Expedia+ points after $1K spend

Citi’s new speed limit: 135,000 points & miles per year via signup bonuses

Well, it’s not great, but it’s better than nothing.  As shown above, given current signup bonus offers, it’s possible under the new rules to get 270,000 points & miles every 2 years with Citibank signup bonuses.  That averages to 135,000 points and miles per year.  Of course a couple could double-up and earn 270,000 points & miles per year.  That’s a far cry from what was previously possible, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.

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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Planning for Citi Prestige 75K and Premier 50K offers - Frequent MilerHow Does Downgrading/Product Changing A Citi Card Affect Your 24 Month Eligibility? (Hint: We Have No Idea) - Doctor Of CreditCiti 24-Month Churning Rule Explained in Detail - Doctor Of CreditCaspianLantean Recent comment authors

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Nit
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Nit

Greg,

You didn’t mention anything about Expedia brand cards from Citi.

SDO
Guest
SDO

Shocking it took so long for them to fix this loophole.

Clint
Guest
Clint

All of these restrictions being imposed by other banks is starting to make FM’s “Flying Under 5/24” strategy for Chase seem like a better and better option…especially for couples.

Brian
Guest
Brian

What if I have an existing AAdvantage Mastercard right now that I opened more than 2 years ago? Should I cancel it ASAP to reset my 2 year clock? Or should I open another account right now and get the signup bonus again?

SHASHIDHAR BUYAKAR
Guest
SHASHIDHAR BUYAKAR

I want to apply for Citi® Platinum Select AAdvantage® World MasterCard and Citi® AAdvantage® Gold MasterCard to pool in about 75K AA points. I took a hit on my EQ. But I want to apply for CSR as well when it releases on 21st Aug, which goes on EX for my location. And I just applied to US Bank flexperks olympics on Aug 03 with hard pull on EQ. Please suggest how I can for these cards.

SHASHIDHAR BUYAKAR
Guest
SHASHIDHAR BUYAKAR

Correction. For Citi , I didnt have EQ pulled yet. But I got hard pulled on EQ for USbank though.

alcwj
Guest
alcwj

Still way better than Chase 5/24 rule.

JackNYOC
Guest
JackNYOC

Hi, question about Citi AA biz card. My wife is an officer of the company I have. She has this card. I applied for it a year ago and was denied. They told me only one biz card per biz even if different officers apply. Do you know if that’s still their policy? Thanks.

Yang
Guest
Yang

FWIW, I recently did a product change from AA Plat to AT&T Access More. I was issued a new CC number and my old AA account is marked closed on the Citi website. This seems to line up with your theory, at least partially. No way to know how it might affect the bonus yet though.

Raj
Guest
Raj

As an aside, did the Quick Deals section go away? Seems like everything is now listed on the main page, making the main post harder to find.

JW
Guest
JW

I had a Citi® Platinum Select AAdvantage® World MasterCard opened 3 years ago and got the 50k AA miles at the time. I closed the account around this time last year. If I apply for this card again before 8/28, will I be able to get the bonus again since it’s more than 18 months from when I got the bonus, or will it be 24 months from account closing under the new rule (fine print already says that in the application page)?

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

JW….it will be 24 months from account closing under the new rule (fine print already says that in the application page)
I just got another AA MC and shortly after cancelled my AA Amex I’ve had with them for 4 years….might get world elite, if it is eligible for bonus before the end of the month (despite the language to the contrary)…worst that happens is I waste a hard pull on it, and have to grumble at DOC for the supposition.

Marilyn B
Guest
Marilyn B

Applied for AA Platinum MC in Dec. 2014 and downgraded to Bronze when the annual fee was coming due, but CITI did not make the “change” (which they called it in the letters they sent) until March 2016. Account number and CVV remained the same. Only the Bronze MC is listed in my accounts, and the statement for Dec. 2015 brings up the Platinum card info, so I hope that means that Dec. 2014 is the start date for counting my 24 months, rather than March 2016.

Dan
Guest
Dan

By August 28th (Docs info) does this mean you would have to get approved and meet the minimum spending or you would just have to be approved for a citi card to actually get the bonus even though the app has the new 24 month rule negativing this?

Dan
Guest
Dan

Has anyone confirmed this Aug 28th date is true?

Kumar
Guest
Kumar

Greg, your statement is “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)” far more logical.

When I convert from Premier to Preferred my card number and everything remains the same
When I convert from AAdvantage to Double Cash, card number changes.

This proves(if not for sure), PC within the family is not resetting the clock because there is no account change. But PC to a different card MAY restart the clock.

John
Guest
John

Can I convert a Citi Thankyou Premier or Prestige to a AT&T Access More?

John
Guest
John

Also, will cancelling a bunch of cards held less than a year screw-up my credit scores?

trackback

[…] have guidance from Citi on product conversion/downgrade rather than closure. FrequentMiler’s theory is that changing within a product brand such as ThankYou Premier to the no annual fee ThankYou […]

Trug
Guest
Trug

Hi Greg – do you think AT&T Access More card count under TY Consumer brand?

Lantean
Guest
Lantean

“However, there was a known loophole: When you sign up for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard, Citi will automatically convert that card from a “World MasterCard” to a “World Elite MasterCard” within a few months. After that conversion, the cardholder used to be able to get the signup bonus for the World MasterCard again without waiting 24 months.”

this is interesting… i had no idea about this loophole.

so i had an AA plat pers card… it did get converted. i closed it 3 months ago… am i safe to apply now and get the bonus still?

thank you.

trackback

[…] Citi’s new speed limit: 135,000 points per year from signup bonuses – Citi’s new bonus rules will limit your opportunities, but there are still some options for maximizing. […]

Marty Dee
Guest
Marty Dee

What’s funny is for a year I was told I couldn’t get the premier bonus if I already had the prestige card saying it’s the same product. As many people had proven otherwise by getting both bonuses . But it appears to be finally be true. Maybe the reps were told to tell us that and IT just never caught up till now.

in4
Guest
in4

Before this news, I was planning to apply for a new Citi AA Platinum Select in January 2017 (that would be 24 months since I closed the last one).
If I apply for Citi AA Executive now, before Aug 28 (same family but different card) – would it not count against me? I mean – I will be able to apply for AA Platinum as planned and still get the bonus?
Just want to make sure before biting the bullet

Justin Pope
Guest
Justin Pope

Oddly for the Hilton cards – you may be able to double dip, if you do the points one first?

The 75k points card has the language that you can’t get the points if you’ve had any Hilton credit card.

The free nights version of the card doesn’t have any language or restrictions around it.

Lantean
Guest
Lantean

what do you mean? i see the same language on both cards. do you have a link where you’re looking? thanks.

trackback

[…] (e.g. AA to ThankYou). If this is correct, then probably all product changes do reset the clock. Frequentmiler has an interesting theory that product-changes within the same brand (e.g. AA to AA or TY to TY) do […]

trackback

[…] Frequent Miler has an interesting theory that product changes within the same brand (e.g one American Airlines card to another or one Citi ThankYou card to another) do not reset the clock and that changes between two different brands (e.g American Airlines card to Citi ThankYou points card) do. I know that this post has no real point, but I wanted to post for two reasons: […]

trackback

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