I just experienced a roller coaster with Citi recon where I had to go through a total of four phone calls to get a final decision on my recent credit card application for the Hilton Reserve card. During these phone calls I learned a couple of things about the Citi recon process (including one thing that kind of surprised me), and I thought I’d share my experience to my readers.
- Related: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Review
- Related: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard Review
My ongoing streak
Before applying for the Hilton Reserve card, I was riding a 17-card approval streak. I started out with the app-o-rama approach but eventually moved to more or less of a one card a month approach and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Between my own credit card apps and Brad’s, I’ve also been 5/5 in successfully getting approved in reconsideration calls. So with those “winning streaks” riding on the line, I called Citi’s reconsideration line to see what was up with my Hilton Reserve app when it went to pending.
The first call
After receiving the pending message, I immediately called Citi reconsideration to see what the decision would be on my card. That’s when the rep told me that I’d been denied! I inquired about doing a recon session but she stated that she couldn’t do anything until a few days and the only thing she could tell me is that the rejection “had something to do with my credit report” (…ya think!?).
The second call
So I waited until after I received my official rejection letter from Citi in the mail to call back. The reason listed for the rejection: too many inquiries. After getting so many cards over the course of the past year, I knew I was getting to that point of having too many inquiries and that I’d need to slow down, so this came as no surprise. However, I still wanted to see if I could get around it.
This time when I called, the rep I got a hold of was able to review my application. He put me on hold for no longer than 2 minutes and when he got back on the phone he informed that I was being denied for too many inquiries and that there’s nothing he could do. No transfer of credit, no other reconsideration, no anything. I could tell there was absolutely no budging with him so I just decided to try again later.
The third call
A couple of days later I called Citi back. The rep that answered sounded less experienced than the others I’d spoken with and that made me feel a bit better about my approval odds. I directed the phone call session a little differently than my previous calls, though.
This time, as soon as he asked me, “what can I do for you?”, I quickly remarked that I had received a letter stating that I’d been denied due to too many inquiries and that I wanted to “offer some context” for those inquires. This “context” is the same context I’ve successfully used for all of my previous reconsideration calls that have been related to the too many recent inquiries issue.
I explained that I’d opened 3 companies over the course of the previous 12 months and that I’d been trying to use those different credit cards to segregate my business expenses (all true).
The rep confirmed that he would consider this explanation in the approval reconsideration. He then put me on hold for about 15 minutes, intermittently popping back in to make sure I was still on the line. Finally, after about 15 minutes, my recon strategy proved to work again and he informed me that he had overturned the denial! My streak was now 18 cards in a row and 6/6 on recon calls!
The rep then put me on hold one last time. After a couple of minutes, he got back on the line and I could just tell something was wrong by the tone of his voice. “Yeah, ummm…., I’m really sorry but I just got through speaking with my supervisor and we’re not going to be able to approve you….” he told me.
WHAT!? I couldn’t believe that’d really just happened — I was still in the middle of my victory dance. I asked him what happened that made the decision change.
He told me that he had missed some things but that his supervisor caught them. So naturally I asked him, “What do you mean you missed some things? What exactly did you miss?”
He started off by saying that he totally understood the high number of recent inquiries and the reason for why I applied for so many cards but then he said something that shocked me a little….
He stated that he’d missed that I had multiple Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cards! (I have 3). He sort of stumbled over that point and didn’t go into detail at all, but I didn’t want to press too deeply on it, since it would potentially require me to awkwardly explain why I had so many of the same card (opened within months of each other). He then went on to say that I also hadn’t had any activity on one of the cards in a few months and so that was a factor as well.
So that’s why I had been denied: a combination of lack of activity and potentially the fact that I had multiple Platinum Select cards. I personally think that the final supervisor looked at the number of inquiries on my record and when he saw the Platinum Select cards, assumed (quite correctly) that I was a churner/travel hacker/etc., and decided to deny me (at least in part) on that basis. Plus, when the original rep got back with me it sounded like the existence of multiple Platinum Select cards was a separate issue from the lack of activity on one card, leading me to believe that some of these recon agents might be making decisions based on whether or not someone exploited the previous World Elite loophole.
It really sucked to experience the sudden reversal on the decision, but I knew there wasn’t anything I could do about it at the moment, so I just politely got off the phone and accepted my first “L” in a long time.
The fourth call
I’d been too close to being approved to just give up, so I decided to try recon one more time and call for a fourth time.
As soon as I verified my personal details with the rep, I jumped into my context speech about my recent inquiries. This time, I just went a little bit deeper into detail, explaining briefly what the companies were (e.g., my law firm, websites, etc.).
The rep then did the usual and put me on a long hold. This hold took about half the time from my third call and after about 7 or 8 minutes, he came back on the phone and told me that he’d been able to successfully overturn the decision! I was happy to hear that but still bracing for yet another unexpected reversal from a supervisor. However, he soon ended the phone call and I got the approval email instantly so I knew it was legit — my winning streaks were back, baby!
What I learned
So after this whole ordeal, I think I learned a few things:
- My context for explaining the high number of inquiries is legitimate. It’s worked like a charm time and time again, and I think I’m going to stick with it as my go-to explanation. I realize that most business cards don’t report on personal credit reports but I sometimes just mention being averse to the high interest rates of business credit cards.
- It’s a good idea to put some activity on your other cards from a bank before calling recon. That at least avoids them being able to point out that you haven’t used a card in X amount of time.
- Some Citi recon agents may be holding it against applicants when there’s evidence they took part in the Platinum Select loophole. Again, it’s not 100% clear that the supervisor from my third call was doing this but I found it very odd that the rep came back and the first explanation he gave for the “things he missed” was that I had multiple Platinum cards.
- HUCA (“Hang up call again”) works! Sometimes banks like Chase will notate your previous calls and then call you out when you try to call back multiple times, but it’s always worth a shot! Remember, it took me 4 calls to get this approval.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.