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 some 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.
So 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.
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 Premier if you currently have the Citi Prestige, but received the bonus over 24 months ago
- You aren’t eligible for the Citi Premier if you currently have the Citi Prestige and received the bonus within the past 24 months, or if you closed the Citi Prestige within the past 24 months
I know this is a distinction that’s important for many people, give the current increased bonus on the Citi Premier Card.
Citi’s 48 month rule on AAdvantage cards
It’s worth noting that Citi AAdvantage cards in some cases have different rules, for both better and worse.
For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® 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 CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® has a similar policy:
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 other AAdvantage cards doesn’t impact your ability to get the bonuses on these cards
- The downside is that you have to wait 48 months rather than 24 months
This isn’t the case on all American Airlines cards, though, and that can be a source of confusion. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® has the old restrictions:
American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than an AAdvantage MileUp℠ or CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.
So that carries the old 24 month rule, though your eligibility is also dependent on which other American Airlines cards you have.
Meanwhile the no annual fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card has a hybrid of the two for the welcome bonus:
Statement credit and American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had an AAdvantage MileUp℠ card opened or closed in the past 24 months.
As you can see, this has a 24 month rule, but in this case eligibility isn’t even based on what other cards you have.
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.
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 understand. Just understand that the 24 month rule refers specifically to the action of either earning the welcome bonus or closing a card. So 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?