Citibank Must Hate Me.

I noticed that I was over $100 in rebates for my Citi Dividend Platinum Card, so I just requested a nice fat check for $112.47. More free money!

I honestly think that, second to deadbeats, I may be the most unprofitable customer that Citibank has. I use their no-fee 0% balance transfer offers with glee, I take their $100 sign-up bonuses and run, and I only use their 5% cash back card for the stuff that gives me 5% cash back (gas, groceries, and some gift cards) and nothing else. I’m well over the $1,000 mark in free money from them, and I’m still going!


  1. think of how much $$ u earn for them by advertising there deals so much though… i’m sure theres quite a bit of deadbeats out there that citibank makes there money on through interest rates, late fees, etc.

  2. lamoneyguy says:

    I’m definitely in the same camp as you in how I use credit cards. Although, I don’t quite have it down to the science (almost an art form) as you. Don’t the credit card companies have a word for people like us? Is it Freeloader?

  3. Jon, think of Citibank is an “all-you-can-eat” buffet place! It may be losing money on you, one of the few big eaters there are, but it’s making MUCH more than sufficient from other regular small eaters. It’ll do just fine and apparently, so will you. 🙂

  4. Seneschal says:

    Don’t worry, I’m sure Citi is very happy with the free advertising you are giving them at this very moment!

  5. I believe that credit card companies slang for those who pay off cc debt every month (and earn rewards) is “deadbeats”. Seriously!

    You’d think it would be the other way around…

  6. autologic says:

    Just be happy there are people out there who are paying down huge cc balances and high interest rates to subsidize intelligent people. I’m up over $800 on citi just in the past 8 months because of sign up deals and 0% cc.

  7. It is ironic that people with good credit scores (i.e, those that pay off their debt) are considered their “best” candidates, yet probably earn them little money. It would be interesting to see a chart comparing credit score versus credit card companies’ profit. It would also be interesting to see if one day the credit card companies will change their metric of qualification from credit score to something more correlated with their profitability.

  8. They are ready to sell your identity and purchase data to third parties for more than $1,000, heeee..

  9. I understand you are trying to make money from these credit card offers, but how is this affecting your credit score?

    I ask because I know that applying for credit causes hard-inquiries to your report. If you are applying a few times a year I would think that this would lower you score.

  10. I opened a new Citi Simplicity account, made a 0% balance transfer, then forgot my first payment which was due a week ago. A $39 late fee and 15.49% interest pushed me over the credit limit. Called Citi this morning. They waived the fee and interest, and restored the original terms. Even if they do try to sell add-on services when you call, I appreciate Citi’s grace and customer service.

  11. Chris – I value my credit score very much. In fact, I refuse to take a ‘hard’ credit check unless I get a least $75 from the deal, whether by instant bonus or eventual payout. Thus, I also limit my credit applications to a max of about 4-5 per rolling 6 month period.

    This is because each credit check within the last 6 months hurts you by about 5 points, but after 6 months they drop off [and your score bounces back up].

    Paul – I definitely agree with you, I have found Citibank to be pretty good customer service, especially for a company that lives off such fees. Set some reminders from now on dude!! =) Use Outlook or Yahoo e-mail reminder service, Citibank has it’s own e-mail alert service too I think. Otherwise you’ll be subsidizing me!

  12. I just signed up myself. I had been taking advantage of the American Epxress points but money back seems to be a better deal.

  13. savvy saver says:

    I love Citi too, they are one of my favorite credit card companies for all the reasons you mentioned…

  14. Great site – I read about it in Business World. I used to jump from card to card for these deals too, but was worried about my credit score. So should you ask if is going to be a hard inquiry, or is it safe to assume all CC credit checks are hard inquires, and you don’t take an offer less than $75?

  15. This is my first post here…I really enjoy your site so far!

    Quick question: I just requested the Citi professional card you recommend and after reading some of your material on other credit cards I am thinking of getting another one. However, it seems like the cards you recommend most highly are all MasterCards. Do you see a reason not to have multiple cards through the same servicer? Is there a reason none of your cards seem to be VISA? I’m asking because when travelling I’ve found that some countries seem to focus primarily on accepting VISA cards.


    P.S.: I also have am AmEx Blue Cash card for the 5% off gas and groceries

  16. If I could just get them to give me a credit card.

  17. If you’r having 4-5 credit applications rolling over a 6 mon period, then according to you you’d be dropping 20 pts on avg every 6 months. Wouldn’t this hurt when you apply for new credit and also how’d you gain your points back on your score.
    I would love to start applying for credit and take advantage of all your valuable tips here, but just afraid of my score dropping drastically.

  18. frugalman says:

    If you max out on your citicard for the rewards ($300), you can open an AT&T Universal Cash Rewards Card.
    (owned by citibank, so same 5% and 1% rebate)

  19. Remember that Citi is making 2-3% from MERCHANTS for everything you buy with their card…they are still making money from your purchases.

  20. Mike – Yes, any time you are asking for credit, there will be a ‘hard’ credit check. Sometimes people have to check your credit for verification only, like for some bank apps, that is called a ‘soft’ check and does not hurt your credit.

