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Sunday Reader Question: Can I Open a Credit Card for the Bonus and Then Cancel?

by on December 25, 2011 · 7 comments

in Citi

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TPG reader Mike writes:

“I recently got the Citi Thank You Premier Mastercard, spent $2500, and got the 50,000 thank you points (update: bonus has been reduced to 30,000 points). If I were to cancel the card (after utilizing all of the points), would I be blocked from applying for the Citi Thank You Rewards?”

Technically you are only eligible for one Citi bonus per card per lifetime. Citi has several ThankYou cards, including the Premier and Preferred, so you would be eligible for the Preferred at a later time and date (wait at least 2 months between applications).  However, unofficially many people have been able to apply for the same cards in the past multiple times and received multiple bonuses. All of the card companies have cracked down on this practice (known as churning), but my understanding is the following:
Citi: After 18 months
American Express: At least 2 years
Chase: Never. In fact, they take it a step further and lump some products together- so for example if you have the Sapphire Preferred card, you can’t get the bonus for the Sapphire card (FYI the Sapphire Preferred is way, way better than the regular card). The same goes for United Explorer and Continental OnePass Plus cards – they will only give you 25,000 miles if you apply for both.  However, they will let you have multiple cards and you can maximize your points by also getting business card versions, like the Ink Bold.
(Note: these are unofficial estimates – if you have a different experience please comment below).

Citi also allows two applications to be processed in the same day and they will only count as one inquiry. This is known as the two-browser trick, even though you don’t actually need to use two separate browsers- check out how you can score 100,000 American miles using this method.

In terms of deciding when to cancel a card, I’d wait at least 6 months. Check out this post on Deciding When to Cancel a Credit Card.

While credit card bonuses are extremely lucrative, the credit card companies don’t give them out to be nice. They want to lure in profitable, long-term customers, so if you identify yourself as someone who will only open a card for the bonus and then cancel, you then put yourself at risk of being declined for future bonuses. If you want to create a long-term, sustainable credit card strategy, I’d personally recommend keeping relationships with each of the main credit card issuers. This way you have more bargaining power in case you are declined or need them to bend the rules for you. Most issuers have no annual fee cards so it doesn’t have to be expensive to keep accounts open.

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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  • Lantean

    I never understand why people don’t want to keep the cards open for 11 months at least… even if you just got it for the bonus. Just set up a reminder in your calendar. ;)
    And Merry Christmas to all BTW!

  • Jam

    Technically, I think the 18 month estimate on Citibank is from the APPLICATION, and the 2 years for AmEx clock starts after CANCELATION.

  • Chris

    I have heard of individuals churning the Platinum Card from AMEX and not waiting to years. Granted that is a charge card.

  • Chris

    *two

  • Ozaer N.

    with the Thank You cards, becareful because they took the points away from my Thank You account after I canceled a card, in order to receive one of the CITI AA cards I applied for. When I called, she said it was because I canceled the card,a nd therefore they reserved the right to take away the bonus points ; of course I complained that the rep on the phone didn’t tell me that, and she put them back after 2 billing cycles, but the damage was done (cuz I couldn’t redeem the pts for the holidays)

  • Jj

    um…. Ozaear, Why would you cancel a card before redeeming the points??

  • You

    I applied and got a non-premier Chase Marriott Visa about 16 months ago. Three months ago I noticed the card started to charge me annual fees. So I called Chase and cancelled the card. The annual fee was then removed. I waited for about 7 weeks then applied for Marriott Premier Visa with 70K points rewards. Surprisingly I got approved without any problem.

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