The Latest Credit Card Gimmick: Two Different Cards, One Statement

I have a love/hate relationship with my credit card company. Last week I got a little taste of both after they sent me another mailbox surprise.

You see, although my current Citi Dividends Mastercard didn’t expire until 2014, they went ahead and sent me and the Honeybee new cards anyway.

If you think that’s strange, Citi also included a second, separate, Citi Dividend American Express Card for both of us — although we never applied for it.

Of course, I instantly became apoplectic upon looking at those American Express cards. After all, I didn’t apply for, or want, an American Express Card! In fact, I was quite happy with the perfectly good card that was already in my wallet.

Anyway, after picking my jaw off the floor, I composed myself long enough to take a picture of what I had pulled out of the envelope moments earlier:

It’s bad enough that I had recently received — and ignored — upwards of 50 credit card offers in my mail box over the past three months; that ultimately forced me to get serious in my quest to stop junk mail.  Now I had to deal with this.

Needless to say, I wanted answers. And I wanted them fast.

At the bottom of Citi’s letter telling me all about why I was going to love having a new credit card I never asked for, I sheepishly noticed that they added this post script:

“P.S. We know you weren’t expecting this … so you may have some questions.”

Ya think, Citi?

And Now, The Rest of the Story …

Fortunately, in an effort to keep their customer service phone banks from collapsing under an onslaught of angry clients, the marketing gurus at Citi wisely included on the backside of their letter a list of frequently asked questions carefully designed to help peel folks like me from the living room ceiling.

It turns out that the new American Express credit card we were given draws from the same credit line as our original Citi Dividend Mastercard, and the charges from both cards are then consolidated into a single monthly statement.

In essence, what I now have are two separate credit cards under one credit card account, which in theory is meant to provide two key benefits:

  • The ability to earn cash rewards more quickly
  • Greater control over the use of my credit

In the latter case, I can now use my Citi Dividend American Express card at locations that accept American Express but don’t accept Mastercard, and vice versa.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Especially considering my credit card terms and conditions didn’t change. In addition, there are no annual fees for either card, and my credit card account will continue to be reported as a single account to the credit bureaus.

So I really have nothing to complain about.

Then again, I’m still upset about being blindsided by Citi — not to mention a bit annoyed that they didn’t bother to double my credit limit too.

Like I said, it’s a love/hate relationship.

15 comments to The Latest Credit Card Gimmick: Two Different Cards, One Statement

  • tracee

    ooooh i would be cranky too!!! the least they could have done was double your credit limit.

  • That definitely sounds like it has its benefits. The only thing that would keep me from buying into it is that I don’t use mastercard at all. But, that is just a personal thing, especially since mastercard isn’t accepted at all places. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use one that is accepted everywhere? Or are the rewards that good that it is worth it? just curious…

    • Len Penzo

      You know, truthfully, there are only a few places I’ve been to that don’t accept Mastercard — and I’ve had one for about 15 years. However, we shop at Costco quite a bit, so that is a BIG exclusion for me. I think I’ve been to far more places that don’t accept American Express.

  • They may think that 2 cards will generate more business for them. Hard to believe though because your credit limit is the same. Maybe this is a new government program to increase spending from the private sector? :)

  • Tom

    Wow Len. This post replied to the email I had been composing in my head to you today but hadn’t sent yet (or typed…) since my wife and I received an identical page with four Citi credit cards attached.

    I was a little sad since I was hoping they woud give us 1.5% cash back with the AMEX, but I’ll live with 1.2%.

    I noticed that it said that the 1.2% will only last for a year and then it will go back down to the standard 1.0%. I figure that as long as they’re making more money from the AMEX merchant fees, they should be splitting the extra with responsible cardholders like us.

    In any case, if it does drop back down to 1.0%, I’ll probably cut up the AMEX and go back to using the MC full time since it’s accepted many more places. AFAIK, Costco is the only place we shop that accepts AMEX but not MC.

    • Len Penzo

      I’m giving this a go. The key for me is how much cash back I can generate above and beyond my current dividend limit. (They say there is no limit for dividends earned via their special Citi Bonus Cash Center). If I can’t surpass that cap, and if I find the Amex card doesn’t add any appreciable benefits with respect to more places where I can use my credit card, then I will probably do exactly what you are proposing after the first year is over.

  • Julie333w

    We got the same thing. I read through all the Q&A’s and then promptly shredded the two American Express cards.

  • Hey Len, I do the same thing, but with two cards. I use my AMEX Delta card for mileage, on anything that will accept that card.

    I use a Pentagon Credit 5% cash back Visa for all my gas purchases and for the few places that don’t take AMEX. (Plus Latin America loves Visa-easier to use and less charges than MC for some reason.)

    It’s a pain, but worth the effort.
    All cards paid off all each month. And we use cash for groceries…

    • Len Penzo

      Great minds think alike, Dr. Dean. I’m going to give this a try for a year and see how it works out. By the way, I didn’t know the DoD issued credit cards! ;-)

  • Undebt

    I received one of these as well. However, since I have a “real” Amex card that pays 4% for gas, 3% for restaurants, 2% for travel, and 1% for everything else, this additional Amex card is useless and would only serve to take up space in my wallet.

    I use the Amex card for everything, and the MC for any place that doesn’t take Amex (which is pretty rare any more). BTW, are there any place besides Costco that take Amex, but not MC? I’ve never run into one myself.

    • Len Penzo

      I’m going to have to look into getting a real Amex card, Undebt. I like their dividend rewards payout you mentioned! I can’t think of any other place besides Costco that takes Amex but not MC either.

  • Josh

    Since there are no additional fees doesn’t it make sense to use the American Express version for the year of additional benefits (over your $300/year cap) and THEN decide to shred it? Am I missing something here?

  • Spedie

    I do not know why people continue to play the credit card games…for mileage on airplanes and that, and statistically, most do not use them.

    I have been without the possibility of ID theft on not having credit cards, whatsoever, for four years this coming December 25th.

    This has greatly simplified my life. And it forces me to think long term about my potential expenses. For those of you who think that a credit card is your backup plan…I digress…now that I got no credit cards and stand on my own two feet…I now got a 30 month emergency fund.

    I can do without credit cards, their games, their everything…it is very freeing.I am not lulled into any marketing game with credit cards.

    I know, I am a weirdo: but I’m telling you, cut them for a bit…you can always go back if you see fit to do so. For me and mine, I will never go back.

    Spedie

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