Full Guide to Citi Retention – Answers to all of your questions & how to get the best offers!

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Citi Retention Strategy Guide

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Citi Retention Strategy Guide

2015 has been the year of Citi. The bank has refreshed their products, increased bonuses and become very generous with retention offers for current cardholders. The information shared in this guide is collected from my own experience and data points I have collected from others. None of these rules are set in stone and your experience may vary.

What Is Retention?

A retention department is designed to keep you from cancelling your account. At Citi the retention department will sometimes have offers available to encourage you to keep your account. These offers almost always have some spending component and can involve extra points and/or statement credits. Offers are determined by a profitability model and agents can only give you an offer that is available in their system for your account.

When Are You Eligible?

Citi Retention Strategy Guide

Every credit card account is eligible for retention offers no matter how long it has been opened. This doesn’t mean that every card will receive an offer, but I have heard of people receiving offers on cards that are less than 1 month old. The biggest misconception is that you need to wait a year before calling in to see if you are eligible for any offers. This simply isn’t true.

How to Reach Citi Retention

To reach Citi retention, call the phone number on the back of your card and tell the agent you are thinking about cancelling your card. (Do not tell the automated system to cancel your account or it might just close it out!) It can pay to list a specific reason you are looking to cancel, since the retention agent will try to give you an offer that solves your problem.

For example, if I wanted an increased spending offer on the ThankYou Preferred I might say, “I am thinking of cancelling my card since it only earns 1 point per dollar on everyday spending and for that reason I have other cards that I prefer to use.” That statement should lead them towards offers (if available) with an increased earning component.

Multiple Cards on One Call

Citi Retention Strategy Guide

One of the best things about Citi’s retention department is that they can look at offers across pretty much all of your cards in one phone call. Business and personal cards are handled by different departments, but other than that the agent has access to the offers for all of your accounts.

If you want to look at offers across multiple cards then let the agent know at some point during the call. Generally they will handle one card at a time. This means you will talk about a card, listen and decide on the offers and then move on to the next card. They generally require that you tell them the last four digits of the card number, so be prepared with that information.

About the Retention Offers

Retention agents are generally compensated based on how well they retain a customer and in some companies based on how lucrative the offer they give you is. For example, at my previous employer they would have four different levels of offers. The agent would get the best score for retaining a customer without an offer, followed by retaining with the lowest value offer, etc. The worst score would obviously be if the customer cancelled.

I believe Citi agents are compensated in the same way. For this reason, they may not present you with every single offer right away. You may need to push for a better offer and it never hurts to ask for something specific. Remember that the agent can only give you what is in their system, but asking for something specific may nudge them towards a better available offer.

One of the biggest keys to getting the best retention offers is being polite and friendly. In my previous job the retention reps would deal with angry people all day. Most people were cancelling because they didn’t like their company or the service, etc. If you are pleasant and stand out from the crowd, they will be more willing to help you as much as they can. Piss off an agent and they may decide not to give you a good offer even if it is available.

Confirming an Offer

Citi Retention Strategy Guide
Citi will send you an email a few days after the offer is accepted.

Once you have agreed to an offer, make sure to repeat it back as you understand it. This will avoid confusion and ensure that you understand what you will receive. (It is also recorded on the call in case there are problems later.) In the past Citi didn’t send anything regarding offers in writing, however that has recently changed.

I used to send a secure message to Citi to confirm the terms of the offer along with the firm end date. Now Citi sends out an email a few days after acceptance with all of the offer terms. The date is missing from that email, so you can still send a message to confirm the end date or track it yourself. The end date is calculated from the date of your call. So a 6 month offer accepted on January 1 will expire on July 1.

How Often Should You Call?

Some people make a point to call every few months and have an agent look over all of their accounts. I don’t have a written confirmation of this, but I was once told by a Citi agent that you can only receive two offers per year on a card. That was over a year ago, so that information may not still be true, but I wouldn’t expect to receive offers more frequent than that anyway.

Resources

Flyertalk is a good resource to use before calling Citi since there is an entire thread dedicated to Citi retention offers. You can use that thread to see what others have been offered and also give back by reporting your data points as well. There is also an interesting article written by a former Citi retention agent which may be of interest to a lot of you.

Conclusion

Right now Citi is being very aggressive in their effort to keep customers with lucrative bonus offers. While you aren’t guaranteed to hit a homerun every time, the fact that you can hear offers across multiple cards on the same call is very powerful. I make a point to call Citi regularly to view the offers on my accounts and that strategy has paid off nicely.


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15 COMMENTS

    • On most products Citi will credit the entire annual fee if you cancel within 30 days of it posting. They also will generally prorate the annual fee if you cancel/change the product within the year. With that said, not all products are the same. For example with the Citi AA Executive card you have 37 days to cancel to get the annual fee refunded. As far as I have learned, on that card there isn’t a prorated option for the AF. The best way to go with Citi is ask since it seems they have varying policies depending on the product.

  1. My Citi AA Plat Select AF is coming due (was approved early August 2014) so I tried calling last week. I was offered basically nothing, just a 0% APR for 12 months or something. My real goal was to convert to the Double Cash card but the agent said no conversions were available. I was thinking I’d call again in a week or so to try then. Any tips for getting the conversion to the Double Cash Card?

    • Often conversions are allowed only after a card has been open 1 year. So, one day past a year, from account opening and it should become “available.”

  2. Shawn –

    What about wanting to cancel a specific Citi-branded card but asking for a better offer with another Citi-branded card? Can, and would, agents be able to offer something like that? I understand there is a cancellation on the record, but there is also a new card account opening.

    I am thinking of cancelling a Citi-branded travel partner card for a Citi-American Airlines branded card and would like something extra to entice me to that change.

    What do you think?

    • You could ask. As far as my experience goes, each account is dealt with separately and what is available is available. If you establish a nice rapport with the person, I am sure they will help you if it is possible.

      • Shawn, I see often in the blogs that after talking to an agent a card is converted to a different card. Now, does that affect your FICO score as it would if you were taking out a new card?

          • Well, that’s great then! And am I correct then that it would not affect your FICO score? No need to respond if I’m correct only if I’m not correct. Thanks again for your tremendous wisdom. Have fun 😉

          • just a general FYI Shawn… I received my ChexSystems report (for Banking) yesterday in the mail (FREE) and was surprised at the tremendous amount of information that the banks have on me BESIDES the banks info that I have accounts with. (My local banker, who is a friend, was also surprised of the amount of data NOT REALLY RELATED TO BANKING!) In the future I’ll get this report yearly by going to their website, printing the form and faxing it in to them. I received report in the mail in about five business days. Furthermore, after placing a call to one of the ChexSystems employees for further explanation of “Wealth Index” and a total of 6 “Non-derogatory Records” ( which after speaking to their supervisor they did not know), I have now requested a report ( again FREE via postal mail) from Lexis-Nexis Risk Solutions Bureau LLC, who apparently supplied ChexSystems with the info for their report. Expecting their report in postal mail 7-10 business days. 🙂

  3. I haven’t had any luck consolidating credit on cards with Citi. Am I getting an uninformed agent or Citi does not allow that?

  4. I called Citi and got the 15k TYP for $4500 in 6 months offer on 7/16. I searched through my emails and didn’t get anything confirming that offer. But I did confirm it in the phone with he agent. I did get 2x extra for my TY Preferred in January for 6 months, and I didn’t get an email then either.

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