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Citibank has changed their offer. You'll get $150 for opening a regular checking account with $2500 and paying two bills online.
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Lurker,

Still a pretty good deal when you do the math...

SJJ
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Yeah I'm debating switching or opening another account with them. But the issue that arises is which two bills will I pay online and do I keep the account open afterwards.
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Lurker1999,

You wrote, Citibank has changed their offer. You'll get $150 for opening a regular checking account with $2500 and paying two bills online.

The more cash the merrier. Could you post a link and/or an offer code? The links I know about are:

http://citi.bridgetrack.com/cbol/50offer/cg64.htm?BTData=402167275667A665D5C4553B8B7A4A0B494958E8FE6EFE7BC16711
http://citi.bridgetrack.com/cbol/100offer/CG45.htm?BTData=402127372667C6F58514555BDB0AEA0B79F928A8FE6EFE78E16311

These are worth $50 & $100 respectively. They both still seem to be good until 12/31/2002. They both require a $1,500 deposit and 2 bill payments. They're offer codes CG64 and CG45 respectively.

The $50 offer is the only offer showing on the http://www.citibank.com homepage.

- Joel
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The link hasn't reappeared on my online credit card pages. I'll keep looking or try to call them and find out what the code is.
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Lurker1999,

Do you have a Citibank checking account? I was wondering if Citibank had any annoying fees that would dimish the value of this $150 rebate. If it costs me $75 in fees, I'm not entirely sure I'd want to tie up $2,500 to earn $75. On the other hand, if it's pretty easy to avoid fees, I'm quit willing to tie up $2,500 for as long as 6 months just to earn $150.

BTW: Does the Citibank checking account pay interest?

Also, I'm unclear on these offers. Are they for opening any checking account beside the Basic Checking? Or are they just for the CitibankĀ® EZ Checking account? (I point to that one because it has a minimum balance requirement that matches the ad.)

- Joel
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Here is the link for the $150 offer:

http://citi.bridgetrack.com/cbol/bankcard_onsite/150.htm

The code is CG41.
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No I don't have an account with them yet. I have an account with Bank of America (no minimum balance with 1 direct deposite per month). Given their minimum balance requirements I'm not really interested in using Citibank as a primary or even alternate checking account but that $150 does sound pretty tempting..
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The Citibank EZ Checking account has a $1,500 average combined balance to avoid a $9.50 fee ($7.50 in NY, NJ,and CT). This means you could leave the largest portion of your money in an interest-earning money market account (currently 1.01%APY) and still qualify for the fee waiver.

If you meet the average balance requirement, you get up to 4 ATM surcharge rebates. You also get a $1.00 discount off the month's service fee for each of these:

** direct deposit
** automatic deductions
** bill payment (you must pay 2 bill payments for the month)

If you have all three of these, then the service charge (if you have one) would be $6.50. (The discounts are not available in NY, NJ, or CT.)
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The more I look at the account the more I think this is going to be a short-term, take the money and run deal. I don't think I'd object to tying up $2500 to earn $150 for a few months. That works out to better than what ING is paying currently. However my real checking account has to have a way to avoid a minimum balance. Bank of America is actually allowing me to do that currently.
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The one problem I have with Citibank is address verification. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they do address verification (as do almost all other banks). However, for some reason, there are a lot more address verification errors with Citibank than any other bank that I've dealt with.

For example, I got the Citi Cash Card. I was going to use it mainly as a gas card - I would transfer a certain amount of money to it each pay period, and that way my gas money would already be set aside. When I tried to transfer money from the VISA Check Card I have with my local bank, the transfer was declined due to address verification. The same thing happened when I tried to use my Wells Fargo Check Card. The only card that worked was a credit card, but I'm not going to use a credit card to fund the card.

However, I have used the debit card from my local bank MANY times over the internet, phone, etc., and I have NEVER had a problem with address verification anywhere else.

