New Citi Loophole – How to Break the 18-Month Rule

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UPDATE: Status of this loophole as of March 2016

UPDATE: We were approved for a THIRD round of Citi AA Platinum 50,000 cards!

Citibank offers some great credit card bonuses!  I have personally taken advantage of quite a few, including the Citi American Airlines Platinum World MasterCard with a bonus of 50,000 miles.  Citi also has implemented a pretty rigid rule for when you can re-apply for the same personal product and earn the bonus again.  The rule states that it must be 18 months from the date you open or close the card before you can earn the bonus again.  However, a new loophole allows you to break this rule with the 50,000 AA mile bonus!

After applying back in February 2015, and earning our 50,000 mile bonuses, Brooke and I were content to wait 18 months before re-applying.  Then I found a Reddit post and a Flyertalk thread discussing a possible exception to this rule.  I got very excited, and I decided to test this loophole.  I am happy to confirm that IT WORKS!

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 8.14.08 PMCiti has been systematically upgrading cardholders from the standard Platinum World MasterCard to the Platinum Elite World MasterCard.  Most people receive their upgraded card in the mail about 1-2 months after getting their initial card.  I did not even notice this change when my second card came in the mail.  To confirm that you have been upgraded, check the back of your card and look for the words Elite World” above the MasterCard logo.

If you have been upgraded, Citi no longer sees your original card in the system.  This allows you to apply for the original Platinum World MC and get the 50,000 bonus again!!  There was some debate about whether the new card would qualify for the bonus, because Citi will approve applications even if you are not eligible for the bonus again.  I guinea-pigged this one using a 50,000 mile bonus link from Flyertalk (public offer is only 30,000 miles), and I was approved immediately.  I nervously awaited my welcome packet to check for the language indicating that I would receive the bonus.  When it arrived, I ripped open the envelope to find this:

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BAM!  Looks like we’re adding another 100,000 (50k each) miles to our cache of American Airlines miles!  Our timeline for these bonuses looks like this:

Date Action
February 13, 2015 Apply for Citi AA Platinum World MC (50k bonus)
April 2015 Receive upgraded Citi AA Platinum Elite World MC
August 17, 2015 Re-apply for Citi AA Platinum World MC (50k bonus)
**October 2015 Receive upgraded Citi AA Platinum Elite World MC
**Late October 2015 Re-apply for Citi AA Platinum World MC (50k bonus)
**Hopefully… etc etc

Three things to keep in mind with this:

  1. Loopholes are almost never permanent, and what works for one person, may not work for someone else.  As we say in the points game: YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).
  2. You must still adhere to the standard Citi application timing rules, or your application WILL be declined!  These rules are: only one Citi application per week (8 days to be safe), and no more than two applications per 60-day period (65 days to be safe).
  3. After you receive your card, make sure to ask Citi to match any higher offers available!

There you have it!  Good luck with your applications.  Cheers!

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96 thoughts on “New Citi Loophole – How to Break the 18-Month Rule

  1. Does having the AA Executive card interfere with this strategy? For some reason I remember reading that if you had the AA Executive card within the past 18 months, it meant you were not eligible for the regular Platinum card bonuses either?

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  2. I currently have the Platinum AA World Elite MC. I remember getting this card in the mail sometime last year (I applied for the Platinum AA World MC in August 2014), so that means my Platinum AA World MC is “off their system” so I could apply for it again instead of waiting until March 2016? Also, what would happen if I cancel my Platinum AA World Elite MC now? Technically it’s a “different product” from the Platinum AA World MC which is the standard card I see available for applying to, so I should still be able to get that even if I cancel the World Elite MC, right? Either way I won’t take any chances and I’ll try to apply for the Platinum AA World MC soon. Will I eventually have to cancel one of the cards? I can’t imagine being able to constantly apply after your original World MC gets upgraded to the WE MC, you’re gonna be sitting on a pile of like 5+ of these things!! lol, and if you do have to cancel eventually, will that reset the 18 month cycle before you can do this again?

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    • I don’t plan to cancel any of these cards as long as I’m getting good retention offers. From what I’ve heard, the $95 statement credit is very common. So yes, I am about to apply for #3, and then #4, etc… Until they cut this off.

