How Does Citi’s 24 Month Application Rule Really Work?

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Yesterday I wrote a post about my general strategy with Citi cards at the moment, following the previous post I wrote about my American Express card strategy.

Let me start by just copying and pasting what I had written regarding the application rules for Citi cards, regarding how often you can apply for Citi cards, and who is eligible for the sign-up bonuses:

How many Citi cards can you apply for and have?

As far as I know, Citi doesn’t have a strict limit on how many credit cards you can have with them. The major restriction with Citi is regarding how many cards you can apply for in a given timeframe:

  • You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
  • You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days

There’s not a firm limit on how many cards you can have, though at some point you may find that you’re maxed out in terms of the credit they’ll extend you. That number varies from person to person, presumably based on your income, credit score, etc.

What are the rules regarding earning sign-up bonuses on Citi cards?

While the exact rules vary by card, as a general rule of thumb you’re eligible for the bonus on a given Citi card if you haven’t opened or closed the card in the past 24 months. So the bonuses aren’t “once in a lifetime,” but you do have to wait two years after you applied for or canceled a card before you’re eligible for a bonus again.

Unfortunately Citi added a further restriction last year, as you’re not eligible for the bonus on a card if you’ve had the same “type” of card in the past 24 months. For example:

I received several questions about what exactly is meant by the terms stating that the welcome bonus isn’t available for a card if you’ve had that card “opened or closed in the past 24 months.”

For example, here are terms associated with a Citi AAdvantage card:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage®card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

The greatest point of confusion is regarding whether just having a card open counts as it being “opened in the past 24 months.” In other words, do you have to wait 24 months after canceling a card before you’re eligible for a bonus on a similar card?

In practice, opening or closing a card resets the 24 month clock. If you’ve had a card for over 24 months and haven’t opened or closed it, you’d potentially be eligible for the bonus again. Let me give a few examples:

You can even potentially get the same card again as long as it has been open for at least 24 months. However, there are no guarantees of approval there, and there are mixed data points as to whether or not people get approved under those conditions.


Bottom line

Citi’s language regarding welcome bonuses and the 24 month restriction can be confusing. However, the important thing to understand is that the 24 month restriction is based on the action of opening or closing an account. If you’ve had an account open for more than 24 months, then you should be eligible for another card in the same family. That 24 month limit resets whenever you open or close a card.

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