Here's A Possible Way To Avoid Citibank's New Account Fees

Next month, Citibank will implement its new $7.50 fee on what were formerly free checking and savings accounts. The only way to avoid the fee is to keep a total of $1500 minimum in your linked accounts. John wrote in to tell us that when he went to his branch and asked about the new fee, they found a way to get around it. It may not work for anyone else, but it’s worth sharing.

I stopped by my local Citibrank branch to confirm that I was going to be charged come February with the staff there and yes, it was true. I also asked if there was anyway around this outrageous fee?

Turns out there is…and it’s called “Household Linking.”

As long as I could get at least one other member of my family who also has a Citibank Checking Account and together we maintain a combined balance of $1,500 or more, there is no fee if the accounts are grouped together under “Household Linking.” The accounts are linked under the same “umbrella,” so to speak, as far as Citibank is concerned, but they are still completely independent. I can’t see the accounts or balances of my other family members and they can’t see mine. If debt collectors go after my account, my family’s accounts are still safe and vice versa. So, all we had to do was go in to the bank and ask that our accounts be linked together under “Household Linking” and the upcoming outlandish fees have all been avoided for me and my family.

I don’t know if being family members is a requirement for “Household Linking” or not. In our case, we all have the same last name, but different residences. However, our accounts were all originally opened at the same branch where we’ve done the “Houshold Linking.”

I’ve asked Citibank for more information, but haven’t yet heard back from them. If I do, I’ll update this post.

I also asked John to provide more details. He said that to link the accounts, he and the other account holders had to show up at the bank together and present their debit cards. The bank employee punched in some code and got a manager to authorize it and it was done.

[The bank employee] said that the “Household Linking” was what they arranged with companies–Citibank does “Household Linking” arrangements with companies whereby everyone in a company who banks with Citi won’t be charged any fees because all accounts with such company are grouped together under “Household Linking.” This “Household Linking” he did for me and my family is just a very small scale version of that same thing.

I received no documentation explaining any of this.

As far as the info about not having access to each other’s accounts, John wrote, “I’m logging in to my account now from home and there is no trace of any account other than mine.” He says that as far as that business about each account being protected from creditors, that was just something he asked about, and the bank employee told him the accounts would remain separate in every aspect except for Citibank’s measurement of the average combined monthly balance.

If anyone out there tries this, please write to us and let us know whether it works for you.


Update: Here is where you can find Citibank’s official language on Household Linking. It seems stricter than our reader experienced, so you may still want to go in and talk to someone at a local branch to see how it would work for you.

  1. Go to https://online.citibank.com/US/JRS/helpcenter/main.do#ClientAgreement
  2. Select “Forms & Documents” (lower right side of page)
  3. Select “Citibank Client Agreements”
  4. Select “Citibank Online Marketplace Addendum” (PDF)
  5. See page 42. (In the PDF version, that’s actually on page 23.)

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