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Update: I finally received my points! See bottom of post for details.

When I signed up for the CitiBank Aadvantage credit card, I looked forward to writing a glowing report of how I earned a free flight across the world via an amazing promotion. Instead, I’m writing about a credit card company taking advantage of its customers — specifically, how Citibank screwed me out of 30,000 Aadvantage miles using deceptive and sneaky tactics.

Citibank Offer

In late August, I opened an AAdantage Citi Credit Card online after receiving an offer in the mail to earn 30,000 Aadvantage points after spending $1,000 in three months. I blogged about the fact that I had signed up for this promotion here.

While it has been good to me I am cancelling my SPG AMEX since the redemption values aren’t as good in South America as they are in Southeast Asia and the first annual fee is coming up. I’m replacing it with Citibank’s American Airlines card, for which I will earn a 30,000 mile signup bonus after I meet the mere $1,000 spend minimum. It does have a foreign transaction fee so it will be my backup card and I plan to meet the spend minimum with US-based, pre-trip purchases.

In order to ensure I’d meet the spend minimum within the specified three month time frame, I carefully planned my enrollment to coincide with some major pre-travel purchases I had coming up. As a self-employed young twenty something, my resources are limited and I plan my spending extremely carefully — it isn’t every day I have a grand available to throw into a new credit card promotion. I fastidiously monitored the account and cheered when I reached the $1,000 mark on September 25th. I had big plans for those points — a one way flight from NYC to Bangkok can be had for just 35,000 and I intended to use the bonus just for that. Considering that itinerary can rarely be found for less than $650 per ticket, I though this was going to be a big win for me.

Temples of BangkokI thought this card would bring me back here

In December, I logged into my AA account to start planning my 2014 travel and realized the bonus points were nowhere to be found. When I called Citi to see what was going on, I assumed it was a minor clerical error and things would soon be cleared up.

If only.

Citibank claimed that I had signed up for a different promotion, one that had a $3,000 spend minimum and yielded 50,000 reward points. Forgive me for being frank — this is total bullshit. This is not the offer I received, this is not the offer advertised all over the internet, and this is not an offer I would have accepted regardless — I never would have signed on for a card with such a high spend minimum, as I wouldn’t have been able to meet it in the allocated three month period.

As a matter of fact, I can’t even find the offer Citibank claims I signed up for. There are mentions of it on frequent flyer forums and blogs, but it doesn’t even show up when you look at Citibank’s own list of Aadvantage card offers.

Citibank Offer

For two months I gave Citibank every chance to show that this was an honest mistake by honoring the promotion that I know I signed up for. I sent them posts I had written about the offer, I sent screenshots of the offer in blogs I regularly read and comment on, and I spent hours hunched over my laptop Skyping with members of various departments. But there was one piece of what they claim was critical evidence which I couldn’t produce — the physical offer I received in the mail back in July. Not only was I not in my hometown to go rooting through my records, I know it wouldn’t have been there regardless — it never would have occurred to me to save a mailed credit card offer. Because of this, Citibank denied my appeal, a verdict they reached last week.

I am devastated. This incident has cost me 30,000 Aadvantage miles, hours of my life spent on hold, and the rewards I could have earned applying that $1,000 to my other credit card (which, by the way, I salute and endorse). Not to mention, even if I wanted to attempt this promotion again, I can’t — these offers are open only to first time card holders.

One area where I have to give Citibank credit is their social media team. They were responsive and compassionate and I truly believe they did everything they could to help me — and I believe they did that because they knew I was right. They offered me $100 credit and 5,000 Aadvantage miles in compensation. As my dad would say, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick — but it doesn’t come close to making up for the mistake Citibank made and refuses to correct.

As always, I am trying to learn from this. There is a stereotype that credit card companies exist to prey on and take advantage of their customers. Thus far, my experiences with Capital One and AMEX have been positive, and perhaps that made me naive. Recently, I have spoken to several others who went through this exact same battle with their credit card companies over misapplied promotions! From now forward, I will take massive precautions when applying for a new rewards card, and I encourage you to protect yourself by doing the same:

• File and keep all credit card offer received by mail.
• Document all credit card offers you receive with date-stamped photos and screenshots.
• After enrolling and before making your first purchase, call your credit card company and confirm your rewards offer — record this phone call.
• Once you meet the minimum, ask how long it will take for your points or other rewards to appear in your account and start monitoring the account around that time to ensure everything went smoothly.

