Category Archives: Citibank

Kinder, Gentler Credit Cards?

Over the past month, a few of the major credit card issuers have announced some consumer-friendly changes they are making to their practices.

Just a couple of days ago, Citibank announced that it will end its practices of:

  • “universal default” — where an individual’s interest rate can be hiked if the borrower misses a payment with another lender, even if the borrower is otherwise current.
  • “any time for any reason” — where the lender can change the rates and fees due whenever they deem fit. With the announced changes, as long as the borrower pays on time and stays within their credit limit, Citibank will only change the margin on their interest rate and fees when a card expires and a new one must be issued.

Several weeks ago, Chase also announced that it will end using the controversial “two-cycle billing” method, where borrowers are charged interest on a two-month period, rather than a one-month period, if they do not pay their balance in full. Under that policy, consumers who do not pay their balance in full end up paying interest on principal they have already paid off.

That the timing of these announcements coincides with the commencement of a series of congressional hearings by the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee on credit card industry policies, I don’t think is a coincidence. Does it portend more changes to come? Time will tell, but based on the results so far, it seems likely.

$100 Statement Credit For Citi Student Cards Referrals

This is a targetted offer, so unfortunately you’re out of luck if you didn’t receive the e-mail. According to this thread at FW, you might be solicited for this offer if you already have a Citi Student card. Basically, for each person you refer that applies and is approved for a Citi Card for College Students through the link provided in the e-mail, you’ll receive a $100 statement credit, up to a maximum of 5 approved accounts.

Your referrals must apply by October 31, 2006 to qualify.

Win a $100,000 Kitchen Makeover In Home Depot/MasterCard Sweepstakes

To help promote their new credit card, Home Depot is teaming with MasterCard to hold a $100,000 sweepstakes. Every time you use a MasterCard to make a purchase at a Home Depot, EXPO® Design Center, or Home Depot® Landscape Supply location in the U.S. between September 7 – October 31, 2006, you’ll be automatically entered. You’ll receive two entries if you make the purchase with the new Home Depot Rewards MasterCard card or Home Depot Business Rewards MasterCard card.

You can get a pretty fancy kitchen for $100,000. Fortunately you receive your winnings in the form of a check, in case your kitchen doesn’t need $100,000 of upgrades.

More information can be found at

Citi Dividend: Is the End of 5% Near?

Editor’s Note: The following info is oudated. For the latest details on the Citi Dividend Card, see this link.

Various message boards have been abuzz recently with rumors that the Citi Dividend card will soon no longer offer 5% cash back on supermarket, drugstore and gas station purchases. One such thread is on FW here.

Based upon several conversations with Citi CSRs, the general consensus is that changes are coming. And according to one poster who says that they have already received the new terms, they are:

  • 2% for supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores, convenience stores and utilities including cable.
  • 1% on all other purchases.
  • Maximum of 300 Dividend Dollars in a calendar year.
  • Utilities include electric, gas power, water supply and refuse services, but not telephone service. Cable includes satellite and other pay television and radio service.

The new terms should be mailed out to customers over the next month or so. If these new terms are indeed rolled out, it obviously represents a huge downgrade in benefits to existing cardholders. Then again, these type of changes should not be that unexpected, considering Citi was likely losing quite a bit of money on customers who only used the card for gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. It also follows Chase’s decision back in April to discontinue its own 5% cash back program.

The obvious question is what to do now. Already folks at FW have suggested the HSBC Direct Rewards Platinum Mastercard as an alternative. It offers:

5% CashBack at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations. For other stores, 0.5% on up to $3K purchases, 1% for more. CashBack capped at $500 for any yearly anniversary period of the account. CashBack is paid annually, anything less than $10 is forfeited.

There are a few other potential downsides, including a reputation for low credit limits. Perhaps more importantly, one would almost expect that should HSBC receive a huge influx of new applications in the short-term, that these terms would be short-lived as well.

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