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Guest Blog Post: 23,500 American Miles for Opening a Citibank Checking Account

by on June 18, 2011 · 37 comments

in American, Citi, Oneworld

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On Monday May 2, 2011 I announced that I will be featuring guest blog posts from some of the greatest minds in the frequent flyer world. For the first post, I introduced Joshua Pickles, also known as Mr. Pickles. In the frequent flyer community Mr. Pickles is known for his ability to analyze opportunities and push the boundaries on what is possible when it comes to earning miles and points. Last time Mr. Pickles discussed how to use BigCrumbs to meet minimum credit card spend to accelerate the accrual of the miles from the Chase British Airways 100K mile credit card offer that ended on May 6, 2011. Today, Mr. Pickles returns to tell you how you can earn an easy 23,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. You can follow Mr. Pickles on Twitter at @TheMrPickles.

The Quest for AA miles

Those of you who “know” me from Flyertalk and Milepoint know that I love to earn American Airlines Advantage points any way I can; ordering coins from the US Mint, opening checking accounts, buying diamond engagement rings, funding bank savings accounts with Citibank credit cards (dead now), even opening brokerage accounts.  So far I have earned 2,852,393 American Airlines AAdvantage miles without ever flying on an American Airlines plane.  Today I want to share with you a targeted offer from Citibank for loyal AAdvantage credit card holders. I know you are all loyal!

The Deal

  1. Open a regular Citibank checking account and get 10,000 AA miles, open a Citigold checking account and get 23,500 AA miles (no dollar amount stated, and gold accounts are free for the first 2 months, longer if you meet requirements).
  2. Mention offer code: C26X, offer expires 7/31/11.
  3. Apply online at www.offer.citibank.com or by phone at 1-866-914-5409 or in person at a branch.
  4. For either offer, within 45 days set up either: One or more direct deposits OR two or more electronic bill payments, and continue for at least two months.
  5. EFT to another account will not count per the terms and conditions, which are subject to change at any time.
  6. I had my payroll department add an additional direct deposit for only $10 per pay period to meet the requirement.
  7. Keep the account open for at least two months, but miles post 90 days after the statement closes after meeting requirements, so I would keep it open until the miles post.
  8. You must be at least 18 years old or older.
  9. The bonus will be reported to the IRS on a 1099-Misc as required by applicable law (has not happened to me ever but YMMV).
  10. I would suggest against opening joint accounts. For a couple, each of you can earn by opening your own account.
  11. This offer is not valid for existing Citibank checking customers.
  12. Make sure you document your steps and keep a printout of screen shots if you apply online – Citibank is notorious for failing to give miles.
  13. Disclaimer – I do not get any commissions if you open a checking account.

Service fees for Citigold accounts

Per the Citibank website:

Open your Citigold interest checking account with a $500 minimum deposit8. There’s no monthly service fee for the first two statement cycles. After that, we’ll continue to waive the monthly service fee if the combined average balance of your eligible linked accounts is:

  • $50,000 or more for all linked deposit and retirement accounts
    OR
  • $100,000 or more across all your linked Citi accounts, excluding a first mortgage with Citibank
    OR
  • $250,000 or more if your Citibank first mortgage is included in the total relationship.

Otherwise, a $30 monthly service fee will apply.

In Summary
This is an easy way to earn 23,500 miles and a great way to top off an AAdvantage account for those of you who earned the 75,000 mile bonus a few months ago for opening the AAdvantage credit cards. Citibank frequently has these offers so as soon as my miles post I close my account so I can take advantage of the offer next time it comes around. American AAdvantage miles can be used on OneWorld carriers, Alaska Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui.

