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 Premier® Card offering a best-ever 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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 ThankYou points per dollar spent (after paying your bill). That makes it one of the best cards for everyday spending.
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 toward the limit of applying for one Citi card every eight days, and two Citi cards every 65 days.
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 perhaps 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.
Hopefully that clarifies things, especially for those considering picking up the Citi Premier® Card with the current bonus.
Does anyone have any other questions about Citi’s application rules?