Shame on Citibank for not honoring the promotion I signed up for — one that is still being heavily promoted. In the end, I think Citibank is the real loser here. When I find a brand I love, I’m a devoted and enthusiastic customer — and they lost the chance to have me as one. I’m sharing my story in the hopes that no one else wastes their time and hard-earned money like I did, so I’d appreciate if you help me spread the word by tagging @citi. Citibank has already handed down my verdict, and there is nothing I can do to appeal further. But I can try to protect others from similar deceptive business practices.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a credit card to cancel.

Update: Thanks to a comment I received on this post in late May, I filed a complaint against Citibank with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As three months had passed since I gave up on the ordeal I had zero expectations but still wanted Citibank held responsible and considering the evidence I had compiled for this post, putting together a case was easy. The first week of June, I received news that Citibank had decided to honor the promotion I signed up for and my points were on their way! I didn’t quite believe it until I saw them show up in my account six weeks later. I’m so grateful to the CFPB for looking out for the little guy (me!) and highly recommend that others who encounter this issue reach out to them as soon as possible.

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88 Comments...
  • Rachael C
    February 19 2014

    That is disgusting business practice. I am so glad you shared your story and saved others from the same fate. I hope Citibank doesn’t underestimate the power of word of mouth — especially one who’s voice reaches at least 23,000 readers 🙂

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      What really shocked me while I was working on this post was learning about others who have been through this same situation with various different credit card companies. As consumers, we need to protect ourselves. I’m happy I can help spread the word.

  • Taylor
    February 19 2014

    That’s awful! I signed up for that same Citi card and will def be checking that I received my miles. It’s ridiculous that you can show them proof of the promotion you knew you had and they still won’t give it to you. They should just give it to you regardless since you met the requirement. Thanks for sharing your story though, and I will be checking on my account now!
    Taylor recently posted..Expenses so far….

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I hope all goes well for you, Taylor — but definitely give it a check. The sad thing is, had I realized in time I could have ATTEMPTED to meet the requirement, somehow…. (though it probably would have involved having my parents or sisters make a major purchase on my card, ha!)

  • Lela
    February 19 2014

    I am so, so sorry you went through this! I would be livid (and have been screwed over in similar ways before on a lesser scale, so empathise completely!). I hope something wonderful comes from this post for you 🙂

    xo,
    Lela
    Lela recently posted..What I Wore – Leather Studded Kiss In The Sand

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Well, I’ve pretty much given up on my case — it was taken to “the highest channels possible,” I was told. So there is nothing I can do for myself. But I do want to help others avoid the same fate! Thanks for your support Lela!

  • Andi
    February 19 2014

    My heart breaks for you. I hope someone at Citibank reads this and does the right thing. 🙁
    Andi recently posted..Germany With AirBerlin: Day 4 (Part 1)

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Thanks Andi, I hope they see it too, at least so they know there are repercussions to their deception. However, I am under no illusion that this post will change their practices. All we can do is better protect ourselves as consumers.

  • Jeremy
    February 19 2014

    That really angers me Alex … hope you have a better experience with your current provider. Vote with your wallet!
    Jeremy recently posted..Things to Do in Venice For The Romantic!

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I can highly recommend Capital One Venture as a travel rewards card. While I have occasionally been frustrated by their over the phone customer service, they have never pulled anything like this, and when they have made minor billing mistakes they corrected them immediately. Plus, the rewards are amazing and so easy to redeem!

  • Cat
    February 19 2014

    Wow, that is incredibly crappy news. Citibank made a huge mistake denying such a claim to someone who has a platform to publicize this stuff! This is a pretty timely post since I just signed up for a Chase Marriott Rewards Visa with a pretty awesome offer (I think you’ve blogged about it too) and I am hoping to take advantage of the points on an upcoming trip; I really hope it ends up going through!

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Hey Cat, I recommend giving the bank a call to make sure all is going smoothly. I want you to get those points too 🙂 And like I said in the post I had a really great experience with the social media team at Citi and really appreciated having them to reach out to throughout this experience, so I gave them fair warning I was going to write this post. Honestly, I think they are such a big company they aren’t worried in the slightest about one customer speaking out, regardless of the reach of their voice.

  • Dave
    February 19 2014

    I can’t believe they denied your appeal because you couldn’t produce the physical letter that they sent you (and thousands, if not millions of others) in the mail. I would never have thought to photograph or save such a letter for months.

