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, the issuer’s policies do tend to be among the most confusing.
In this post I wanted to clarify how exactly Citi’s credit card application rules work. I think this is especially worthwhile in light of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® offering a massive welcome bonus at the moment.
Basic Citi credit card application rules
Citi doesn’t have a strict limit on how many credit cards you can have with the bank. 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 that Citi will 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 welcome 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 there’s also the 48-month rule for co-branded American Airlines credit cards. These rules work differently, so let’s take a closer look at the details.
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 welcome bonus on a particular card if you’ve received a welcome bonus 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) and Citi Rewards+® Card (review). 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 Citi cards if:
- You’ve received a new cardmember bonus on any of those Citi cards in the past 24 months (it’s important to differentiate the opening date from when you got the bonus)
- You’ve closed any of those Citi 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.
Note that the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (review) is considered a separate product from the above in terms of the welcome bonus, so you’re eligible for the bonus on that card even if you already have the Citi Premier, Citi Rewards+, etc. I think that’s noteworthy, since it’s an excellent complement for someone looking to earn ThankYou points.
Citi’s 48-month rule on AAdvantage cards
All Citi American AAdvantage cards have a different set of rules, for both better and worse. With these cards you’re not eligible for the bonus if you’ve received a bonus on that specific card in the past 48 months. The good news is that eligibility for each card is considered independently. Furthermore, unlike cards with the 24-month rule, when you closed a particular card doesn’t factor into whether you’re eligible for a bonus or not.
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 award miles offer and American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus Elite Qualifying Miles offer 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® (review) has the following terms:
Statement credit and American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a statement credit or American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles for a new AAdvantage® MileUp® account in the past 48 months.
The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (review) 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 rule is either better or worse than the standard Citi 24-month rule, depending on how you look at it:
- On the plus side, there’s not a “family” rule for these cards, so having one Citi AAdvantage card doesn’t impact your eligibility for another Citi AAdvantage card
- Another positive is that it doesn’t matter when you closed a card previously, as the important factor is simply how long it has been since you received a bonus
- The downside is that you have to wait 48 months rather than 24 months
What happens if you product change a card?
Many 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 toward 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. That’s especially the case when you consider that different cards have different rules, with restrictions ranging 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.”
The 48-month rule is a bit easier to understand. For co-branded AAdvantage cards, you’re not eligible for the bonus on a card if you’ve received a bonus on that exact card in the past 48 months. On the plus side, eligibility for each card is considered independently for these purposes, and it doesn’t matter if or when a card was closed.
Hopefully that clarifies things, especially for those considering picking up the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® with the current bonus.
Does anyone have any other questions about Citi’s application rules?
This seems to hhave changed (not for the better?)
Before applying for the Citi Aadvantage, if I call Citi will they tell me the last time I received the bonus?
I have the Citi Business Aadvantage card which was opened in the last year. Can I get the bonus offer on the personal Citi Aadvantage Platinum card?
My recently product changed an old (12 yr old) TY Preferred to a Custom Cash. Do you know if I have to wait 24 months to apply for a TY Premier? I didn’t realize that I would be unable to transfer the points with the CC.
Is it possible to apply for a second AAdvantage cards while already having one of the same type? I foolishly applied for my first one 47 months after my last bonus and didn't get the sign up bonus on it!
Very poor timing for recycling this old post as Citi just this week dropped the 24-month rule and released new 48-month wording for the Premier. Suggest readers hunt that info down elsewhere; FM explains it well.
For all new applications for Thank You points cards, you will find the 48-month rule will apply and the rule is card-specific rather than family-based. The likelihood is that this switch is in anticipation of the release of Citi's new Strata Elite card (potentially later this month). Citi and Mastercard want (need) the launch to be successful. And, neither wants a recent Premier or Rewards+ sign-up to deter someone from getting the new card.
Lee, I'm thinking that "Strata Elite" will be a brand new card, and that "Strata Premier" will just be the new name for the Premier card (so not a new card itself)... what do you think?