Disclosure: I get absolutely no money/benefits/anything from you guys doing any of this, besides the pure joy of helping more people totally hack the system. Someday, however, it would be nice to, you know, make money from this.
Okay, got a little lazy and bored of writing the guide for a bit. Going to start posting some really great limited-time offer deals so y’all can get in on this before they die, since they’ll all probably be dead by the time I finish the guide.
First up on the roster is the incredible Citibank Checking account hack, which I just did firsthand and still frankly can’t believe works.
Basically, when you open a new Citibank checking account, you’re allowed a one-time shot to initially fund your account with a credit card. With most credit cards, this simply counts as a cash advance, which is really bad, since you don’t earn any points *and* you start getting charged an absurd APR immediately.
However, with certain amazing credit cards, the initial funding is coded as a purchase, which means you get charged absolutely no APR if you pay it off in full by your statement due date, *and* you earn full rewards.
Which credit cards are these? From personal experience, I can verify that as of today, June 2nd, 2015, Barclaycard issued credit cards, including the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Mastercard, and the Barclaycard US Airways Dividend Miles/American Airlines Aviator Red card definitely code as purchases. It’s also said that Bank of America credit cards code as purchases as of at least May 2015, but I haven’t verified this one firsthand. Reports note that you can charge up to around $100,000 in your initial credit funding (limited by your credit line, of course).
Screenshot of my Barclaycard Aviator Red showing the $17,500 initial deposit as a purchase, with 17500 miles earned (the 50% bonus 8,750 miles post later, after June 30th):
Why is this so amazing? Well, a couple reasons.
1. You get full miles/points earnings on your ‘purchase’. That means, if you initially fund $100,000 from your Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Mastercard, which earns 2% cashback on all purchases (when redeemed for travel expenses, which include everything from Uber rides to cruises to airplane tickets), with a 10% rebate on redemptions (effectively a 2.2% total cashback rate), you’ll be earning 220,000 points from this alone. That’s redeemable for $2,200 on the spot. So boom, you just made $2,200 with literally 10 minutes of work.
The same goes with the Barclay US Airways card, which is now rebranded as the AA Aviator Red. This earns 1 AA mile per purchase, though they’re offering a 1.5x bonus on mileage for any transactions made between now and June 30th, 2015 – up to a maximum of 10,000 points. This means if you charge $20,000 in your initial deposit, you’ll get 30,000 AA miles. If you charge $100,000, you’ll get 110,000 AA miles.
2. Not to be outdone by themselves, Citibank also offers their own bonuses for opening checking accounts. Right now, they’re offering up to 40,000 Citi ThankYou rewards points (worth at least $400, though you can get much more transferring to frequent flyer award partners), provided you have a Citi ThankYou points earning credit card open, or up to 30,000 AA miles, provided you have an American Airlines credit card with them (which you should, because the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard is insanely awesome and will give you up to 50,000 more AA miles just for signing up).
Note that you can only do one of the two above, depending on the credit card you have open with Citibank (if any – if you have none/don’t open any, you can only take advantage of the initial funding hack, and not these additional bonuses. Note also that the fine print says that if you’ve had a checking account before with Citibank, you aren’t eligible for these bonuses).
These deals expire June 30th, so you do need to act fast, since you’ll need everything approved and in hand by that time in order to take full advantage of this.
So what’s my recommended approach to this? Here’s exactly what you should do to maximize the benefit here:
This is a card you should open anyway, because it’ll give you 40,000 miles immediately after an initial $3000 spend as a signup bonus. That, + the 10% redemption rebate, means you’ll get $440 immediately for opening this card. So even if you don’t take advantage of the whole Citibank checking hack, you should take advantage of this.
2. Once you have that card approved, see if you can bump your credit limit on that card as high as they’ll allow you, since this is likely to be the limiting factor in just how much money you can get from Citibank. At the same time, call and set your cash advance limit to as low as possible ($1), so that just in case it starts coding as a cash advance, it’ll just be declined and won’t go through, and no harm will be done.
Note: another potential hack you can do to increase your credit limit may be to put a massive overpayment on your credit card, e.g. if your limit is $10,000, you can overpay the credit card by $10,000 and it *might* increase your limit temporarily to $20,000 (until you spend down the overpayment). This works for some cards, but I haven’t validated at all that it works for Barclay cards, so do your own research and come to your own conclusions here.
3. Decide if you want to take advantage of the Citibank ThankYou promotion or AA miles promotion, if either. Make sure you have one of those credit cards already open. If not, for the AA miles promotion, you’d want to open this card,
though I wouldn’t actually recommend this right now, since the signup bonus is only 30,000 miles, and it goes up to 50,000 at times. Instead, I’d recommend opening a Citibank ThankYou card, unless you specifically want AA miles real bad for some reason – which I can’t blame you for, since they have insanely good redemption values and you can get a roundtrip to most anywhere in the world for just 40-50,000 miles (meaning you can get literally 3 free international roundtrip flights if you maximize this promotion). The Citibank ThankYou Premier card is pretty solid right now, with 50,000 ThankYou points as a signup bonus after $3000 in spend with a $0 first year annual fee, so I’d recommend this one if you need to open one right now. Sign up here.