    I trash all offers, and don’t get involved with collecting points and miles because I don’t want to feel manipulated into spending money I wouldn’t otherwise in order to earn miles.

    All I use is a Capital One no hassles credit card which is more for the no foreign transaction fee than the rewards. But at least now I know to better document any deals I may try and take advantage of in the future. Sorry to hear how much trouble this has caused you.
    Dave recently posted..Visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I LOVE Capital One Venture. It is my primary credit card and I can’t say enough positive things about the benefits I’ve reaped from it. As for the physical letter, um, yeah. At one point I was told that the marketing department was going through its country-wide mailing lists to find out exactly what offers were sent to my address…. I was highly skeptical, to say the least.

  • Luke Armstrong
    February 19 2014

    That’s some BS… good advice about how to avoid it in the future. I need only quote Empire Records here, “Damn the man!”

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Apparently “take screen shots” is one of the major laws of travel hacking. If only I had known…

  • steve mckee
    February 19 2014

    ALWAYS make hard-copy, on-paper, real-life copies of stuff like this. The Internet exists in a fungible, unreal, come-and-go world. What is there one minute is not there the next. Anything in the ethereal world of cyberspace can be made to disappear. Which is what appears to have happened to your 30,000-mile, $1,000 come-one.
    Make old-fashioned, real-life copies.

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I guess I grew up in the internet age… I don’t get or keep hard copies of anything! All my banking is online so it never would have occurred to me to save what was little more than junk mail. But lesson learned, obviously 🙂

  • Alan
    February 19 2014

    Sorry to hear your unfortunate experience. It was a great blog post, despite the subject.

    Citibank won’t get away with it as I for one will never go near them and neither will my friends (if I get the chance to update them!)

    Keep going with the posts though, they’re brilliant!

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Thanks Alan, appreciate your support. I am under no illusions that anything I could do would really hit Citibank where it hurts (AKA, the bottom line) but I do believe I can help others protect themselves from this kind of nonsense.

  • Daisy Wong
    February 19 2014

    Shame on Citi Bank!!
    I cannot believe others have been in the same situation. I am not a big fan of credit cards but I can definitely see how beneficial it can be.
    Daisy Wong recently posted..Why I am scared to visit Hong Kong

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I still believe credit cards can be amazingly beneficial. My Capital One Venture card has been a fantastic travel companion over the years! But this situation was an example of the worst side of the industry — a big corporation taking advantage of one of its little guy customers.

  • Bonnie Toth
    February 19 2014

    Shame on Citibank!!!!! At the end of the day, after all you went through, the RIGHT thing for them to do, no matter what, would have been to switch you over to the program you thought you had signed up for. As so many others have already said, the power of the word goes far these days. I have a Capital One business card, have used it (and my miles I earn!) easily for years now. Happy travels, Alex!

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I use Capital One Venture as my primary card and can’t believe how easy points are to earn and redeem! I really love that card. And I agree, part of what left me reeling about their decision was how it would cost them virtually nothing and it would make all the difference to me. What they spent in paying employees to answer my calls and chase down this case amounts to more than whatever they would have incurred giving me the miles.

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    February 19 2014

    Aw Alex, what a bummer. I feel like a hear a lot about credit card companies in the US ripping people off. We have a completely different banking system in Canada so I hope I don’t run into this!! Shame on Citi indeed.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Roatan Rent: What $300/month Gets You

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Ha, yeah I was chatting to one of my Australian friends about this and he was like, “But duh it’s a scam….? Only Americans think they can win at these things.” I’ve always felt lucky about our great rewards card systems in the past but this definitely showed me the dark side.

  • Diane
    February 19 2014

    What a crappy outcome. I’m sorry. ;-( The right thing to do would be for them to honor the miles. What’s it to them? A few extra miles won’t change their bottom line but will make your day. I hope they see this and change their tune…. fingers crossed.
    Diane recently posted..Rainy day essentials for surviving France weather

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      That’s what boggled my mind as well. I just can’t imagine what they got out of this — a pissed off, angry consumer, two months worth of “investigations” and phone calls, and a expository blog post! All rather than correct their own mistake.

