Man Gets 87,000 Rewards Points Back

Andy and his wife were saving up for a trip for Hawaii. They had 87,000 points, which represented $87,000 they had spent accumulating these points. Out of nowhere, Citibank closed his account and gave him no chance to get his points.

Andy complained and was told there was nothing that could be done. Citibank had new rules for accounts opened off Equifax data, and Andy didn’t make the cut, despite having 39 accounts in good standing.

But then he wrote Consumerist and we posted his story. After it went live, a Citibank rep contacted us and we put them in touch with Andy. They fixed him up good, though not without a little tug and pull. Andy says:

One of the main sticking points was that Citi said they sent me a letter on June 23rd stating that my account would be closed on July 31st. I never received the letter and I don’t know what it said. After my account was closed on July 31 and points gone, I called them to find out what was up and they referred me to the letter. I said I didn’t have the letter and they offered to send me out a copy of exactly what it said. I said “sure” send me a copy. A few weeks later I received a letter from Citi that said something to the effect of “Sorry, we are unable to provide a copy of the letter you requested and we won’t be able to provide a copy in the future…..”

Now Andy has his points back, demonstrating once again the power of getting your story out to the media, having all your facts and dates straight, and having a big number that catches people’s eye.

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Citibank Yanks Your 87,000 Rewards Points And Closes Account Without Warning

Comments

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  1. Hobz says:

    “Sorry, we are unable to provide a copy of the letter you requested and we won’t be able to provide a copy in the future…..”

    I saw that coming.

  2. milkcake says:

    That’s why you go for instant rebate dollars like from chase. Not that Chase is better company.

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      Or go for points that aren’t from the bank, such as from a hotel or airline program. Once these are deposited into your hotel/airline account each month they are yours regardless of what happens with the credit card. They typically provide much better redemption values also.

  3. Griking says:

    I wonder how Citi will handle all of the other customers who also lost points and contacts them saying “if you gave them their points back then why can’t I get mine?”

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Maybe they won’t screw them around in the first place, corporatroll.

      • Griking says:

        Why shouldn’t Citi be allowed to end a promotion? The only thing that I see that they may have done wrong was botch the letter to this customer. Was this an an isolated incident or did no Citi customers get notified?

        • pop top says:

          “The only thing that I see that they may have done wrong was botch the letter to this customer. Was this an an isolated incident or did no Citi customers get notified?”

          I think that should be the cutoff; whether or not Citi can prove they sent out a letter. In this case they couldn’t and they rightly reinstated the points, but if they sent you a letter AND can prove they did, then sadly you’re SOL.

        • MMD says:

          They are allowed to do so, but should provide ample notice. Even if the alleged letter had arrived and could be reproduced as proof, do you really think that notifying a customer only a week in advance of account closure is ok? INAL, so don’t know if it’s legal to close an account on a week’s notice…but it’s certainly unethical in my book.

          • nybiker says:

            The letter was dated June 23, the account was to be closed July 31. Over a month. Still not good to close it, but if he had received the letter, by, let’s say July 1, he’d have 30 days to do something about it.
            Side note: I sure hope Amex does not do this to me.

            • MMD says:

              Sorry, I misread the date.
              30 days is fair notice. But the fact that couldn’t reproduce the letter suggests shadiness to me.

  4. dg says:

    This is why I don’t specifically use a card just to accumulate points, but whatever points are accumulated on a card get immediately turned into a direct deposit when they hit whatever the trigger level is… I don’t save up points to get “rewards” because the rewards are typically overpriced crap, and with the prices listed in “Points” – it’s designed to make you think it’s not money…

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      Because points values get you different returns depending on what you buy with them? For example, for my Citi account, buying goods directly is grossy expensive, its like 0.5 cents per point. Buying $100 gift cards though gets you about 1 cent per point. Buying airline tickets actually nets you a better return, I forget what it was, something like 1.5-2 cents per point.

      In addition, even with gift cards, you’ll see a different return rate with different values of cards ($20 for 30k vs $100 for 100k points)

    • ShadowFalls says:

      Depends on the card really… Most these days offer statement credits as an option, gift cards, or cash back by default. Amazon.com’s Chase card for example, at first only allowed for Amazon gift certificates, which mind you, allows you to buy quite an assortment of stuff these days.

  5. kompeitou says:

    My parents were saving up rewards points and they were going to use it for a trip to vegas. After reading this original story I told them to cash in the points, don’t take a chance. My mom laughed, she thought I was being a worrywart. “Our trip is just two months away, I’m sure it will be fine.”

    Fast forward two months later and I get a voicemail “Guess what, you were right! The credit card upped the number of points we needed in order to redeem them.”

    So instead of taking my advice and taking the money and running (about $750 in rewards) they now have to spend an extra $15k on their card in order to cash out.

  6. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    I got a Nintendo Wii for free this way. Well, I gues not exactly free as it cost me purchases over time. I have National City, which is now PNC, and I was hoping to save up enough points to take my wife on another honeymoon until I did a little math. Once I realized that the minimum amount needed would put us near retirement age, based on the frequency of our purchases, I said, “Eff it!”

    Then I figured on getting a Wii, and saw that the amount needed for an actual WII was more than whatever the sale price was at the time in the store. So, I dumped my points into actual cash deposits to my account and used it to buy the Wii wherever it was cheapest.

    Now, I just redeem it for cash whenever I hit $15 worth. I used to do it at $4, but they changed the points needed, making it more expensive.

    • Chuchundra says:

      I have rewards on my Chase card and they offer either cash or merch. Almost without fail, it would be cheaper to cash out the points and buy the exact same item from Amazon or NewEgg than to trade the points for item on the Chase site. I’m not sure what the point is.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        my chase amazon linked visa lets me get cash, gas card or amazon gift certificates. the lowest redemption amount is for amazon gift certificates but i often do that because even if i can’t find anything to buy, everyone i know has an amazon wishlist and a birthday. no i don’t give them the certificate, that’d be tacky.

  7. Tongsy says:

    Kinda makes me glad I just cashed out all of my points on my CC worth almost 500 dollars

  8. Jay K. says:

    I’m a little confused about how spending $87K equals saving for a vacation.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      $87K… Maybe they charged all bills, groceries, gas, ETC to this card every month and paid it off every month. $1,500 in the above mentioned every month would give you $18k a year, which would be the equivalent of approximately 5 years of bills. It’s a great idea with the right rewards program and always paying your CC bill in full every month to avoid fees.

    • Trick says:

      We accumulated 87,000 points while on vacation that cost $87,000. Now we have to figure out how to pay the bill.

  9. Binaryslyder says:

    Can you help me with my 22k points I lost when Chevy Chase Bank cut over to become Capital One? No one told my wife or I that we’d lose our points, and the bank keeps telling us they don’t know what happened to them.

    :(

  10. sopmodm14 says:

    wows, thanks for spending $87k with us ?

  11. cecilyw says:

    I sent a letter complaining to them that they raised my interest rate. They closed both of my cards and I lost all of my points. I decided it wasn’t worth pursuing, but that I would spread the word about how much Citi sucks.