Do Citi PayAll transactions count towards sign-up bonus spending?

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The problem with Citibank's approach to T&Cs, summarised in a nutshell.

With Citibank launching some attractive sign-up bonuses of late, one question that gets asked repeatedly is: Do Citi PayAll transactions count towards the minimum spend?

Here’s the short answer: yes

But you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given the conflicting messages from customer service officers (CSOs) as well as the T&Cs. And therein lies a bigger issue with Citibank, which really needs to change.

Citi’s current sign-up bonuses

From now till 30 June 2022, Citibank is offering the following sign-up bonuses on the Citi Prestige and Citi PremierMiles Cards. 

CardMin. SpendBonus
Citi Prestige*
Apply
S$800 in first 2 months40,000 miles
citi premiermiles card reviewCiti PremierMiles^
Apply
S$800 in first 2 months25,000 miles
*Available to new and existing Citi customers
^Available to new Citi customers only; existing customers have an alternate offer 

Both offers require a minimum spend of S$800 in the first two months, and given the excellent Citi PayAll promotion currently running (2.5 mpd with a 2% fee, or 0.8 cents per mile), many have sought clarity as to whether PayAll counts towards the minimum spend.

The answer from Citi CSOs has been no, with the clause in yellow (specifically the wording on “instalment”) offered as grounds for refusal. 

📜 Citibank T&Cs
2. “Qualifying Spend” means a charge made to an Eligible Card which does not arise from any:

  1. annual fees, interest charges, late payment charges, GST, cash advances, instalment/ easy/ extended/ equal payment plans, preferred payment plans, balance transfers, cash advances, quasi-cash transactions, all fees charged by Citibank or third party, miscellaneous charges imposed by Citibank (unless otherwise stated in writing by Citibank);
  2. funds transfers using the card as source of funds;
  3. bill payments (including via Citibank Online or via any other channel or agent);
  4. payments to educational institutions;
  5. payments to government institutions and services (including but not limited to court cases, fines, bail and bonds, tax payment, postal services, parking lots and garages, intra-government purchases);
  6. payments to insurance companies (sales, underwriting, and premiums);
  7. payments to financial institutions (including banks and brokerages);
  8. payments to non-profit organizations;
  9. betting or gambling (including lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, off-track betting, and wagers at race tracks) through any channel;
  10. any top-ups or payment of funds to payment service providers, prepaid cards and any prepaid accounts;
  11. transit-related transactions;
  12. transactions performed at establishments/businesses/merchants that fall within an excluded Merchant Category or a merchant that has been excluded by the bank, as sent out in www.citibank.com.sg/rwdexcl (this list of excluded Merchant Categories or merchants may be updated from time to time at our discretion and Eligible Cardmembers shall refer to this list for any updates)
This same clause appears in both the Citi Prestige and Citi PremierMiles sign-up T&Cs

Any way you look at it, that’s a weird interpretation because Citi PayAll is hardly an instalment payment plan. If anything, it’s a bill payment service, and while certain payments like rent can be scheduled on a recurring basis, that’s far from an instalment (I’d actually understand it slightly more if they pointed to (iii) as the reason for exclusion)!

Convinced that this was yet another case of Citi CSOs making things up as they go along (they’ve been known to insist that the Citi Rewards Card only earns 4 mpd on “bags shoes and clothes”, information that’s more than three years out of date), I reached out to a spokesperson for an official response.

What surprised me is they came back saying exactly the same thing (highlighting inherent from source):

We have confirmed that PayAll transactions do not fall under “Qualifying Spend”, the T&Cs for this promo can be found on our website/here – https://www.citibank.com.sg/pdf/0422/credit-card/Citi-Prestige-Card-100000-Citi-ThankYouSM-Points-Welcome-Offer.pdf

T&Cs show “Qualifying Spend” excludes annual fees, interest charges, late payment charges, GST, cash advances, instalment/ easy/ extended/ equal payment plans, preferred payment plans, balance transfers, cash advances, quasi-cash transactions, all fees charged by Citibank or third party, miscellaneous charges imposed by Citibank (unless otherwise stated in writing by Citibank);

As this is a new campaign, mechanics may differ from previous campaigns.

Like I said, I can’t understand how how PayAll falls under the highlighted section, but four days later, I received this update from a different spokesperson:

Citibank has decided that it’s in the best interest for both our customers and us to expand the scope of eligible transactions to include PayAll for our Lead The Way campaign for all participating products, for consistency – so it applies to our Prestige, PremierMiles, Cashback+ and Cashback cards.  

This change will be retroactive – meaning it applies throughout the entire duration of the campaign (rather than just from today). 

That is a lot more logical, quite frankly. If PayAll were excluded, Citi would be in the unusual position where payments to its rival CardUp would count, but not its own in-house solution!

While I’m glad that common sense has prevailed, it’s the next part that leaves me rather annoyed.

T&Cs will not be updated

I asked whether the T&Cs would be updated to make the inclusion of PayAll explicit, and was told:

The current T&Cs are still relevant, so we won’t be changing them.

I simply cannot wrap my head around this. These are literally the same T&Cs that the first spokesperson quoted to me when justifying the exclusion of PayAll. Doesn’t that prove the ambiguity? How can they still be “relevant” if they can be read to support two completely opposite outcomes? 

Now, it’s obviously up to Citi what they want to include and exclude from minimum spend, but they need to be clear and unambiguous about it. The onus should not be on customers to guess how Citi feels about interpreting the T&Cs this time round, nor have to rely on the on-the-spot interpretations by CSOs. 

And while I hope you find this article useful, it’s not going to hold much weight in a dispute. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that a customer meets the S$800 minimum spend via PayAll but due to a glitch or some other oversight, doesn’t get his bonus miles. Is he really supposed to contact customer service and say “I read it on a blog”?

Conclusion

If you’re planning to use Citi PayAll transactions to hit the minimum spend on your sign-up bonus, go right ahead. However, I just hope that Citibank has coded everything correctly on its back end, because customers don’t have anything to point to in the event of a dispute. 

Shouldn’t T&Cs be aiming for less ambiguity, rather than more?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Wei Lin

Thank you for fighting our fight, Aaron!

Name

You want to write this kind of article at least name the “spokesperson”

Anonymous_please

i just read this article now. I had been involved with Citi though not related to the Cards product. The problem with the T &C process is that the product manager has to get the legal team’s approval for it, and take it through a review forum where anyone on the forum can raise objections and have the T & C process restarted from scratch. In such a case if the T&C is already legally water tight, no product manager would want to go through the pain of re-writing it and getting all approvals again. (If it ain’t broke, don’t… Read more »

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