Posted by Chuck on December 13, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on December 13th, 2016 | by Chuck

181

Citi 24/48-Month Churning Rule Explained in Detail

Update: This is now 48 months

[Note: if some of this post is not showing properly, try without adblock.]

Citi has a rule that once you get the signup bonus on a credit card, you can’t get it again within 24-months.

We often get questions in the comments section from people trying to understand the nuances of this rule so I thought I’d explain it here as clearly as possible.

The Rule Explained

The rule applies to all Citi cards including American Airlines, ThankYou, Hilton, and Expedia. Here’s an example of the rule as it shows on ThankYou cards:

Bonus ThankYou points are not available if you have had ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige cards opened or closed in the past 24 months.

There are three parts to the rule:

  • Basic rule: Citi has a rule that if you were approved for a credit card, you won’t get the signup bonus again if you apply within 24-months of the first approval.
  • Card grouping: Citi groups all cards within one ‘family’ as if they are one card. For example, the ThankYou Prestige, Premier, and Preferred are considered as one card. So if you open a Preferred, you won’t be able to get the bonus on the Prestige for another 24-months.
  • ‘Open or close’: Citi resets the clock both with the open/approval date of the card and the close date of the card. This part is a bit nonsensical. Essentially, if you have a card open for 24-months, you can readily get the bonus again, but if you close the card you’ll have to wait 24-months before getting another bonus. Just accept this as a fact of Citi life.

The ‘open or close’ part is what most often confuses people.

Important update (2/9/19): Citi recently made a small change in the terms of the ThankYou card (only) whereby ‘card opening’ was changed with ‘new cardmember bonus’. For that reason, I’d recommend waiting 24 months from the date the bonus was received which is typically 1-3 months beyond the card open date. You can read our full analysis of the wording change in this dedicated post.

 Q&A

Card Doubles

1) If I apply for a card in July 2017, can I apply for the same card in August 2019 while the first card is still open and get the bonus?

Yes, since you haven’t opened or closed the card within 24-months you are eligible for the bonus. Note, there’s no guarantee Citi will approve someone for a second card of the same version as the one they currently have. Many people have had success holding multiples of the same card, especially with AA cards, but no guarantee that can’t change or that this applies to all cards.

Card doubles (business)

2) Is that true for Citi business cards as well – can I have two of the same card, concurrently?

No, the terms indicate that a single business can’t hold two of the same card, and Flyertalk confirms the same. So you’ll have to close the card, wait 24-months from close, then apply again to get a second bonus.

Workaround

3) Is there any way around the 24-month rule?

You might occasionally bump into a targeted offer or pre-qualified offer which doesn’t have the 24-months verbiage. I you do, go for it!

Downgrades/Product-Change

4) What happens if I downgrade or product change a Citi card? Does that reset the clock as if you closed it?

Good question, and a very important one. I tried to clarify this issue with Citi but haven’t had success. You can see this post for a discussion on this topic.

The Flyertalk wiki writes that AA cards which are downgraded/product-changed do reset the 24-month clock, whether the downgrade is within the same card family (e.g. AA Platinum to AA Gold) or outside the family (e.g. AA to ThankYou). Frequentmiler puts forth the theory that product-changes within the same brand might not reset the clock, only product-changes outside the family cause a reset.

TPG heard from Citi that downgrades do not reset the clock provided it keeps the same card number. (Read more in this post about which cards get new numbers and which ones keep the same.)

We do have one data point which indicates that even when a product-change results in a new number it will not reset the clock. This is contrary to the TPG report. We don’t have any data points on downgrades, only on a product change. Another data point suggests the reverse. My guess is that within the same card family (e.g. Prestige to Preferred) is more likely not to be considered a reset.

Didn’t receive bonus

5) What happens if you open or close a card but never got get the signup bonus (e.g. I didn’t meet the minimum spend)?

The language is pretty clear that you will not be eligible for the bonus in this case since you have ‘opened or closed’ the card within the past 24-months. That said, we don’t have any actual data points as to how Citi acts in this case. It’s definitely worth assuming that you won’t get the bonus.

Citi recently made a small change in the terms of the ThankYou card (only). According to the new terms, it seems clear that if you opened a ThankYou card without getting a bonus, you should still be eligible for a bonus.

Business cards

6) Does the 24-month rule apply to Citi business cards?

