Are Simon Mall Online Orders Leading To Citi Shutdowns? Data Points Needed

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Are Simon Mall Online Orders Leading To Citi Shutdowns?

As many of our readers know Simon Mall is a favorite option among many for racking up tons of credit card points for a minimal cost.  People would often travel to one of their mall locations in order to buy gift cards at costs much lower than other options in their area.  When the pandemic hit of course the malls shut down.  This lead Simon Mall to setting up discounted offering online for people looking to gain access to their Visa gift cards. It was very popular with people, even if Benjy wasn’t overly impressed. But with Gift Card Mall limiting their portal payouts soon Simon Mall online orders will become an even more popular option.

Rumors Of Citi Shutdowns

Because of that I thought I should share some info or rumors that I have been hearing.  It appears Simon Mall online orders have been suspected for a few different Citi shutdowns.  I had a few readers tell me they have heard rumblings about it in private groups etc.  I don’t have much more info that that at this point and that is where I need some help.

As you can imagine the Citi DoubleCash card is a popular choice among many for these purchases.  Since the DoubleCash now earns 2% cashback or 2X ThankYou points on every purchase, if you have a premium Citi card as well, it is a profitable choice.

Final Thoughts

People have been using their Citi cards at the mall locations for years without issue so I am not sure why there would be an issue now. It could be that Simon Mall purchases online code differently on their end or trigger some type of alert.  Or these could be completely random data points. Something totally unrelated could be triggering the shut downs but they assume Simon Mall purchases have something to do with it.  If anyone out there has recently been shut down by Citi and they think it is because of Simon Mall online purchases let us know in the comments.  Hopefully this is just a coincidence at this point.

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. Citi shut down all four of my credit cards beginning in May and it took me until just about a week ago to find out why. Money orders was the culprit. I only used money orders when paying one credit card and not on the others. Had a very small balance on one card paid it and used our cards for regular spend and paid on time.

  2. Is it Simon or is it just plain volume causing the closures? Most other methods of GC purchasing have lower transaction limits and/or overall limits on monthly cashback (and the Simon fee structure and deals encourage larger orders generally speaking). It seems to me what we may be seeing is more that pushing “real volume” leads to issues and those pushing real volume are probably using Simon heavily. I would expect banks in the current state of the economy to be more risk adverse in general and lots of money moving around could easily spook them more than the past.

    • That could be the issue for sure since Simon only becomes a good deal near the upper cap. I know many people that do some good volume on GCM etc on their DC without issue but that cap is lower than a Simon purchase for big spenders for sure.

  3. As Mark said, swipe fees actually MAKE Citi money on these transactions. So as long as the consumer is paying off their credit cards, there should be no reason why Citi would want to shutdown the accounts. On the other hand, the risk is extremely high for a very marginal reward since swipe fees are generally less than 3%. If the card holder has a $50k+ Credit line, they’re risking $50k for less than $500.

    Also, nobody likes Citi anyways, so if they really wanted to screw the gamers (I’ve bought over $100k at SM but probably between $20-30k with Citi..not online), they should let the gamers buy the gift cards and then enforce their T&Cs and not pay out the points like Amex. They still have a high risk but the rewards increase exponentially. They could also decrease the credit lines making SM not worth the time investment because there’s no ability to scale.

    What’s the point in telling people “good, that’s what you deserve for gaming the system”? Do you just like kicking people while they’re on the ground? You need to work through your issues if that’s the case.

  4. It’s about time for the closures! People were flagerently abusing the system by accumulating false points with the purchase of the gift cards. That is NOT the reason for a credit card! A credit card is for purchases such as groceries, gas, restaurants, etc. They are NOT intended to purchase $10,000 a month in gift cards and then turn around a liquidate into MO. The only reason to do that is to earn points in a way prohibited by the cards T&C’s. You know that and the card holder knows that. And the bank now knows that. They know no one needs $10,000 in gift cards. And why would a Bank want you when you show totally disregard for their rules? If I was a Bank and saw what you were doing it would be good bye. Now these people have another problem to worry about. Being blacklisted by the bank. I’m sure there will now be some type of registry the banks use that will show these people. So being kicked out of the bank may be the least of their problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if this list goes around and it becomes hard to get new accounts at other banks. Good for the banks!

    • Richard if a card issuer makes money on giving 2% cash back everywhere then where is the issue I guess? More swipes = more money for them.

      • I don’t think the decision is necessarily driven by bottom line profits. I think the concern may be more that there is potential illegal activity going on. There is a fine line between MS and money laundering, especially when you’re talking about a cash back card.

        It’s entirely possible that purchases physically inside a mall could be other items besides gift cards, but purchases made online are surely gift cards.

      • I don’t think they are making 2% in swipe fees. Visa and Mastercard cards give about 1.4-1.7% to the issuing bank with the rest going to the network, processor and acquirer. The total is under 2%. Citi only makes money on the DC from interest and fees. A 1% card would be a different story.

      • It’s not about the fees. It’s about the rules. If you are willing to flagerently violate their rules then they don’t want you as a customer. We all know there are rules about speed limits. Are you saying to hell with speed laws because oh well when we get caught that’s an extra income (fine) to the municipality. I sure hope you don’t think that.

        • Personally, I don’t support laws I didn’t create and don’t endorse. I don’t support enforcement of the war on drugs, gun control, seat belt laws, or arbitrary speed limits when people are going with the flow of traffic in a safe manner based on road conditions. I would vote not guilty on a jury or in a referendum. The difference between laws of government and credit card agreements is the latter is voluntarily entered into. You voluntarily and consensually decide to open a card and abide by the rules. With government, you are forced by threats of violence (police and prison) to do something involuntary and non consensually. I have zero respect for things I am forced into doing by government that goes against my interests and desires for my own body and life. Yes, speed traps and revenue generation for the state should be ended.

