How Citi Calculates Months for Retention Bonuses

I recently accepted a retention offer on my Citi Prestige card and bungled the timing of the spending requirement. I called Citi and discovered what I did wrong so I thought I’d share it here.

The offer was for 20,000 ThankYou Points for spending $4,000/mo for 3 months.

The way Citi counts the 3 months is as follows:

  • The clock starts the day you accept the offer. Or sometimes the first business day after accepting the offer. Pay close attention on this because in my experience it varies depending on the offer.
    In my case, I accepted the offer on 8/25/2020 and the clock started that day.
  • Each 1-month window ends on the same calendar day you accepted the offer.

In my case the windows of time to spend $4,000 were:

  • 8/25-9/25/2020
  • 9/26/2020-10/25/2020
  • 10/26/2020-11/25/2020

How I Messed Up

When I accepted the offer I was unsure how they calculated a month. I figured it would be ridiculous to calculate it on a calendar month because a late-month acceptance would leave me with little or no time to meet the spend requirement that month. So I figured they’d go by statement cycle.

My statement closes on the 21st day of the month so I spent $4,000 for the next 3 statements.

That was my mistake.

Some transactions fell on the wrong side of the 1-month windows on the 25th of each month after I accepted the offer.

Calling Citi

I discovered this after calling Citi a couple months after I thought I’d met the retention offer requirements. The rep quickly and confidently told me why I didn’t get the bonus: Because I’d fallen $100 short in the 3rd window.

I said I thought it was based on statement cycle and that I was disappointed to learn this is how they calculate a month. But there was nothing he would do: I didn’t meet the requirements so I didn’t get the bonus.

It’s pretty lousy that I was $100 short by a couple days on $12,000 worth of spend. Their “next 3 months” wording is ambiguous, but I guess how Citi does it makes sense. If they made it based on statement cycle there could still be the potential of a very short timeframe in the first month.

Bottom Line

Citi multi-month retention offers start when accepted and run in roughly 30-day windows after that.

Calendar month and statement cycle don’t matter.

There are probably all kinds of “edge conditions” that can occur the way they do it. What happens if you accept an offer on the 31st and the next month only has 28 days? Is it based on when a transaction occurs of when it posts?

Going forward, I’ll make sure transactions fall within the center of the 30-day windows after taking an offer from Citi.

Sounds like a good time to downgrade this card for a pro-rated annual fee refund after redeeming the $250 travel credit in early January 2021. That shouldn’t be too hard since the travel credit can be redeemed at grocery stores and restaurants through December 2021.

I’ll have to think whether it’s worth it to downgrade rather than cancelling to avoid resetting my 24-month Citi ThankYou Point card welcome bonus clock.

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About the author

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer

Comments

    1. That is not true in my experience, as detailed in the post I linked to at the end of the post.
      Has your personal experience been different?

  1. I had the same issue, and was off by like $11 or something. I asked them to appeal to a ‘senior account specialist’ or whatever they call them. They said NFW.

    It’s crazy that they do this, because if the point of retention is to keep customers, this generally ends up angering them, and either losing them (by losing the spend) or getting them to close the card early, or in my case just straight cancelling later – rejecting all retention suggestions.

    This is one of those things where its hard to tell if its just outright citi stupidity, incompetence, or veniality that is driving the way they set up the offers. And no matter how many times you request – they will never document the offers in writing, or tell you your status midstream. Their cynical conduct means that they end up finding and keeping the cynical customers.

    1. Thanks for sharing. You raise valid points for sure.
      For me, I think it’s a matter of “making it up some other way” and looking at the big picture of the relationship. And making sure I’m on the more favorable end of it.

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