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Middle Age Miles

Converting a Citi Card to the Double Cash Card – and Initial Strategy Considerations for the New Card

convert to citi double cash process strategy considerations

Introduction

The Citi Double Cash card has been the buzz of the credit card/points-and-miles world the past few days, with the rumors and in-progress implementation of the ability to convert Double Cash rewards into ThankYou Points (TYPs).

As we wait for the dust to settle and more data points to become available about how TYPs from the Double Cash card will work in practice, we thought it would be helpful to discuss conversions from other Citi cards to Double Cash. And in particular, we wanted to provide a data point from our recent conversion of an AT&T Access card to a Double Cash card.

General Background

Citi is the most generous of the credit card issuers when it comes to product changes. Many Citi cards can be converted to another type of card. We have found this to be incredibly helpful in the past. For example, we wrote an in-depth article about our thought process, strategy and implementation when we converted a Citi AA Platinum card to a ThankYou Rewards+ card earlier this year:

Product conversions can allow you to take advantage of new and different benefits on the various Citi cards, without having to apply for a new card. In the example in our product change to Rewards+, by product changing we were able to take advantage of the Rewards+ card’s benefit of a 10% rebate on TYP redemptions, up to a cap of 10,000 points per year. Getting this extra benefit, via the no-fee Rewards+ card, is worth about $125 per year in value to us (that is, an extra 10,000 TYPs at our baseline value of 1.25 cents per TYP).

The ability to product change to the Double Cash card can be particularly helpful and interesting because the Double Cash card has no sign-up bonus at the present time.

Thus, by product-changing another Citi card to a Double Cash, we can take advantage of the Double Cash card’s 2% earning rate (1% when you purchase and an additional 1% when you pay) and its newfound benefit to convert those rewards into TYPs at a 1:1 rate. This means we can effectively earn 2x TYPs on all US purchases. And, if early indications hold true, those TYPs would be fully transferable to Citi’s airline partners if you also hold a Prestige or Premier card, and also redeemable through the Citi travel portal at 1.25 cents per TYP if you hold a Premier card. That would give us unlimited 2.5% return on all US purchases – an extremely solid return rate on all US purchases that don’t otherwise fall into bonus categories of the cards you hold!

Background and Strategy of Our Conversion to Double Cash

We converted a Citi AT&T Access card (not Access More) to Double Cash.

We originally obtained this card as a Citi AA Platinum card in March 2018. Upon the card’s first-year anniversary, we converted it to a no-fee AT&T Access card in May 2019. We had hoped to convert the AA Platinum card into our second AT&T Access More (ATTAM) card at that time. However, a direct product change from AA Platinum to ATTAM was not available. We had read some data points, though, of being able to make a two-step conversion to ATTAM – first convert to AT&T Access, then convert to ATTAM.

Unfortunately, our attempt to convert Access-to-ATTAM was also unsuccessful, and we were sadly forced to the conclusion that conversions to ATTAM were no longer available at all:

All of this was part of a larger experiment we were working on. If it had been successful, we would have ended up with a second ThankYou account, with a Premier, and ATTAM, and a Rewards+ card, where we could have earned substantial TYPs and been able to capture a second 10,000-TYP Rewards+ redemption rebate each year. Sadly, our experiment was foiled:

In any event, we were left with an orphaned – and for all practical purposes, useless – AT&T Access card. This was the card we would convert to Double Cash.

In addition, we had wanted to have a Double Cash card in our portfolio, anyway, even before we knew that conversions of Double Cash rewards to TYPs might be a possibility. In the past, we’d found times when having a Double Cash card would have been useful. For example, last year in Fall 2018, Plastiq ran a promotion with Mastercard where the Double Cash card would have been the best-in-class “killer” card to have. The promotion was that for every dollar of payments made through Plastiq with a 2.5% fee using a Mastercard, you would receive 1 Plastiq fee-free dollar (FFD). We had to use AA co-branded cards and earn 1 AA mile per dollar (worth about 1.25 cents, plus progress toward big-spend bonuses) when 2% cash back could have been even better. It seems possible that an opportunity like this could arise again. It could be even more lucrative now that Double Cash rewards can be converted to TYPs.

Conversion to Double Cash – Mechanics and Details

Most Citi-issued *personal* credit cards can be converted to Double Cash.

[UPDATE 9/24/19, 8:30 am Central time: Reader Bob Johnson submitted a good question about potentially converting a Citi business card to Double Cash. To the best of our knowledge and understanding, Citi does not allow conversions of business cards to personal cards. (In fact, Citi may not allow business cards to be converted at all.) We’ve updated the previous sentence to add the word “personal” to be more clear.]

We have either personally experienced or read multiple reliable data points that the following cards can be converted:

  • Prestige
  • Premier
  • AA Platinum
  • AT&T Access

We strongly suspect that the rest AA co-branded Citi cards as well as the Preferred card and AT&T Access More (ATTAM) card can also be converted directly to Double Cash.

PRO TIP: Before you convert any TYP-earning card to Double Cash, be sure that the ThankYou account for the card you’re converting is linked/connected to the ThankYou account for at least one other TYP-earning card that you hold. If you haven’t done this, you may have problems accessing the TYPs from the card you converted. In our situation, we had a mere 40 TYPs in the ThankYou account connected with our AT&T Access card. These TYPs are now orphaned, with no effective way to redeem them. Fortunately, it’s only 40 points – and we’re not going to spend any time or effort trying to retrieve them. But if we had a larger balance of TYPs in this account, we’d be quite concerned.

