Wednesday, November 18

Citibank is out of touch

I've been seeing some critiques of credit cards. Once people had to (gasp) pay off all those balances they racked up, they couldn't complain enough about those meanie creditors who lent them way more than was responsible.

To be fair, card companies have some pretty evil practices. I just think it's amusing that, around three years ago, most folks considered their plastic a part of the family.

But recently I read a pretty awful account of Citibank's maneuvering that kind of shocked me.

I should start by admitting my somewhat illogical soft spot for the company. It gave me my first card, which I still have 13 years later.of Citibank around. Tim and I are also enjoying a 4% interest rate while we pay down a balance transfer; but I freely admit that my Citibank loyalty has more to do with a long-time relationship than a current special deal.

I read a post by one blogger who was basically being blackmailed by Citi. (I can't remember which blogger, unfortunately, so feel free to help me out in the comments if you know.) So I found an article on The Consumerist that summarizes the scenario: If you don't do a balance transfer of $5,000 or more (with a 3% transfer fee, of course), the APR you're paying will double.

I really started wondering what in the hell Citibank was thinking. It made me feel a little queasy about my relationship with the company. And I had just about forgotten that scummy little tidbit, when I opened my inbox this morning and was reminded that Citibank has completely lost its (business) mind.

Let me be clear: I didn't get a threat, thank goodness. No, what I got was (supposed to be) an enticement:

Dear Abigail Perry,

As a valued Citi® cardmember, you are invited to open a Citibank® Ultimate Savings Account and get $25 from Citibank, our retail banking affiliate.

A Citibank® Ultimate Savings Account is a great way to save. It features a competitive rate of 1.15% APY2, no monthly fee3 and is FDIC-insured up to $250,000.4

How to get your $25:
1. Open a new Ultimate Savings Account and deposit a minimum of $1,000 by 12/31/09.
2. Maintain a minimum balance of $1,000 for 3 consecutive months.
3. Get $25.
Start saving today!

Wow! A whole $25 just for little ole me?!

And to think that silly old Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America and a few other institutions were out there offering the same kind of deal for boring old checking accounts! How are you supposed to lock in a fabulous rate like 1.1% if you're putting your money in some no-interest checking account?

This offer from Citibank is clearly a vote of confidence in me.

Those other banks, they just asked for $100. Sure, a couple wanted me to do some direct deposits, but the amount didn't matter. And for that, they'd pay me $100. What an insult!

Clearly, those other guys didn't think I was capable of more than that. Citibank, on the other hand, feels certain that I can come up with $1,000 and keep it in there for 3 months, even though I owe the company about $6,000 on a credit card right now.

Citi clearly believes in its customers. Of course, that belief is that we have no eyes to read all the far more attractive offers that come through the regular mail. But still, isn't it great to know that your credit card company has faith in you? Or at least your stupidity?



Anonymous Lulu said...

Well I did not get an 'enticing' offer from them...nor did I get a threat. I have a longstanding card with them as well that has a balance which I am slowly paying off. I have not used the card for purchases and when it is paid off I will only use it to pay off in full every month so I can earn rewards.

November 20, 2009 at 8:23 AM

Blogger Abigail said...


I have every intention of keeping my Citibank card. It would be a terrible idea, from a credit score standpoint, to get rid of it now. And, like I said, I'm irrationally attached to it. That said, I'm not loving a lot of the most recent changes made for some of their other customers.

November 20, 2009 at 1:31 PM


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