Published on December 13th, 2016 | by Chuck181
Citi 24/48-Month Churning Rule Explained in Detail
Update: This is now 48 months
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.