Citi Increasing Signup Bonus Restriction to 48 Months

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Citi has made a move to restrict welcome offers on the AA family of cards to one bonus every 48 months. Although we haven't seen the new terms and conditions applied to Citi's ThankYou Rewards products, there's a good chance the rule will be applied across all cards in the future.  While this could be bad news for some, the new rule may actually end up giving you more options for your next Citi card.

Key Terms

  • Citi has implemented a 48-month waiting period before you can get a bonus on a card you've had in the past.
  • Closing a Citi co-branded American Airlines card will no longer mean you are ineligible for other cards that also earn Advantage miles.

Here is the new language on the Citi website:

“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.”

As far as we know, the change hasn't yet impacted any cards outside the American Airlines co-brand family. However, it's rare to see changes that roll out for specific cards not eventually implemented across the entire portfolio. Chase is the perfect example with their rollout of the 5/24 rule—first to Ultimate Rewards earning cards, and eventually to all Chase products.

Citi ThankYou Cards

So far there has been no change to the terms and conditions of the Citi ThankYou earning cards. Here is the current language for ThankYou products:

“Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+SM Citi, ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi PremierSM or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.”

While there is no indication that Citi will implement the new 48-month policy to its ThankYou card lineup, we think it's a safe bet in the long term. However, if they do, there is one possible upside:

Currently, Citi groups its cards into families. If you have opened or closed a card within the same family in the last 24 months (even if it's a different card), you will not be eligible to receive a welcome bonus. The new 48-month rule seems to sever this familial link, with every card going its own way. This is good news if you hold a Citi card and want to open a new one in the same family; you should be eligible for a welcome bonus as long as the card you plan to open is a different product than the one you currently hold, regardless of your current situation with other cards in the family. This is a nice bonus for existing AA cardholders who are looking to pick up another AA co-branded product from Citi.

Our Take

The move is no surprise. Over the past few years, most card issuers have been adding more and more restrictions. These are aimed at making it more difficult for people to game the system and receive multiple welcome bonuses for the same card. While the new restriction is annoying and will be added to the ever-increasing list of credit card application rules, it should not be an issue in the long run, as long as you have an effective and well-thought-out application strategy.

It's worth noting that the American Airlines website currently has a better offer on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® than you'll find going directly through Citi (or through AwardWallet's affiliate links). We've updated our links sitewide to take you to the best publicly available offer—currently 60,000 miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Source: Doctor of Credit

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Welcome Offer Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
The AA Platinum Select card is a great choice for anyone who travels at least a few times per year with American Airlines. Cardholders get a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight purchases.

Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
  • Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
  • A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
  • Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at restaurants
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Welcome Offer Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
The AA Business Card is a great card to hold for any business owner that travels at least a few times per year with American Airlines. Get a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight purchases. Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
  • Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
  • A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
  • Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on cable and satellite providers
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on select telecommunications merchants
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on car rentals
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
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Comments

  • Avatar

    Does the AAdvantage Gold mastercard still exist, and is that now separate from Platinum select in terms of the 48 month restriction?

  • Avatar

    Restrictions appear to be a trend in this market. Blogs like this seem to be the only antidote.

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    This is good for me to know and have to try to remember. I still feel burned from that one time I tried to get a bonus and was restricted after already fulfilling all the spending requirements. That’s not a good feeling!

  • Avatar

    Thanks for the info on the 60K signup bonus – recently approved with a lower one and will see if I can get it matched.

  • Avatar

    Hoping this change does have the predicted effect .of separating the products I want to get the Executive card in January when my Admiral’s Club membership is due to renew, but got the Platinum select card 12 months ago.

  • Avatar
    jeff moyer says:

    Does an application for this card thru Citibank affect by 5/24 count with Chase?

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    moving to 48 months is bad, but if they get rid of the grouping of similar cards into “families” that will be a positive.

  • Avatar

    It’s time to closed my citi cards ASAP and so disappointed.