Yes, but business cards are considered separately and don’t combine with personal cards. So if you get a Citi personal ThankYou card you can still get the bonus on a ThankYou business card within 24-months and vice versa.

Calculating the date

7) How do I calculate the exact date of a new card?

The important date here is the date the card was approved, not the date you applied, nor the date the bonus was received.

(If you apply for a new card after 24 months while still holding the old card, and you subsequently close the old card immediately after approval of the new card before the bonus on the new card posts, the bonus will probably still be attached to your account based on the date of approval, and we have one report backing that up as well. To be safe, wait until after you receive the signup bonus on your new card before cancelling an old card.)

Examples

Scenario 1 (two similar examples)

  • I open a Citi ThankYou Premier card in March 2017. It’s now April 2019 and I still have the card. I can now apply for another ThankYou card and get the bonus. I can apply either for the Prestige or Preferred card. I can even apply for a second Premier card, and if approved I’ll get the bonus. (But there’s no guarantee Citi will like approving someone for duplicates of the same card, as discussed above.)
  • I open a Citi AA Platinum card in March 2017. It’s now April 2019 and I still have the card. I can now apply for another AA card and get the bonus. I can apply either for the AA Executive or AA Gold card. I can even apply for a second AA Platinum card, and if approved I’ll get the bonus.

Scenario 2 (two similar examples)

  • I open a Citi ThankYou Premier in March 2017 and I close it when the annual fee becomes due in March 2018. I have to wait until March 2020 before getting the bonus on any ThankYou card.
  • I open a Citi AA Platinum in March 2017 and I close it when the annual fee becomes due in March 2018. I have to wait until March 2020 before getting the bonus on any AA card.

Best Application Practices

Given that the 24-month rule resets with both opening and closing a card, the best way to maximize Citi bonuses is by trying to time your card closures along with an application. For example, if you last opened the Premier card in August 2015, keep it open until August 2017 and apply for the Prestige card. After being approved for Prestige, close out the Premier card to save the annual fee. (You can probably close right away, though it might be worth waiting until the bonus posts on the new card, if possible.)

Of course, this strategy won’t always work, depending whether you’re willing to pay the annual fee.

See Strategies For Dealing With Citi’s New Application Rule for more info, and see 17 Things to Know about Citi Credit Cards for general info on applying for Citi cards.

Aside from Citi’s rule for giving signup bonuses, they also have rules as to how many cards you can signup for total (8/65 rule), irrespective on the bonus. We discuss that rule in detail in a separate post.



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Cole Gleason
Cole Gleason

Is this post missing some sections? The Card Doubles heading does not seem to match the content.

William Charles

Some people seem to be missing categories when they have adblock installed, no idea why as it’s not intentional but removing it for this site should fix the issue.

David
David

what about citi business cards? same rules?

Brandon French
Brandon French

Ditto on this. I just got a business AAdvantage card but it’s been less than 24 months since my last personal card :\

Thomas
Thomas

You should be fine, doesn’t apply to business

Brandon French
Brandon French

Thank you sir

William Charles

No offence, but did you actually read the post? Chuck mentioned business cards multiple times and how they are affected.

Dave
Dave

William – Am I blind as a bat? The first thing that popped in my head was about businesses but in all seriousness, I didn’t see it mentioned in Chuck’s post from today either? I even used Ctrl F to search for the word “business” Anyhow Chuck’s comment has me straightened out above

William Charles

[Is that true for Citi business cards as well – can I have two of the same card, concurrently? No, the terms indicate that a single business can’t hold two of the same card, and Flyertalk confirms the same. So you’ll have to close the card, wait 24-months from close, then apply again to get a second bonus.]

Does the 24-month rule apply to Citi business cards? Yes, but business cards are considered separately and don’t combine with personal cards. So if you get a Citi personal ThankYou card you can still get the bonus on a ThankYou business card within 24-months and vice versa.

From the article above when I ctrl+F for business. Sorry I wasn’t trying to sound rude but it just seemed like a lot of readers didn’t read the article at all and asked questions before reading when Chuck had put time and effort into answering questions in the post.

Brandon French
Brandon French

Haha no worries about sounding rude. It’s deserved sometimes. I kinda want to blame this on a partial posting though. I swear it was kind of a stub when I read it this morning. Now it’s longer…

William Charles

Maybe Chuck edited it between when you wrote your comment and I replied :), we can blame him if you like haha.

TheBigEasyTraveler
TheBigEasyTraveler

Excellent work as usual. Thank you for all the details.