Edit: The Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Visa Mastercard is available for 50,000 miles after $3000 in spend still! Sign up here. This card is definitely recommended over the ThankYou Premier card so long as the bonus is 50,000 miles. A ton of auxiliary benefits too, such as virtual credit card numbers (more on that in a later post).
4. Once both your Barclaycard and your Citibank credit cards are approved and fully opened (and you have the credit cards in hand), signup for your Citibank checking account here, using either promotion code 4Y6KEW8XL3 for the AA miles, or WCTERY9FPS for the ThankYou points.
Be careful here, because on the last page (Step 4: Fund Your Account) when it asks you for your initial deposit, you have to not enter your checking account, but click on the tiny text at the bottom that says something like “other funding options” and fax (using hellofax.com) or mail in the credit card authorization form. This is your only chance to do this right. Do not, under any circumstances, enter any checking account information for your initial deposit.
5. Once your account is opened and the deposit is made, just follow the rest of the instructions for completing the Citibank signup promotion to get your extra points/miles through that (again, instructions for the ThankYou points promo here, and the AA miles promo here, or if you were just doing the initial funding hack, just pay off your credit card, close your Citibank checking account, and you’re done. Boom. Free miles, free money, free travel. Life is good.
Total net earnings:
A: $440 (40000 points + 10% rebate for another 4000 points) from opening the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Mastercard ($0 annual fee for the first year)
B: 50,000 ThankYou points from opening the Citibank ThankYou Premier card (at least $625 of value when redeeming for airfare)/50,000 AA miles (worth at least 2 cents of value in my book, or $1000)
C: Up to $2,200 from funding up to $100,000 from your Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Mastercard to your Citibank checking account (200,000 points + 10% rebate for another 20,000 points)
D: Up to 40,000 ThankYou points for a Citigold account (redeemable for at least $500 in airfare)
Total net: $440+625+2200+500 == $3765 in total possible earnings from this epic hack. In reality, your earnings will be likely a lot lower, limited by your credit limit on your Barclaycard and which account you choose to open with Citibank (Citigold, Citibank, or Basic Checking).
Alternatively, you can get at least 140,000 AA miles (110,000 from an initial deposit of $100,000 from the Barclaycard Aviator Red card with the 10,000 bonus, + 30,000 from the Citigold account bonus) (+30,000/50,000 more miles from opening the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum MasterCard, and 50,000 from opening the Barclaycard Aviator Red, assuming you got those at the right times in the past: 240,000 total AA miles).
140,000 miles are literally good for more than 3 international roundtrip flights. As an example: one roundtrip offpeak flight to Europe (40,000 miles) one roundtrip offpeak flight to South America (40,000 miles), one roundtrip offpeak flight to Japan (50,000 miles). Total: 130,000 miles spent, with 10,000 leftover, and you just traveled to three different continents for free. With having opened the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum and the Barclaycard Aviator Red at the right times in the past (aka why you will regret not having started hacking credit cards years ago), you would have 110,000 points leftover still, which means you could take a trip to Hawaii (35,000), a trip to the Carribean, Mexico, or Central America (35,000), and another trip anywhere in Europe or South America (40,000). 6 international roundtrip flights total (counting Hawaii, since it’s in like the middle of the Pacific Ocean), completely free just from doing this one hack. Not bad.
Here’s how I personally did this one:
1. I already had the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard opened previously for 50,000 AA miles (my third time getting a Citibank AAdvantage card, have opened 2 in the past also for 50,000 each – these are churnable, meaning you can get them, get the bonus, cancel the card, and get it again, never paying a cent to Citibank).
2. I already had the Barclaycard US Airways Dividend Miles/Aviator Red card opened previously too, for 50,000 AA miles ($89 annual fee not waived, but totally worth it for enough miles to take a roundtrip flight to Japan for free)
3. I’d also already done the Citibank checking hack once in the past, so I didn’t want to take my chances and go for the Citigold or Citibank checking offers, since that demanded a more significant cash deposit to be held in the account and also more debit card purchases, in the offchance that they decided not to award me the bonus here, so I just went for the Basic Checking package to get a bonus of 5000 AA miles.
4. My credit limit on my Barclaycard Aviator Red is $18,000, so sadly I was only able to fund an initial deposit of $17,500.
Total net from the hack itself: 17,500 * 1.5 mileage bonus from Barclay Aviator Red, for 26,250 AA miles, + 5000 from the Citibank bonus, for a grand total of 31,250 AA miles – more than enough for a international one-way flight basically anywhere in the world. With the 100,000 AA miles I got from opening the Citibank and Barclaycard credit cards earlier, my total miles haul from this entire hack comes out to 131,250 AA miles – which is pretty great, and enough again for 3 international roundtrip flights anywhere in the world.
In any case, this hack bumps the total AA miles on my account to over 290,000. The wife is complaining we travel too much, so I have no idea what I’m going to do with all these miles. They just keep piling up!