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While I write quite a bit about credit card sign-up bonuses, that’s only one aspect of maximizing the rewards you can get from credit cards. So I’m writing a brief series about my credit card spend strategy with the major issuers. A couple of days ago I shared my American Express card strategy, and in this post I’ll share my Citi card strategy. Which cards do I have, which do I spend money on, etc.?
How many Citi cards can you apply for and have?
As far as I know, Citi doesn’t have a strict limit on how many credit cards you can have with them. The major restriction with Citi is regarding how many cards you can apply for in a given timeframe:
- You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
- You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days
There’s not a firm limit on how many cards you can have, though at some point you may find that you’re maxed out in terms of the credit they’ll extend you. That number varies from person to person, presumably based on your income, credit score, etc.
What are the rules regarding earning sign-up bonuses on Citi cards?
While the exact rules vary by card, as a general rule of thumb you’re eligible for the bonus on a given Citi card if you haven’t opened or closed the card in the past 24 months. So the bonuses aren’t “once in a lifetime,” but you do have to wait two years after you applied for or canceled a card before you’re eligible for a bonus again.
Unfortunately Citi added a further restriction last year, as you’re not eligible for the bonus on a card if you’ve had the same “type” of card in the past 24 months. For example:
- The Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card qualify as the same “type” of card
- The Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card qualify as the same “type” of card
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® qualify as the same “type” of card
Which Citi cards do I have?
At the moment I have the following four Citi cards:
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
Which Citi cards do I use most?
To be honest, at the moment I’m not putting too much spend on my Citi cards, though I still have reasons for why I hold onto some of them.
The Citi Prestige® Card is by far my favorite Citi card, and actually the single credit card that gets me the most value. The card has a $450 annual fee, though has a $250 annual airline credit, which can be used towards any airline purchase.
The way I see it, the real “out of pocket” on this card is $200 per year. For that I get an incredible fourth night free hotel benefit, that I’ve written about extensively. In my first year of membership that perk saved me over $2,000, and it’s on track to save me at least that much this year. That’s an incredible perk.
I was going to cancel the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card last year since I think the benefits are largely redundant with the Prestige Card. However, when I called to cancel they gave me a solid retention offer, so I’ve held onto it. However, I haven’t been putting too much spend on it.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® I hold onto for a very simple reason. The card offers a 10% refund on redeemed American miles, for a total of up to 10,000 refunded miles per year. I redeem at least 100,000 American miles a year, meaning I’m always able to max this out. The card has a $95 annual fee, so the way I look at it, this is an opportunity to pick up American miles for ~0.95 cents each. If you don’t have this card, keep in mind it also has a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus at the moment, with the first year’s annual fee waived.
Historically I had the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card because it offers Gold status for as long as you have the card. However, in the meantime The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express also offer Gold status for as long as you have those cards.
However, the card has two other cool perks:
- You get Hilton Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card per year
- You get an annual free weekend night certificate valid at virtually any Hilton family property when you spend $10,000 on the card per year
So I find it worth at least putting $10,000 of spend on the card for that free night. While I’m Hilton Diamond through a status match at the moment, perhaps at some point I’ll find it worthwhile to put more spend on the card to earn Diamond.
At the moment I’m finding Citi cards most valuable for the perks, like the fourth night free benefit on the Citi Prestige. I’m not really finding it worthwhile to put much spend on their cards, given the other great offerings out there. However, the Citi Prestige continues to have my single favorite perk offered by any credit card.