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A couple of days ago I posted about how Citi made a minor change to the terms of their credit card sign-up bonuses. Previously you were only eligible for the sign-up bonus on a Citi credit card if you hadn’t opened or closed the card in the past 18 months. They changed the terms of that to update the waiting period to 24 months, rather than 18 months.
However, Citi has made one surprising change which makes me wonder if there could be bigger implications.
Where did the Citi Premier’s sign-up bonus go?
The Citi Premier Card is Citi’s fantastic mid-range transferrable points currency card, intended to compete with the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The card was refreshed last year, at which point the sign-up bonus was increased to 50,000 points upon completing minimum spend.
Then in January of this year the bonus was decreased to 40,000 points upon completing minimum spend, which seemed like an odd move, since it happened at the same time that Chase offered an increased sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred.
However, in the past couple of weeks the publicly available sign-up bonus on the Citi Premier has changed to… nothing! There’s no longer a sign-up bonus on the card, which is truly surprising. While Chase has historically been the strongest with sign-up bonuses, Amex has almost always offered at least some kind of bonus as well.
It’s strange to see Citi suddenly offer no bonus at all on the Premier Card.
Meanwhile the sign-up bonus on the fantastic Citi Prestige® Card is 40,000 ThankYou points upon completing minimum spend. This is the all around most compelling card out there, in my opinion.
Why the disparity in bonuses?
Why would Citi suddenly completely eliminate the bonus on just one very popular card? Will this spread to other cards?
I have some theories as to why this could happen, and they’re all more or less related. I think the most basic explanation is that like any other company, there are budgets and goals set for a specific product, and those were met and/or exceeded:
- The card could have gotten so many new cardmembers over the past year that they’ve completely blown through their budget for new cardmember acquisitions, and a bonus on the card will return once that budget resets
- The card could have gotten so many new cardmembers that they’ve reached their goal of new cardmember sign-ups, so are trying to space them out, so they can still meet/exceed management’s expectations in the following period
- It could also be that Citi thinks the card sells itself, and they don’t need to offer an incentive to get people to sign-up; personally I think this is unlikely, as the industry practice has long been to offer some sort of a welcome bonus, and I don’t see that changing here, especially when the competition is offering bonuses
I’m scratching my head as to the lack of a sign-up bonus on the Citi Premier, especially when the card’s biggest competition is offering an increased sign-up bonus at the moment. I suspect Citi had simply exceeded their expectations on new cardmember acquisitions, and we’re seeing the results of that now.
I would speculate that we’ll see the Premier Card return with a sign-up bonus at some point in the not too distant future.
Hopefully the same doesn’t happen to the Citi Prestige® Card, given how awesome it is.
What do you think is the reason the sign-up bonus was eliminated on the Citi Premier Card?