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As you might already know, the wording of the terms and conditions for Citi credit card sign up offers has changed and now you are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand or co-brand) within the last 24 months.

This is significantly different from the prior rule which only restricted you to earning a sign up bonus on a card 24 months after you opened or closed the same card.

In light of this new rule, I thought it would be helpful to know what kind of retention bonuses Citi customers are being offered, since you might not want to close a card you already have if doing so would render you ineligible for the sign up bonus on a card in that same family.

Wait… What’s a Retention Bonus?

Retention bonuses are basically benefits (often times extra miles triggered by more spending or a statement credit that somewhat or totally covers the annual fee) that reward a cardholder for remaining a customer.

They are not automatically offered by most Citi cards, but are still possible to get if you call and speak with a Citi representative. All it takes is a little of knowledge of what they want (or don’t want) to hear. Worst case, you’re right where you started, and best case you get statement credits and/or extra miles.

How to Extract a Retention Bonus

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When?

Call the number on the back of your card for a retention bonus 11 months after you get card. That’s the month before the annual fee is due, so your threat to cancel the card because the annual fee is coming up is the most credible.

What to say

Tell the first agent that you want to cancel the card. You will be transferred to a retention specialist who gets paid to stop you from canceling the card.

Transferred!

Tell the retention specialist you want to cancel the card because of its annual fee or because you want a card that earns more miles. This will provoke a retention offer.

If you get one related to a statement credit to offset the annual fee, ask if there is one to earn more miles. Or vice versa until you think they’ve offered you all the retention bonuses that they’re authorized to offer. The offers listed in the next section below are what your contemporaries are getting when they call in, so use that as a guide to work up to.

**In case you weren’t aware**

Here is a helpful tip from Flyertalk

“Be aware that Retention Specialists are compensated based on the number/percent of card holders they can retain and to some extent based on the offers they use. These are people with jobs who can be helpful but have little discretion in what is available although some discretion in which offers they tell you about. Unless the Retention Specialist is being a complete &#*@%, you should probably accept an offer and then close via SM so that you don’t ding the rep for something over which they have little control.”

SM is shorthand for secure messaging, which you can access online through your Citi account.

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Card Families and Common Retention Offers For Each Card

FlyerTalk is an online forum where travelers discuss miles, frequent flier programs, and every other possible aspect of travel and loyalty programs. Here is the FlyerTalk thread where people post their retention bonuses for Citi cards.

Take into account that every persons situation is going to be handled somewhat differently by the retention specialist, depending on your history with Citi and how valued of a customer you are. That being said, the offers below should give you an idea of what to aim for.

Citi American Airlines cards:

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  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: $100 statement credit + 5k bonus  miles for $1,500 spend for three months.
    • Recent common offers: $250 credit for spending anywhere from $3k to $5k a month for 3 months; $100 credit for spending $1500 a month for 3 months.
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage®Platinum ® World MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: $95 statement credit after spending $95
    • Recent common offers: 1k bonus for $1k in spending each month for 16 months; 10k bonus miles for spend $5k within 6 months
    • Personal data point: a few months ago, I was offered a $95 statement credit after spending $1,000 within 3 months.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: $95 statement credit for spending $95 within 30 days.
    • Recent common offers: $95 statement credit for spending $95 within 30 days; 7.5k bonus miles after spending $1k within 3 months
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold MasterCard®
    • Most recent data point: 3k bonus miles for spending $500
    • Recent common offers: Within the last year there haven’t been many data points, prior to that some people were offered $50 to $100 statement credits for small spending requirements (under $100)

Citi ThankYou Points cards:

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  • Citi Prestige® Card
    • Most recent data point: Was given three offers- $200 statement credit for spending $4k per month for 3 months; 1 additional point per dollar on all purchases for 6 months up to 50k points, or 4 additional points per dollar for travel purchases for 6 months up to 35k points
    • Recent common offer: $200 statement credit for spending $4k per month for 3 months
  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
    • Most recent data point: Was given four offers- $95 statement credit and 1k points after $1k spend each month for 3 months; 10k points after $3k spend over 6 months; 7,500 points after $1k spend over 3 months; 2 bonus points per dollar of spend up to 34k bonus points
    • Recent common offer: $95 statement credit and 1k points after $1k spend each month for 3 months
  • Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
    • Most recent data point: Was given two offers – 2x bonus points on all purchases up to 35k bonus points or 15k points on $4.5k spend
    • Recent common offer: there are only three data points for retention bonuses received since March 2015.

Citi Hilton cards:

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  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
    • This card has no annual fee, so you might as well keep it open.
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
    • As an already included retention bonus (i.e. you don’t need to call in negotiate for it), the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card offers an additional free weekend night certificate after spending $10k within a cardmember year. Read more about this little known benefit of the Hilton Reserve that could makes continued use of the card worthwhile.
    • On top of the automatic bonus, the most common offer is 5k points for spending $1,500 within 3 months. Although that might not be likely anymore, as the last two data points report being offered nothing at all.

Bottom Line

Prior advice was to keep the card open if the retention bonus you are offered is worth more than the annual fee (and if you have enough spending power, if not then rebate percentage came into play).

But now that closing a card re-starts the 24 month clock for Citi’s new sign up bonus eligibility rule, you may want to consider keeping your card open if it’s in the same card family as another Citi card you want– even if the retention bonus doesn’t negate the annual fee. It depends on how much you value the sign up bonus of the new card.

If you decide to cancel, you don’t really have to cancel. Downgrading to a different no annual fee card is an option as well to avoid annual fees and retain the age of your account for your credit score. I don’t think downgrading will make any difference in regards to the Citi sign up bonus eligibility rule (it should still restart the 24 month clock). If anyone has any data points to the contrary please let us know.

Have any of you gotten a retention bonus for a Citi card lately? If so, help other MileValue readers by sharing your experiences in the comments.

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