I am going to close my Citi Cash Card, and I probably will not open a Citibank checking account if that's the kind of problem I will have.
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GoCowboys,

You wrote, Here is the link for the $150 offer:

http://citi.bridgetrack.com/cbol/bankcard_onsite/150.htm

The code is CG41.


This link is old.

The offer specifically states that the account must be funded by 6/30/02. That's physically impossible if Einstein is to be believed.

- Joel
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Sorry about that ... I copied the wrong link.

Here is the correct link for the $150 Citibank offer:

http://citi.bridgetrack.com/cbol/150offer/CG44.htm

The correct code is CG44. This offer expires on 12/31/2002.
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GoCowboys,

I started an application. Man, they want to know everything there is to know about you. They want two forms of ID. One must be a valid driver's license. The other must be a credit card, a passport or something else that I forget. My passport is expired and I didn't have the other type of ID. I gave them my Citibank CC#.

I finally get to the "Funding Your Account" page and discover that they can only do "Direct Debit" in $100 to $1000 amounts. What's with that? I need to deposit at least $2,500 to get the bonus.

I think the application process was easier applying for an online brokerage account.

- Joel
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Joel:

Is the $2,500 you are going to use in one single account, or do you have other accounts from which you could draw additional funds?

In the application, there is a link to add other direct debits. Perhaps you could debit two accounts for $1,000 each, and another for $500. This would be a hassle, I agree, but it would allow you to get the bonus. You could also send in a check for the amount; however, it would take longer to get the account up and running this way.

I agree with you, they want to know everything about you. I think Citibank has always been like that; they have stricter "Know Your Customer" standards than other banks.

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GoCowboys,

You wrote, Is the $2,500 you are going to use in one single account, or do you have other accounts from which you could draw additional funds?

In the application, there is a link to add other direct debits. Perhaps you could debit two accounts for $1,000 each, and another for $500. This would be a hassle, I agree, but it would allow you to get the bonus. You could also send in a check for the amount; however, it would take longer to get the account up and running this way.


I have a checking account and a regular individual brokerage account with check writing priveledges. I assume I can draft the brokerage account. I also have an ING Direct account I suppose I could draw on. I've never tried external ACH transfer with ING Direct and I wouldn't like to experiment with it here.

I wonder if I can just draft the same account three (3) times? I think I'll try that first.

I don't understand why they have a problem with larger amounts. I've recently had MBNA send my checking account $23,000 by ACH in one lump sum. I've also initiated rather large external, out-bound transfers, so I know my CU will accept them. I guess Citibank considers large electronic transfer to be too big a risk. I just don't see how they're less risky than sending a paper check.

I suppose this all suggests that inter-bank ACH transfers after the initial funding are going to be out of the question? I imagine support for such a feature is pretty rare even in online banking.

If I can fund the account at a later date (the offer terms say it must be funded by 12/31/02) and still earn the bonus, I could just get the Citibank account and ABA numbers and use Yahoo FundsTransfer (aka: CashEdge) to move the rest of the money around. The only problem there is that it takes the better part of a week just to set up and validate an account with CashEdge.

In any case, I assume I'll be setting the account up with CashEdge. That should make it easier and quicker to liquidate the account when the time comes or I need the funds.

Since I have to pay 2 bills with their online bill payment service, I was going to send them $2,750. I'd use the extra $250 to pay bills. I'd collect the extra $1,000 by ACH once they've credited the bonus to my account.

I'm wondering... What kind of difficulties do you think Citibank is going to give me when I ask to close the account? Since I have to maintain a $1,500 balance with Citibank to avoid a fee, simply doing an ACH transfer out won't cut it. I suppose this means that I'm going to have to have Citibank send me a check? I hate that. I'm always fearful that the mail will get lost or stolen and getting the check re-issued could be a problem. Perhaps I should ACH-out everything except the amount required by a monthly service fee. Then I can call and close the account and if they want to write me a check for anything remaining, any loss due to the USPS won't be a big deal.

