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Citi’s 1/24 Rule on ThankYou cards
Citi has more confusing rules than any other issuer, including Chase and its 5/24 rule. They are certainly the only issuer that has language around when you closed a card (that isn’t even the one you are applying for) and uses that to make you ineligible for a new card bonus on another card.
If you look at the application page for any of Citi’s ThankYou earning cards, you’ll find this language:
Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou®Premier/Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.
So if you are looking at ANY of the above cards and have or recently had any of the above cards, you’ll really need to think about how to play it.
Let’s say you opened a Rewards+ card 20 months ago and now think a Premier card, with a 60,000 point bonus, sounds enticing. You’ll need to wait 4 months.
But let’s say you only have a Citi Prestige card you opened 6 years ago. You want to cancel it now and get a Premier card. Well, you can apply for the Premier, get the bonus, and then close the Prestige. But you cannot close the Prestige and then get the Premier.
Needless to say, if you have a no-fee card like the Preferred or Rewards+, just leave it alone forever. It’s when you are figuring out what to do with the fee-based cards that things get dicey.
(If you are REALLY going to close your card and not downgrade, by the way, read about Citi Premier/Prestige retention offers.)
What happens if you downgrade a Premier or Prestige?
For the more experienced players out there, this is your next question.
The answer is that it won’t count as an account closure so long as your card number doesn’t change. Downgrading either a Premier or Prestige to a Rewards+ or Preferred card should not trigger a new card number. If you last got a bonus 24 or more months ago and want to get a new bonus, just make sure you downgrade and don’t close your account. This will also preserve your points (though you can’t transfer to airlines without a Premier or Prestige card anyway).
What about Citi AAdvantage credit cards?
These now follow a different Citi AAdvantage 1/48 rule, which limits you to one bonus per 48 months on the exact same card.
You can get the bonus on all four cards (the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, and the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card once every 48 months.
Citi likes to keep us on our toes. As long as you downgrade correctly, you should still be able to get a bonus every 24 months, but you must pay close attention. You’ll also only be able to get one ThankYou bonus total in that timeframe, so choose wisely.
Generally the Premier and Prestige have the best bonus offers, though both have annual fees and neither are waived the first year. The Rewards+, by contrast, generally has a much smaller bonus (but no annual fee). When you do the math, you will always want a Premier or Prestige bonus unless your specific circumstances dictate otherwise. You are allowed to have multiple cards and this restriction notably does not include “if you have the card you are applying for.”
So yes, you can still downgrade a Premier and then get a new one as long as you meet the restriction about 24 months since your last bonus.
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You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.