  • Hannah
    February 19 2014

    Bravo for taking a stand! Far too often people think it is ok to take advantage of others, and I too have experienced it, both in the form of big corporations like CitiBank, and even fellow bloggers. I like to think that where our own efforts fall short in rectifying these wrongs, in the end karma will step in and finish the job for us. And of course a well-written blog post like this doesn’t hurt either 🙂
    Hannah recently posted..Free printout | Thank you cards

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Ah yes, karma, that beautiful concept that allows one to sleep at night when they have been wronged! 🙂

  • Steve
    February 19 2014

    Absolutely shocking. Thank god Citibank has little presence in the UK. I wish you all the best in getting what is rightly yours.
    Steve recently posted..Day 15, 22 September – A Time to Chill

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Thanks Steve. It is too late for me now, but I do hope I can help other consumers protect themselves.

  • Bob
    February 19 2014

    Great post! I am looking for a new card only for the sign up miles I can get. I have a Amex delta card that i have had for years with 130,000 miles on it. Never have had paid a penny in interest. Looking for two tickets to HI in 2015 and am weighing all options.. There are many out there but it is hard to figure out what is the best deal… What are your thoughts on Barclay Card wih the 40,000 mile offer…again great post.

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Hey Bob, I have never looked into the Barclay Card myself but I do recommend doing a search on thepointsguy.com and seeing what he has to say about it! I’ve seen the author speak and he definitely knows what he is talking about. Best of luck — and enjoy Hawaii!

  • tammyonthemove
    February 19 2014

    Two words: Capitalist bastards! Excuse my French, but that really makes me angry. The banks are the reason for the world economic crises and they still get away with murder. Consider this post shared! I am all for naming and shaming!
    tammyonthemove recently posted..Making merry at the world’s highest micro-brewery

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Haha, I was proud of myself for resorting to colorful language just once in this post! Mostly, this ordeal just made me exhausted and super sad — I almost wish I could turn that into anger.

  • Jen
    February 19 2014

    This is horrible! Shame on Citibank. I must give you a big THANK YOU for sharing your experience us so that we don’t make the same mistake. Thanks to you, I know to be extra careful and cautious from now on. They definitely messed with the wrong person, too!

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Thanks Jen. I have been very open and positive about my (minimal) experiences with travel hacking, so I knew when I had my first major negative experience I had to share that side of it too. I will definitely look at promotions with eyes wide open from here forward.

  • Steve Miller
    February 19 2014

    I used to have Citi – way back in the day. However, when they started their foreign transaction practices, I dropped them like radioactive dung.

    Since then, I’ve been with CapitalOne and have had nothing but praise. They have some of the best FOREX rates when abroad and really came through for me.

    I was trying to buy tickets with Air Asia and my card wasn’t being accepted by the local branch. Seems they didn’t want to use an international credit card. I told CapitalOne my problem and even though they didn’t conduct the transaction, gave me points anyway.

    That’s service.
    Steve Miller recently posted..Parking in Cramped Quarters

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I too am extremely happy with Capital One. While I think they could step up their customer call lines (though to be fair I’m comparing them to my Charles Schwab and TDBank, where I have debit accounts, which are just beyond amazing) I am extremely loyal to my Capital One Venture card. I loooove it. That is an amazing story about the flight — seriously that is great customer service!

  • Sofie
    February 19 2014

    Ugh, SO frustrating!
    Thanks for the heads up, Alex. I’ve read plenty of blog posts about the benefits of signing up for credit cards, but this is actually the first time I read about a scam like this.
    Sofie recently posted..In search of the light: Along the Icefields Parkway (part 2)

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      I too have really only heard about the positives — that’s why I was so surprised to hear friends confess they’d had the same situation in the past with their own sign-up bonuses. I can only imagine how widespread it really is.

      • Sofie
        February 20 2014

        I can imagine.
        However, if this had happened to a lot of bloggers, I think they would have written about it, no?
        Sofie recently posted..In search of the light: Along the Icefields Parkway (part 2)

        • Alex
          February 20 2014

          Hey Sofie, actually I’ve spoken to at least two other bloggers this has happened to (one of them is a huge one!). They have chosen not to blog about it for their own personal reasons… I wish they would, though!

          • Sofie
            February 22 2014

            Really?
            Wow, I must say that surprises me.
            Now, I can imagine that they had their reasons, but still. Credit card sign-ups are so heavily promoted in the travel community that I do believe it should be mentioned that things can also go wrong.

            Really glad you shared this with us!