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      • Holy moly! Doesn’t Citi put a limit to the # of CCs you can have with them? I guess I could always lower the credit line of the ones I’m not using using to something ridiculously low like $500, that way I’ll have more available “credit” for future applications?

        I had trouble getting the $95 credit statement, and the fee has already posted to my account! They said they didn’t see any offers available to me, should I have pushed harder?

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  3. Does this apply to business cards? If I downgraded to the Gold card personal, could I reapply again? Or should I ask for a World Elite upgrade? Thanks

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    • This is completely separate from business cards… Those done seem to play by any particular set of rules. Some have been able to get a new business card almost immediately after cancelling the previous one.

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  4. Thanks for the detailed explanation. I do see this alert in my account and now I know the reason why they sent me new card without me even asking for it.
    Questions to the pro:
    1. Do I need to wait for it to arrive and activate and then only apply for a new one? I dont want to miss the 60k offer going on now.
    2. My wife doesn’t have such alert. Is there any way we can request upgrade? Both of us applied around Jan2015.

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    • Good questions.

      1. I have only re-applied after activating the World Elite. You will likely be able to get the 60k offer matched by sending a message to Citi. Not worth the risk of applying early.
      2. At this point, the upgrades to World Elite seem to be random/arbitrary. I have not heard of a successful upgrade request.

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  5. Will this still work if I have recently closed my Citi American Airlines Platinum World MasterCard that was upgraded to World Elite? I’ve looked all over for this answer and can’t tell whether closing the card impacts eligibility

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    • From my understanding, you closed a WE card, which is a different product from the World card that you would be applying for… But I am not 100% sure on this.

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    • I don’t believe so. I never noticed a change on my online account. You could report your card lost and request another. If it has been converted to Elite, the replacement card should have the words on it.

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  6. Checking back.

    1. Anybody know if this still works? I just got my World Elite card in the mail.
    2. Do I have to close out the old World card and then reapply for it?

    Best,
    Kasi Brown

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  7. What I’m not understanding is it looks like Citi is moving people from a card with a $95 AF to one with a $450 AF without asking and those using this loophole are ending up with 3-4 WE cards with $450 AFs.

    What is happening here? The obvious is that the oldest WE would be closed before the AF hits (or try for a retention offer to get compensation for it…)

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    • The upgrade here is to the AA Platinum World Elite. You are thinking of the AA Executive card (different product). Your second point is correct, I still plan to call for retention or cancel when the $95 fee comes due.

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  8. Just got my Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® today. Came with the letter that says I can still earn the 50,000 bonus. It still WORKS!!

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      • Do you have to wait for the annual fee to post to get it waived? I called Chase regarding my Ink plus card annual fee (due March 01, 2016) and they said they couldn’t waive the fee until after it posts. Is this right? I called twice and both reps said they couldn’t waive it. Sorry that this doesn’t belong in this thread, I didn’t know if there was somewhere else to discuss these things.

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      • Ah. So Do you just end up cancelling all your chase cards when the annual fee comes up? I’m afraid to do that on this one because it has a high credit line (was for a film business) and it will dump my credit score. They wouldn’t transfer the credit line to another card either cause different for personal and business. They said they could downgrade to ink cash card. Should I just do this? And could I then reapply for chase ink in future for another bonus?

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      • Asked today and got the BONUS tonight! You’re the best, Jesse:)

        Here’s what they said:

        Thank you for contacting us.

        I would be happy to match that offer for you!

        I have credited your account with 10,000 American Airline miles. You
        will still be enrolled in the offer to receive 50,000 miles after
        spending $3,000.00 within 3 months on new purchases. Once
        the spending minimum is met, please allow up to 2 billing cycles for the
        miles to be sent to your American Airlines number.

        I hope this information was helpful.

        Thank you for being a valued customer!

        Regards,
        Drew
        Account Specialist
        Tennessee

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  9. Has anyone tried this recently? My friend applied for the Citi AA Platinum card in June 2015 and it got upgraded to the World Elite card around the same time. He tried applying last Monday for another card via the loophole trick and he got approved and received the card…but the letter that the cards were glued to stated that he wouldn’t be getting the bonus due to a card being open/closed, he hasn’t closed any cards, only opened one in June 2015 and it got upgraded to World Elite, is this dead?? My brother applied for one last week and got approved and is getting the bonus.

