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Rant

Goodbye Citibank

In 1990, while a freshman at UF (Go Gators!), I applied for and received my first credit card. The card, from Citibank, was a “college special” with a whopping credit limit of $600.00 and fees/penalties as high as the Federal Government would allow.

This said, there was no yearly fee and I knew at the ripe age of 18 that if I paid my balance on time, my cost was 0.00. Granted, I didn’t have much money (like generally a bank account of 200.00 or so) and got the card in case I needed food and didn’t have the cash.

This wasn’t a crazy thought for 1990… most of us still used cash and electronic deposit wasn’t very common; waiting on checks to clear was the norm.

I kept that card until today… 29 year relationship isn’t bad for either of us; but this said… Citibank lost my business. I would have been happy to have this card for another 30 years.

I constantly paid off the balances… although there was a year or two when expenses outpaced income and I held a balance. I also switched around the cards and tried an AAdvantage version, the Diamond, and this last one was the Thank You one.

Every 6 months when I had the card I asked for a credit increase. I didn’t need one… but I thought that if I wanted to build credit, the more I had the better and what did I lose by asking?

First it went from 600 – $900. By 1994, it was $5k. When I opened Palner in 2000, the card’s credit limit had reached $65,000.00. I have no idea why I was given that much credit… but when it hit 65k, I stopped asking for more.

When I started doing a lot of travel (including International travel) the math suggested that I’d greatly benefit from one of the ultimate traveler’s cards…

Based on my (lack of) love for American Express, I ruled out the AmEx Platinum and since I liked Citibank, went for their Prestige card. The Prestige benefits were awesome (and I used the hell out of their 4th night free benefit).

But then the rewards changed… and when you pay a premier price for a card ($450/yr), you better get your money out of it. The 4th night free (which saved me over $1k/year) was changed dramatically… as well as the travel benefits which first drew me to the card (delay reimbursement, loss, etc).

I ended up switching to a Chase card but kept my Thank You card with the incredibly high credit limit for 2 reasons… first I had switched it to a business card and second, I’d had the card since 1990.

That card was due to expire this month and I called to ask why I hadn’t received my replacement. Apparently, despite changing my address (2 years ago by phone and online), Citibank had decided to send my card to an address I no longer used.

I asked why all of my addresses in the account were correct (mail, bill, etc) and they used a secret old address for my card… no answer. They were “sorry for the inconvenience.” Then they told me they had sent the replacement 45 days ago…

This one concerned me… Why hadn’t they sent an alert or questioned me regarding not activating a card sent 45 days ago? No real answer… the offshore call center agent was sorry for my inconvenience.

They expedited (I had to fight for that) a card to me and today my account simply wouldn’t accept it. Forty-five minutes into the call, and on my 10th rep (all offshore), I decided… it’s over.

It’s sad to watch a company you really liked (and were loyal to) go downhill… but the older we get, the easier it becomes to get off the train before it runs off the track.

Goodbye Citibank. It’s been a good run.

By Fred Posner

Fred Posner provides VoIP consulting services through The Palner Group and LOD.com. In 2010, Fred and his wife, Yeni Monroy, opened Bearkery, in Gainesville, Florida. Contact Fred at qxork.com. Even better, make Yeni happy and buy a cookie!

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