Citibank $500 Checking Account Bonus 2018

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Citibank has $500 bonus offer when you open a new eligible Citi checking account 10/1/18 through 12/31/18 and complete qualifying activities. This offer is restricted to those who have not had a Citibank checking account within the last 180 calendar days.

Here are the bonus requirements, condensed from their full terms and conditions:

  • You must first enroll at citi.com/checkingrewards (or in-branch).
  • You must open a new Citibank Checking and Citi Savings Account in “The Citibank Account Package”.
  • You must make a deposit of $15,000 or more (multiple deposits okay) in “new-to-Citibank” funds within 30 days of account opening.
  • For the $400 bonus, you must maintain a minimum balance of $15,000 for 60 consecutive calendar days after deposit. The $15,000 can be spread between checking and savings.
  • For an additional $100 bonus, you must also complete a “Qualifying Direct Deposit” into the Checking Account for two consecutive months within 60 days of account opening. Payroll works but any ACH transfer accounts (i.e. interbank ACH counts).
  • The $400 or $500 bonus which will be credited within 90 calendar days from the date you complete all required activities.
  • Note that accounts with a zero balance for 90 days are subject to automatic closure and closed accounts can’t get the bonus. Therefore, always keep at least $5 in each account until you see the bonus.

Here’s how to avoid monthly account fees. You must maintain a combined average monthly balance of $10,000+ in eligible linked deposit, retirement and investment accounts. A monthly service fee of $25 and a $2.50 non-Citibank ATM fee applies to the checking account in The Citibank Account Package if a combined average monthly balance of $10,000 or more is not maintained. You can view your state-specific fee schedule at citi.com/compareaccounts. Scroll down to “The Citibank Account package”.

Bonus net value calculations. I like this bonus because it doesn’t require too much attention. You open the accounts and deposit $15,000, which you can spread between checking and savings (be sure to maintain a non-zero amount in both). Simply leave it there for 60 days. The direct deposit requirement is easy because there is no minimum amount and you can simply initiate an ACH transfer from another bank:

A “Qualifying Direct Deposit” is an Automated Clearing House (ACH) credit, which may include payroll, pension or government payments (such as Social Security) by your employer, or an outside agency.

However, there are a few noteworthy wrinkles! The main “catch” is that even though you “qualify” for the bonus after 60 days, you may have to wait another 90 days to actually get the bonus. Meanwhile, you need to keep both Citibank accounts open and in good standing, which either requires a minimum monthly balance of $10,000 or a $25 monthly fee. If you moved the $15,000 to a 2% APY savings account after 60 days, you would earn $25 in interest each month but also have to pay a $25 monthly fee.

Earning $500 of interest on $15,000 in 60 days works out to the equivalent of about 20% APY. However, earning $500 of interest on $15,000 in 150 days is a less impressive 8% APY. You could take out $5,000 after 60 days (maintaining only the $10k minimum) to boost your effective rate back up 10% APY. Even after you account for this, you still net $375 over a 2% APY savings account over 5 months. Bonus will be reported on 1099-INT (as should be expected).

If you were interested in a Citibank checking account anyway, you can always do the bonus now and downgrade to their “Account Account Package” which has no monthly fee if you make one direct deposit, one bill pay, or a $1,500 minimum balance each month ($10 otherwise).

ThankYou points. It’s not a lot, but The Citibank Account Package also earns ThankYou points for certain activities. For just having a savings and checking together, you can earn 150 points per month. For adding more things like an auto-save transaction or a linked Citi mortgage, you can get up to 450 points per month. Details here. Combine with the Citi ThankYou Premier Card which lets you redeem points for travel at a 25% bonus (1 ThankYou point = 1.25 cents towards travel).

Finally, I have done Citibank bank bonuses in the past and haven’t had any issues. However, others have reported having to call them up and ask for the bonus. I would simply be sure to keep track of your promotion details and transaction dates in a Google Doc or other spreadsheet, which you should always do anyway.

Bottom line. Citibank has a $500 bonus for opening a new checking + savings account and keeping $15,000 in there for 2-5 months, along with a few other requirements like making two ACH deposits. The bonus works out to roughly 10% APY when you keep the minimum required cash there. As compared to a 2% APY savings account, the net gain is about $375.

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Comments

  1. No hard pull? And can a husband and wife both do this to make it worth the time?

    • Citi should be a soft pull on new bank accounts. I don’t see any language that limits one per household or address. I’d open two individual accounts (not joint) if you are opening two accounts as husband and wife.

