Citi Credit Card Application Rules

Citi Credit Card Application Rules

While Citi’s credit card application rules aren’t as complicated or restrictive as some issuers, they can still be confusing. It’s important to know these rules or else you risk being denied for a new card or forfeiting a sign-up bonus. In this post we‘ll cover the basics for applying and some strategies for insuring that you get the bonus.

Most of Citi’s rules are directed at individuals who have or are applying for multiple Citi cards. The bank is a major card issuer, so you may run into this situation more often than you’d think. For example, you can’t get both an American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum card and a ThankYou Premier card in the same week.

These are some of the more popular travel rewards cards Citi offers:

Citi Credit CardsAnnual FeeSign-Up Bonus
ThankYou PreferredNoneNone
ThankYou Premier$95, first year waivedNone
ThankYou Prestige$45040,000 ThankYou points
AAdvantage Platinum Select (personal and business)$96, first year waived30,000 AAdvantage miles
AAdvantage Executive World Elite$45050,000 AAdvantage miles
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve$952 free nights
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa SignatureNone75,000 HHonors points

How Many Cards Can You Have?

Unlike American Express, Citi does not limit the number of cards you can have. It does, though, place an overall credit limit across all of your Citi cards. That limit varies by customer and is based on your creditworthiness.

If a new card puts you over that credit limit, your application will typically go pending. Under these circumstances, call the Citi Reconsideration line at 1-800-695-5171 and ask the agent to move credit from an existing card to your new card.

The 8/65/95 Rule

While Citi doesn’t limit how many cards you can have, it does limit how often you can get a new card. The so-called 8/65/95 rule is shorthand for those restrictions and refers the number of days you have to wait before applying.

Officially, Citi says that you can get only one card a week and no more than two cards every two months. In reality, Citi has been known to deny customers who apply too soon. To be safe, you should wait at least eight and 65 days to avoid being denied.

There’s an additional restriction for business cards: You can only get one business card in a 95-day period. Here again, the rule is officially 90 days, but it’s best to wait 95.

Wait 95 days before applying for a second business credit card

It’s important to note that business cards also apply to the 8/65 portion of the rule. Under no circumstances can you get two cards in eight days or three cards in 65 days, even if one of them is a business card.

In other words, don’t apply for a new Citi card if any of these statements are true:

  1. You’ve been approved for any Citi card in the last eight days.
  2. You’ve been approved for any two Citi cards in the last 65 days.
  3. You’re considering a Citi business card and you’ve been approved for a Citi business card in the last 95 days.

Unlike Chase, which has a similar 5/24 rule (only five new accounts in the last 24 months), Citi’s limits on new cards only apply to other Citi cards. Chase includes all new credit accounts when considering an application.

Getting the Sign-Up Bonus

Compared to its competition, Citi is generous with its sign-up bonuses. There are no restrictions on how many sign-up bonuses you can get for different cards, and you can earn multiple sign-up bonuses for any given card. That means you can get a bonus every time you cancel and then reapply for the same card.

The catch is that you typically have to wait two years after canceling a card before you can reapply. Be sure to check the fine print if you’re considering this strategy since the wait time can theoretically differ from card to card. Until recently the waiting period was only 18 months for most cards.

Wait two years after canceling a card before you can reapply

Alternatively, you can shave six months off the waiting period by getting a second card before canceling the first. Citi theoretically allows this if you haven’t opened an account for the same type of card within the last 18 months. Once you get the second card, you can either cancel or downgrade the first card.

This approach comes with some risk, though. You might have to call Citi before being approved for the second card or to combine points from your two open card accounts. In other words, this approach may officially be sanctioned by Citi, but it’s uncommon and you might run into some difficulties.

You can’t simply downgrade a card after earning the sign-up bonus and hope to get a second card 24 months later. Citi prevents customers from downgrading a card until they’ve had it for at least a year. And once you downgrade, you’ll have to wait another 24 months since the waiting period resets.

Call Before You Apply

Credit card rules can be confusing, and they can change without notice. On top of that, issuers will sometimes have different rules for different cards in their lineup. If you’re thinking about getting more than one Citi card, it’s worth the time to call customer service to be sure that you won’t run into any issues. Don’t risk being denied or missing out on a sign-up bonus.