          • Alex
            February 22 2014

            I agree, I was really shocked when I started hearing from so many others who this had happened to. No wonder the credit card companies are still getting away with it — they have no one to be accountable to.

  • Sam
    February 19 2014

    How infuriating! It’s times like that this where it’s nice to have an active audience of 23,000 to vent this to. But seriously what a shame that multinational corporations with all the resources in the world to amend their mistake, (if it indeed was a mistake, which I’m sure it wasn’t), greedily refuses to set things right.
    Sam recently posted..Raw Blueberry, Macadamia & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Cake

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Venting does help 🙂 But honestly, I am under no illusion that this post will ruffle Citi’s feathers. After my experience with them, in which I gave them every opportunity to show they made an honest mistake and they refused, I see that they are not even pretending to go to bat for their customers. I do hope that I can help other travelers protect themselves.

  • becky hutner
    February 19 2014

    this is obnoxious & i’m tweeting about it right now. how frustrating that we must document our dealings with financial institutions with lawyer-level diligence. thank god for the internet, enabling us to share this sort of info & take down the wrongdoers.
    becky hutner recently posted..Fashion ‘Round the World: What people wore in Jan ’14

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      This isn’t the first time I’ve had a situation like this (though it outweighs all others x100). Times when I call up a company like, “Um, didn’t you say if I did X that you’d do Y?” And their reply is, “Haha, check out the fine print on page 27 of the electronic form you ticked a box saying you read, sucka!”

  • Emily
    February 19 2014

    That is so frustrating and I am sure made worse that you were away and traveling while trying to deal with it. I hate when those loopholes get the customer. Jerks!
    Emily recently posted..Walk the Pretty Streets of Cartagena

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Ugh, Emily, you have no idea. Calling my mom and begging her to look through the garbage in my room… running from wifi spot to wifi spot to Skype… nightmare!

  • Kristina
    February 19 2014

    Yep, not a surprise. My dad has been Executive Platinum on American 10+ years in a row, but doesn’t have the Citi AAdvantage card anymore because of repeated problems. He’s now a happy and loyal AmEx cardholder (even after working for MasterCard for 20+ years).

    Did you try going through the Better Business Bureau? That has worked for my husband and I in the past with credit card problems.

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      Hey Kristina, that’s interesting about your dad! I didn’t even think to contact the BBB. I feel like it might be too late for me at this point considering they settled my case…

  • Camels & Chocolate
    February 19 2014

    Why does NO ONE have any concept of customer service anymore? UGH. I am annoyed for you!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..The Truth Behind Travel Writing

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      I guess it is cheaper to get a new customer than to keep an existing one? Sad times.

  • Andres
    February 20 2014

    Sorry to hear this. I think if you have the proper documentation, you can win this case. I guess it depends how much time and hassle you want to put in.

    In the future, when you receive your call, call them to activate the card AND to verify the offer on the account. Ask for the deadline to meet the requirements, and make sure you meet the spend requirement by that date. It is also convenient to meet the spend requirement before that date, such that you can call and ask them to verify that you have already met them. You have to be careful with the credit card games.

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      Hey Andres, the problem is that according to Citibank I don’t have the proper documentation :/ Also, I activated the card online — big mistake. I have definitely learned my lessons and you are right, you have to be careful.

  • Stephanie
    February 20 2014

    Hey Alex! (Have been a reader for a while since your Vietnam posts but have been too shy to say hi until now)–so sorry that happened to you. I haven’t entered the whole credit card world yet, but this is good info to know!

    While in Vietnam I travelled with a friend who was also trying to spend x amount of $$$ within a short period of time, which led to us charging everything on her card and paying her back with cash! It was crazy effort for her, and I can’t imagine how she would feel if she found that it had all gone to waste.
    Stephanie recently posted..My Vietnam Overview: Pros & Woes

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      Hey Stephanie! I’m so happy you de-lurked 🙂 It is definitely a huge effort when you’re trying to meet the spend minimums. I hold off on all but the most essential purchases in the weeks leading up to signing up for a new card, and have to be fastidious about using the card for everything (no cash!) It is a huge effort, and yes — such a waste.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    February 20 2014

    Ugh, this suuuuuucks. Tony & I are thinking of signing up for a new card when we head back to the States this summer, though we’ll likely only do so if there is some kind of lucrative sign-up offer like the one you were promised (and then did not receive) here. We have been using a Chase Sapphire card, which we signed up for mostly because of the no foreign transaction fees and the big bonus we received for a minimum spend in the first 3 months, though thankfully there were no glitches getting that sorted (and the points almost entirely paid for our flights to Japan). If we do wind up signing up for something this summer (NOT Citibank, obviously), we’ll definitely follow the practices you’ve outlined.
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Kuala Lumpur Photo Walk: Pudu Market

