Back in September, I took advantage of a limited time offer for the Citi ThankYou Premier Card to earn 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months. I was aware of the fact that Citi won’t deem you eligible for the sign up offer if you have the same card open and/or if you’ve received the bonus within the last 24 months. I previously had the Citi Prestige Card back in 2016 and closed it in 2018 due to the removal of many perks and benefits. Without the 4th hotel night free, complimentary rounds of golf, and other great perks, it just wasn’t worth paying the $450 annual fee anymore. In my mind, there was absolutely no connection between having a Citi Prestige Card that was closed 1+ year prior with a bonus that was received over 24 months ago.
Back to the Citi ThankYou Premier Card…I was approved instantly and was able to meet the $4,000 required spend within the first 3 months. As the following months ensued, I noticed that no sign up bonus was reflecting in my account. I started to chat with Citi reps through the website and they all claimed that I should expect the bonus in my next statement, but by the next 1-2 statements, there was still no bonus. Now I started to worry and decided to call Citi directly. The representative informed me that since I closed my Citi Prestige within the last 24 months, I was not eligible for the ThankYou Premier’s sign up bonus. I remember feeling shocked by the distant correlation between closing an entirely different card less than 24 months prior and not being eligible for the Premier’s sign up offer. I right away asked to speak to a manager who responded in a very angry and terse manner stating that the terms and conditions are clear and that I’m out of luck.
I don’t mind admitting when I’m in the wrong, but I truly felt slighted by Citi Bank and felt that their practices were very unfair. I’m well aware of how the major banks are cracking down on users who they feel are “gaming” the system and churning multiple credit cards per bank per year. However, I don’t like how Citi threw in a new clause into their terms and absolve themselves of any wrongdoing. At least American Express will notify you when you try to submit an application that you may not be eligible for the offer. You should be given the chance to extract your application prior to a hard credit pull, spending thousands on a card where they’re earning commissions, and then feeling like there’s no actionable recourse that can be taken.
Submitting a Complaint
After hearing more stories from friends who had similar and perhaps worse situations than mine: 1) A friend opened the Hyatt Card by Chase and a few weeks later, Chase decided that they made a mistake and automatically closed the card. 2) Another friend who only holds a few cards and spends a lot on them, got a targeted Amex Platinum offer. After being approved and spending the required amount, they were told by Amex they would not receive the bonus due to their new terms where they can determine whether a user might be “gaming” the system. I know for a fact this person spends tens of thousands on their cards and keeps them open for a long time. They don’t even have any other Amex cards!
Following these stories, I felt like action needed to be taken against the banks in any way possible to at least hold them somewhat accountable for their actions. After all, they’re the ones earning billions in credit card spend commissions and fees while passing along points that continue to be devalued by travel reward programs. Thus…
I decided to submit a formal complaint through the Better Business Bureau. I had never done this before and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I outlined all of my grievances and sent along my complaint hoping for the best. After a few back and forths from Citi saying they would respond in 15 business days, I finally received a voicemail from a Citi Bank compliance manager who said they would be mailing me a formal response and to call them back if I had any questions. I proceeded to call them back on 3 separate occasions, leaving voicemails, and never heard back. I finally received the later in the mail and this is what it said…