I Had A Perfectly Laid Out Plan Before Citi Threw A Wrench In It

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Citi Premier Application Plan
I’m making a list & checking it twice but Citi says I’m naughty, not nice…

Citi Premier Application Plan

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? You plan everything out, line everything up and it all plays out to perfection. It really is a thing of beauty. Well, let me tell you, this isn’t that. Don’t get me wrong, I had the perfect plan and everything was going swimmingly…until Citi threw a wrench into my Citi Premier application plan.

RELATED: Citi Premier Credit Card Review: Is It The Best All Around Card Out There?

Citi Premier Application Plan

Citi Premier Application Rules

A few weeks ago I shared some new verbiage that Citi added to some of their Citi Premier applications.  I noticed it when I was getting ready to apply for my new Premier card, but those new terms don’t really change things for me.  Instead, I want to focus on Citi’s application rules that required me to have a Citi Premier application plan in the first place.

We have the following terms listed for Citi in our guide with every bank’s application rules:

Citi has multiple cards that earn their ThankYou Points. That’s considered one family. If you open the Citi Premier in this family, you are not eligible for other welcome offers in this family for 24 months. If you close this card or change it to something else, the 24 month clock starts counting from 0. I will say product changes from one product to another are very YMMV on whether or not it restarts the clock.  It is believed that if the account number stays the same that it does not restart the clock.

This is a unique rule when you compare it to other banks. Other banks, like Chase, have their own “family of card” rules so that part isn’t all that unique. The fact that Citi’s terms include opening or closing an account is what makes things more cumbersome.  It is because of that rule that I needed to plan for my Citi Premier application in the first place.

My Citi Premier Application Plan

I signed up for a Citi Premier card right about 24 months ago.  When the 12 month mark hit I had a decision to make, I could keep the card, close the card or downgrade the card.  Let’s take a look at each option and what each one would mean for my plan.

Close the Card

If I decided to close the card that would reset the 24 month clock.  Remember that because of Citi’s rules a card closure is the same as getting a new welcome offer and resets the 24 month clock.

Downgrade the Card

I could decide to downgrade the card to a Citi Costco card or Citi Rewards+ etc. and avoid the $95 annual fee.  This comes with some risk that they will issue me a new card number though. If that happened it would reset the 24 month clock and add an additional 12 months to process.

Keep the Card

My final option would be to keep the card open once again and fork over the $95 annual fee.  Once I hit the two year mark I could sign up for a new Citi Premier card while still holding my old one.  Once approved I could then decide to downgrade my old card without fear of resetting the 24 month clock.

Before I made any decisions it is always worth calling to see if there are any retention offers on the account.  This could more than offset the annual fee and make my decision an easy one.

My Final Decision  

There were no offers on my account and I decided to play it safe and keep the card open.  For me, paying the $95 annual fee was worth it to keep me on my 24 month path.  I would be eligible for a $600+ welcome offer a year sooner, which was worth the added cost.  I didn’t want to risk downgrading and getting a new card number which would delay the process.

Citi Premier Application Plan

Finally, Victory….Errr Wait

My annual fee finally posted for a second time a few weeks ago.  I was pumped and ready to wrap up my perfectly laid out plan with a nice tidy bow.  Those 60,000 ThankYou points were all but mine! And then Citi mucked up my plans by slapping me with a denial.

This was my first ever denial by Citi, they have always been my sure thing. I only have two cards with them currently so that wasn’t the issue.  They said that I have too many recent inquiries on my credit report. I had heard that Citi has been cracking down on approvals but I didn’t want to believe it.

Back To Square One

So here I am, back at square one.  It is time to once again make a decision on what to do with my account. Do I cut my losses and close the account? Or do I risk a downgrade with the chance of getting slapped with a new card number? I could always swallow another $95 annual fee and play it out exactly like I did last time.

I decided to reach out to Citi first and check on any retention offers on my account before deciding either way.  This time I was pleasantly surprised with a 5,000 point offer after $1000 in spend.  I have already added it to our retention offers database. I could pair this with my 5X earning offer on the card. My plan would be to buy $1,000 worth of Best Buy gift cards at the store since it would trigger both bonuses.  I could then turn around and resell the cards or use them for merchandise reselling etc. The 7,500 points I would earn would basically cover the cost of the annual fee. The offer made it an easy decision for me and I paid the annual fee.

My Plan Going Forward & Final Thoughts

Now that I have my plan reassembled, and a new path to victory, I will continue to follow it.  Even though Citi changed up my perfectly laid Citi Premier application plan, with a disheartening denial, I picked myself up and marched on. Because of my decent retention offer I get a redo essentially.  I had to pay one more annual fee but it comes at a basically net zero cost.

I will try to apply for the Citi Premier once again in a few months and see if Citi is more willing to accept me.  At that point I can downgrade my old Premier to a Citi Rewards+ card to take advantage of the 10% rebate.  Hopefully I can get a prorated refund on the annual fee when I downgrade, as well, and come out ahead.

Citi makes life difficult with their applications rules.  If they would base their timeline on when the welcome offer is earned, like everyone else, life would be much simpler.  A card closure counting against you is the only reason one needs a Citi Premier application plan.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. It would help as a data point to know how many cards you opened recently, and for the retention offer how much you spent on the card last year. I am in exactly the same situation and quite curious about this

    • I’ll have a post coming out Monday or Tuesday about potential new Citi rules – still getting the details, DPs together. Did $1K or less of spend on the card.

  2. I also got denied for the first time ever. For Chase Preferred. They said I had too many cards, and too much available credit. So I reduced both and will reapply. Please tell me: what is an acceptable range for cards and credit amounts?

    • For Chase you have to have signed up for less than 5 cards from all banks in the past 24 months. For available credit it will depend on the person. Sometimes they will allow you to move credit from another Chase account to open a new card.

      • I was only at 3 in last 24 mo, but also had 2 AUs. But that wasn’t the problem. They said I had a TOTAL of too many cards. I have 15 open (includes AUs) and 11 closed. They counted the closed ones, saying I had 26 cards! That’s why I asked what is an acceptable number of cards?

        • The 2 AUs within the last 24 months will count against you, putting you at 5/24. If you close and remove them from your report then you should be good.

  3. @ Mark – I was also denied for the Premier last month under very similar circumstances… waited the 24 months and never been denied by Citi. One user on reddit told me that the Premier is now requiring 0/6 status to be approved! I was at 3/6 so I guess I’ll wait until I’m 0/6 and reapply….


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