Hey! Are they going to make me pay for paper checks? Not that I need them; but writing a paper check to clean out the account would be an easy option. ING also requires me to send in a paper check to link another account, which is a bit of a nuisance.

You know, I've really gotten to the point where I hate dealing with paper checks and the USPS.

Anyway, just thinking aloud...

- Joel
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From what I understand, all you have to do is open the account with $2,500 ... so you would only need to put $2,500 in the account, I don't think you would need $2,750. Just deposit $2,500 and pay the 2 bills from that. If you go with EZ Checking, $1,500 is all you need to avoid a service fee, and this $1,500 could be in any combination of linked accounts.

I don't think they make you order paper checks ... it's up to you. You could order checks from them or from a third party supplier. Here is part of their Client Agreement:

Checkbook; Checks. When you open your checking account, you can order personalized checks through us. When we place an order for your checks, we act as sales and billing agent for the check supplier, and we are compensated for our services. You can choose from a wide variety of styles and colors. The cost varies depending on the style and quantity you select and includes postage and handling. We will automatically deduct the amount from your account balance after your order is processed. You are responsible for checking the accuracy of all information shown on your checks. If you find an error, please notify us immediately.

If you prefer, you may choose to use an independent supplier for your printed checks. However, we may refuse to accept or process checks provided through an independent supplier unless we have approved those checks in advance. In addition, we may ignore any legal copy appearing on those checks (such as "Void after 60 days").You are responsible for ensuring that magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) is properly encoded on those checks. We reserve the right to return unpaid any check that is not properly MICR-encoded and you agree that we will not be liable for any losses resulting from nonpayment of any such check. We also reserve the right to assess a fee to cover the costs associated with the manual processing of checks that have not been properly MICR- encoded.


If you want to close the account, they can send you a paper check if you wish. I didn't see any mention of a fee to send you a check in their fee schedule, but you might call them to make sure. You might also ask them about ACHng the money out and if you would have to pay the fee then. Some banks will not charge you a service charge the last statement cycle, even if you go below the balance.

You might try c2it to transfer money to and from Citibank. It may be more reliable since c2it is also a Citibank service. I know that it is quicker than Yahoo Funds Transfer. (www.c2it.com)
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Does Citi offer ACH capabilities? That way we can call up/email Citi, notifying them that the account is being closed, and ACH the funds... outtathere.

upatnite2
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I'm not sure if they offer "ACH on demand" capabilities (like First IB, USAA, etc.), but a lot of banks offer ACH transfers. I would call them and see if they do, but be sure to ask if there is a fee for it.
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I think I'm going to take Citibank up on the offer. The way I figure it I'll leave $2500 in the account for 4 months (60 days to pay two bills, i.e. my rent twice so I don't have to disturb my real billpays, 60 days for the credit) and then close the account and run. $1500 minimum balance is a bit hefty for the EZ checking when I can get no minimum at Bank of America.

So that's $150 for a $2500 investment for 4 months. I'll take that..
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Citibank will charge you a $25 fee to close the checking account if you close it within 90 days of opening it.
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Laneymae,

You wrote, Citibank will charge you a $25 fee to close the checking account if you close it within 90 days of opening it.

That's good to know. I guess I'll have to wait 91 days before I close the account. Still, that's a pretty fair deal, don't you think? Even if they charged me $25 to close the account no matter what, it sounds like it would be worth doing.

- Joel
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I have never dealt with Citibank as far as checking and savings
accounts go. However, I do know that Citibank is famous for watching
over your money (checks, cards, accounts, etc.) like a hawk. I would
have to say that Citibank is probably the best at detecting possible
fraud immediately.

I do know that there is a $25.00 closing fee for closing the account
before 90 days have passed. However, even then, you would be ahead:

Closing account early:            Paying the monthly fee:
Bonus ........ $150.00            Bonus ............... $150.00
Closing fee ..   25.00-           Fees for 3 months ...   28.50

"Earnings" ... $125.00            "Earnings" .......... $121.50

In either situation, you would come out ahead. EZ Checking requires an
average balance of $1,500 to avoid a $9.50 fee, so if you can
leave that amount in the account, then you would come out ahead by
$150.00.

