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Lessons Learned from CitiGold Checking Account Fiasco

Well, it was a fiasco for me. I really hope that all of my readers who signed up for it got their points after all. Some of you might remember my post on CitiGold checking account promo. All you had to do is pay a few bills and 50,000 Citi Thank You points (or AA miles) would be coming your way.

Of course, there was one teeny tiny problem. The terms said that you had to be targeted for this promotion. And I did mention it in my post. In spite of this language, most folks got the points after contacting Citi. In fact, that’s the reason I waited to apply. I wanted to see some data points. Well, that, plus I’m a huge procrastinator.

I suspect that most people waited till the last minute to apply, and than once 90 days has passed, everyone started flooding Citi with requests/demands for 50,000 points. I was one of those people. It probably didn’t go unnoticed and the gravy train came to an abrupt halt at the end of April. Chuck at DoC wrote a post documenting all the gory details.

Unfortunately, my 90 days were up on April 30th. I contacted Citi via chat first and was told I would receive an email from CitiGold department. Well. It said I wasn’t eligible for the 50,000 points promo  because I never got targeted for this offer. I went ahead and called Citi and spoke to another agent who put in a second  request for points. They told me to get lost…again.

I did a chat with Citi rep for my husband’s account, and the same thing happened to him. I didn’t even bother calling because I would have had to ask him to verify identity and he hates doing this type of stuff.  It was time to cancel both checking accounts which I did via chat. But not before asking to refund $30 maintenance fee, which just hit both of our accounts. Success at last! Previous months were fee-free.

Goodbye Citi Prestige, and thanks for the memories!

Now it was time to cancel Citi Prestige X 2. Of course, first, I used up the remaining points (a separate post coming up later). You see, the reason I kept both cards opened was because it was one of the requirements to receive 50,000 points from CitiGold promo.

I actually have  a few flights coming up in the next few weeks, and probably could use lounge access during layovers. But it’s honestly not worth all that much to me. My husband feels weird being there, especially when we have our loud kids traveling  with us. It seems like people can’t wait for us to leave the premises. I don’t blame them one bit.

Plus, the annual fee on Citi Prestige is prorated, and I wanted to get back as much of it as possible. Some of you probably know that Citi actually charges $350 annual fee on Prestige (instead of $450) to CitiGold clients. There was some confusion on my part as to how it would all be refunded. Well, here is the breakdown on my card. I got it in June of 2015, and was promptly charged $450 annual fee. After getting CitiGold account, I got a prorated refund of $262, only to be charged $350 again.

MEMBERSHIP FEE JAN 16-DEC 16 

$ 350.00
REFUND MEMBERSHIP FEE 

-$ 262.48
After canceling the card, I currently have a negative balance of $233, so should be getting a check from Citi soon (I hope). Once again, this is the refund of the annual fee. Of course, I got $500 in airline credits for both calendar years (you can read about Citi Prestige in this post).
Let’s do some quick math. I was charged $800 in annual fees, and got a refund of $495.48. So, my total cost was a little over $300, which isn’t bad. Remember, I held it almost an entire year. So, all in all, CitiGold did end up saving me some money.

But was it worth it?

Nope. It was a huge pain in the behind. And I didn’t even fund it with a credit card back when it was allowed. Not to mention, I only kept Citi Prestige opened for the last few months because of the CitiGold promo. So, it ended up being a wash, plus a compete waste of several hours of my time. Wow, I’m on a roll lately! First, Priceless Surprises fiasco, now this.

On to the actual lessons:

1) When it comes to special promotions, it’s generally not a good idea to wait till the last minute.

This applies to credit card offers, bank bonuses, special savings promotions etc. When a lucrative credit card bonus comes out and it says “apply by date such and such,” it’s probably best not to wait till the last day. For one, they may pull the bonus early in the morning and it will be the case of “you snooze, you lose.”

I’m not saying that you should jump at every offer that’s marketed as limited. Of course, do your homework ahead of time. If you do decide that you are going to apply, set a date, but don’t make it the very last day.

This is especially true when an offer is targeted or shows up in certain browsers (Amex, I’m looking at you!) Those could be pulled within days or even hours. In this hobby sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Obviously, make sure to calculate the cost first.

2) Not every golden opportunity is golden for you. 

Of course, getting 50K points in exchange for scheduling a few bills is very much worth it. However, most lucrative promos involve many hoops that you have to jump through. If you are not organized and have a lot going on in your life at the moment, consider skipping certain deals. Miles and points hobby is fun, but it takes a lot of time to learn and execute properly. And sometimes things go wrong anyway.

KISS (keep it simple, stupid).

3) If it smells funny, consider walking away.

One of the reasons I’m not too upset is because  CitiGold promo was clearly  targeted. It said it plainly in the terms and conditions. Sure, I called and Citi agent said I should be able to get the bonus anyway. It was later confirmed through Citi chat as well. That said, written terms always prevail. And the reality is that I had no business participating in this promotion to begin with. I let my enthusiasm for points (AKA greed) get the best of me.

In general, I’m very careful not to cross (my own) ethical line, but I think I was on the edge this time. Of course, I’m not resentful of those who got the bonus. Not at all. In fact, I really hope that readers who learned about it from my blog did end up getting the points. And if Citi contacted me right now and said they made a mistake and would I please take 50K points, I would probably accept and thank them profusely.

But personally, I’m not doing this sort of thing again.

Readers, did anyone get the points?

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

16 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from CitiGold Checking Account Fiasco

  1. I wasn’t targeted and applied for the miles. Never got the miles but got 50K Thank you points. Way too many phone calls and too much trouble.

