You’ve probably been getting lots of mail and email relating to the AAdvantage/US Dividend miles programs. Lots of it is just marketing nonsense, but if you have a Citi AA Visa card you might want to double-check that mail. It might be bad news, not junk mail! It seems innocent enough: ‘Your new Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard® will replace your Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Visa® card ending in ****’. All of the card benefits and fees seem to remain the same. However, this card type change may be a major problem due to Citi’s new rules for churning cards.
In the past, Citi had unofficial rules for churning that seemed to be ‘whatever the computer decides’. Generally, most of the time, you had to wait somewhere between 12 and 24 months after opening an AA Platinum level card to open another one. It didn’t matter whether the card was Visa, Mastercard or the Citi AMEX AA card – only the opening date mattered. In fact, there was no need to close any AA card, ever. Also, back then, if you got the card you got the bonus. Occasionally Citi’s computers changed the rules and allowed monthly churning, and many of us got two or three Platinum level cards in Summer 2013 during one of those periods. I had since closed or product changed all but one – the one Visa card that this letter from Citi pertains to.
Citi’s new policy will allow you to get a card before you are eligible for the bonus and then not give you the bonus you expect. Also, the card type is now part of the terms and conditions that are enforced. From one of the links out there now: ‘American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles not available if you have had a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® opened or closed in the past 18 months.’ [Edit: be very careful to check the language on both the landing page and the offer, as some require an 18 month wait after closing any Platinum level card!]
I checked my spreadsheet and, sure enough, I closed my most recent AA Mastercard back in January 2014. If I allowed my Visa to get converted to a Mastercard I’d likely be resetting the clock for my next Platinum level card and accompanying 50,000 mile bonus. In my Citi account my AA card account still shows up as a Visa, so I called Citi to do a product change. I’ve been thinking about doing that anyways to get either a Double Cash or Thankyou Preferred card account. Interestingly, the rep said I could convert to a ThankYou preferred Visa or Mastercard, and that the account number would remain the same if I chose Visa. Yes, please! The only reason I’m doing this product change right now is to avoid holding any kind of AA Platinum Select Mastercard!
While I may lose the 10,000 miles I could have earned in rebates this year, I can live with that. Or maybe I’ll get a new Mastercard in August, in time to take advantage of the rebate. Most of our miles are in Bonnie’s account anyways, and she has both the AA Platinum Mastercard and the Barclays AA Aviator.
We won’t know for a while whether AA will in fact give the 10% miles rebate for each of those cards for a maximum of 20K, or not. Her cards also get us the baggage fee waiver, and none of the other benefits of my now-downgraded card matter to us. Here’s hoping I can get in one of the sweet 3X everywhere offers that some have gotten for the ThankYou Preferred card!
The language on the back of the letter makes it sound like all AA Platinum Visa cards will be converted to Mastercard. Check your mail, and decide for yourself if you want to let Citi potentially screw up your ability to get a bonus on the Citi Platinum Mastercard next time you’re eligible! For anyone currently eligible, here’s a link that specifically excludes Mastercard holders within the past 18 months, where some other links exclude all Platinum level cards. Again, check all of the T&C carefully! [Edit: A friend contacted Citi and was told that the card would be converted on expiration, but mine wasn’t set to expire until August. You may have more time before you have to do anything, but definitely keep an eye on mail from Citi.]
Disclosure: If you pay interest on a credit card balance or have any credit card debt, I recommend an entirely different product change. Like from plastic to cash.