You might find that you like Citibank. In my opinion, you have nothing
to lose.

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If you withdraw money from another account in order to meet citibank's minimum balance, you should consider the money you would have earned in that account as a cost. If you withdrew $1500 from a 3% account for 3 months, the interest cost is around $15. So you're only ahead by $135 or so.
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GoCowboys,

I had considered this. I finally spent the time to complete an application yesterday.

BTW: With Citibank, the checking account isn't interest-bearing; but you can open a linked savings account and keep all the cash there.

If I were to use the account for day-to-day transactions, overdraft might be a little bit of a cost though. They charge a $5 annual fee to maintain an open line of credit for overdraft. If I decided to link my savings account for overdraft as well or instead, there is a $5 fee per overdraft.

At the moment, my only interest in this account is to garner the $150 bonus; but I'm open to change my current financial institution. I currently use a local credit union. There list of services and fees look very similar to Citibank's; but the CU has local offices and ATMs while Citibank does not, so Citibank isn't very compelling.

- Joel
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jrr7,

You wrote, If you withdraw money from another account in order to meet citibank's minimum balance, you should consider the money you would have earned in that account as a cost. If you withdrew $1500 from a 3% account for 3 months, the interest cost is around $15. So you're only ahead by $135 or so.

I had considered this. Actually, I'll keep most all the cash in a linked savings account, which is earning 1.5% APY. That's the same rate my credit union is paying. What's more, I scavanged most of the cash for the Citibank account from the credit union savings account, so interest (not) earned shouldn't be much of an issue.

Had I been limited to the $50 offer, I probably wouldn't have opened the account -- which might have been best for Citibank, since I suspect I won't be keeping my money there much beyond the new year.

- Joel
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I tried to get my $100 from citibank but their address verification system sparked a slew of problems. here's the post I put on the Credit Card board:

While I've liked my citibank cashback credit card I personally was very disappointed with their online banking division.
(warning, kinda long)
I sent them $1,500 to open the account for the 100 bucks but I now have my $1,500 back in my main bank thanks to what I see as a big system integration issue on their end.
What happened is that I moved (more on that later) while they were doing their "address verification" on me. CRAs were calling me every other day at the old place and leaving messages. I called back and told them I was moving and would it be okay to do the verification in a couple of weeks once I had documentation at my new place so I wouldn't have to re-order checks. Fine I was told. But the CRAs kept calling and I kept telling them the same thing and they kept saying fine.
I'll spare you all the details but after having a problem logging on I called the support number and the CRA tells me I was going to the wrong website. fyi you should use www.citibankonline.com not go to www.citibank.com then logging in. I hang up and log in. I set up a couple of payees so I can meet the requirements to get my $100.
The next day I log in to see if the payees got set up properly and see that my account has a deduction for the full amount. I call customer service and find out my account has been closed! Apparently during the week where I spoke to different CRAs almost every day (official change of address, calling to make sure they received the fax proving my address and online problems) my account was already closed days prior due to not being able to verify my address and none of the CRAs or the website indicated this to me.
I'm baffled, as is the CRA I'm speaking to, so i get sent to a supervisor who basically says sorry but we couldn't verify your address and at this point the account is closed and a check was sent to you so all I can really do is help you open a new account. "Well where did you send the check?" the original address you had on the account. "So you sent the check to the address you couldn't confirm (my old address) but didn't send it to the new address that you had in your system with paperwork to back it up days before you cut the check?" Yes was the reply.
So I told her but I can't imagine banking with Citibank until they show me that their system has its kinks worked out.
The craziest thing?: I get to the new apt the next day and lo and behold the check is there despite what the CRA said about it going to my old address. Even stranger, I live in L.A. and the check is cut by Citibank Los Angeles for Citibank, Nevada but the envelope is from Citibank Mortage (which I have never delt with) and mailed from Missouri. And the slip inside the envelope says, "per your request we have closed the account..."
Please someone tell me this is a fluke!
Snerge
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Please replace CRAs with CSRs in my prior post. :)
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Ain't a fluke. The address verification system is designed to separate the world into two categories: (a) thieves, and (b) good customers who act as expected.

