Citi Tightens Up Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Terms

Update: This offer for the Citi Prestige® Card has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

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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:

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

Bottom line

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)

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Do you act like upstanding citizen hoping others will be too and take only as per their needs or do you act like an asshole knowing others already are will take out of greed. In this “hobby” the answer has been very clear already for a long time.

  2. On another note…

    I received a targeted offer in the mail today, with a bonus of 25k AAdvantage miles if I opened an account with Fidelity, and deposited $50k. What a joke!

  3. @Susan, why is that a joke? It may be a small bonus, but if you are already investing it is pretty easy to move an entire account over and get the miles. You get 50k miles if you deposit $100k.

  4. Ok-can somebody clarify? I’ve seen the Chase 5/24 rule described two ways. This article says “if you’ve applied for more than 5 cards” others say “if you’ve applied for 5 or more” These are not the same thing.
    In the first scenario, you can have had 5 (but not more than 5) new cards in the last 24 months. In the second you can only have had 4 new cards in the last 24 months. Which is correct?

  5. I’m more concerned about them cutting benefits on the cards. I’d be okay waiting a bit longer to churn as long as they keep the prestige card untouched! I’ve saved >$4k with the 4th night free, golf rounds, and price rewind.

  6. Increasing the time limit (from 18 months) to 24 months is not unreasonable at all. Between Chase (5/24 rule) and Citi, there are too many credit cards [for the average consumer] to apply for in a 24-month time frame anyway. No one can blame Chase or Citi if they don’t want to be party to repeatedly giving $500-$1000 worth of signup bonuses to the same person(s) every 18 months. Not that I would mind taking/receiving it, of course.

  7. @Credit:
    J. C. is that really you, or just one of your disciples?
    Are you the mileage blogger equivalent of religious law enforcement?

    If so, if I pray hard, can you have my ex stoned to death for fooling around on me?

  8. @susan: For years I’ve been getting 50k miles on United just by transferring existing securities from another broker to Fidelity once a year. It doesn’t have to be cash.

  9. @losingtrader – I wish I had securities to move over 🙂 I am prohibited from having a brokerage account (or trading securities and/or options, as I work in that industry), and my 401k is already with Fidelity.

    @GuestA – I thought it was a joke because the most recent offer I took advantage of gave me 60k AAdvantage points without having to make much effort. I’m glad everyone has $50k laying around that they can just move from account to account. I just thought it was a ridiculous offer.

  10. Hate to pile on Susan but this is the second year I am doing this. Retired a little over a year ago and got some lump sum payments. Happy that Fidelity has made the offer available. I earned this 100K miles for something I would have done anyway. That was just about my CX round trip biz ticket to Bangkok. No joke!

  11. First Class Cabin seems to be further & further away.Ben needs to come up with a new strategy for us ASAP!!!!

  12. @susan

    I’m with the others. I don’t think it’s a joke or ridiculous. I’d move $50k for 25k miles if I had it. I might agree with you if there was a fee for doing so, but as is? Not a joke or ridiculous.

  13. I’ve gotten the Fidelity miles offer twice, once with AA, once with UA. But I was lucky as both my offers were for 100K miles. The first one had to be kept there for 6 months, the second one for nine months. Since this was my emergency fund, and the banks were only offering something like 0.001 % interest, it seemed like a good deal to me.

    But the Citi news is horrible. I had 3 Citi cards that were good to reapply in the next few months. Now I have to wait another 6 months after that. 🙁

  14. Susan, seeing your avatar always makes my morning! Keep the comments coming and ignore the haters.

  15. Lucky: doesn’t this mean you would now have to have a 24 month cool-off period *after cancelling* a citi card, not applying for a card? So it could be that two things are changing: 1) when the cool-off period starts–from signup to cancellation, and 2) the length of the cool-off period.

    Stated differently, you’d have to keep the card at least however long needed to accrue a signup bonus (3-6 months), cancel, and then wait 24 months before reapplying? Still not as draconian as the AmEx or Chase restrictions, but definitely not simply adding 6 months to the cool-off period. Especially if you’re holding onto the card for the benefits, such as the 4th night free. And that’s probably precisely Citi’s point.

  16. Hi Sue
    I went to get this offer @ the local Citibank Bus. 50K AA points but mine was $50K cash in the BANK (1.2 %) for 1 year min SOoo I walked out .

  17. i think it is only a matter of time before Citi does a Chase/AMEX style rule which would essentially shut most of us out.

  18. It’s also worth mentioning that if you convert from one Citi Card to another, you are NOT eligible for the sign up bonus on the new card.

    The best strategy would be to either cancel your existing card, or convert it to a no-annual-fee card, and then application for the new card separately.

    I recently converted my AAdvantage Platinum card to the Citi Prestige, got denied the sign-up bonus, and now won’t be eligible for the Prestige signup bonus for at least a year.

  19. How are we certain the phrase “opened or closed in the past 24 months” doesn’t mean we have to wait 24 months AFTER we closed an account?

    For example, I got the AA Platinum Card in Nov. 2013. I closed the account in January 2016. Based on the new rules, wouldn’t I have to wait until January 2018 to get this or any other AA card again? Or could I get the card and bonus again today?

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