Citi Credit Card Bonus Changes
I was just about to post an editorial about being a good customer to the banks. In that editorial which will be coming soon, I conclude with, “We are simply maximizing our return while playing their game with the rules they set.” Citi is giving us a HUGE reminder of that fact today. According to Doctor of Credit, they have changed the rules describing how often you can get a bonus.
The Previous Rule
For a long time Citi didn’t have any published bonus rules across all of their products. Back then, the rules varied per individual product, but eventually they settled on an 18 month rule awhile back.
For example, here is how the bonus rules are written on the AT&T Access More card:
Phone offer is not available if you have had an AT&T Access More Card account that was opened or closed in the past 18 months.
This simply means that if you open or close an account, then the clock starts ticking. Open an AT&T account and cancel after a year? The clock starts over. Not the nicest of policies, but better than a “once per lifetime” rule like we see with Amex.
New Bonus Rule
The new rule works exactly like the old one, except the time frame has been changed from 18 to 24 months. For example, here is what it says on the page for the Citi Prestige:
Bonus ThankYou Points not available if you have had a Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.
Because of the “opened or closed” language within Citi’s policy, the new “best strategy” is most likely to keep a valued card for two years and pay the first year annual fee. (Or call Citi retention to try and get it waived.) Then once the card hits exactly 24 months and a day, apply for a 2nd version of that card and cancel the first within the refund window for the annual fee. With the 18 month rule there was more wiggle room than there is now.
Cards With Old Language
The AT&T Access More card still has the old language as do some “zombie links” from past offers. Apparently the ThankYou Business card doesn’t have any 18 or 24 month language at all. My guess is the apps with the old language will slowly be fixed bringing everything under the new 24 month policy.
This year we have seen Amex move to “once per lifetime” on bonuses for all cards and Chase has stuck with their 24 month rule while at the same time tightening approvals for many. Now Citi is restricting their bonuses further. All of these moves are clear signs that the economy is good and they don’t need to be as aggressive in attracting customers.
What do you think? It has definitely been a brutal year thus far and we are only 3+ months in!