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Each bank has their own rules and restrictions for applying for new credit cards. Some can be a little confusing, while others are more straight forward. I’d put Citi somewhere there in the middle but with a lot of “unknown.” Here’s what you need to know about Citi’s application rules when it comes to the 8/65/95 and 24 month application rules.
“The 8/65 Rule”
The 8/65 Rule means that you cannot apply for more than one Citi credit card in 8 days and not more than two credit cards in 65 days. The actual rule implemented by Citibank is 7 days and 60 days. However, Citi was denying folks after increments of 61 days, 63 days, etc. so people figured out that in order to be safe, you shouldn’t apply for more than two Citi cards within a 65 day timespan.
I do not know anybody who has been excepted from the 65 portion of this rule and been granted approval. That means that you should never apply for more than two Citi cards within any 65 day timespan — you’re pretty much just guaranteeing a denial.
To make sure you care complying with this rule ask yourself two easy questions:
- Have I applied for any Citi credit card within the last 8 days?
- Have I applied for any two Citi cards within the last 65 days?
If the answer is yes to either one of those rules, you will get denied and should not apply.
Update November 19, 2016: It’s being reported that some people are having trouble getting approved for two cards within 60 days, so there might be a rule changing only allowing one card within a 60 day period. I doubt this is the case, but I’ll keep an eye on this development and update accordingly.
The 8/65/95 Rule (business credit cards)
The 8/65 Rule is often expanded to the 8/65/95 Rule. This rule factors in that Citi will only approve you for one business credit card in any 95 day span. (Same thing — actual rule is 90 days.) Don’t get confused here. Some state that a business credit card counts the same as a personal credit card for purposes of the 8/65 Rule, but I’ve seen a number of data points where others are approved for business credit cards in situations where at least the “8” portion of 8/65 would have excluded them (e.g., a business and personal credit card on the same day).
Thus, while it’s a little unclear to me exactly what the policy is with respect to business cards, I tend to think that Citi business cards are not factored in to the “8” portion of 8/65 but possibly still the “65” portion, although YMMV. So, for example, you could potentially be approved for a personal and business card in 8 days but not two personal cards and one business card in 65 days.
This means that if you want to apply for a Citi business credit card you need to at least ask yourself:
- Have I applied for a Citi business card within the past 95 days?
If you can answer yes then you cannot apply for an additional Citi business card.
Also, if you want to play it safe (my recommendation) you can ask yourself the two questions above so that you’re not violating any rule.
Keep in mind that even if you are rejected for a Citi credit cards, that application still counts for purposes of these rules. In some instances there may be a silver lining, however, as Citi often won’t run a hard pull if you’re rejected on this basis.
The Citi 6/6 rule
Something else to consider is what some dub the “Citi 6/6 rule” which states that you might be denied if you’ve had 6 or more hard pull inquiries in the last 6 months. This does not appear to be a hard and fast rule like the 8/65 rule, as you can find data points where people have still been approved for Citi credit cards despite having way over 6 inquiries in the previous 6 months.
Still, if you can, I’d try to heed this advice since this reasoning has been given to a lot of people to explain why their application has been rejected.
Tip: Do research to see which credit bureau Citi pulls from in your region, since only those inquiries will be relevant. For example, if Citi pulls from Equifax and/or Experian then any recent inquiries on your TransUnion credit report should be irrelevant.
Getting bonuses for Citi cards twice
New updated language found in Citi’s terms shows that you cannot earn points for an additional card of the same brand if you’ve closed or opened up another one within 24 months. So for example, if you got a Hilton card you could not earn the sign-up bonus on another Hilton card within 24 months. The same for ThankYou Point earning cards like the Prestige or Premier or American Airlines cards. This is a major blow and really slows down point and mile accumulation for many.
Product changes and downgrades also apply to this rule if the number on your card changed. If your card number did not change then the product change/downgrade shouldn’t affect anything but you never know with Citi.
How to obtain additional bonuses for the same card
Thus, you have two options for obtaining an additional bonus for the same card:
1) You can close your credit card account and begin the 24-month countdown period or
2) You can keep your account open and begin the 24-month countdown (while incurring an annual fee).
The first option definitely works and is the most sure-fire method to obtain an additional sign-up bonus in my opinion.
The second option comes with a little bit of risk. The risk is that you simply won’t be granted the bonus again. There are data points out there of others being successful in obtaining a second sign-up bonus for cards like the Hilton Honors cards while keeping their original cards open, so this is definitely a legitimate option for some.
However, the original rule limited additional sign-up bonuses for the same card was implemented in February 2015 so there’s limited data points for all cards offered by Citi. Moreover, Citibank can be very inconsistent to deal with regarding things likes this. Thus, I’d personally rely on option 1 and would only go with option 2 knowing that I’m assuming some level of risk that there may at least be complications with obtaining my bonus.
Also, keep in mind when applying that Citi often requires you to keep a card for one year before downgrading or product changing. So if you’re planning on downgrading your Citi card right after you reach your sign-up bonus you might run into some major trouble.
Note: Some credit card offers will appear that do not contain the 24-month restriction language. Many people have success with obtaining an additional bonus for the same card by using these links so that’s always something to consider.
No overall limit on total number of credit cards
Citi does not have a firm cut-off rule for how many total Citi credit cards you can have. That doesn’t mean it’s unlimited, of course. Like any bank, if you begin to approach what you believe is your maximum credit line with Citi, perhaps consider lowering credit limits in preparation for upcoming apps.
As always, remember that your milage may vary with some of these things. Outside of the 8/65/95 rule, you never know how Citi may interpret or modify its own terms so always try to do some research on the specific card (or even specific offer) you’re considering before trying to jump on the same sign-up bonus twice. You might find others have had great success or you might find the opposite, you never know.
H-Town based Attorney turned credit card rewards expert. Founder of UponArriving.com.