How Does Citi’s 24 Month Application Rule Work?

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards
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All of the major credit card issuers have different rules when it comes to being approved for their cards. While I would hardly say that Citi has the strictest rules in this regard, their rules do tend to be among the most confusing.

Basic Citi credit card application rules

Citi doesn’t have a strict limit on how many credit cards you can have with them. The major restriction with Citi is regarding how many cards you can apply for in a given timeframe:

  • You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
  • You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days

There’s not a firm limit on how many cards you can have, though at some point you may find that you’re maxed out in terms of the credit they’ll extend you. That number varies from person to person, presumably based on your income, credit score, etc.

Citi’s 24 & 48 month rules

When it comes to Citi’s policy for being eligible for the sign-up bonus on a card (rather than just being eligible for approval of a card), the rules vary based on the “family” of cards.

The most common restriction in place is what’s known as the 24 month rule, though in the meantime there’s also a 48 month rule for co-branded American Airlines credit cards.

These rules work differently, so let’s take a closer look:

Citi’s 24 month rule

Many of Citi’s credit cards are subjected to the 24 month rule, which means that you typically can’t get a particular card if you’ve opened or closed that card (or a card in that family) in the past 24 months.

The bonuses aren’t “once in a lifetime,” but you do have to wait two years after you got the bonus on a card or canceled a card before you’re eligible for a bonus again.

For example, some of Citi’s most popular cards are the Citi Premier® Card (review), Citi Prestige® Card, and Citi Rewards+℠ Card (review). All of these cards have the following restriction regarding the bonus:

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

Specifically, this means that you’re not eligible for the bonuses on any of those cards if:

  • You’ve received a new cardmember bonus on any of those cards in the past 24 months (it’s important to differentiate opening date from when you got the bonus)
  • You’ve closed any of those cards in the past 24 months

Just to give some examples:

  • You are eligible for the Citi Rewards+ if you currently have the Citi Premier, but received the bonus over 24 months ago
  • You aren’t eligible for the Citi Rewards+ if you currently have the Citi Premier and received the bonus within the past 24 months, or if you closed the Citi Premier within the past 24 months

I know this distinction can be confusing to many, so hopefully that clarifies things.

Citi’s 48 month rule on AAdvantage cards

It’s worth noting that at this point all Citi AAdvantage cards have a different set of rules, for both better and worse. At first this only applied to some Citi AAdvantage cards, while now this applies to all.

For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® (review) has the following terms:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive account in the past 48 months.

Similarly, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (review) has the following terms:

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.

The no annual fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card (review) has the following terms:

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (review), which is offering a great increased bonus, has the following terms:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® account in the past 48 months.

This is a fairly recent development, and it’s both good and bad news, depending on how you look at it:

  • On the plus side, there’s no longer a “family” rule for these cards, so having one Citi AAdvantage card doesn’t impact your eligibility for another Citi AAdvantage card
  • The downside is that you have to wait 48 months rather than 24 months

What happens if you product change a card?

A lot of people wonder how it works if you product change a card. In other words, say you apply for the Citi Premier® Card and after a year decide that you want to product change to the Citi Rewards+℠ Card.

Would that product change “reset” the 24 month clock, or whatever the clock may be towards eligibility? The answer is generally “no.”

Typically if your account number doesn’t change then the 24 month clock isn’t reset. Meanwhile if your account number does change, that typically counts as having reset the clock.

What about eligibility for the Citi Double Cash?

I’d argue the Citi® Double Cash Card (review) is the single most lucrative Citi credit card, given that you can potentially earn up to two cents or two ThankYou points per dollar spent (after paying your bill).

How does applying for that card fit into an overall Citi strategy? Well, the Citi Double Cash doesn’t have a welcome bonus (presumably given how lucrative it otherwise is), so you can apply for this card without it impacting your eligibility for any other Citi cards.

The only impact this would have is that it counts towards the limit of applying for one Citi card every eight days, and two Citi cards every 65 days.

Bottom line

Citi’s language regarding welcome bonuses can be confusing. They’ve recently made it even more confusing, as the restrictions now range from 24 months to 48 months.

The 24 month rule is often the most difficult to comprehend. Just understand that the 24 month rule refers specifically to the action of either earning the welcome bonus or closing a card. Do what you can to keep Citi cards open for more than 24 months, so that you can potentially be eligible for another card in that same “family.”

Does anyone have any other questions about Citi’s application rules?

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  1. I thought Citi just recently changed things so that if you downgrade (product change) your say, Citi Prestige account to the Premiere, that it resets the 24-month clock.

    Folks are saying over on Flyertalk to apply first, and then downgrade, as otherwise it resets the 24-month clock.

    Not sure whom to believe.

  2. Do the AA cards have both the 24 and 48 month rule? For instance, if I cancel an AA card that’s over 48 months old, can I turn around and get a new signup bonus or do I have to wait 24 months?

  3. @mjonis — the conventional wisdom has been what Ben is saying — that if your card number changes it counts as a closure but not if your card number does not change — but datapoints are surprisingly few and far between. Moreover, it appears that virtually any product change of Prestige (which is most of the recent datapoints) almost always now results in a card number change.

    Doctor of credit has some datapoints in the comments but it looks as though the scenario that Ben mentions — downgrade premier to rewards plus and keep card number then apply for a new Premier or Prestige more than 24 months after first bonus but within 24 months of the product change — just does not have too many datapoints. I’ll be in that position soon and am curious too.

  4. @Christian – it is 48 months from the BONUS. When you close the account doesnt impact the 48 months. The critical factor is when you got the bonus (and remember that when you got the bonus can actually be several months after you took out the card depending on when you satisfied your spending requirement to get the bonus).

    All the above being said, always check the terms to make sure that additional limiting language has not been added.

  5. I changed my CitiAAdvantage Platinum card to Citi Double Cash after one year. Would the same 48 month rule apply? or Will it reset to 0 or will the 12 months be counted towards 48 months, since it was changed to a not AA card?

  6. With regard to the 48-month rule, I understand that the start date that matters is the time you last earned a bonus for the same card, but what exactly is the end date for the 48-month period? Is the end date the reapplication date or is it the date when you would meet the minimum spending and earn the new bonus for the reapplication?

    In other words can the reapplication date be slightly less than 48 months from the last bonus date as long as the minimum spending on the reapplication is met after the 48 months have passed since the last bonus date?

  7. @Larry: Just want to provide another data point. I downgrade my Prestige card a few months ago and regretted it. The card number did indeed change. I should have applied for the Premier card prior to the downgrade which I was looking forward to getting.

  8. I plan to apply for Citi Premier but Citi closed my City Preferred card for inactivity a couple of weeks ago. Does that make me ineligible for City Premier signup bonus?

  9. In your article you state you cannot “get” card if you have opened or closed within 24 months. May want to tweak the wording because unless I’m wrong you can GET approved for the card again, but you would not get the bonus. But you are able to get the card, technically.

  10. This is very helpful, but I have a slightly different situation. I received the bonus on my Premier 25 months ago, and still have the card. I would like to get another Premier, rather than a Prestige. Has anyone had any experience – good or bad – in applying for one of the ThankYou cards while already having the same card? Thanks.

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