    • @Chris I’m so glad you got the points! Not miles you’ve originally applied for but hey, better than getting a big fat zero. I agree, this type of stuff usually involves a lot of trouble. It’s ridiculous how much nuisance this deal ended up being for me. Oh well…

    • I wasn’t targeted and applied for the 50K AA Miles. I confirmed through chat twice that I was enrolled and had met the requirements to receive the 50 AA miles. Out of nowhere 2 months after meeting the requirements i noticed an additional 50 Thank You points in my account. Citi had given me TY points instead of AA Miles. I even chatted with them again and they said I need to wait 90 days for the miles to show up. After paying the monthly fee for 2 months i just decided to cut my loses, downgraded the Citigold account to a basic account and also asked to be reimbursed for the 2nd monthly fee, which they did. So I didn’t get the AA miles, but at least I got 50 TY points and only paid one monthly fee.

  2. OMG, when I saw the title of your post I thought “I don’t wan’t to read this” but I did. I opened that CitiGold checking account on October 7th, I followed all of the steps and I am STILL waiting for the 50K perks and paying the $30 a month that started in March. I am the one to blame in part as I never submitted those tax forms they sent, I am sending them today. But to tell you the truth, and especially after reading your post I don’t even know if I’ll get those freaking miles. Every time I call they tell me I should, that I did everything I had to do but still nothing. I have probably spent at least 2 hours on the phone with them. I call them all the time. At this point I want those miles!!!! I could cancel and forget but supposedly I’m so close. I thought I was going to get them in January as I opened the account in October and fulfilled the requirements but here I am, the most expensive miles ever!!

    • @Leticia I’m sorry to hear about your trouble with this promo. I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Unfortunately, there is a good chance you won’t get the miles now. I know, I know.
      I recommend you call and try to settle this soon before you get charged another $30 fee. The rep forwarded the request to CitiGold department and they emailed me two days later. So, I don’t understand why it’s taking them so long. You may still get the miles, but I wouldn’t count on it. Sorry, I wish I had better news. This hobby isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.

  3. I was targeted so I did get the points (AA miles, not TY – but I am looking forward to seeing how you spent your TY points as I currently have some of those to spend too).
    But I did miss out on a Discover checking account bonus of $200 because I used a lesser promotion code 🙁 – they also chatted saying I would get the higher one (I noticed like a day later) but in the end I didn’t get it.

    • @Hilary I’m glad you got your AA miles! That’s great. Your wish is my command! Tomorrow, I’ll have a post on how I used up my Citi Thank You points. It does depend on your goals and which card you have: Citi Prestige or Premier.
      P.S. I’m sorry about Discover bonus.

  4. I really like your first point. Those who went in early reaped the most benefit. It’s funny, I ended up avoiding this one, though barely. I actually was filling the application the day before the last day, and ended up not completing it. It’s good to give yourself time to think, and it’s too bad that time for thought bit a lot of folks in the behind on this one.

    Something felt off to me about this one. Citi was giving strong signals that it was figuring out that more people than they anticipated were taking advantage of their great offers. They decreased the sign up bonus for Citi gold to 40k TY points, ended Credit card funding, 100k Exec offer didn’t come up, and they are trying to end the WE loophole. Seemed to me this offer was ripe for having the invitation only aspect enforced. I didn’t want to take that risk. Having said that, the 50k AA miles I was hoping to get from Citi Gold would have been the last thing I needed for our Hawaii trip next year, so part of me wishes I had done this earlier on. But I can’t be upset about sticking with my strategy, and it’s not as if there aren’t other more reliable opportunities out there.

    If they come back around with some of the smaller offers (I think there were 10-20k offers for lower levels of banking relationships) I think those would still be worth a shot if open to public, or if I get an invite.

    I am surprised people who did this in 2015 are having issues. I felt like the 2016 offer was definitely at risk, but 2015ers should really be frustrated.

    I think the key for stuff like this is almost like stock market advice. If everyone else is doing, it’s on borrowed time, so move on to what no one else has discovered.

    • @Cheapblackdad You are spot on. There is no way such large numbers of people getting the bonus would go unnoticed by Citi. I’m sure timing had everything to do with it. Yeah, if you would have filled out the app right before the cutoff, you probably would have missed out as well.
      I’m sure there will be public offers on regular Citi checking account. There may already be some out there, though I’m not aware of them. Follow DoC blog and I’m sure you’ll hear about it when it comes out.
      This whole thing made me feel uneasy, so I’m actually OK with not getting the bonus. It stinks, of course, but I can see Citi side. I just wish they didn’t toy with people like Leticia. Either give the bonus or tell the person they don’t qualify.

      • Yeah, agreed on that one. The expectation is what really got mismanaged here. Citi did themselves no favor stringing folks along. This is all a part of playing the game. We can only take solace in the fact that we are still way out ahead! We’re risk takers by nature, so we have to factor in a few misses along with our hits. Good thing it is not a wasted credit pull.

    • @Cheapblackdad Agree 100%. Citi should poop or get off the pot on this one. Also, agree that for the most part, we all come out ahead when it comes to this hobby. It’s important to see the big picture so we don’t end up bitter and frustrated.

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  7. I applied at the end of December so am supposed to get my miles end of May. Waiting until June 1st to make the call. Feeling discouraged, but will give it a try. Like Leticia, I called, several times, verifying the terms of the offer, verifying I’d met the conditions of the offer. They could have just told me up front that I wasn’t eligible if I’m not. Knock on wood. We’ll see what happens! Not counting on much now. 🙁

    • @Amanda Sorry for the late response, I just got back from a trip. Sorry to hear about your troubles with this promo. I really hope it works out in the end. Keep me posted.

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