You didn't act as expected, thus you get the runaround since you obviously must be in category (a). Be thankful you got your money back.
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jrr7,

You replied to snerge, You didn't act as expected, thus you get the runaround since you obviously must be in category (a)[theives]. Be thankful you got your money back.

And if snerge didn't get his money back, who would have been the thief?

It seems to me that this is a problem with Citibank's application process. What are they doing accepting a check for an account, if they can't open the account? Accepting the check amounts to accepting the terms of the contract.

Sure, the terms of the account may allow Citibank to close the account any time they choose; but they also have a responsiblity to return the money to its rightful owner. Citibank had an obligation to take exceptional care in returning snerge's assets. Had Citibank lost the funds, they would have remained liable to snerge for them.

It occurs to me that Citibank should have either 1) confirmed snerge's address before accepting the application and cashing his check; or 2) contacted snerge about returning his funds before issuing a refund check. Ideally, they would do the former. Option #1 is best because both Citibank and snerge would only have to worry about the return of a voided instrument, rather than worry about the return of his funds to an unverifiable address.

As for snerge, I think this wasn't entirely Citibank's fault. If I had been snerge, I probably would have waited until I moved before opening a new account. These kind of problems are probably endemic to online banking because of the additional security required. It's not unreasonable to believe snerge could have anticipated this kind of problem and avoided it irrespective of Citibank's obligations to snerge as a customer.

I think both snerge and Citibank should both be thankful things didn't get any worse than they did. Citibank should implement additional controls in its application process to deal with this problem. And I think we should all take this as a lesson about the potential pitfalls inherent in dealing with an online financial institution.

- Joel
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And if snerge didn't get his money back, who would have been the thief?

Realistically?

The party with more lawyers and the better PR would have been able to treat the other party as a thief and get away with it.

What are they doing accepting a check for an account, if they can't open the account?

They'll take any money you give them. After that they'll decide whether it's worth their while for them to provide service or not. "Speed up the money going in."

Citibank had an obligation to take exceptional care in returning snerge's assets. Had Citibank lost the funds, they would have remained liable to snerge for them.

But they know Snerge isn't going to sue them, so they don't really have to take care of it. Plus, if they lose the money, that's more time it's in Citibank's account, more interest they can make by lending it out. They've got a vested interest in keeping you from your money for as long as possible.

It occurs to me that Citibank should have either 1) confirmed snerge's address before accepting the application and cashing his check;

Why would they wait to cash the check? Better for the money to be earning interest for CitiBank than for Competitor Bank.

2) contacted snerge about returning his funds before issuing a refund check.

Costs too much money, and might decrease the amount of time Citi can earn interest on the money.

Of course, none of this is specific to Citibank -- most banks would do the exact same thing Citi did.
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As for snerge, I think this wasn't entirely Citibank's fault. If I had been snerge, I probably would have waited until I moved before opening a new account.

Well since I didn't know I was moving when I applied for the account does that then make it entirely Citibank's fault? :)

Also please note, my complaint isn't mainly about the fact that Citibank returned the check to me, my complaint is that I could call Citibank and speak to multiple costumer service reps (typing it out this time) and do things to my account without anyone ever noticing that my account was closed! Also that a Supervisor would be able to confirm to me that the check was issued to and mailed to my old address only to have the check mailed to my new address.

These things surely are Citibank's problem.

Snerge
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If anyone else took advantage of this offer, how long did it take to get everything squared away? I applied last week (or maybe the week before). I received a debit card and I can access my account online but the check for my opening deposit hasn't been cashed yet. Thanks.

-Steph
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