    • You couldnt be more wrong Richard. There is no right or wrong use for a line of personal credit. I’ll use it however i see fit.

      As far as a banks creating a registry, personal banking info and the details that go with it such as SSN are legally protected confidential information. There is zero chance banks get together to create a blacklist as doing so would require disclosing Sans.

      • Brian I hate to burst your bubble but there are already registries out there on you and everyone else. There are credit bureaus and there is a registry where people who do bad things to banks are on and other banks use that registry to deny you an account at their bank – just ask the many many people who bounced checks or overdraw their accounts and didn’t pay the bank back and they run and try to open an account someone else and are denied new accounts because they are on the registry. So yes banks do have such registries. They don’t want customers who can’t follow rules and burn other banks.

        • Of course there are credit bureaus, which are required by law to disclose show the consumer what credit data they hold. The system used to monitor people with overdrawn and delinquent checking accounts is in no way connected to able to be used to monitor peoples manufactured spending activity. if such a list did exist, it would have been already identified and discussed at length within the community.

    • Richard you come off as angry and jealous. Something tells me that you want to do what we do but you’re too afraid so you sit behind the computer and criticize those of us who do and get some kind of kick from folks being shutdown. You too can try…even if only a little. Go ahead…try it…I promise you’ll like it.

      If not, please do us who sit in first class a favor by not starring as you make your way to the main cabin…we really don’t like it…it sours our preflight drink.

      A good day to you sir!

      • @2008 Heavy…Sorry to burst your bubble about thinking I’m bitter. I’m not at all. I just think you reap what you sow. You feels it’s ok the flagerently violate T&C’s so that speaks a lot to your moral standards. Do you flagerently speed 90 mph in school zones? Same concept. Bank tells you that you can’t do something but you still do it. Hopefully the banks are finally getting tired of it and putting a stop to it. That’s all. You can do whatever you want but eventually karma will get you. I’m not jealous or mad that your doing something I’m not. Yes I could be doing the same fraud you all are doing but my parents raised me better – to be honest and do no harm to anyone. So I’m not jealous or bitter. It’s the way I was raised by good parents.

        As for watching me walk towards coach as I was walk by you in first. I hate to burst your bubble again. I haven’t flown in the back in many many years. I’m probably sitting next to you in first class while I’m enjoying my glass of champagne. I’ve got several million miles with an airline and close to a million between UR and MR points. Oh and all my points are earned the honest way and not by churning cards or manufacturing points.

        Have a nice night and I’ll raise my next glass of champagne to you then next time I have one.

        • Richard, Then why are you here? MtM is about most of what you’ve deemed the devils work.

          Are you here just to “put us in our place” as you sit high and look down upon us because we “sin” in a different way than you?

          I don’t get your point of even being in this space. It speaks of things you don’t agree
          with. You have millions of points earned the “right” way so there’s very little to gain here I’m guessing. Which brings me back to my original question, why are you here?

          Have you not have a maid or servant you can’t go and give a hard time to? Is there not a choir available for you to preach to?

          I don’t get it. Most people don’t stick around places that goes against their moral fiber. So one more, WHY ARE YOU HERE?

    • Richard, I really hope you don’t end up sitting next to me on a future flight. You sound like a male version of a Karen.

  5. The more bloggers and such sites yang-yang-yang on and on about all the shenanigans, the more those shenanigans are gonna get limited (Gift Card Mall, eh?).

    The banks are in business to make profits and the more UN-profitable a client is, the more efforts as we head towards a depression, they are gonna make to get rid of those UN-profitable clients.

    Things are gonna get a lot worse for MS shenanigans, mark my words.

  6. Good for them! Tired of people gaming the system (basically cheating) with massive purchases of gift cards and by other means.

    You know you aren’t in compliance w the spirit of the promotion so you got what you deserved! I hope ALL your accounts are shut down and you lose all the points you have!

  7. Hi Mark,

    YES. Citibank closed ALL my Citi credit cards with them. This was after being a loyal customer for over 20 years. No calls or letter to even warn me. One day I went to use my card and it didn’t work. Then I called in and it’s super strange. The agent didn’t want to give any information at all! She said I’d get a letter in the mail. I asked to speak to a manager and she also said she couldn’t give any information and to wait for the letter.

    The letter came and sure enough it basically said they don’t want me as a customer due to my activity. I had a lot of organic spend as well but I was charging upwards of $50,000 on a few of my cards for a few months.

    Also, Chase also closed ALL my cards for the same reason shortly after. This was for purchases at Simon Malls buying the $1,000 VGC’s. I would buy about $10,000 at a time. I was paying them with my normal bank account but also a few times I’d use WM Billpay so not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    I have high net worth and also high FICO around 835 but it just seems they don’t want to have anything to do with customers doing major spend at Simon Malls buying VGC’s. Maybe if you’re only doing a smaller amount it won’t matter.

    I didn’t have any issues using Bank of America cards, Alliant, US Bank cards but honestly I stopped buying Simon Mall VGCs after this. Just too painful getting all my accounts at Citibank and Chase.

    • That is a tough double blow and at some point you have to question if the short term gains (even if massive) outweigh the long term partnership and earning ability for sure.

    • Mike Saint,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I appreciate the DP and also that you didn’t take jabs at those are still in the game. Some of these other folks just sound bitter.


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