About Me

“mrpickles” has been writing on the Flyertalk.com forum since 2009 and more recently on the milepoint.com forum telling stories of earning huge amounts of frequent flyer miles in a short period of time. Primarily focusing on American Airlines AAdvantage miles mrpickles found notoriety in December 2009 when The Wall Street Journal wrote a front page article which featured a story that hinted about how mrpickles earned American Airlines lifetime Platinum status without ever stepping on an American Airlines flight. More recently he was featured as one of the Legends of Flyertalk at the Chicago Seminar 2010, a gathering of over 500 frequent flyers learning the tricks of the trade. mrpickles currently holds over 5.8 million miles and points spread over several programs and this year has top tier status with United, Air France, Continental, and Lifetime Gold status on American Airlines as well as Starwood  SPG Platinum and Hilton Diamond status. You can follow Mr. Pickles on Twitter at @TheMrPickles or on The Mr Pickles blog.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • TR

    S0, unless I put $50000 there it is going to cost me three months at $30 per month if I keep until the end of the 90 days it states it will take for points to post. This is after the initial two months it will take to meet the 2 month DD or auto bill pay requirement. That seems pretty expensive unless you can tie up that much money for 5 months. But, still, even if not for everyone it does provide the opportunity.

  • Phil

    I’m seeing the same as TR. $90 unless you want to tie up $50k, which would earn you 5k per month at BankDirect. I wonder if you could open the CitiGold account, meet the requirements for the first two months, then downgrade the account to the lower level until the points post. You could certainly claim to have met the requirements and maybe a little lower risk than flat out closing the account

  • TennisPlayerInLR

    Also, the regular checking account requires a 6k balance (across the various citi accounts) or there is a $20 a month charge. Just FYI.

  • Shami

    And like usual it is not for current customers. There goes my opportunity. Thanks but no thanks.

  • Scott C

    If you don’t want to tie up the money, you could also just take the chance that you close the account after meeting the offer requiremenst and hope the miles still post right?

  • TennisPlayerInLR

    @Scott C – I found this in the comments on Mr. Pickles blog, which suggests it must be open until the miles post.

    –Also, the account must be open and in good standing when the miles post in order to actually receive the miles so #7 is a “you need to keep the account open” until the miles post.

  • Maury

    I think its worth paying $90 for 23,500 AA miles. If you were to purchase them they would cost you around $575!

  • Alvin

    Even with $90 fee… its about 0.38cents/mile or $0.0038/mile so considering the rate… i think its worth it.

  • ofer

    People are actually looking at $90 for 15K since you can get 10K with the easier regular checking account.

    Maybe the better decision is to skip this one altogether. This is because I find that the great thing about this promo is that it ends on July 31… If you do this one, you can’t do any other deal for a good 7-8 months and we have seen 30K and 40K bonuses in the past year. Maybe it is better to take a chance and wait for a bigger cake.

  • david lyn

    I opened a checking account last year they had this promotion for 20,000 miles.
    They sent a tax form that these miles were worth over $800.
    If you want to pay taxes for $800 please open your account. If I knew this was the case I would not have opened a citibank account.

  • RubberCityRebel

    Yes, getting a 1099 at tax time and having to pay income taxes on a unrealistic, inflated value for these miles kills this for me!
    There are long threads on Flyertalk on this!

  • HikerT

    Just a word of warning that citi will change the offer number on you when you select CitiGold. I clicked on the http://www.offer.citibank.com link above and entered offer number C26X. It selected the normal checking account option for me. I wanted the CitiGold option so I clicked on banking, checking, and selected CitiGold. I didn’t realize until after I had signed up and was filling out another app for my partner that when you do this they will change the offer code (in my case to CKC5). Just cent a message to citi customer service to see if they can apply the correct offer number but hopefully this word of warning saves someone else from the same headache.

  • HikerT

    BTW, I didn’t see a place to enter an account number on the application. Only thing I can figure is Citi gets the AA account number from your Citi AA credit card? If so, wondering if this offer is only valid for Citi AA credit card holders?

