The New Citi 48 Month Rule Now Covers All Citi AAdvantage Cards INCLUDING Business Cards and No, It Isn’t Good!!

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The new Citi 48-month rule changing their AAdvantage cards eligibility language from 24 to 48 months has mostly been met with a stamp of approval from the blogosphere.

I respectfully disagree.

As a reminder, here are the old restrictions:

You can’t get a sign-up bonus for the card from the same “family” if you’ve opened or closed the card within the last 24 months. For example, you can’t get the bonus for the Premier card if you’ve had the Prestige card, and you can’t get a bonus for the Executive AAdvantage card, if you’ve opened or closed the regular AAdvantage card within the last 24 months.

In the recent couple of weeks, Citi has changed that language for the AAdvantage cards. It now states the following:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® account in the past 48 months.

This disclaimer refers to the Platinum Select card, but it’s also in place for other Citi AAdvantage cards including the Citi Executive AA card. Sometime during the last week or so, Citi has added the identical language to its business AA cards as well.

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® account in the past 48 months.

Why some people believe we’re better off with the new Citi 48-month rule

In the past, the limitation for the AA welcome bonus was limited to 24 months since:

  • You received the welcome bonus for a card from the same family

  • You closed any of the accounts from the same family

Folks who love the new language point out that the new policy doesn’t mention 2 things:

  • Cards from the same family

  • Account closure

Keep in mind that the underlying Citi rules of applying for its cards haven’t changed in decades.

You can open one Citi card within 8 days, 2 Citi cards within 65 days and one business Citi card within 90 days.

So, if you’re new to Citi cards, you could, theoretically, open the Citi AA Platinum Select card, then, 60-65 days later, open the Citi AA Executive card, and after 90 days from opening the first, open the City AA Mile Up card (although I have no idea why you’d want to).

With the old rules, you wouldn’t be able to go on this nice churning spree because the first card you’d apply to would become your last for the next 24 months (yep, the family thing).

But some people have some mileage on them (literally) …

And if you’re one of those people, like so many of us, the Citi 48-month rule would make it worse.

Here is the official Citi AA cards lineup.

Citi 48 month rule

The new Citi 48-month rule now covers all Citi cards including Business

Don’t mind the bonuses shown above; there are better links around there.

Let’s just try and see how the lack of the “family” clause is supposed to help a seasoned miles-and-points traveler.

  • You seriously don’t need the AA Mile Up card with its measly 10,000-point bonus.

  • There is only ONE personal Citi AA card with a waived annual fee.

  • There is only ONE business Citi AA card.

  • I would think long and hard about applying for the $450 AA Executive card, and I will explain why a little bit later.

In my calculations getting ONE good personal card and ONE business card has become almost twice as hard as it used to be.

But there are no more “Opened or closed” restrictions …

Well, let’s say you applied for your last personal or business AA credit card in the fall of 2016 and closed it in the fall of 2017 before the annual fee was about to hit. Under the old rules, you’d be eligible for another card and bonus this fall. Under the new rules, you’d be eligible in fall 2021/winter 2022.

It doesn’t normally benefit us, really, that Citi removed the “open or close” clause from their policy. Here, take another look.

Card Opened Bonus Hit Card Closed Old Rules Bonus Eligible (24mths) New Rules Bonus Eligible (48mths)
01/2018 04/2018  01/2019 01/2021  04/2022

Of course, if you’re not a churner, you won’t close your credit card just a year after the opening despite the annual fee, so if you keep your card for, let’s say, 3 or more years, then you might get ahead with the new rules. For everyone else it’s a downer.

But there are no more “same family” restrictions …

Yeah, so what?

As I just showed above, the Citi AAdvantage “family” consists of only one business card and only two personal cards that you might actually want. Keep in mind that having a personal Citi AA card has never disqualified you from getting the business card and vice versa.

So, the only advantage from the new Citi 48-month policy is that the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard have become “unbundled.” You can apply for either card 9 days after applying for the other and, hopefully, get both bonuses.

The question is, however, whether or not you’re willing to pay $450 for 50,000 miles (although they offered 75,000 miles just recently). The access to AA Admiral Clubs that comes with the card is almost useless to me, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so feel free to disagree.

Here is why I wouldn’t apply for the Citi AA Executive card

While I’m not going to say that an AA mile isn’t worth a penny anymore, I haven’t used American miles for almost 1.5 years. In fact, my AA miles are going to expire this fall if I don’t do something about it (I will).

AAdvantage used to be the very best domestic frequent flyer program. Today it’s at the bottom, next to Delta SkyMiles and way below United MileagePlan.

