Warning! What You Need to Know When Calling Citi for Retention Offers

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citi automated system account closure

Citi Automated System Closing Accounts

I have written quite a lot in the past about my Citi retention offer experiences. Over the past year+ they have been very generous about handing out extra bonuses on their cards. For that reason I know a lot of you call often to see what is available. I know I do!

Related: Full guide to Citi retention 

A Small Change Causes Big Headaches

Unfortunately Citi has recently made a small tweak to their automated system. If you indicate that you want to cancel your account (which used to be how to easiest get to a retention specialist) the automated system will just shut it down after confirming your request. Boom.

I first read about this on Doctor of Credit who took data points from a thread on Reddit. Then, yesterday a reader who I correspond with often sent the following message:

I called Citi to see if they could give me a bonus on my AAdvantage Platinum account since the annual fee is coming due next month. Through the automated system, it ended up canceling me account. I assumed after I said yes to “do you want to cancel your account”, it would connect me with an operator who would then entice me to keep my card open. But it went straight and closed it.

The worst part is that he called in later and spoke to a phone rep who told him that they would need to run a credit check if he wanted to re-open the account that was closed in error. I advised him to try and escalate to a supervisor. Hopefully he will get someone higher up who is friendly and empowered to help, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Best Practices for Calling In

Given this new information, I think it is best to ask to speak to a representative when calling in for retention offers. The system will then connect you to a front line rep who can then transfer you to a retention specialist after you tell them why you are calling. I personally will not utter the words “Cancel My Account” to the automated system for fear that this will happen.


Citi really needs to fix this issue. Given the number of data points it is clear that the automated system isn’t specific enough in what it is attempting to do. I also don’t understand why Citi has a retention department with such great offers if they just want their automated system to shutdown accounts. This seems like a case of one department not talking to another and unfortunately it is hurting customers.

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. It didn’t work for me tonight. First I said “Cancel my account”. It said “If you want to cancel your account, say ‘Close my account’ .” I responded accordingly. It then said “Let me get someone to help.” I guess they really want to keep my biz. BTW, the card is about 5 months old and I have a few other cards with Citi.

  2. A friend works at Citi. She said people often call in with a fake cancellation request just to get something and that’s why they do this. Makes sense from their perspective.

  3. Do you have any advice on getting retention offers from Chase? I have their Sapphire Preferred for over 5 years now and never asked for anything. I spend anywhere between $15,00-25,000 on it annually, and some extra Ultimate Reward points would be very much appreciated. Especially, since (I believe) they are done with their annual bonuses.
    Should I try? Should I wait until the time when the annual fee is due? Or any time is fine?
    I do not really want to close the account, just want to see if perhaps there is something I might be missing.

    • The Sapphire Preferred is a tough card for retention offers right now. My wife just recently called on hers and wasn’t offered anything. She ultimately decided to convert it to the no annual fee Freedom.

  4. Good to know, Sean. When I truly just want to close a card, I have the option of not talking to a human? Woo Hoo!

    When I’m looking to downgrade to a no-fee card or see if there is a retention offer, I’ll avoid the phrase “Close my account.”

  5. Sounds to me like a lesson to be learned here, say what you mean and mean what you say because a computer doesn’t know what your thinking only what you are saying. I will from now on talk to a rep to avoid this problem. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. This isn’t new and I don’t believe it is an accident on Citi’s part. I called in months ago to close one of my Citi accounts, and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do so without talking to anyone.

  7. I disagree with terms like “game of chicken” and “game the system”. There is a 100% chance I will close my account if I am charged an annual fee. I have spent thousands on my card well after receiving a signup bonus. If the agent has a retention offer for me, then that is based on a variety of factors which include my account history. If CITI closes simply accounts automatically, they are depriving themselves the opportunity to evaluate situations one by one. And, by the way, not everyone gets a retention offer. Perhaps CITI can work to identify “undesirable” cardholders and only close THEIR accounts automatically. In the meantime, I plan to just keep pressing “0” to get a live agent unless I truly have no interest in keeping a card. I appreciate the “heads up”.

    • If that’s how you roll then good for you. You’re the kind of guy that Citi wants to keep around; the perfect target demographic for which these retention offers were designed in the first place. But are you seriously telling me that people don’t call in insincerely to see if they can get a bonus even when they have no desire to cancel the card? I know I have. I love my Ink cards but I call in when the annual fee posts to see if I can make that fee hurt less. I overplay my hand and hope that Chase throws something my way. It’s easy and it’s free. It’s also dishonest.

      Are you saying this kind of stuff doesn’t happen? Cause it happens a lot. Just because it doesn’t apply to you doesn’t make these terms inappropriate.

  8. Not quite related, but yesterday I even got a retention offer on Amex Everyday (no AF version) card when trying to close it 🙂

  9. Let me get this straight – the system is hurting customers because it closes their accounts after the customer tells them they want to close the account? I’m sorry but the consumer is to blame here. You said you wanted to close the account. You were trying to game the system by unambiguously saying you wanted to do something you didn’t really want to do assuming they’d try to woo you back. If you just considering closing a card then get a rep and say that and ask for offers. I see no problem with what Citi is doing. For the vast majority of credit card holders who don’t read these blogs and play the rewards games and actually want to close their account – this makes things simpler.

    • I completely agree with your post. The customer is not always right. I just wonder what Shawn’s reader could possibly say in their defense. “Hi, I said I wanted to cancel my card but I really wanted to get a bonus offer for doing absolutely nothing”. It sometimes amazes me how entitled some people act. I also wish all companies added this feature.

  10. Called yest for prestige AF n transferred to retention via live agent. Got 2 offers – $200 off AF or extra thank you point on every purchase upto 50k points for next 6 months. It’s a easy guess what I took . It did come with a condition to spend $12k in next 3 months.

    • You took the cash? 25000 is $250 so you could of made better up to $500 for 50k points. I took that offer. That’s the no brainer

  11. This is kind of hilarious to me because I don’t see it as a problem. I would love to see more companies make it this easy to end a business relationship with them (think Comcast, for instance). Granted, they should tighten up the automated system so the customer knows exactly what will happen if they say “yes, I want to cancel.”

    What are all these people upset about though? They knowingly played a game of chicken to see if they could get something for nothing. And now they’re mad because Citi obliged their request? Don’t use such strong buzz words if you’re not willing to follow through.

    • I agree that having the automated system close accounts isn’t a problem by itself, but they need to make it very clear what is going to happen. Since so many people have had this happen, it seems that the system isn’t conveying the process in enough detail.

      • I too find this post humorous. From your post: the person was asked “Do you want to cancel your account?” and he said “yes.” His account was then closed. Yet you say Citi needs to make it more clear. What could possibly be more clear?

        Definitely agree with David, I wish it was as easy to cancel with the cable or phone company as Citi has now made it to cancel a credit card.

        • Why is it humorous? The post in no way condemned Citi, but was designed as a warning since previously Citi’s system would transfer you for the exact same phrase. So if you called in before and had said that it wouldn’t cancel your account. Now it does. This post is about that. Nothing more and nothing less.


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