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Your Guide to Citi’s 48-Month Rule

Dec. 11, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Citi has an impressive lineup of rewards credit cards with generous welcome bonuses. Whether you’re looking to stock up on transferable Citi ThankYou points or AAdvantage miles, Citi has multiple cards to choose from. The downer? Citi has also begun restricting the welcome bonuses on some of these credit cards. In some cases, if you’ve had a Citi card in the last 48 months, you will not be eligible for another welcome bonus on a similar card.

There’s a lot more to this rule that’s important to know if you’re contemplating applying for a Citi card any time soon. Here is your guide to Citi’s 48-month rule on welcome bonuses:

» Learn more: Citi ThankYou points: How to earn and use them

What is Citi’s 48-month rule?

Citi’s 48-month rule restricts certain credit card welcome bonuses to once every 48 months. So if you apply for one of the affected credit cards now and decide to cancel the card in two years, you will not be eligible to reapply and receive the bonus again until 48 months after your first application.

Which credit cards are affected?

The good news is that not all Citi credit cards are impacted by the 48-month rule. An easy way to identify impacted cards is to look for a disclaimer on the card page stating the following: “American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a [card name] account in the past 48 months.” We’ve compiled the complete list of credit cards impacted by this rule:

» Learn more:  CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum review: A must for American Airlines loyalists

Citi cards with slightly lower restrictions

Not all Citi credit cards are subject to the 48-month rule. A few credit card welcome bonuses are subject to a 24-month waiting period. The catch? Citi lumps these cards together, so if you’ve obtained a welcome bonus for one of them in the last 24 months, you are ineligible to receive a bonus for any of the other cards in this group:

» Learn more: Citi Premier review: Potentially lucrative for travelers

Furthermore, if you obtained one of these cards, say, three years ago and then canceled it recently, you’re not off the hook. Citi’s terms specify that the 24-month waiting period applies to the date the welcome bonus was obtained and the date your card was canceled.

Citi is really rewarding those who hold onto their credit cards long-term and decide to pick up additional cards. But drop a card and the 24-month clock resets.

Similarly, the Expedia credit cards also have a 24-month restriction on welcome bonuses. Like the Citi ThankYou cards, the two Expedia cards are lumped together. If you’ve obtained or canceled one card within the last 24 months, you’ll be ineligible for a second welcome bonus on the other card:

  • Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi.
  • Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi.

Citi cards with no restrictions

A few Citi cards have no welcome bonus restrictions at the moment. And some of them don’t have welcome bonuses at all. That might change down the line, in which case they may become subject to the same 24-month or 48-month rules as other Citi cards:

» Learn more: Citi Double Cash review: 2% on everything is tough to beat

What are the workarounds?

There are a couple of workarounds to Citi’s 48-month rule, which affects the American Airlines-branded credit cards. If you’re looking for more AAdvantage miles, you can opt for one of the co-branded credit cards, like the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®. Another option is to wait out the 48-month period, but avoid resetting the clock by keeping your Citi credit cards open. At least until your second welcome bonus posts.

The bottom line

If you’re ineligible for a Citi welcome bonus because of one of the above-mentioned rules, all is not lost. You can still get around these rules and figure out ways to continue earning points and miles in large quantities.

The information related to AT&T Access Card from Citi, Citi Prestige® Card, Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi, Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi and Citi Premier Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Which American Airlines credit card should you choose?
4 reasons to start collecting American Airlines AAdvantage miles’

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