It seems that most stories like this one, involve Citi Bank. I am not 100% sure why but I have my feelings.
In the middle of November the annual fee posted for my Citi AA Platinum card, $95. I am not one to pay annual fees, with the exception of my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. The Chase CSP offers primary rental car insurance which is worth the $8 a month in annual fees.
Close it down
Not wanting to give Citi a dime, I called up their overseas support dept and was surprisingly offered an enticing retention offer. Just kidding, they didn’t offer me anything. My option, while on that phone call, was to either downgrade or close the account. (or pay the annual fee) Citi recently changed their rules making it harder to receive new credit card sign up bonuses.
Now that Citi doesn’t allow you to receive a sign-up bonus if you’ve opened or closed a similar card in the last 24 months, I was certain that I did not want to close the account. The phone rep let me know that I had a downgrade option to the Citi AA bronze card, which has no annual fee. The bronze card loses most of the perks for American Airlines flyers, but I didn’t care.
I asked the rep in very clear terms, “will downgrading my account cause the 24 month clock to restart?” They stated, “because you aren’t closing your account and you aren’t opening a new one, it won’t reset the clock”. I asked if I could get that it writing and they said they would via secure message. I let them know I’d mull-it-over and call back. Citi will prorate your annual fee, which means if I waited a month to downgrade I’d get $87 back of the annual fee.
That is not what I meant
About two weeks later I called into Citi to downgrade my card. I felt confident that downgrading the card would not reset the 24 month “sign up bonus” clock, so I wanted to proceed. I was watching TV while navigating my way through the voice menu. For two minutes I kept saying “cancellation department”, “cancellation department”. I wanted to try one more time for a retention offer before downgrading. Before I knew it, the Citi Bank voice assistance said “you’ve successfully closed your account”.
The very thing I was trying to avoid was accidentally accomplished on a voice menu of all things. How is that even possible? Someone, in theory, could steal my phone and verbally cancel my credit card without identity verification or talking to a rep. It did ask for the last four of the card number but that information is sent in every email I get from Citi. Again, someone who stole my phone could access my email.
Naturally, I pressed zero to speak with an operator. When I finally got through to a phone rep I explained what just happened. They let me know that there was NOTHING they could do at the moment. They would have to submit a “reopen” request and I’d hear back in 24 hours. I told them the account was inadvertently closed and I don’t want it closed. 24 hours it was.
After 24 hours I logged back into my citi.com dashboard. I was told that if I see my available credit limit back that the account was successfully reopened. Despite my natural lack of confidence with Citi, they reopened my account!
I called back to again have the rep confirm that reopening my account would not restart the 24 month clock. They let me know that since I didn’t close or open a new account that the clock would not restart. Cool beans.
The best news of all, my annual fee was reimbursed, well $87 of it. Because the account temporarily closed and then was manually reopened, they waived the annual fee. (prorated). So I now get to keep the Citi AA Platinum card for another 12 months for the cost of $8. Being that I waited more than 30 days after the annual fee had posted I didn’t receive the full $95 back.
I would not recommend this process/scenario as a method of waiving your annual fee with Citi. I am just glad it worked out in the end since three calls into Citi is enough to drive anyone to drink, especially around Christmas.