We’ve written about an awesome offer available to get 40,000 Thank You points or 50,000 AAdvantage miles by opening a Citi checking account. Typically, the big bonuses come with credit cards, and it’s uncommon to be able to get a bonus like this for just opening a checking account. And these accounts can be funded a credit card that can accrue rewards and add to the value proposition of this offer.
The goal of this post is to simplify the process of opening these accounts.
Note: The Citigold bonus has gone up and down over the past year. Initially, it was 40,000 points for the Thank You option and 30,000 for the AAdvantage option, then it was 50,000 for both AAdvantage and ThankYou. Currently, it’s 50,000 miles for AAdvantage and 40,000 points for the ThankYou offer. This post is now updated with the current offer codes. (Updated 1/31/16)
Am I Eligible?
Technically, these accounts are meant for those who received the offer via direct communication. In practice, anyone who enters the offer code has usually been getting the bonus. We recommend calling in to apply over the phone at 1-800-374-9500 so as to confirm that you are eligible for this offer; that way, there won’t be any doubt that you’ll get the bonus.
ThankYou Offer: To be eligible for this offer, you need to have a Citi credit card that earns Thank You points. Any Thank You-earning credit card will make you eligible.
American Airlines Offer: To be eligible for this offer, you need to have a Citi AAdvantage credit card.
- You must be 18 or older
- New checking customers only
- Must open account before 12/31/15
- Must use offer code (see below)
If you are eligible for both of the bonus offers, you need to decide which offer to take. The terms limit us to only getting one offer per customer.
Which offer is better will depend on your travel goals. If you don’t travel, take the Thank You offer since you can use those points for other redemptions as well.
Opening the Account
- For the ThankYou offer, enter offer code: 4368UUP5L4 and choose the ‘Citigold’ option. For the American offer, enter offer code: WD3QFS2Y4C and choose the ‘Citigold’ option.
- Depending if the system recognizes your location, it may ask you to select your state. After selecting your state, it will bring you to the ‘Open Account’ screen. Important Note: After selecting your state, you’ll likely get an error message. Click the back button to go back a screen and you’ll get to the ‘Open Account’ screen that we’re after.
- On this screen, you’ll see a ‘Promotional Disclosures’ tab on the left-hand side where you can read the details of the promotional offer and verify that you have the correct one. (It may be worth taking a screenshot for record keeping.) You’ll also see the promo code populated on this page.
- Now click, ‘Get Started’ and fill out the entire application.
- When you get to funding the account, select ‘choose another funding option’, then select ‘Credit Card’.
- Here is where it gets a bit tricky. You can’t enter a credit card online; you need to fax in the credit card funding information. You’re given a link have a link to a PDF to print out the funding sheet. Click on it, and print that out.
- Complete the rest of your application.
- Take the form you printed out for credit card funding, fill out the amount you want to fund along with the card information and fax it in. I copied a photo of my driver’s license onto the funding page and faxed it in, but this is probably not necessary. You can add the Citigold account number to the paper to clarify which account the funding is going for.
- [Alternative to Step #8] You can also fund the account with a credit card over the phone at 1-800-745-1534, M-F by asking for the New Account Department. You won’t be able to do this the same day of application since it takes a day for the application to process in their system; wait 24-hours and you should be okay. Most have had success with phone funding, but not all reps will know how to do this; say you want to make an ‘Initial Deposit’ on the account. As per the Citi rep I spoke to, the charge will run on your credit card the following morning at 5:30 AM CST.
- Wait 48 hours, and you will see a charge on your credit card. You will then get a Debit card in the mail, as well as some checks which will arrive separately.
- If something is wrong, they will call or email you to get it fixed. If the initial credit card funding doesn’t go through (i.e. it gets denied due to fraud alert), you get one more attempt to fund with a credit card. After that, you’ll have to fund it another way.
Note: Credit card funding only works for accounts opened online. Numerous reports indicate that accounts opened in-branch accounts can not be funded with a credit card at all; it’s treated separately, and the online crew won’t be able to process it for you.
Which Card to Use
While the primary bonus here is the points/miles offer from Citi, an added aspect here is that Citi checking accounts can be funded with a credit card. You can only use a Visa or Mastercard, not Amex or Discover, and you can fund up to a $100,000. While most of us don’t have credit lines that high, you can get real value funding at lower amounts as well. (You can only use one credit card for the funding, no splitting between credit cards.)
Some issuers may run this as a cash advance. You may want to contact the card issuer in advance to lower your cash advance limit as a precaution. Or you can fund an amount higher than your cash advance limit.
Barclays and Bank of America credit cards have been considering this to be an ordinary point-earning purchase while Capital One has considered it a cash advance. Chase is a gray area, but a recent data point indicates that they are treating this as a cash advance, and thus Chase cards should be avoided. Capital One cards have mixed reports as well. Most recent data points regarding Citi cards indicate that they are treating this as an ordinary point-earning purchase (including many reports in the comments of this post), but there have been a few recent reports which indicate a problem. If you want to use a Citi card, it would be wise to lower your cash advance limit to an amount lower than you are planning on funding. You can find all the cash advance data points here.
Tip: You may want to contact your card issuer in advance to notify them of the large purchase so that it’s not denied as a fraud precaution. Remember, you only get two attempts at funding with a credit card. I told my card issuer, Barclay’s: “I intend to make a $6000 purchase at Citibank, can you please notate this large purchase on the account. Citibank is running this as a POS purchase, not a cash advance. Please notate this purchase on the account. It will take place within three days”.
