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Looking Back on the Greatest Credit Card Promotion Ever

[UPDATE 3/18/15: it looks like this run, which continued at half speed for 7 months after the 100k links died, has finally come to an end. None of the old 50k links worked, now ‘option 5’ loads but is unverified and seems to be on its deathbed.]


It was a dark and stormy night. Jake, a marketing manager at Citi, sipped a complimentary Bud Light at an undisclosed secure location in a DFW admiral’s club, answering texts from his wife – ‘Yes, I just got on a plane to spend a night with a stranger in Dallas.’ ‘I don’t even know if it’s a girl or a guy.’ ‘It’s just business, I’ll be home tomorrow.’

Suddenly, Jake realized the club was empty except for him and the bartender. He went to the door, but it was locked.

‘You aren’t going anywhere, son, sit down!’ said the bartender. ‘You can call me Dougie.’
‘OK, Dougie, whoever you are, why did AA drag me to Dallas?’
‘Just pipe down and listen here, son. I own this AAirport, and the whole damn metroplex except that little cancer they call Love Field. Now you know how you use our miles to lure unsuspecting suckers into paying you 24% interest, right?’
‘And you know how you pay $600 every time you hand out 50,000 miles?’
‘Yes, of course. What’s the point?
‘Listen up, Jake, we’re gonna make history. Can you imagine how many suckers you could get to sign up and pay you good money for cards if 100,000 miles only cost you $100?’
‘But that would be ridiculous! You’d lose money!’
‘Son, I still have the first nickel I earned selling watered-down lemonade. You let me worry about the money.’
‘OK, I don’t understand, but yeah, we could make a killing.’
‘All right, Son, you go move some miles. Until the day I tell you to stop. And this conversation never happened. We wouldn’t want anything unfortunate to happen to one of your flights sometime, would we?’
‘No,’ Jake gulped.
‘All right then, Son, you go along over to the Hyatt and catch the first flight home tomorrow. It’s on me. And one more thing you didn’t hear here: book yourself an Explorer Award already!’

The club door opened as if by magic, and Jake found himself riding a handicapped cart to the Hyatt Regency DFW. And the rest, as they say, is history!

I posted the above exchange on Flyertalk back on April 8th, 2014. Of course it’s made-up nonsense, but it just might be pretty close to what did happen behind the scenes. At that time this offer was going strong, but in the past month we have seen the bonus on this AA Executive card fall from 100K to 30-50K, seen the statement credit disappear, seen far more denials than before, had reports of denials for churning Executive card offers and woken up to a new warning on one  (but not all) of the application screens:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles not available if you have had a Citi Executive®/AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard® opened or closed in the past 18 months.

Was it a certain number of Admiral’s Club memberships that AA wanted? Or was Citi, as some have said, angling to show themselves as far superior to Barclays in terms of selling miles (and therefore increasing AA revenue) as the merger between AA and US plays out? We’ll probably never know exactly what targets American and/or Citi wanted to hit, but it seems they have hit them, based on the following email:

Hi Jake,

Close the faucet. Miles are regular price again, effective immediately. You never did book that Explorer Award, did you?


Jake then googled AA Explorer Award for the first time, stumbled onto a blog post or two and now makes MS runs on his way to and from work. A highly unscientific guess by yours truly is that this year’s Executive card bonanza relieved Citi of over a billion AA miles. It sure was fun!

If you liked this post, check out Nick’s interview with Citi’s CEO here.


Disclosure: Did you really read this whole post? I’m sorry! I hope you at least got a chuckle out of it. The margin of error on any estimates in this post is 100%.

– Kenny

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Barb September 24, 2014, 9:17 am


    • Kenny September 24, 2014, 2:42 pm

      Thanks Barb!

  • pfdigest September 24, 2014, 9:18 am

    fyi, you’ve got a few extra characters on the end of your link to my EXCLUSIVE interview and it doesn’t work.

    • Kenny September 24, 2014, 9:34 am

      Sorry! It’s fixed now.

  • William Charles September 25, 2014, 9:32 am

    Looks like Citi is no longer churnable, seeing similar language on most of the new credit card landing pages (e.g Expedia) now.

    • Kenny September 25, 2014, 9:34 am

      Time will tell exactly how that works out in practice, but it’s looking like Citi is trying to limit us to a once-every-18-months churning schedule.

  • maria sangria March 19, 2015, 12:50 am


    50 shades of Citi.

  • HaleyB March 19, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Lol, It was fun while it lasted.

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