The inflated award chart, the draconian routing rules, the appalling lack of Saver Business Class awards, and the latest near universal implementation of marriage segments EVERYWHERE have rendered the program nearly unusable on its own metal. They’ve always “experimented” with marriage segments, but nowadays you simply can’t get from New York to Florida without flying over the North Pole. Atrocious, to say the least!

Why not just buy AAnytime awards and fly nonstop, you might counter? Well, if you really feel this way, you’re in the wrong hobby. You should never pay above MileSAAver rates (unless your life depends on it, that is).

In any case, if you are interested in the Citi AA Executive card, please wait for a better bonus. It will come back.

Let’s recap

The new Citi policy that changes the AA cards bonus availability from 24 months to 48 months makes things for most mile-and-points enthusiasts worse, not better like some folks seem to believe. Again, most doesn’t mean everyone, and there are people who are going to benefit, which is perfectly fine. If you tend to check baggage and often fly American, your free bag benefit alone will pay your annual fee many times over. No reason to close down the card after the first year.

This is obviously a churn-combating measure, and just to clarify: I’m not faulting Citi for fighting churners, just trying to set the record straight.

I think the new policy will spread to ThankYou cards too. Which would be a shame – my Citi Premier 24-month’s forced hiatus expires in just a couple of months. 🙁

My next post will cover whatever deals can still be found on American miles. You know, I’m still a glass-half-full kinda guy. 🙂

What do you think? Are you going to be better off with the new AA 48-months rules?

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8 Responses to The New Citi 48 Month Rule Now Covers All Citi AAdvantage Cards INCLUDING Business Cards and No, It Isn’t Good!!

  1. Christian says:

    With all the changes that have occurred in the last few years, I’ve pretty much given up on churning anyway, so I actually prefer this policy and hope it spreads to other Citi cards. Keeping track of opening/closing dates, 5/24, Amex “lifetime” rules, BOA restrictions and what not, it’s just usually not worth it for me.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Interesting comment, Christian. I also crave simplicity, but if you think about it … the Amex lifetime rule is actually very simple. 🙂 And BoA and other cards restrictions won’t bother you if you only “churn” once every 4 years. I’m not ready to give up just yet, but the thing is I’m afraid your wish will be granted, and I’m not happy about it.

  2. Richard says:

    What you all don’t understand is that these rules are being put in place because of all the ‘churning’ you bloggers advocate. Credit cards were wagoner to attract log time customers to the bank. You know – bring your business’s to them. Now you all advocate opening a card, spending the bare minimum to get the bonus (even telling one to buy GCs to meet the minimum) and ten move on to the next card. That’s not what the banks want. So why should they bank extend any benefits to you if you have no interest in developing a relationship with them. I have no problem with them doing this and actually I welcome it. I also foresee a lot of the travel blogs winding down once the churning stops and they is nothing more to write about. I think the points ride is coming to an end.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Thanks for you comment, Richard. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course, but you’re mistaken when you say “you all don’t understand.” I don’t know who “they all” are, but I certainly understand. I also agree that a lot of blogs will wind down if “the churning stops.” The thing is it’ll never stop. I remember a few years ago, people were saying that travel agent was a dying profession, but they’re still here and thriving, right? I, for once, would never wish that any good thing stopped, but that’s just me.

  3. Christian says:

    As an ex-travel agent, I’d disagree on the thriving part. Airlines worked hard to destroy travel agencies by instituting draconian commission caps around 20 years ago. Imagine if realtors could earn a maximum commission of $2,000 per sale regardless of the sale price and you’d be pretty close. I’m obviously not saying that there are no travel agencies left, just a whole lot fewer, and the survivors are often less capable, since in order to continue to exist they have to specialize heavily in cruises or tours or whatever niche they can manage. That specialization comes at the expense of knowledge outside that specialty.

  4. AlwaysFlying says:

    Of course this change is drastic and putting a lipstick on pig is laughable. However while the qatar and cathay (and a few other) redemptions hold, AA has not match and is simply the Best. The AA economy international flights are also ahead of its competition due to offered availability, good partners, low fees and low prices (comparing even with i.e. Delta and United). Only United “free one way” can beat AA but I usually book one way flights. That said AA still is number 1 which may soon change. Maybe it is a good thing to stop providing endless miles to masses? The competition for flights may thin down within a few years as balances get depleted. On another hand I have not received a new mailer for 3 months (unusual).

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Thanks for you comment. The truth is they can’t NOT provide endless miles. That’s a huge source of revenue for airlines. Banks won’t stop doing it either. That’s a huge source of new customers. Any which way you look at it, the only thing they can do is limit access to people like us, which they are doing already. We’ll see how this game will change in a few years.

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