Ben
Ben

Hey Doc,

Good post as usual. One question. I opened a premiere card in May 2015 and a prestige card in August 2015. If I close my premiere card in May 2017, will that affect my ability to get another prestige card in August 2017. I confused as to how the 24 month rule and the card family rule work together.

Is the rule if I close any card within a card family, then I cannot get the bonus again for 24 months? Or does that only apply to the specific card itself. Thanks.

Glenn
Glenn

Read again.

Ender
Ender

What about product change? Would this be considered as open/close?

Jesson
Jesson

Product change is equal to closing one account and opening the other account at the same time.

Dan
Dan

You are the king of this community. Thank you for the info on business cards. I got my AF waived and I was going to hold it for a year to be able to get the bonus again, but now I know that I have to close it and wait 2 years since they wouldn’t give me a second one…unless I just use a different business name with these same SSN?

projectx
projectx

Outstanding post.

One question on personal/business cards. I understand Citi’s rules to be only one application every 8 days, and no more than two applications every 65 days. Does this rule hold true if you’re getting a mix of personal and business?

William Charles

Rules are as follows:

You can only apply for one Citi personal card every 8 days
You can apply for no more than two Citi personal cards every 65 days
You can apply for one Citi business card every 95 days

Pretty sure this is a new rule about one card every 60 days, but some conflicting datapoints so that isn’t 100%: https://www.doctorofcredit.com/new-citi-application-rule-one-card-per-60-days/

Sallu25
Sallu25

I applied for Citi Hilton on 12/28/16 and then applied for AA PS on 1/2/17. Got approved for both.

savemesf
savemesf

Since the AT&T Access card earns TY Points, what are the odds it is considered the same family as Prestige / Premier / Preferred?

Lantean
Lantean

this is great. thank you.

i recently did PC from Premier to Preferred… and they issued a new card number.
so I am guessing it counts as an open/close?

Thanks.

jcb
jcb

Thanks for this. Would like to see the answer to the product change as well.

Do you have DPs on which cards they don’t mind issuing a second one while the other is active? I’d assume it’s better to downgrade if that doesn’t reset the clock.

Rob
Rob

Seems it would be best to get a card, wait two years and then get a second card at the same time you close the first card. This way the clock would reset at the same time for the closing of the first and the opening of the second.

Glenn
Glenn

The issue is you then have to pay (another) annual fee. Alternative is to open the card, get the bonus quickly, close it, then wait two years.

Dave
Dave

A lot of people asking about downgrades/product changes, DoC mentions in his post that FT is saying that these do reset, but I don’t think there are enough datapoints to form a firm conclusion on this matter. Maybe those of you who are pondering a new application can try?

Fan of Doc
Fan of Doc

Dave – why don’t you try yourself? Be the DP you want to be, rather than pushing others to try for you…

Alex
Alex

Do these rules apply to cards approved before the rule was in effect?

Glenn
Glenn

Yes

Master Allan
Master Allan

Excellent Post.

Same question as Alex above but if I guessed on the answer I say Yes the rules apply. A shot in the foot for Citi. I intend to replace my AMEX Plat with a competitor premium card. No incentive for a Citi Prestige because early last year I opened and regularly use a ThankYou Preferred? Hello Chase Sapphire Reserve, my new card.

Glenn
Glenn

Citi will be very upset they lost another churner.

Master Allan
Master Allan

My comment has nothing to do with churning nor did you comprehend my statement before spewing replies. I’m a current customer of AMEX considering another brand with additional value to support my premium travel lifestyle. I cannot (or should not) replace my AMEX with the Prestige having opened a Preferred card 12 months ago. So I’ll review the offerings from Chase. Bonuses are incentives for business relationships. I would not even accept a new job if there were no improvements compared to my current.

Debbie
Debbie

Citi close my husband’s HH account due to non use. We were only a few months away from our 24 month waiting period for a new one. I am assuming that they have just reset the clock on us! So, a warning, if you are waiting out the clock, at least put some spend on the card so that Citi doesn’t cancel the it :-(.

William Charles

Good tip!

Shogo
Shogo

Same thing happened to me. I’m looking to apply for a Citi Premier, and going through my app history I just realized that I’m affected by the fact that last year Citi cancelled my Preferred after 3 years of non-use… looks like I’m waiting another year…

Nick
Nick

Does product changing, restart the clock as well?

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