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    • Just got the letter for the new world card saying the card is coming. Doesn’t say anything on the letter about bonus miles, but doesn’t say we’re not going to get it either. Did this letter come with the actual cards or before you received the cards? We should get the card on February 25th.

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      • Okay, Received letter with cards today. Same situation as Dynamo116’s friend. This is the first churn for this card from World Elite back to World. Applied on 02/17/16, Approval letter dated 02/18/16 and received cards on 02/25/16 stating that no bonus will be given “based on a recent opening or closure of your Citi/Aadvantage Platinum select card”.
        We did not close any cards. We applied for this World card on the Citicard website.
        Question: Do we now close this card since it is useless to us? How do we reset the 18 months for this card, so we can apply again some day for the bonus? We still have the original card (that converted to World Elite) too.

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      • Thanks! I’ll check into “the dividend or double cash card.” I really need to get the 50k miles though for my spouse so we can travel together and they are 50k shorter than mine. They don’t have the gold card yet, and I was thinking of doing the citigold checking account situation for 50k.
        How long do you think before they can apply for the gold card without arousing suspicion? Also, when we applied for this now useless World card we had to move credit from another card over to the world card to qualify. Will this be a problem now that we have the World card AND are applying for a gold?

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      • Hey Jesse, you mean the citigold checking account miles take forever to post?
        But how long until I can apply for the citi gold credit card for 25k miles without arousing suspicion since I just got this bunk world card?
        Already have the citiAAbusiness card. We are looking for the miles on American Airlines.

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      • As long as you follow Citi’s general application rules, you should be fine to get the AA gold credit card. The Citigold checking bonus is a mess.

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      • Okay. So just do the citigold credit card. Bummer is only will get 25k miles and need 50k. That’s why I was considering the citigold checking 50k bonus. But you’re saying it’s bad news, huh. :/

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      • @Kasi Brown, that was my friend’s letter and he said it came with the actual cards. If you look closely you can see the outline of where the cards were glued.

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      • Yes, thank you. For some reason I couldn’t find his post at first in the thread. Then I saw that he said that.:)
        Question is, did his approval letter that he got before the cards came, say ANYTHING about the bonus being denied, or nothing at all about the bonus?
        And did your parents approval letter say they were getting the bonus (before the cards came) or nothing at all like my letter.

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  10. @Kasi Brown, ok I just texted my friend and he said: “Actually I might’ve, I still have a few pieces of mail have to open”, lol ughhh, sorry!!

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  11. I checked with my friend and he said the approval letter didn’t state anything about the bonus. It didn’t say he would get the bonus and it didn’t say he wouldn’t get the bonus

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  12. @Kasi Brown, I believe applying for this 2nd card as a churn has already reset the 18th month rule, so you should either cancel the old card or hold on to both and hope for some good retention offers since closing now would just reset the 18th month rule again, though it’s only been a week so I guess it does not matter.

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      • @Kashi Brown, yup if you cancel the old card now/today, you will have to wait 18 months from now/today. Since you applied for the other card via a churn, I believe you will still have to wait 18 months from the date you applied for it (2/17~)

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  13. Hey Jesse, are you gonna try to go for a 4th round of the Citi AA World MC card? Any word from anyone if this is still working despite the above cases? 😦

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  14. I just applied last month for the AA Platinum Select card. I looke don the back and it just says “World,” not “World Elite.” So, I would theoretically be able to apply again for the World Elite card? This seems strange to me, since I applied and received the card very recently. Why did they not just send me the World Elite in the first place?

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  15. I currently have the World card. It is my first one. I haven’t met the minimum spend yet. Do I upgrade the the World Elite now or do I wait until I have met the minimum spend and received my miles before I upgrade? Thanks!

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  16. I had a Citi AA platinum personal card about 18 months ago. I converted it to the doublecash card when my first year was up and the fee was scheduled to hit for year 2. I’d like to apply again for the Citi AA platinum personal card as it has been right around 18 months since I downgraded/converted to the doublecash. Any way to see when that 18 month exactly hits? I know the month and year, but not the exact date. I’d hate to miss it by a few days. Or is this moot since the old card was a World card and the new one is a world elite and wouldn’t have been caught by the 18 month rule regardless. Assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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