Earlier this month, I posted how Citibank was denying many customers the signup bonus on Citigold accounts opened earlier this year claiming they aren’t specifically “targeted”. The bonuses at stake weren’t insignificant – it was either 50,000 American Airlines miles or 50,000 ThankYou points depending on the applicable Citibank credit card that customer held. Since that post, some reports have trickled in that Citibank is awarding some customers the bonus but certainly not everyone who was initially told they were eligible but now is not. Here is what I did to get Citibank to agree to post my wife’s signup bonus.
My wife applied for a Citigold account with the 50,000 ThankYou points offer on it in December 2015 and even after multiple reps confirmed she was eligible for the bonus after meeting the requirements, Citibank never posted the bonus to her account (more details in this post). When she followed up earlier this month when the points didn’t post by 4/30 as previously promised by Citibank, she was told only now she was not eligible for the bonus because she wasn’t specifically targeted. While technically that was a term of the offer, since multiple reps confirmed the offer and we made financial decisions with Citibank assuming the bonus would be paid (such as keeping the account open and paying monthly $30 service fees), we both felt it was only right Citibank award the bonus so we decided to fight their decision.
I started protesting their decision by sending a simple secured message stating that I thought it was a mistake as other reps had previously confirmed the bonus and I asked them to look into the matter. Unsurprisingly, Citibank didn’t budge and issued an official investigation letter that confirmed my wife was indeed not eligible for the bonus.
When that failed, I resorted to calling Citigold customer service (with my wife giving the agent permission to speak to me) though I was skeptical this was going to work. Even if I was able to get an agent to agree to post the bonus, I would want something in writing officially confirming that but I didn’t reach that point as speaking to an agent and then a supervisor provided to be utterly fruitless. They kept repeating the results of the “investigation” so I cut my losses and moved on to a more drastic measure.
I ended up filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. To be honest, I was tired of all the crap from Citibank and went straight to the measure I thought had the best chance of success. It didn’t take long to fill out the complaint and they said I could expect a response within 15 days. The downside to this approach, as several of you mentioned on Twitter, was running the risk of a complete shutdown from Citibank and my wife losing the ability to apply for additional Citibank credit cards and banking products. Since my wife has no red flags on any of her Citibank accounts (such as constant churning, heavy manufactured spending, etc.) and the bonus being worth over $500, I decided the risk was worth it to me – others will disagree but it really wasn’t much of a decision to me.
While waiting for a response, I decided to try and convince Citibank one more time to award the signup bonus and sent them what I thought was a pretty firm message on the topic. Maybe I shouldn’t have done this since I already filed a CFPB complaint but I figured what the heck – I’d rather be persistent and hound Citibank until I got my desired outcome. Notice in my response to them below, I said I might file a complaint with CFPB. I forgot to include that by might, I actually already did but I figured it is probably different people/departments responding to this message vs. CFPB complaints so I was using the threat of a CFPB complaint to convince this agent looking at the message to award the signup bonus.
I forgot to check my wife’s account for a few days but when I logged in, I saw another official “investigation” letter but this time with a much better outcome – now my wife was eligible for the bonus. I’m not sure what changed in their “investigation” but they are promising to post the 50,000 points within 30 days. Considering I have a very formal document detailing the outcome of this ordeal, I do believe Citibank will actually post the points this time.
From my experience and what I’ve read on other success stories, the key to winning this fight with Citibank is to be persistent as hell and/or file a claim with the CFPB. For my wife’s account, I chose to not only file an official CFPB complaint but to continuously hound them via secure message. I tried to make it very clear I would not stop fighting for this bonus while trying to remain civil yet firm throughout the ordeal – yelling/screaming/swearing at representatives won’t get you anywhere.
While I don’t know if Citibank just got fed up with me or my CFPB complaint actually worked, Citibank suddenly decided my wife was eligible for the bonus again and I have a new, confirmed letter that as a result of their “investigation” the points will post in 30 days. I’ve downgraded my wife’s account to a Basic account to avoid any more service fees and I’m looking forward towards spending the hard earned 50,000 ThankYou points.