Citi allows customers to fund new accounts, but fails to disclose withdrawal restrictions

We recently wrote about Citi’s unbelievable new checking account bonus that pays new checking account customers $200 after receiving at least two Enhanced Direct Deposits within 90 days of account opening. Citi categorizes services like Zelle as Enhanced Direct Deposits. When we began writing this post, this was important to note because Citi’s restrictions on withdrawals were believed to be isolated to Zelle. Unfortunately, it appears that Citi places even more restrictions on withdrawing funds from new accounts. 


New Citi checking accountholders are unable to use Citi’s bill pay service without first activating the debit card associated with the account. This is troublesome for a number of reasons. During the online application process, Citi encourages the new customer to fund their new account. The customer is provided a few funding methods, which include providing a debit card number or the account and routing number for an existing bank account. Citi even offers the option for the customer to instantly verify their bank account.


After funding our account, we had immediate access to our new Citi checking account, likely because of an existing relationship with Citi’s credit card division. It’s important to note that the checking account offer was targeted to existing Citi credit cardholders. The checking account was already displayed in our Citi portal.


We were even able to set up Zelle (as encouraged by our Citi account dashboard, which touted a checklist of things that we should do in order to get the checking account set up). After setting up Zelle, we were greeted with a Citi confirmation page that detailed our daily and monthly limits for sending and receiving funds via Zelle.


Eager to complete this easy checking account bonus, we Zelled ourselves funds. An account rep would later confirm that we did fulfill the bonus requirements and would receive the payout within 30 days.


However, Citi failed to inform customers that before they can send funds via Zelle, they must confirm their debit card number and PIN. According to Citi, this policy began in February of 2022, practically one year ago. However, it’s not disclosed on Citi’s site. We only became aware of the policy after a chat with a Citi rep, who informed us that the policy is included in a welcome kit. We checked our emailed welcome kit and found no mention of this policy. After notifying the chat rep of this, he conveniently mentioned that the policy would be outlined in a mailed welcome kit. Even if this information was accurate (and we don’t believe that it is), Citi’s actions (or inaction) would still be unacceptable since they encouraged customers to deposit funds and essentially deprived them of their funds for about a week. 


As an alternative, we tried to withdraw funds using Citi’s bill pay service, but Citi also requires customers to confirm their debit card number and PIN before using the service.


We were ultimately able to withdraw funds with a regular transfer to an external account. As existing Citi customers, we already had external bank accounts linked to Citi so that we could pay our Citi credit card bill. Because of this, we we were able to bypass the trial deposit process that new Citi checking account customers would have been faced with if they wanted to try to withdraw their funds to an external account.


So, before depositing funds into your new Citi account, wait until you’ve received your debit card and PIN or unless you’re okay with withdrawing the funds into an account that you’ve already verified with Citi.


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