To initiate the product change process, simply call Citi customer service at the number on the back of the card you’re planning to convert.

Our product change from AT&T Access to Double Cash was quick and easy. The call took less than 5 minutes. On that call, though, we learned a few important things:

  • Our account number (credit card number) will change
  • We will have 60 days to redeem the TYPs associated with our AT&T Access card; after that, the TYPs will expire
    • This will happen even if the ThankYou account for the card you converted was linked/connected with other TYP-earning cards. Fortunately, when you redeem TYPs, Citi automatically uses the earliest-expiring TYPs for the redemption. Still, though, you need to be sure to actually use the TYPs within 60 days or you’ll lose them!
  • I will receive my new Double Cash card within 10-14 business days
  • The conversion will be completed on 11/5/2019 (about 50 days after the conversion call)
    • Until then, I can convert back to the AT&T Access card

I didn’t understand from the agent exactly what would happen if we tried to use the AT&T Access card after this call but before receiving and activating the new Double Cash card. For safety’s sake, we’re not using the Access card at all for now (and don’t really have any need to do so).

Almost immediately upon completion, we checked our Citi online account. It already showed the new Double Cash account, and it showed that the old AT&T Access card was in the process of being converted.

Initial Strategies for Our New Double Cash Card

For starters, we’ll note that the Double Cash card still falls somewhat down the pecking order in terms of priority for unbonused spend. That order looks like this:

  • (1) Card with sign-up bonus or upgrade bonus
  • (2) Card where we’re working to hit a valuable big-spend bonus threshold (for example, spending enough on a Barclays-issued AA co-branded card to earn EQMs/EQDs that will push us above the threshold to qualify for Executive Platinum status)
  • (3) Amex Blue Business Plus
    • Earning 2x MR points per dollar on all unbonused US spend, up to a cap of $50k per year; we give MR points a baseline value of 1.5 cents per point, which makes the return on this card about 3%
  • (4) Citi Double Cash card
    • Earning 2x TYPs per dollar on all unbonused US spend (unlimited); we give TYPs a baseline value of 1.25 cents per point, which makes the return on this card about 2.5%

In addition, we’re going to need to be mindful of some new terms & conditions on the Citi Double Cash card that go into effect on 11/1/2019. The new terms will exclude gift card loads from earning cashback, as well as person-to-person payments and some other “cash equivalent”-type transactions (“The following transactions are not purchases and will not earn cash rewards: … loads or reloads of balances on gift cards or prepaid cards or cash equivalents, person-to-person payments …”). Doctor of Credit has more information here. We don’t think these new terms will impact modest-volume gift card purchases, but there’s definitely a warning sign out there.

Because of Amex’s recent heightened sensitivity to gift card purchases, there may be some situations (like purchasing Visa gift cards from Simon) where using a Double Cash Mastercard is a better alternative.

In addition, there may be certain promotions requiring use of a Mastercard, like the Plastiq promotion from Fall 2018 that we mentioned earlier, where a Double Cash card may be extremely helpful.

Finally, for anyone who doesn’t have a sign-up/upgrade bonus or valuable big-spend threshold to hit, and either doesn’t have an Amex Blue Business Plus or has exceeded the $50k cap on 2x MR earning, the Double Cash card could very well a valuable daily driver for all unbonused US spend.


We’re looking forward to having a Citi Double Cash card in our portfolio. We’ll report back more as we discover useful strategies to make the most of its benefits!

Do you have thoughts or data points on Double Cash card conversions, or ideas for strategies to maximize TYP earning with the card in light of its new benefits? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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4 thoughts on “Converting a Citi Card to the Double Cash Card – and Initial Strategy Considerations for the New Card

  1. Bob Johnson

    Craig: I’m looking at p/c of my Citi AA Biz Platinum to Citi Doublecash. Two questions – 1) Any DPs on such a p/c 2) My initial year is complete in December; will an earlier conversion be allowed? Thanks.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Bob – Thanks for the good question. I’m pretty sure that Citi still does not allow product changes from a business card to a personal card. (In fact, Citi may not allow product changes of business cards at all.)

      I wasn’t thinking about business cards as I wrote the article. This is a good clarification point that I’ll add. Thanks again for raising the question. ~Craig

  2. Christian

    I just got done switching one of my two Premiere cards to a Double Cash. The process took about a half hour with the chat function but worked fine. My only question is how will this affect the 24 month life cycle for Citi cards, since I’ll be getting a new number. Any thoughts?

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Christian – Thanks for this comment. It’s raises a good point and a great question. The conventional wisdom has been that a Citi product change that results in a new card number “counts” as a “closure” of a card for purposes of calculating eligibility for a new card bonus. Honestly, we don’t have first-hand experience one way or the other on this.

      This is a very important strategic question, though. I was thinking that Citi had been moving away from considering account closures as a factor in determining eligibility for sign-up bonuses. But, for example, on the Premier card right now, the eligibility clause includes that you can’t get the sign-up bonus if you’ve closed a Prestige/Premier/Preferred/Rewards+ card in the past 24 months. See: https://citicards.citi.com/usc/LPACA/Citi/Rewards/Premier/ps/index.html

      I may spend some additional time looking into this issue. Thanks again for reminding me of it! ~Craig

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