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INSIDER SECRET: Under Citibank’s current application rules, if you downgrade a card, it won’t count as an account closure as long as the card number doesn’t change.
Each bank has their own unique credit card application rules that go beyond just checking your credit score and income. Amex only allows you to earn a specific card’s welcome bonus once per lifetime, Chase has the 5/24 rule and Bank of America won’t approve you for more than four cards every 24 months.
Citi has a rule where you are restricted to earning one intro bonus with the same brand or “family” of cards once every 24 months. But it looks like Citi could be extending this timeframe to 48 months. As bad as that is, it could actually work out better for some people, depending on how the rule is implemented.
Again, this rule change is currently just speculation, but if you’ll be negatively affected by this change, I would suggest applying for the cards you want sooner rather than later.
Potential Citi Application Rule Changes
Travel in Points found that some people have stumbled across Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® applications with the following terms:
American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® account in the past 48 months.
Currently, the language on the Citi American Airlines Platinum card is:
American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi®/AAdvantage® card (other than an AAdvantage MileUpSM or CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.
The big difference is the change from a 24-month to a 48-month waiting period.
The other big change is a potentially positive one. Currently you aren’t eligible to earn an intro bonus with the Citi American Airlines Platinum card if you’ve opened or closed a Citi American Airlines Platinum card or a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® in the past 24 months.
Note: Sometimes you’ll be able to avoid closing a Citi card account by downgrading a card and as long as the account number stays the same Citi won’t view the change as an account closure. For example, I’ve downgraded a Citi American Airlines Platinum card to an American Airlines MileUp card and the account number didn’t change.
If this new rule goes into effect the way it’s currently written, you’d have to wait 48 months from when you last earned a bonus only on one specific card — not a “family” or brand of cards. And the 48-month window starts when you earn the welcome bonus, not when the account is closed. So while the potential new rule is negative, it might end up not being quite as bad as it seems on the surface.
Currently there are only reports of the 48-month language appearing on some Citi American Airlines card applications, but if I were a betting man I’d guess that Citi’s ThankYou cards will eventually be affected by this new rule. Currently, the 24-month waiting period also applies to other cards as well, like the Citi Prestige, Citi Rewards+℠ Card and Citi Premier℠ Card. However, if the rules are expanded to affect these cards, it could actually help some people to stack the benefits of Citi’s ThankYou cards.
The way the application rules for Citi ThankYou cards are applied right now, you can hold more than one type of ThankYou card (i.e. Citi Premier and Citi Rewards+) at the same time, but you can only earn, at most, one ThankYou card intro bonus every 24 months. So it makes sense to wait 24 months between applications.
Having a couple of different ThankYou cards can be very useful. For example, if you have the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier card you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to 15 airlines partners. With the Citi Rewards+ card you’ll get a 10% rebate on all ThankYou points redemptions on up to 100,000 points per calendar year. As team member Harlan found out, if you partner the Citi Rewards+ card with either the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, you’ll get a 10% points rebate when you transfer ThankYou points to airlines.
If the new 48-month rule is applied to each Citi ThankYou card individually, then you’ll be able to open multiple different Citi ThankYou cards and stack the benefits much more quickly. Based on reports, with Citi you need to allow eight days between personal card applications and can only be approved for two personal cards within 65 days. Although your experience could vary.
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