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      Good luck, Steph! I recommend the Capital One Venture, though I don’t know what kind of promotions they have going on at the moment. I used it to fly round trip to Hawaii in my first year, and in my second year I used the points to wipe out $200 worth of flights from my Philippines trip (they have a purchase eraser function where you basically delete travel-related purchases off your bill using your points!) I highly recommend it.

  • Jeremy
    February 20 2014

    Wow. Not cool. That’s one credit card I won’t be signing up for.
    Jeremy recently posted..I Went to Vang Vieng and Didn’t Go Tubing: Fed Up with Tourists and the Takeover of Tourism

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      Such a bummer, because it is an awesome promotion…. if, you know, they ACTUALLY give it to you after you’ve earned it!

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    February 20 2014

    wow that’s such a bummer, sorry that happened to you. I bet they are kicking themselves now!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..Koh Tao’s Chilled out Diving Vibe

    • Alex
      February 20 2014

      Well, considering I haven’t heard a word from them since posting this it doesn’t seem they are too fussed! (Not that I expected to.)

  • Where in the World is Nina?
    February 21 2014

    Shame on them indeed… I mean, they could have at least seen that you have a popular blog and to at least make good with you since you would… I don’t know… WRITE ABOUT IT?!

    That’s bad business on their part and thank you for the warning. I have a Capital One credit card and I have my miles in safe keeping for now… I hope I don’t run into any issues like you did.
    Where in the World is Nina? recently posted..The Time My Favorite Place Almost Killed Me…

    • Alex
      February 21 2014

      Sounds like there is a lot of love for Capital One in this comment thread! I’m a loyal fan of theirs as well!

  • Ayngelina
    February 21 2014

    Wow that is pretty crummy of Citibank. I actually almost looked at using them because they have such a great global presence but this totally turns me off from the company. Great card or not I’d rather go with a company where I can actually redeem.
    Ayngelina recently posted..How would you spend $20,000 on holiday?

    • Alex
      February 21 2014

      Yup. Those big offers are enticing but don’t mean much if they don’t pay off. I am so bummed about those miles, it kind of hurts my heart to think about!

  • Polly
    February 21 2014

    That’s awful. I’ve had bad luck with Citibank in the past. I recently signed up for Chase’s Sapphire Preferred promo and despite having all the paperwork, breathed a sigh of relief when I saw those 40K points show up on my rewards statement.
    Polly recently posted..How to Invoke a Sparkly Vampire Curse

    • Alex
      February 21 2014

      I might look into that one! Right now I’m working on earning my bonus with a Chase Southwest card. Southwest is pretty much the biggest airline flying in and out of my hometown, so it seems like a good investment (I’ve bought three flights with them for the summer already!) I’ll definitely be posting about my experience!

  • Lena
    February 22 2014

    Hi Alex, the same thing happened to my husband and me with Citi. Luckily for us, we had our mail proof. The customer service in our country is not as good as it used to be since more people want more things for free.. Sad. So sorry to hear about loosing your miles, anybody in the travel world knows that’s just heartbreaking. We still prefer Amex and Starwood program more.
    Lena recently posted..Istanbul

    • Alex
      February 24 2014

      Wow, I’m so sorry to hear you were also victims to the same shady business practice. I’ve been amazed at how many others there are! All that does is convince me that this is not an innocent little mistake. I really enjoyed the Starwood program as well…

  • Laura
    February 22 2014

    What a crappy situation! Thanks for all the pointers on keeping documentation. We’re trying to do a lot more with miles and points these days and will definitely think twice before getting involved with Citi.
    Laura recently posted..Getting Your Fix – Answering Readers Questions

    • Alex
      February 24 2014

      If you look through this comments section you’ll see how common this deception actually is! I’ve definitely learned my lesson and glad to help others learn from my mistake — documentation is key!

  • Megan
    February 24 2014

    Ugh, terrible! I haven’t had any issues with Citibank, but Chase did screw me over.

