We’ve written before about signing up for cards you don’t want in order to get the cards you do. Product changing can be a valuable tool for your belt, whether in order to downgrade to a no-fee card (even some of those got the recent awesome Barclays spending offers) or to change your way to something no longer available or to pick up a big bonus on card A but ultimately end up with the benefits of card B. Miles to Memories reports today that Citi is making this process a bit easier with product changes now available via chat support.
So what makes a product change a valuable tool? Take the Citi Double Cash as an example. The Double cash is a great card to have. It offers 2% cash back everywhere, which is an excellent base earning structure for an “everywhere else” type of credit card. In some ways, having a card like that keeps you honest: When you need to make a $1,000 purchase and you have to choose between earning 1,000 miles at 1x or $20 on a Double Cash card, it makes it clearer that your opportunity cost for the miles is twenty bucks. Furthermore, rewards on the Double Cash can be converted to ThankYou points and then transferred on to airline partners if you also have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige. Earning 2x transferable points everywhere with no cap is a terrific rate of return. Again, it’s a great card to have.
However, since the Double Cash typically has no welcome bonus at all, it is a terrible card to sign up for. In an environment where Chase is offering a welcome bonus that’s easily worth more than a thousand dollars on two different business cards with no annual fee, it feels wasteful to open a new account with no bonus at all.
This is where product changing can be handy: since Citi typically allows you to product change to almost any other personal card they issue, you could (for example) open an American Airlines credit card for the bonus miles now and then later product change that account to a Double Cash (you’ll probably need to wait at least a year from account opening).
This process has typically been fairly painless with Citi, though throughout the pandemic there have been times when wait times to speak with an agent have dragged on and on. According to Miles to Memories, as a result of the pandemic Citi is now granting product change requests via the chat feature on their website.
When you log in, simply look for the “Live Chat” button to pop up and you can type with an agent to facilitate your product change. Personally, I love getting stuff done via chat rather than phone whenever possible. I imagine that many folks working from home (with all of home’s distractions and disruptions) may appreciate chat more than ever at this time.
Just keep in mind that you’ll want to be strategic about Citi product changes. Product changing across families may re-set the clock in terms of waiting for a new welcome bonus. For example, if you product change from a Citi Prestige card to a Double Cash card, you will be locked out of a new bonus on the Prestige or Premier cards for 24 months. If you were eligible for a new cardmember bonus, it would make sense to first open a new Premier or Prestige and then product change to a Double Cash after product changing (and in that case only if you’ve emptied out your ThankYou points earned from that card since any points earned from a ThankYou card will expire 60 days after closing that account if you product change to a different family of cards). For more on strategy regarding Citi product changes and account closures, see: Canceling your Prestige or Premier card? Here’s how to keep ThankYou points alive.
Overall, this is a positive change and a good heads up from Miles to Memories.