    Pat – Interesting point, there is no specific reason, Visa/Mastercard are interchangeable for me, I guess I’m not well-travelled enough :). Please check out the Chase *Visa* version of the Dividend card, as well as this Citi Visa card.

    GS – When I said ‘drop off’, I meant that after 6 months, your credit score will bounce back up to what it was before. They only care about recent credit inquiries. That’s why the last six months are all that really matter. All the things I do that ‘hurt’ my credit score are all temporary. Missing payments is what hurts scores for a long time.

    frugalman – thanks, also check out the Chase card I listed above, it has also has the 1%/5% cashback and $300 annual limit.

  21. I’m living vicariously through you Jonathon. Keep sticking it to the man!!!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    “your credit score will bounce back up to what it was before”

    Ive done this several times with my cc’s. Whenever they send a 0% open check, I take about 25k and let it earn interest in my credit union acct. My credit score doesnt seem affected at 740.

    Credit cards make the consistent money charging stores ~3-5% for every transaction. Discover and AMEX charge closer to 5%, which is why many retailers do not accept these cards. So, even if you are a responsible “dead beat”, your charges of 3k every month earns mastercard 90 bucks per month. Thus, the “dead beats” may be cheaper than paying a phone operator to hound the “real dead beats” for payments on 20%. Who knows – I dont!

  23. Just wanted to clarify credit score impact from HARD inquiries…

    An inquiry stays on your credit report for 2 years (25 months for Experian). When calculating your credit score, FICO only counts the inquiries for 1 year. However, the score impact is most prominent during the first 6 months. As the new account is seasoned [assuming you were approved], the score impact during the remaining six months is offset by the positive effects of aging the new account.

    The exact score impact of one inquiry will vary from person to person. There is no data that confirms an inquiry will only cost 5 points. Depending on the person’s entire credit profile, it can be more or less. However, experiments have proven that the first inquiry results in the highest loss amd decreases with each subsequent inquiry. For ex: assuming an app spree in one day and all using the same CRA, the first app may lower your score 7 pts, the second 5pts, third and subsequent 3pts. Again, there is no cookie cutter answer or exact number for everyone. It depends on your entire credit profile.

    The key to applying for mutliple cards at the same time with minimal score impact is to strategize your apps based on which CRA the CC pulls and spread them out accordingly.

    Jonathan – congrats on your easy earnings (lol). I call that “Pimpin Yo Credit Card Company.” I wrote about this on my blog today and mentioned you as well. Keep up the good work!

  24. SingleMom – Thanks for the info. To be honest, I am not as concerned about my exact credit score as many people seem to be. I have no idea which card pulled which bureau, and I refuse to pay $100+ a year for ‘monitoring’ to find out. To me, it is just a big fear scam by the credit bureaus. The occassional free credit report trial is all I do.

    It is about your score range, not your specific score. FICO keeps their actual formula top secret, so any information about it is vague anyways like you say, which is why I estimate ‘about’ 5 points per app based on my own experiences.

    The main thing to make a good score remains – have some credit, and use it wisely and pay it off on time and regularly. The occassional credit card app is not going to kill your credit score. If you apply and proceed to run it up and not pay the bill on time – THAT will kill your score.

  25. I agree! Paying the bill on time is the most important element to keeping a healthy score. I just wanted to provide clarity on inquiries to those who were asking.

  26. BTW, you don’t have to “monitor” your credit report to find out which credit card pulls which bureau. You want to know that information BEFORE you apply. There are many credit forums on the net that have compiled lots of data from people who’ve done the experimenting for you.

  27. SingleMom – got any (reliable) links? 🙂

    I know there used to be a Yahoo Group dedicated to ‘who pulled my credit’, but I’ve found that one and most sites that do this to be unreliable. To start, the same issuer (say Amex), is listed to have pulled ALL of the three bureaus depending on date and location. That doesn’t help! 😛

    Besides, I’ve had the same card issuer pull different bureaus within the same year, and not the same one they say according to my state. So, I stopped bothering to try and predict anything.

  28. Reliable? Matter of opinion I suppose. There are a few listed on Yahoo Groups (as you’ve mentioned) and an entire thread dedicated to it at and Some listings were right on the money in my experience and a few were not. As I said, it’s experimental. Other than math, there are very few things in the world that’s an exact science and will provide the same end result for everyone. Nevertheless, experience from a large sample size is a good starting point, but one must use their personal judgment to determine reliability.

  29. Oh citicard definatly hates me. Just requested a rebate check for $159.63 that cover the last twomonths. My January check was $52. Man, this sucker will be rebate maxed within the next month or two.

  30. With all these cashback deals you’ve been getting, are you going to be inundated in 1099’s at the end of the year? I assume this will all qualify as taxable income, correct? If so, do you have any plans to handle this to minimize your tax burden?

  31. I’ve never gotten a 1099 from a credit card company for cashback checks or bonuses. The law is a bit fuzzy about it. Rebates on items you buy are not taxable according to law. Whether these % cashback items qualify as rebates are debatable. For example, are frequent flyer miles that you could receive instead of cashback taxable? The IRS gives no specific guidance that I’ve found.

    The interest on 0% balance transfers that I get is certainly taxable. I don’t really have any tax secrets besides those that would apply to any other income.

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