  2. Can you fund it with a credit card? Then it may be worth the hassle.

  3. Citibank savings also has a 2% promo rate on their savings account. While it does require 25K deposit and promo is only good for 3 months, I wonder if you can stack the two promos:

    https://online.citi.com/US/ag/open-a-bank-account/termsandconditions

  4. Frontbutt says:

    I applied the first time and got a letter that I wasn’t approved based on my ChexSystems report. My ChexSystems and credit bureau accounts are all frozen so I assumed that was the issue. I thawed my CS report and called them to run it again and they said they can’t do that, they closed the application and would have to apply again. So I applied again and I got another letter saying they can’t open an account based on my Equifax report. So I thawed my Equifax for a week and applied again today and it instantly approved my application. So if you are applying for this, make sure your CS and Equifax accounts are thawed to avoid long delays.

    • Follow up to my original story. So I applied with my CS and Equifax accounts thawed and was instantly approved with account number etc. It said to wait for the debit card and pin numbers to register the online account. So I get the pin number first, then the debit card arrives and also some starter checks. I then get a letter saying based on my CS report, they couldn’t approve my account. There’s nothing negative on my CS or credit reports (825 score) so I don’t know what they are doing, they can’t see what was wrong just that it was closed. So they opened an account then closed it on me and when I call they can’t tell me why, and that I should go into a local branch to open an account, which there are none near me. I’m done trying to make the $500 bonus with Citi, they don’t want financially responsible members depositing money in their account I guess.

      • @Frontbutt I ran into the same issues trying to get approved! I first tried applying online and got a letter a week later stating that the account couldn’t be approved due to “Incomplete Information” and “Unable to verify information.” After I called the support line, it turns out my address couldn’t be verified with their automated system and they recommended I apply via phone. First time I try that, the rep couldn’t find the $500 promotion in his system. I try again a day later, the agent finds the promotion, and I apply over the phone. It takes 45 minutes of my time due to having to spell out all my information. A week later I get a letter indicating that they can’t open my account due to my Experian credit report. I’m feeling the same as you now; I’ve spent 2-3 hours of my time researching, on the phone, etc. At this point, making the $375 net gain ($500 – 5months @ 2% opportunity cost from Capital One 360) doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

  5. SO when does the bonus actually get applied? I had applied for the $200 bonus deposited the $5000 within 2 weeks and now over 3 months – I called CitiBank and they tell me I must now wait an additional 90 days until the bonus shows up past the 60 day waiting period.

    • waiting_too says:

      @ JIm Bee – same issue. They told me February for having completed the 60 days in September. At least there is no 2018 tax liability for it.

      • Did this. According to my ongoing experience, it’s 60 days to complete requirements plus 90 days to receive bonus, so it’s going to be the pessimistic estimate made above: 150 days minimum.

  6. Anyone know the details on the “qualifying direct deposit”

    The CITI representive told me it could be any amount of money. …$10 direct deposit for example. However, i read someone else on reddit say it was $500 per deposit to get the bonus.

    If this is the case i will be pissed off.

  7. Has anyone ever seen something definitive on the definition of “month” for purposes of the $10,000 average monthly balance for fee waiver? Is it a calendar month? Is it a statement month? Is it a rolling 30 day period? Incredibly, I have had three CSRs give me the above three answers. One sent me something in writing but it failed to address the issue at hand and was thus non-responsive. Makes my skin crawl.

    • Eureka! After spending countless hours, I think I answered my own question. This is from the “Marketplace Addendum Effective November 15, 2018,” bottom of page 7 (in section referencing “The Citibank Account Package”):

      “The Combined Average Monthly Balance is calculated based on the average monthly balances of linked accounts for the calendar month prior to the last Business Day of your monthly statement period.”

      You can find the Marketplace Addendum online; I’m guessing it was a response to massive confusion, because none of the prior documents bothered to specify the period for which “average monthly balance” would be computed.

  8. Never trust Citibank, they will take your money, promising bonus, but when 150 days passed since requirements have been met, they say “we don’t see promotions on your account” even thought I called them every month just to make sure that the account is set up correctly and I am getting the bonus.
    First they ask for promotional CODE, after arguing for 30 minutes, they will put you on hold for another 30 minutes and say “we finally located the CODE for you”, but 60 days plus 90 days is when you get the bonus.
    Call after 150 days and you will find out that you don’t have promotions on your account :)))
    I suggest to take your money and bank somewhere else
    Shame, CITI!
    P.S. their costumer service is outsourced to India, be ready to talk to people who don’t put customers FIRST.

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