A couple of days ago I shared how I had a lot of Citi ThankYou points expire. Citi closed one of my card accounts due to lack of activity, and Citi has a policy that points from closed accounts expire after 60 days, even if you still have other active Citi ThankYou accounts (this policy is significantly more punitive than that of Amex or Chase, by the way).
I reached out to Citi customer service to see if there was any way my points could be reinstated, given that this was an honest mistake and I continue to be a good Citi customer. I wanted to provide an update regarding that.
Citi “respectfully declines” my request to have points reinstated
I had contacted Citi by phone a few days ago to explain the situation, and was told that I’d hear back within five business days. Sure enough, I had a letter emailed to me from Citi, declining my request to have those points reinstated.
Here’s the content of the letter:
We certainly regret any confusion regarding the 78,959 ThankYou points that expired on June 17, 2021 on your above-referenced account, and we respectfully decline to reinstate them. Our records reflect your account was closed on April 11, 2021 due to no activity for an extended period. A letter dated April 12, 2021 was sent to you advising of the account closure, and explained that any ThankYou points earned through the date your account was closed would be transferred to your ThankYou member account. Furthermore, it was explained that points available for redemption could be redeemed for 60 days after the date the account was closed.
In addition, the ThankYou Rewards terms and conditions state, “If we close your card account due to inactivity, or otherwise convert your card account to a card that does not participate in the program, you must use those points within 60 days after closing or converting your account, or you will lose the points that you earned with the closed or converted account.”
Although we are not able to resolve this matter to your satisfaction, we’d like you to know that your inquiry is important to us and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.
My take on Citi’s response
I’m not trying to shift blame here — ultimately it’s my fault that the points expired. I knew Citi’s policy in the back of my mind, but in this particular case it slipped my mind. That’s probably because the card was closed on me (it wasn’t proactive on my part, so mentally I didn’t go through the same process I usually go through when closing a card), and Citi’s web interface and lack of warnings of points expiring doesn’t exactly help with remembering to redeem those points.
All that being said, this leaves somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth. Here’s the thing — obviously credit card companies are big, “faceless” corporations, but I’ve actually found that overall they offer great customer service in situations where a customer makes an honest mistake. Assuming you’re playing by the rules and are a long-term customer, I’ve found they almost always act in good faith, much more so than airlines.
For example, I’ve had a couple of times over the years where it slipped my mind to pay a bill by the due date, and in those cases the credit card companies were willing to waive the late fee and interest charges, recognizing that this was the exception rather than the norm for me.
It’s one thing if I closed out my Citi account and were no longer a customer, but I continue to have several Citi cards. Heck, between the Citi Prestige and Citi AAdvantage Executive Card alone, I pay almost $1,000 in annual fees on Citi cards. Beyond that, I also spend a lot on my Citi cards, in particular the Citi Double Cash. I think one always hopes that considerations like that are taken into account, but often that doesn’t happen.
Sure, Citi was technically enforcing the rule to a “T,” and that’s fine. But this also changes my perception of Citi’s customer service. The interaction certainly doesn’t make me feel very valued as a customer, but that’s fine, I promise I’ll get over it. 😉
This was my fault, and I learned an expensive mistake. I hope that others at least learn from my mistake. Ideally Citi would update its website to make it more obvious when points expire, and also warn members before their points expire. But perhaps the lack of clarity around that is viewed as a feature rather than a bug.
Citi ThankYou points expire 60 days after an account is closed, so be sure you don’t make the same mistake that I did, and actually redeem them or transfer them to a partner. Based on my experience it seems that Citi has no leniency when it comes to reinstating these points.
Ultimately that’s fair enough, in the sense that Citi is just enforcing rules. It’s definitely something to keep in mind, though…