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I still don’t know if the credit analyst made up the whole rule of “no new credit inquiries within the last five days”. But one thing is clear: Citi is looking for a semi-pristine credit file, and having a high credit score isn’t going to cut it anymore.
That’s understandable because if they are going to dangle such a juicy carrot in front of a customer, they want that customer to stick around. So, if you are after Citi Premier, you better be strategic when it comes to your application timing. I don’t think we will ever know the exact approval formula (and I’m not sure it even exists), but you want to ideally have no inquiries in the last few months and very few new accounts within the last few years to even have a shot.
As for me and my husband, we are giving up on Citi Premier for now. I’ve tried and failed a few times, so I’m moving on.
The other decent Citi offers
This isn’t as good of a deal as Citi Premier, but Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard is certainly worth considering. The offer was a bit higher in the past, but 50k AA miles is still nothing to sneeze at. You have to spend $2,500 in 3 months, which is very doable for normal folks like myself.
Keep in mind that bonus miles are not available if you have received an American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles for a new Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select account in the past 48 months. If you had the business version of the card, that shouldn’t preclude you from qualifying. Both cards pay us commission if you feel inclined to support the blog.
According to these terms, my husband became eligible as of August 1st. So, after getting a few denials on Citi Premier, I’ve decided to roll the dice on Platinum Select card. Unfortunately, we didn’t get an instant approval, but it wasn’t an instant rejection either. A few hours after application, I got a robocall telling me that my husband needs to verify some personal details. From my past experience, I knew that it most likely meant eventual approval.
Unfortunately, my husband hates these type of phone calls with a passion. And I can’t blame him. But since he already got a credit hit on his report, it had to be done. I dragged my feet on it for few days, hoping that the application would magically be approved on its own. No dice.
Off to making that phone call.
The bizarre Citi identity verification process
So, I figured that the whole thing would take 15 minutes max. But nope. First, we had to wait on hold for about 30 minutes. After getting connected to a credit analyst, the grilling began. She didn’t really ask my husband why he wants this card or why he has so many recent credit inquiries.
All the questions had to do with verifying his identity. After spending about ten minutes and annoying the heck out of him, she still wasn’t done. She told him she had to hang up and call him on his cell phone. OK. She did just that, but he couldn’t hear what she was saying.
So, she hung up and called again, this time was a success. Identity confirmed. You would think he was applying to work at CIA. Throughout the whole process, I was concerned my husband would just give up on the whole thing. But he was a trooper. I absolutely have to be very selective about asking him to deal with this sort of nuisance. So, he is good for about six months or so.
Was it worth it?
Ask me again when I have a chance to use these miles! To be honest, AAdvantage program has been a very pleasant surprise. Just a few years ago, I didn’t think much of it. However, they have eliminated award re-deposit penalties, which is a huge win. Also, you can score some pretty good mileage deals on certain routes. And of course, business-class redemptions (like JAL) are still an excellent deal.
Will the program go the revenue route in a not so distant future? It’s possible, even likely. Even so, I’m confident that I will get at least $500 in value out of those 50k miles. It’s obviously not as good of a deal as Citi Premier, but it’s a pretty decent consolation prize.
Plus, applying for this card gave me a chance to test out my theory that Citi has different approval criteria on its various cards.
Leana is the 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.