Even more important than taking screenshots along the way is to get written confirmation from Citi that the offer is attached to your account. Most people end up getting this bonus after meeting the requirements, but it often needs a phone call or secure message to nudge it along. Also, there have been times when the exact details of the bonus got mixed up. Once you have written confirmation, it will be much easier to message them later and get the bonus, in the event it doesn’t post automatically.
You can also try getting confirmation before applying by calling in or by visiting your local Citi branch, but that will be harder than getting the confirmation afterward. Of course, getting the confirmation in advance is less risky.
- You can chat with them, but it may be better to send them a secure message and get a proper response.
- Wait a couple of days before attempting to receive confirmation because the bonus is not instantly viewable as attached to your account.
For added security, you can message them again after completing the necessary requirements (see below) and get written confirmation that you fulfilled those properly.
After you successfully opened the account and funded it, it’s time to meet the requirements necessary to trigger the bonus. (If your credit card funding was unsuccessful, you need to add funds some other way to meet these requirements.)
These requirements must be met within 60-days of account opening.
Thank You Requirements (Link)
The only thing you need to do is use the billpay feature in your Citigold account to pay one bill for two consecutive months. All Citigold accounts have the calendar month as their billing month. Thus, all you need to do is do one billpay in a calendar month and one in the next calendar month.
For example, if you open the account on December 15, you have until February 12 to make the two bill payments. You can make one bill payment in December and one bill payment on any date in January. Or you can make one in January and one in February before the 12th.
That’s all you need to do to trigger the bonus.
[Be sure to pay a payee outside of Citi, i.e. your Barclay or Chase credit card bill, not your Citi credit card bill.]
American Airlines Requirements (Link)
This account has two requirements:
- Do one bill pay in two consecutive months, as described above for the ThankYou Requirement.
- Make $1000 in debit card purchases with the Citi debit card. This requirement must be met within 60-days as well.
Loading a prepaid card has worked in the past to satisfy the debit card requirement, although technically it’s supposed to be a charge made to purchase goods or services. To be safe, it may be worth making $1000 in ordinary purchases.
Be sure that some money remains in the account (maybe $90) after all requirements are met so as to pay the $30 monthly fee which may start to hit after the initial two months. You don’t want to get overdrawn and create problems.
Sit Tight & Wait…
After you did all the requirements, just sit and wait for the bonus to post. According to the terms, the bonus points/miles will post to your ThankYou/AAdvantage account within 90-days from the end of the month when you completed the requirements. Sometimes it posts automatically and other times it requires a nudge. Try sending an online message to nudge them and reference the earlier message in which they indicated that you are eligible.
Many report being able to close out the account without having to pay a single monthly fee since the fee is waived the first two months (often longer) and they closed it out immediately after the bonus hit. Some people end up getting hit with at least one fee, though, so don’t count on this.
TIP: If you did the AAdvantage offer, it’s a good idea to let them know your AAdvantage number via chat or phone and have it attached to the account as this may speed up the process of getting the miles credited to your account. Otherwise, they’ll have to figure it out through your SSN.
Close/Downgrade the Account
As soon as you get the points/miles bonus, you should immediately be making a plan to get rid of Citigold so as to avoid the $30 monthly fee. The two possibilities are to close the checking account or to downgrade.
But first, we have to keep the points safe…
If you did the American deal, then the points are safe since they were deposited into your AAdvantage account and are no longer connected to Citi.
If you did the ThankYou deal, you need to do one of the following: use up the points (flights, gift cards, etc.), or transfer the points to your ThankYou credit card. If you choose the latter, you’ll have 90-days to use them up before they expire.
Now we’re ready to close the account or downgrade…
Close or Downgrade?
Once you got the bonus, the simplest thing is just to cancel the checking account. There is no early termination fee, and it’s okay to do so.
The other option is the downgrade the account to a Basic checking account. The Basic account just has a $10 monthly fee, and the fee can be waived with a $1500 balance or by having a direct deposit and one bill payment per month. We wrote more about downgrading here.
A few other points about downgrading:
- Even if you plan on closing out the account entirely, it’s worth downgrading first to a Basic account and then closing it out a month later. Doing so will help you avoid fees as we described here.
- Some reports indicate that the points will expire after 90 days from downgrading.
- You can even downgrade or close the account online via secure message or probably via chat.
- See also this post from PointsCentric possible benefits of downgrading.
There are conflicting reports as to whether you can get the Citigold bonus more than once.
If you currently have a Citi checking account (even student account, etc.), or you’ve had an account within the past 60-days, the terms exclude you from getting the bonus. This is even if you didn’t get any bonus for signing up for that account.
Offers for new consumer checking customers only, 18 years or older. To be eligible for this limited-time offer, you must not currently have a consumer checking account with Citibank. You are not eligible for this offer if you were a signer on or owner of a Citibank consumer checking account within the last 60 calendar days. However, signers on fiduciary, trust or estate accounts may be eligible.
If you no longer have an account, there have been reports that indicate that you can get it again, possibly after a certain amount of time has elapsed. In practice, this will end up varying since the bonus usually needs human input to push it through, and the agent may decide to deny it due to a previous account.