  • Fly Free

    Hmm.. There’s an interesting typo in the fine print when you look at the “promotion disclosures”. see for yourself..

    https://online.citibank.com/JRSAO/ao_online/editAccountSummaryPromoPopup.do?PromoCode=C26X

  • trollish moron

    Way too much work, tax and hassle for 23k miles in my opinion.

    sorry

  • http://pointsatwork.com CC Wrider

    @ofer: where does it say you can’t do another promo for 7-8 months, or are you referring to the amount of time it takes from start to finish to do the deal & wait for miles to post?

  • Latimer

    @RubberCityRebel: Yes, there’s been a lot discussed on FlyerTalk about this. Presumably- and this is from what I read- the bonus dropped from 25,000 miles to 23,500 since the last time they ran this promotion so that Citi could avoid sending out the 1099 since the value of the miles would be less than $600.

  • http://www.themrpickles.com Mr Pickles

    @TR- and
    @Phil – This is correct. You would probably do better if you held your cash at BankDirect or BBVA Compass (if you have one of their old miles accounts – no new customers). This does work well for those who have deposits maxed out at BankDirect.com as they only allow one checking and one CD per address and have a max of $250k on checking deposits. This does give an option for someone just opening an account that does not fee comfortable with online banking.

  • http://www.themrpickles.com Mr Pickles

    @Shami – So it seems that you must be without Citibank checking account for 90 days prior to applying for this offer. When dealing with these Citibank account promotions, I close my accounts immediately when the miles post to my AAdvantage account. This way I can be poised for the next offer when it becomes available. In addition, you must be a loyal Citibank AAdvantage card member before opening the checking account. I don’t know how they define “loyal” but I do know that you can open a credit card account online today, look for a link form The Points Guy at http://bit.ly/jLiAn7

  • http://www.themrpickles.com Mr Pickles

    @RubberCityRebel – I agree that the 1099-Misc sucks for these miles. We all want to do everything to put an end to any consideration of taxation of reward miles by the IRS.

    By doing a simple Google search using the key words “Gary Leff”, “IRS”, and “1099″ I direct you to the following link to the View from the Wing blog http://bit.ly/jLiAn7 which will instruct you how to file forms with the IRS to declare a “Prize FMV Adjustment”. I suggest looking at the comments, then return here and share your comments and observations.

  • http://www.themrpickles.com Mr Pickles

    Correction – on the last link: http://bit.ly/iAH061 about the 1099 correction. Sorry for any confusion.

  • ofer

    @CC Wrider, the deal will take about 5 months to complete and then you have to close the account and wait a few months because it is for customers with no citi accounts… If you close and open the next day, you will not get the new bonus.

  • gpapadop

    so much work for 23.5k miles when you can send an email and get 50k from…several sources;-)

  • Shawn

    If you already have a Citibank checking account, can you still open another checking account and get the AA bonus miles?

  • Lee

    Just tried to sign up for the promo. A few things to note:

    1) For some reason I could not link my existing Citi AA Advantage card to the new checking account
    2) I was put in the regular checking, not the CitiGold checking. So this promo is only worth 10,000 points to me.
    3) Seems like I’d be better off just closing out the account and not actually funding it and waiting for a better promo.

  • http://www.themrpickles.com Mr Pickles

    @Shawn – I understand that you can not already have a checking account.

  • Gregillinois

    OK- signed up for the 20,000 regular checking per the promotion. It now dawns on me they never asked for AA number. Assuming you go thru the hoops how did you alert them to send the miles to AA?

