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Applying for credit cards can be one of the easiest ways to earn points or miles without traveling. The Citi Prestige is one of several cards offering great travel benefits along with a lucrative sign-up bonus, but as TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen explains, getting approved for the card isn’t necessarily automatic. Read on to learn what to do if you see the dreaded denial screen.
As I wrote in my post on earning American AAdvantage miles without flying, I’ve earned more than 150,000 miles through sign-up bonuses alone since the beginning of 2015. However, applying for credit cards does impact your overall credit score, so you shouldn’t be reckless when it comes to adding new cards to your wallet.
Oftentimes, those of us with large numbers of credit cards (both currently open and previously closed) won’t get immediately approved for a card. This happened to TPG back in April, and it usually entails a temporary delay in getting approved. By moving around lines of credit or providing more information, you can almost always get an issuer to approve you for the card. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a glitch I encountered when applying for the Citi Prestige Card, and today, I want to point out exactly what it is and find out how many readers have experienced it themselves.
For starters, a bit of background on me and my credit history. I’m not nearly as active with credit card applications as other points and miles enthusiasts, but I still apply for seven or eight new cards every year (and usually cancel a few as well). However, I follow my 10 commandments for travel rewards credit cards religiously (pun intended), and am especially proud of these things:
- I have always paid my credit card balance in full
- I have never made a late payment
- I have never been flat-out denied for a card
Even with my extensive credit card portfolio (I currently have 22 active cards and well over $300,000 in available credit), my credit score has always been in the high 700s, and I try to space my applications out to take advantage of nice sign-up bonuses. For my most recent round of applications, I wanted to add the Citi Prestige and the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card to my wallet.
I was immediately approved for the Alaska Visa, but I was quite surprised when I submitted my Citi Prestige application and received the following result:
Although I did really want the card, I simply chalked it up to my luck running out. I have six open credit cards with Citi (including three that I added earlier this year), so while I was obviously disappointed, I decided not to fret and simply looked forward to my next application round.
However, just a few days later, “Citi Customer Service” popped up on my home phone’s caller ID. When I answered, the nice customer service rep indicated that he saw my Citi Prestige application as pending and wanted to see how he could help get it approved. When I told him that the website indicated that I had been denied, he said that was a glitch and they would be working on fixing it. I shifted some credit lines around, and voila! My card arrived just a few days later.
I didn’t think much about it until last week. I was emailing with a friend (and fellow
crazy hobbyist) about the benefits of the Citi Prestige and how he should definitely apply. When he decided to pull the trigger, he encountered the same thing! Here’s what he had to say about it:
“I finally got around to applying for the Prestige last night and the same thing happened to me — declined! Given your experience, I just picked up the phone and called the reconsideration line and after a few minutes, approved — she didn’t say anything about the initial decline either. Thanks for relaying your experience, otherwise I’d be writing off Citi!”
It sounded like this was a more widespread problem that still hadn’t been resolved in the six weeks between our applications, and in reading the Citi Prestige thread on FlyerTalk, my suspicions were confirmed. Numerous posters there report the same thing going back to at least April, so clearly this is an ongoing problem that really should be resolved. After all, it isn’t being used as a tactic to keep people from applying. Many reports indicate that the card showed up at their doorstep without having to do a thing. It’s a bit frustrating to be in limbo, though, and having to worry about “wasting” a hard inquiry on your credit report for a denial.
However, all’s well that ends well, and I’ve already gotten a ton of value out of the Citi Prestige Card. Although the $450 annual fee isn’t chump change, the benefits (to me and at least one TPG reader!) easily outweigh this fee:
- Lounge access: The card comes with the most comprehensive Priority Pass lounge membership of any credit card out there. I’ve already visited one Admirals Club (in Chicago), and plan on visiting several more during the next few months.
- Fourth night free: Back in 2014, Citi made some significant changes to the Citi Prestige, and this was one of them. As I was planning my trip with the Alaska Visa companion certificate, I realized that we would be spending four nights in San Diego, so I called up Carlson Wagonlit Travel to book a stay at the Andaz San Diego. I found a terrific AAA rate (now that the benefit applies to discounted rates) and booked a four-night stay. I then used a Diamond Suite Upgrade to bump us into an Andaz Loft. As long as I pay for the stay with my Citi Prestige, the last night of the stay will be free!
- $250 air credit: This benefit was another enhancement from last fall’s changes, which gives you a $250 annual credit for airfare. I received mine just a week after purchasing flights on Alaska Airlines.
- $100 Global Entry credit: I feel a bit ashamed to admit this, but I just got around to signing up for Global Entry. I have already used the included TSA PreCheck on Southwest this past weekend and can’t wait to breeze through immigration in Miami this December on my way home from Europe. I received my $100 credit just four weeks after signing up.
- Golf benefit: I’m not a huge golfer, but several courses near my house allow Citi Prestige cardholders to play three free rounds of golf every year. Be sure to check the Golf Switch website to see if any of your local courses offer a similar benefit.
When should you apply?
There are many factors that come into play when you’re deciding when to apply for a credit card, but the short answer to this question for the Citi Prestige Card is simple: right now! That’s because two of the above benefits (the air credit and three free rounds of golf) are both based on a calendar year. If you apply for the card right now and purchase at least $250 in airfare before your December statement closes, you’ll enjoy a $250 credit in 2015 and can then get another $250 credit in early 2016. This means that your $450 annual fee is not only covered, but you actually come out $50 ahead! You should also try to squeeze in some free rounds of golf in the next few months, as that benefit also resets in 2016.
Just keep in mind that Citi does have some pretty strict application rules for those who’ve recently applied for other Citi cards. You can only have one personal card application every eight days and no more than two applications every 65 days (business cards are even more restrictive, with only one application allowed every 95 days). If you’re thinking about applying for another Citi card around the same time (like the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard), be sure to plan accordingly.
I love my Citi Prestige Card, so if you’re like me and encounter the immediate denial, don’t despair! It could just be a glitch, and you can do one of two things:
- Wait. You may be contacted by Citi to shift around lines of credit. Or, your card could simply show up in the mail!
- Call. Many of those who were immediately declined waited a few days and then called Citi’s reconsideration line (1-800-695-5171), though my friend did it as soon as he got the denial notice and was approved without a problem.
Hopefully Citi will resolve this glitch at some point in the near future!
Have any of you encountered this immediate denial for the Citi Prestige Card? How did you handle it?
Know before you go.
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