    I called about an issue with another card and they asked me if I wanted to sign up for their United Mileage Plus Explorer Card, $1000 minimum spend + 30,000 mile bonus. I’d already had the card and gotten the bonus before, but since the guy straight up offered it to me and was emphatically positive about my persistent “are you SURE?” questions, I went ahead. Made the minimum spend, and then…got a letter in the mail saying I wasn’t eligible. I was LIVID. They’re telling me they didn’t know this before, especially when I asked several times if they were certain? Customer service was horrible, condescending, and rude. Social media team was kind…but I eventually gave up before wasting even more time. This travel hacking game isn’t all rainbows, unicorns, & honesty, that’s for sure.
    Megan recently posted..You Must Go to Northeastern Turkey, and Visit the Kackar Mountains

    • Alex
      February 25 2014

      That is so irritating, Megan! I guess that old saying is right — if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is! I know it sounds paranoid to record phone calls but that is what I’m going to do from now on.

  • Lucy
    March 8 2014

    I’m so sorry to hear that, it sucks that they can do it once, but even more so that they can do it again and again.
    Really wonderful advice though, I’m definitely going to be really careful with my next card.
    Keep up with good karma and hopefully you’ll stumble upon many more points! xx
    Lucy recently posted..5 Arseholes you’ll probably meet while travelling… and how to make the most of them.

    • Alex
      March 8 2014

      Thanks Lucy! Appreciate this sweet comment 🙂 I’m already back in the points game and hope my next attempt will work out better… of course I’ll be reporting back!

  • Erica
    March 13 2014

    EW EW EW. I hate when they do things like this. I cry for humanity.
    Erica recently posted..5 Must Eat Food Trucks at SXSW

    • Alex
      March 14 2014

      Even better… I never received so much as a Tweet in response to this post.

  • Justin
    May 28 2014

    Hi Alex,

    I found this blog post by Googling, because I just had the exact same issue. They tagged my account with the 50,000 mile offer, but I know I signed up for the 30,000 mile offer. Like you, I only spent $1,000 on the card, not the $3,000 for the higher offer. If I’d known about the higher offer on my account, I would’ve spent the $3,000 to get more miles. Of course, by the time I’d noticed, it was well past the three month window. So exactly the same situation you were in.

    I was livid at this bait-and-switch, and I was on the phone three times and then started secure messaging them on their site when they asked me to send in a copy of the offer.

    I was fed up, so finally, I submitted a complaint via the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). If you’re unfamiliar, this is a government watchdog agency that protects the rights of customers against their banks. It was created after the recession six years ago. This was a last resort for me, and banks treat complaints here with the highest importance, because complaints tarnish them in the eyes of the government.

    Not four hours after submitting my complaint, I received a call from Citi’s Executive Response Team letting me know they were looking into it. Less than 48 hours later, I got a letter in my account telling me that the 30,000 miles were being credited.

    It’s very easy to submit a complaint on CFPB’s website, and I also included a copy of the 30,000 mile offer from the internet. If you still want your miles, this might be a way to get them.

    Best,
    Justin

    • Alex
      May 29 2014

      Hey Justin, I’m so happy to hear you found a way to resolve this! If you read through the comments it’s obvious we aren’t the only two out there. I am going to take you up on your advice and submit a complaint. While I feel too much time has passed for me to get a similar result, I still think I’d like to have my story heard.

  • Monique
    April 13 2015

    Hi there,

    Found this cos I needed to vent about my experiences with Citibank. Completely same scenario but just a lil more recent. And yes they won’t honour the points and unfortunately I don’t have the card offer which considering I keep everything I actually think it was never sent! If I don’t get what was promised I will definitely be doing the exact same thing as you and voicing my opinion on how crap and dishonest Citibank is as a bank and service. Watch this space hopefully my outcome will be positive as your eventual one!

    Cheers!

    • Alex
      April 13 2015

      So sorry to hear that, Monique. I definitely recommend reaching out to the group I linked to here — wish I had know about it earlier. Would have saved me so much heartache! Best of luck.

  • Dr Dejan
    April 26 2016

    I signed up for cotigold checking account and fullfiled all requirements to get 50000 AA miles. After three months of battle with them I still have not received my miles. Every time I call them it is a same story “we will send a request for miles to be posted to our marketing department” and nothing happens. I do not know what to do anymore. This is bad business.

    • Alex
      April 27 2016

      So sorry to hear that! From what I recall it always takes a frustratingly long time to get reward bonuses. So hold tight, they may truly be on their way!

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