Things You Should Know

CREDIT CARDS & AIRLINE MILES — AM I A SUCKER?

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The hubby and I enjoy a very successful marriage.  But if there is one subject upon which a fight will certainly ensue, it is the very mention of credit cards and miles.  He thinks it’s a giant Ponzi scheme, sucking people in so they feel they are getting something for free.  I have written a lot about how I believe he and I have personally benefited from using miles for long international flights pretty much every year for our big post-tax-season vacation, and I am sticking with that premise.  Those flights would cost thousands of dollars, but using miles allows us to spend lots more on the ground.   In a recent effort to get a big hit of AA miles, I had a run-in with Citibank after receiving a new AA CitiBusiness Mastercard.

 

 

At one point in the not too distant past, I had a total of three Amex cards:  Platinum for business and travel, Starwood for personal charges as I could transfer the points to American Airlines, and a third card which I’m not even sure why I had it but then closed. Then I decided my Platinum card wasn’t worth the high annual fee as I could get the same resort benefits by booking through Virtuoso, so that one went away.  When I saw the Citibank offer for the business card with low annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and a 70,000 mile sign-up bonus after a very achievable four-month spend requirement, I signed up and got approved.  At this point in my life, all I care about are those AA miles when it comes to credit cards.

Two things then happened.  The credit limit was too low so I asked for and got an increase, but it was still a bit low so that was a problem and it was too soon to ask for another increase.  After four months, I called Citi to see when I was receiving my miles.  “We’re sorry; you don’t qualify for the bonus.”  What???  “You had another card that you canceled 20 months ago and we require 24 months before you can sign up again.”  Really??  Does anyone calendar when they cancel a card?  I’m guessing most don’t.  And why can’t they issue a little red flag:  “Ooops — too soon!  You need to wait four more months before applying!”

So how do those mileage gurus do it?  You know, the ones who brag about basically going around the world on miles achieved with endless sign-up bonuses?  Well, it turns out they are the culprits.  Because of their constant churning of cards to get miles, Citi — and I suppose others — have cracked down on the frequency allowed with which one can apply.

 

#dirtyrottenscoundrels

My pleads to the Citi supervisor were unsuccessful.  Even my veiled threat of going back to Amex fell on deaf ears.  No capitulation.  Finally, they decided to mollify me with 5,000 bonus miles — probably to make me go away.  Actually getting those miles took many more phone calls and many more months, but I finally got them.

And now I am closing that account.  Not just because of the unsatisfactory handling all around,  but because I just upgraded to Amex Bonvoy.  Yes, the fee is akin to Platinum, but I can get most of it back via a credit for one annual stay at a Marriott brand (including Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, W and lots of others).  Oh, and I’ll get 100,000 points soon which I can transfer to American.  So all is well.  Just don’t tell the hubby.