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Over the years, credit card companies have been getting stricter when it comes to the terms of their sign-up bonuses. It’s a pattern we’ve seen spread, where those who are repeatedly signing up for cards just for the welcome bonuses aren’t eligible anymore.
For the credit card issuers this can be a tough balance. They want to prevent people from applying for cards just for the bonuses. At the same time, they don’t want the rules to be so restrictive that they prevent a profitable customer from being welcomed back. In other words, it’s conceivable that you’ve had a card for a decade and cancel it because it no longer suits your spend patterns. But it could be that a few years from now you see value in having the card again.
Here are the changes we’ve seen over the past couple of years from issuers, in regards to getting approved for new cards:
- American Express sign-up bonuses are now all marketed as being “once in a lifetime;” this has applied to personal credit cards for a while, and was recently extended to business credit cards
- Chase won’t approve people for their non co-brand cards if they’ve applied for more than five credit cards in the past 24 months (this will soon be extended to their co-brand cards as well); it doesn’t matter whether any of those cards were Chase cards, but rather across the board you just can’t be approved for them
Well, it looks like Citi is the latest issuer to get stricter about earning the sign-up bonus on their cards, though not in as strict of a way as other issuers. You can now only earn the sign-up bonus on Citi cards if you haven’t opened or closed that specific card in the past 24 months. Previously the policy was that you had to wait 18 months between applications.
For example, here are the terms on the Citi Prestige® Card, which I consider to be the all around most compelling credit card out there:
Bonus ThankYou Points not available if you have had a Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months
Increasing the eligibility requirement from 18 months to 24 months seems like a very reasonable change on Citi’s part, and still isn’t nearly as restrictive as the policies from American Express and Chase.
In a way it’s actually good to see them make this change, since it means this is something they’ve actively been discussing, but they don’t feel the need to be as restrictive as other issuers. Better that than them switching the terms on cards from “every 18 months” to “once in a lifetime” overnight.
What do you make of this change from Citi?
(Tip of the hat to Doctor Of Credit)