… and I say “meh.”
I’ve gotten several e-mails from readers in the past few days who have had their Citibank credit card accounts shut down.
Mostly this involves people who had signed up for Citibank credit cards that would earn 5 Thank You points per dollar on specific categories of spending, who then did large dollar volume purchases of gift cards and other financial instruments that could be turned back into cash.
Certainly I get that this wasn’t what Citi intended in offering the card with this benefit. And I wouldn’t have a problem with them ending the promotion early, or even ending it early for specific cardholders they feel are abusing the benefit.
They’re going too far, in my view, in that they seem to be (1) confiscating previously-earned points, and (2) even shutting down other credit cards held by the same individual. In some sense they’re firing the customers retroactively.
I’ve been vaguely aware of this, but hadn’t followed it closely. I hadn’t trumpeted the opportunity to earn 5 Thank You points per dollar on specific spend. Thank You points lost their luster for me in 2009 when they devalued (for the second time).
I’ve mentioned them a couple of times as a decent cash back card option, particularly when paired with the ability to double earning through flight miles — though only a handful of times as that’s not really my focus. I far prefer to spend and earn non-Citi Thank You points.
I’ve considered the Hilton card decent for Gold status, and the American card good for signup bonus (until they killed the 50,000 mile bonus a few days ago, at least, although a 40,000 mile bonus remains available).
So while I think Citi is behaving badly that’s also the Citi I know — and have known — for years.
- They’ve devalued their Thank You points in the past with no notice. And when they’ve given notice of devaluation they’ve gone ahead and implemented changes a month early than they had said they would.
- They’ve treated all sorts of things as cash advances that other issuers consider to be purchases, much to the surprise (and expense) of cardholders.
- They’ve shut down checking accounts and banned customers for use of features (fund via credit card) offered by the program.
So I kind of shrug my shoulders and say of course Citi did this. But then I’ve been around long enough to have a memory for these things.
When readers have asked how to handle this, what they should do, all I’ve been able to offer is “do business with another bank.” Does anyone have a better strategy?
All that said, the way they seem to be doing this does appear to go quite a bit overboard. As I say, shut down the 5x earning they object to. Even decide that cardholders pursuing benefits from their card that way aren’t great customers to have in the future. But taking away earned benefits that were accrued in accordance with the program rules seems dishonest to me.
What is your experience as a Citi accountholder?