  • JHW

    We just signed up for this today in person at the bank and there were a few things to note:
    1. We qualified for the Citigold with fee waiver because we happened to already have a mortgage with Citibank. Didn’t realize we could do this until the bank teller told us. I think the mortgage must be at least $250k.
    2. Make sure you tell the bank teller the code number and that she enters it into the computer file. Apparently its only supposed to be good for those who got the target e-mail but maybe if its noted on the file it will help?
    3. We also gave the teller our AA credit cards to link to the account and our AA nos. for the miles.
    4. You get an extra 4,000 AA miles for getting the free ATM/debit card that goes with the Citigold account.
    5. Your AA Citicard annual fee is waived while you have the Citigold account. So if you happen to have it open for the month in which they bill your annual fee then the fee is waived for the year.
    I thought it was worth it for 55,000 miles (2 accounts opened, plus the 4,000 bonus miles each). I would say it was very easy and quick (10-15 min) to do in person at the bank. Fingers crossed that there are no problems in getting our miles though…

  • CG

    I was trying to open the account using the promo code. However, I noticed that it is opening Citibank Regular account( which is different from Basic Banking account). Citibank Regular account asks us to maintain a minimum balance of $6000 or else we pay a monthly fees of $20. So, are you all really maintaining this minimum balance wit hregular checking account? Also, someone completely new to citibank tried this offer? I mean, If I don’t have citi aadvantage card, then also is the offer valid?

  • Anonymous

    I signed up for Citigold, and nowhere did it ask for my AAdvantage number. I emailed them and mentioned the promo C26X, and gave them my AAdvantage number. This is their response, which makes zero sense to me:

    I would like to first thank you for using Citibank Online® for assistance with your banking needs. I can certainly understand the importance of your inquiry and I would be delighted to provide you with some additional information.

    Our records indicate that you currently have an ATM only card. Please be advised that you must have a debit card in order to enroll in the AAdvantage program.

    Thank you for choosing Citigold. We appreciate your business and the opportunity to serve you.

    I guess I should email again and hope to get someone else? I asked them to confirm if I’m registered for promo C26X and to enter my AA number, and their response did not answer my questions. Somehow dealing with Citibank is never easy. They might as well close the account if they can’t confirm that I’m registered for the promo. I really dislike Citibank. I’ve had their AA Mastercard since 1999 and have their American Express, and now a checking account. If they didn’t offer bonus miles, I would stay as far away from them as possible.

  • hinese

    Never mind. I don’t even care any more. I told them to just close the account. From now on, my only dealings with Citibank will be bailing out their terrible organization with my tax dollars.

  • diana

    Everyone keeps mentioning how the taxes on this bonus are not worth it. It’s my understanding that you don’t have to claim miles awarded if they are used for personal use (you do have to file 1099 if they are sold or bartered). Am I understanding taxing on miles correctly? Also, why would the taxes on this bonus not be worth it, but a higher award would be? For example, I’m sure a lot of us on this sight took advantage of Citicards AA 75000 mile sign up bonus.

  • Gerry

    Per the terms, does anyone know if you can pay your Citi AA credit card(s) w/ $ in the Citi checking account and have that count toward the 2/month transaction requirement?

  • bMASS

    Just wanted to sum up the 1099 issue for my own benefit and anyone else still tuning in. Based on comments below and a little research, my reading on this is the 23,500 mile bonus should not trigger a 1099 form from Citi. I haven’t been able to confirm what value Citi places on AA miles, but it makes mathematical sense that they use American’s valuation of $.025 a mile: 23,500 miles X $.025 per mile = $587.5, just under the $600 threshold to trigger a 1099. As Latimer says below, this is why Citi lowered the bonus from 25,000 miles in previous promotions. 25,000 miles = $625 = 1099 form; 23,500 miles = $587.5 = no 1099 form. The clincher would be to find out exactly how Citi values miles. But I think it’s safe to assume this deal will not trigger 1099.

  • Eric

    I just got my 23,500 miles today (Dec 6). 3 1/2 months. They just charged me a $30 fee for the second straight months. Now I’ll close the account to avoid that. 23,500 miles for $60…not too shabby. Thanks TPG.

  • Hpmg87a

    Just got a 1099 from citibank for $625, for miles given for opening an account. Being in the 36% tax bracket that a cost of $200 just to be a customer of citibank… Shame on them have to find a new bank

  • Dan

    Hi – does anyone know if this deal will be offered again?

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