How Does Citi’s 24 Month Application Rule Really Work?

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Update: This offer for the Citi Prestige® Card has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

Update: Hilton has revamped their co-branded credit card products, and the cards mentioned in this post are no longer available. You can find information on the new Hilton credit cards here.

Yesterday I wrote a post about my general strategy with Citi cards at the moment, following the previous post I wrote about my American Express card strategy.

Let me start by just copying and pasting what I had written regarding the application rules for Citi cards, regarding how often you can apply for Citi cards, and who is eligible for the sign-up bonuses:

How many Citi cards can you apply for and have?

As far as I know, 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.

What are the rules regarding earning sign-up bonuses on Citi cards?

While the exact rules vary by card, as a general rule of thumb you’re eligible for the bonus on a given Citi card if you haven’t opened or closed the card in the past 24 months. So the bonuses aren’t “once in a lifetime,” but you do have to wait two years after you applied for or canceled a card before you’re eligible for a bonus again.

Unfortunately Citi added a further restriction last year, as you’re not eligible for the bonus on a card if you’ve had the same “type” of card in the past 24 months. For example:

I received several questions about what exactly is meant by the terms stating that the welcome bonus isn’t available for a card if you’ve had that card “opened or closed in the past 24 months.”

For example, here are terms associated with a Citi AAdvantage card:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage®card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

The greatest point of confusion is regarding whether just having a card open counts as it being “opened in the past 24 months.” In other words, do you have to wait 24 months after canceling a card before you’re eligible for a bonus on a similar card?

In practice, opening or closing a card resets the 24 month clock. If you’ve had a card for over 24 months and haven’t opened or closed it, you’d potentially be eligible for the bonus again. Let me give a few examples:

You can even potentially get the same card again as long as it has been open for at least 24 months. However, there are no guarantees of approval there, and there are mixed data points as to whether or not people get approved under those conditions.


Bottom line

Citi’s language regarding welcome bonuses and the 24 month restriction can be confusing. However, the important thing to understand is that the 24 month restriction is based on the action of opening or closing an account. If you’ve had an account open for more than 24 months, then you should be eligible for another card in the same family. That 24 month limit resets whenever you open or close a card.

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  1. Hi Lucky,
    Can I apply for a Citi or Chase card I currently have but have received the bonus more than 24 months ago?

  2. Btw
    NEW! Chase Sapphire ReserveSM
    Is much better than CITI PRESTIGE
    Both cost $450
    Chase gives you $300 credit towards airlines , buses or trains
    City only gives you $250 credit and only towards airline travel
    Everything else is the same

  3. So basically it makes the most sense to get a card, get the bonus and close the card as soon as possible after getting the bonus. Then you could get a card every 27 months or so. Otherwise, you have to deal with trying to get retention offers and maybe paying the annual fee several times.

  4. What if I converted it into another product?
    I converted my Citi AA Platinum into ATT Access more. Was the clock reset?

  5. What about having a card for 25 months, then getting approved for the same card type, then closing the first card (to get the annual fee back), then meeting the bonus requirements for the second card? Does that work?

  6. Ben – is that your actual prestige card. I thought you said you don’t use it much. That thing looks used and abused LOL.

  7. How about opening an account and product changing it after a year to a no annual fee card? Does that reset the clock on the day of the product change, or at you still at 12 more months? I’ve heard maybe product changing within the same family of cards doesn’t count as an open/close. Anybody know?

  8. @ Shawn — Hah, I don’t use it too much anymore, but I used to. That’s why it looks so used, I suspect.

  9. @ Vish — Not with Chase, but with Citi you sometimes can. You may or may not get approved, but if you do get approved, you should be eligible for the bonus.

  10. @Kyle I PC’ed a citi AA exec to another AA card. Per the citi rep that reset the 24 month clock since it counted as opening a new account.

  11. I have a Citi Reserve card which is coming up on two years old. I was going to app for a new citi reserve card and then close the old one. People are having issues doing this? I don’t want to have to wait another two years if I can avoid it.

  12. So if I had the Citi Premier card and downgraded it to the Citi Preferred, did the downgrading reset the clock? The account number didn’t change…

  13. Bill, that’s what I did a few months ago. I opened a new Citi HH Reserve card, got the annual free night from the old card, then closed the old card.

  14. If you get an invitation in the mail without the 24 month wording, does anyone know if you are eligible for the bonus ?

  15. I had my Citi Prestiege card stolen and I closed it. Citi sent a new Prestiege card with a different number. I wanted to know in this case was the 24 month clock reset after my old Prestiege card was closed?

  16. I wasn’t awarded my bonus on the prestige card because my citi forward card was closed BY CITI when it expired last year because they were phasing the product out. They said even though they closed it, it counts against against the 24 month rule.
    Beware. I called six times and got the same answer.

  17. I recently converted my Citi Aadvantage card which I opened a year ago to citi Double Cash. I am since then receiving emails with sign-up bonus offers for the Aadvantage card. Does this mean I would be eligible for the offers?

  18. So even if one gets approved for a card that does not mean automatically that you quality to receive the sign up bonus, right?
    How do we know if we qualify for the sign up bonus before applying for a card?

  19. Does listing one person as a qualified user mean they have to wait 24 months to get a card in their name and qualify for the bonus? Thinking about doing one in my name with wife as qualified user and then doing the opposite in 3 months. Would there be any issue in us getting two bonuses?

  20. @ Matt — Adding someone as an authorized user doesn’t prevent them from getting the card themselves in the future, so that should be fine.

  21. I product changed my TY premier in early August 2016 — but according to Citi the official date it was “completed” was 9/10/16. This is despite having a statement for the dividend card on 8/16/16. Since citi considers my TY premier to be closed 9/10/16 — can I open a new TY Premier AND get the bonus on 9/11/18 or 10/1/18?

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