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Citibank recently introduced the Citi Rewards+℠ Card, which is a solid no-annual-fee option for earning Citi ThankYou points. Shortly after they rolled out the card, they sent emails encouraging certain current Citi cardholders to product change to the new Citi Rewards+ card.
A product change is when you switch from one card to another with no new application. It can be a useful tool for keeping a healthy credit score, and maintaining a good relationship with the bank all while helping you make the most of your credit card perks and rewards.
There are advantages and potential downsides to doing this, especially when it comes to Citibank and their application rules. But if you know the rules and how a product change will impact you, it can be a great way to skip the annual fees on a card while still earning rewards or to upgrade and take advantage of premium card perks.
Before you decide on switching your card, here is what you need to know.
Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card Product Change Rules
Making a product change on your existing credit card can be a smart move because you’ll keep the same account open, which will help increase your age of accounts and improve your credit score. And if you downgrade to a no-annual-fee card, it’ll be easy to keep year after year.
You can also upgrade to a more expensive card. For example, you could switch from the Citi Premier℠ Card to the Citi Prestige card to take advantage of the Prestige’s 5X ThankYou points on air travel or restaurants.
Because of Citibank’s application rules you’ll want to be careful when you upgrade or downgrade. In general, you are not eligible for a sign-up bonus on a card if you have opened or closed a card within that same brand of cards in the last 24 months. Brands include Citi ThankYou points earning cards, or American Airlines cards.
There are exceptions to the rule. For example, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is an American Airlines card, but it won’t limit you from earning a bonus on the personal American Airlines cards and vice versa.
Also, unless you’re targeted with a special offer, you won’t earn a sign-up bonus when you product change (and I’m not sure that Citibank has ever even had an offer like that before). In my opinion, this is the biggest downside.
How Are Product Changes Treated in Regards to Citi’s 24-Month Rule?
When you product change a Citibank card it will count as an account closing if the card number changes. But if your credit card number stays the same, then Citi won’t consider it as an opened or closed account.
That makes a huge difference.
So if you’re product changing always be sure to ask if your card number is going to change. Usually (not guaranteed though) if you product change within the same brand of cards the number will stay the same. So you should be able to downgrade a Citi Premier℠ Card to a Citi Rewards+℠ Card and still be eligible to earn the sign-up bonus on the Citi Prestige card.
But if your card is switching from a MasterCard to a Visa (or vice versa) the number will change. And if you’re switching between brands, say a Citi Double Cash to a Citi Rewards+, then you should expect the card number to change.
You Can’t Product Change to Just Any Card
Product changing is a handy tool to have, but it’s not always an option. First off, you’ll need to have the credit card open for at least a year before you’ll have the option to product change.
Also, you can’t just switch to any card you want willy nilly. For example, you can’t switch from a business card to a personal card. And switching a card to a different brand isn’t always an option. Although Citibank has allowed people to change a Citi® Double Cash Card or Citi Dividend Card to a Citi Rewards+℠ Card, and possibly other cards too.
If you’re not sure if you can switch to the card you want, it’s best to call the bank and ask what options are available.