Recently, I’ve had a few conversations with readers about Citi’s annual fee refund policy when closing, downgrading, or product changing a card. Due to the high degree of confusion on this matter, I sought to clarify the rules. Citi’s reps typically put it all in a single basket so that you have 60 days from when the fee posts to cancel or downgrade, after that there is no prorate. In practice, here’s my best guess/understanding of how it works:
[Note, some people have had success calling in and getting them to adjust for a full refund or a larger refund. Those are good data points, but aren’t the focus of this post: the goal here is to try clarifying how Citi’s automated system deals with product changes, downgrades, and closures.]
- If you close a card within 30 or 60 days, you get a full refund, not prorated. We used to put the number at 30 days, but multiple recent reports indicate that reps are saying the policy changed to 60 days. Reports indicate (1, 2) that cobrands get 60 days. I’m unsure if Citi’s own cards also get 60 days or if those only have 30.
- If you close a card at any point in middle of the year, you get a prorate from the date you called in to close the card. This works even in mid-year; I did this very recently with Citi Prestige and got a $225 refund on the fee. Multiple readers have reported (here and via email) Citi reps saying it won’t get prorated after the 60 day mark, but this does not appear to be accurate. I’m unsure if cobrands get prorated like Citi’s own cards or if those can’t be refunded in mid-year at all.
- If you downgrade within the same family of cards, e.g. Thank You Prestige to Preferred, the annual fee gets prorated based on the number of months the card was held. Downgrading takes a couple of months until fully processed (takes 50-52 days), and you’ll thus land up with an extra couple of month’s worth of fee than expected. This all holds true whether you downgrade in mid-year or downgrade soon after the annual fee posts.
The same policy applies to cobranded cards: if you downgrade within the same family of cards (e.g. $99 AA card to no-fee card), it’ll take 50 days to process and the annual fee will be prorated.
- If you product change outside the family within 30 days of fee posting, e.g. you change a $99 AA card to a fee-free ThankYou card or you change a Prestige to a Dividend, there are numerous conflicting data points. Some have experienced (and 1) the product change taking 50 days while others have not. Some have gotten (1, 2) a full refund while others have gotten a prorated refund (1, 2).
- If you product change a cobrand into one of Citi’s own cards in mid-year, I believe the system won’t automatically give you any refund at all. You can try calling in to get a prorate.
- For the American Airlines Executive card only: If you close or the product change or downgrade the card after 37 days, you will not be refunded. Reportedly, you won’t even get a prorate in this scenario (though others have heard differently).
These rules stated above are my understanding from threading together numerous recent data points, and there may be inaccuracies here or additional scenarios we haven’t considered. Please drop a comment with your own recent experiences from the past year, especially if it’s a counter data point to anything stated, just try to be clear on the details since there are numerous variables here.