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In April I wrote about how Citi tightened up the terms on their credit card sign-up bonuses. With this change, you could only earn the sign-up bonus on Citi cards if you haven’t opened or closed that specific card in the past 24 months, while previously the policy was that you had to wait 18 months. So they basically added a further six month wait.
Adding more restrictions on sign-up bonuses and new approvals follows the industry trend in general, with American Express and Chase also both having become stricter about sign-up bonuses this year:
- 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 extended to business credit cards earlier in the year
- Chase won’t approve people for many of their cards if they’ve applied for more than five credit cards in the past 24 months; 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
So relatively speaking Citi has still been the most lenient with their rules, in my opinion.
Citi adds further restrictions on sign-up bonuses
Well, Citi has just added a further restriction to their credit card sign-up bonuses, and now limits you to one sign-up bonus per “type” of card every 24 months.
For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® lists the following terms:
American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.
Meanwhile the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card lists the following terms:
Bonus Hilton HHonors points are not available if you have had any Citi® Hilton HHonors™ card opened or closed in the past 24 months.
The Citi Prestige® Card lists the following terms:
Bonus ThankYou points are not available if you have had ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.
So as you can see, you can only earn the welcome bonus on an American AAdvantage, Hilton HHonors, or Citi ThankYou card if you don’t have any similar type of card in the past 24 months. Previously the 24 month restriction applied to only that specific type of card, but you could get a bonus on both the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card just several days apart, for example.
While I get what Citi is going for here, I think they’re missing that there are many long term cardmembers who hold onto multiple “similar” cards in a way that makes sense, and not just for the sign-up bonus. For example, I have both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou Premier Card. I put a ton of spend on the Prestige, including airfare and hotels, while I put a lot of my other travel purchases on the Premier.
Even with the same co-brand partner there are distinct enough benefits between cards that it can make sense to hold onto multiple cards.
This new rule is something to be aware of, and puts Citi closer to being in line with the new restrictions on American Express and Chase cards. You can now only earn one “type” of sign-up bonus if you have or have had a card in the past 24 months, so it’s something to consider when applying for cards going forward.
What do you make of Citi’s new restrictions on welcome bonuses?
(Tip of the hat to Doctor of Credit)