    • Avatar

      You’re going to close cards now because you can’t get the bonus after 24 months? But you would have kept them open for some reason if you could have?

  • Avatar

    Let’s hope this is not a new trend but I won’t hold my breathe. Well, only time will tell!

  • Avatar

    I only have the AAdvantage Executive card with Citi right now. The Admirals Club benefits are worthwhile for my travel patterns. I have been thinking of collecting TY points. Definitely need to think about my strategy!

  • Avatar

    Really bad change, disappointed.

  • Avatar

    The credit card churners have a higher bar to jump through now. I gave up on so much card churnung a few years ago.

  • Avatar

    This will be the new norm for all banks IMO.

  • Avatar

    I’ve had several cards in the past with Citi. Is there an easy way to see exactly what cards you had and when you opened/closed them? What month you received the bonus? I should have done a better job of tracking myself, I know. Or is it just best to reach our to Citi so that you have in writing what they are seeing?

    Thanks!

    • Avatar

      You should be able to dig the info out of your credit report. CreditKarma offers free access to TransUnion and Equifax. You can’t see exactly which card is which, so you may have to look at the credit limits / balances to match each Citi card in the report to the actual product. I generally just assume I earned the bonus 90 days after signing up for the card just to be safe. Citi might be able to give you more detail on the bonus date.

  • Avatar

    More restrictions aren’t good, but at least for me & the wife, every 2 years is still plenty often to keep our points balances full.

  • Avatar

    It could always me worse….just look at AMEX.

  • Avatar

    Wow this will impact those people who want to get that credit card which gives Admirals club membership. I think Citi executive it’s called.

  • Avatar
    JAGANNATHAN RAMANUJAM says:

    This is disappointing since it follows their removal of the warranty extension policy, reduction of the price rewind benefits and other stuff.

  • Avatar

    I can’t say that this shocks me. Seems to be the trend now. However with Citi ripping all of their benefits as of late the last thing they want to do is to continue to take things away. I know that this was probably something that was coming anyway but I’m hoping they do something to keep folks interested…and I don’t think Double Cash being able to convert to TYPs are going to do it unless it’s a 1:1 transfer…and that may not even be enough.

  • Avatar

    There is no reason not to believe this won’t be expanded to other card families in the near future.

  • Avatar

    I’m sorry to hear this! I am not surprised though.

  • Avatar

    48 months is just too long. I have already been relegated to just using their double cash back card. And I have heard rumors that that card is going away too. I can’t believe that this policy makes money for them.

  • Avatar

    Maybe this is because of the flyer abuses?

    • Avatar

      Around here we don’t call it abuses :), since everything is always done according to the terms of any offer, as it can only be. This is simply another case of reducing offerings and promotions. They will always try to delicately strike the balance of only offering enough benefits to entice applications.

  • Avatar

    Oh, bummer, I was about to churn my AAdvantage Platinum! Thanks for the article, btw.

  • Avatar

    Looks like the way of the future. They probably will all eventually go in this direction.

  • Avatar
    Steven William Van Meter says:

    Frustrating when cards add more and more restrictions. There are some solid benefits here though.

  • Avatar

    I thought I was eligible for a bonus. I met the minimum spend and then called to find out why I did not get the bonus miles. The agent said they would investigate and then I received a letter saying I was only eligible for the bonus every 48 months.

  • Avatar
    ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    weird. I jut applied and got instant approval. I had this card 28 months ago. Change must be scheduled for later, so don’t delay!

  • Avatar
    ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Damn. I just passed the 24 month mark and was waiting until the Chase pipe was full. Oh well, another 2 years won’t kill me. Hello, Barclay’s?

  • Avatar

    “As long as you have an effective and well-thought-out application strategy” is key here. I haven’t had one in the past, in part due to laziness, but also because I didn’t need one. Now I need to pull my credit report and past statements to see when I opened and closed accounts then map out my future apps. Better get cracking 😀