Posted by Chuck on January 9, 2017
Checking Accounts

Published on January 9th, 2017 | by Chuck


PSA: Keep your Citi Checking Login Separate + Keep the Debit Card Active

I recently learned a couple of Citi lessons which are important to keep in mind if you have or ever will have a Citi checking account.


1) Keep your checking account login separate from your credit cards; don’t add the checking to your credit card login.

2) Activate the debit card they send in the mail, keep it, and activate any future debit cards that come as well.

3) [Added by a reader] Make sure to register/confirm any checks you received on your checking account.

Citi often offer checking bonus which some of us do. I did an Citigold bonus way back, and downgraded to Citi Basic some time ago. The account remains fee-free by receiving a $5 ACH and sending a $5 bill pay each month. While I don’t really use the account, there is a reason I wanted to keep it so I automated the fee-waiving requirements.

When recently trying to login, the system had me locked out despite inputting the correct credentials. I couldn’t reset the password since I had never activated the reissued debit card they sent me way back, and it was now too late to activate it. From Citi support I learned that your login automatically gets deactivated when the debit card expires.

I rarely activate unnecessary cards, instead they get dumped into a stack somewhere. Since my old debit card had expired and it the new one hadn’t been activated, Citi took the liberty of deactivating my online login.

It’s worth noting that the account remained in good standing and all preset automated transactions continued, but I couldn’t use the login. Back to phone banking days…

I had them rush me a new debit card which came a few days later, and thought the problem was solved.

In the process of creating a login for the newly minted debit card, I started using my regular Citi credit card credentials. I then recalled a Milestomemories post warning us not to do that.

Citi has a weird system of automatically considering your checking account to be the primary account, even if it was added after the credit cards were already there. If you cancel the checking account, the login won’t work anymore and you’ll have to unlink the credit cards from that dead login and create a new login. It’s a pain to create a new login, and you’ll also lose any SMs you have on the old one.

So I tried creating a separate login. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow I ended up with the credit card login being deactivated and the new login not working either. It was a mess.

The Citi checking wasn’t too important to me, and I decided to just cancel that and a Citi savings account. But I still had to create a new login for the credit cards.

A reader suggests an alternate approach whereby you do link the checking to your credit card login, but make sure to unlink it before closing the checking account. Another reader mentions that you need to confirm/register any checks you received on the checking account too. I didn’t have any checks so this wasn’t an issue for me.

30 Responses to PSA: Keep your Citi Checking Login Separate + Keep the Debit Card Active

  1. Credit says:

    Yup. Went through that as well. Weird.

  2. Skor says:

    You can still have only one login, the important step is to remove checking account from the login before you cancel checking account. I did this and it all worked fine

    • Chuck says:

      Ahh, good idea. I’ll add that.

    • Credit says:

      I had two separate logins. One for credit cards and other for checking account.

      After I closed my checking account my credit card login was still affected. It is because behind the scenes they connect the accounts. They have to break that connection before you close the account. Really weird setup.

      • Amy says:

        Yeah, I seem to have fallen victim to this because my credit card login was closed suddenly and unexpectedly. I was told it was because of “infrequent activity”–though it had only been 2 months since I’d last logged in and made a payment–but I know it’s because the checking account I’d been trying to set up was closed about that time due to never receiving a signed signature card (which is hard to do when they never sent it to me in the first place). I was so mad; had that account for 14 years.

  3. Dave says:

    I have a dead checking. Account linked by accident but my prestige fee is now only $350 due to the relationship. Odd but I’ll take it and unlink when I Cancel the card

  4. Greg Z says:

    YES!! They did this to me and all the support people were f###ing worthless! Only when I closed the checking account was Citi able to reset my access. “I don’t always run a multi-national bank, but when I do its really shitty.”

  5. mjs says:

    yes, Citi online banking sucks.

    a couple more thoughts:

    1) you have to activate the first debit card as well, and will need that PIN, since at some point the system will force you to put these in about a month into setting up online access.

    2) if you’re trying to close your account, after a certain amount of time (like 120 days?), if you didn’t call to confirm/register the checks they send in the mail, they’ll restrict your account so you can’t close it! learned that the hard way when trying to close my wife’s account online though chat, but luckily was able to find them, activate them, and then they closed it no problems.

    • Chuck says:

      Wow, register checks! I don’t think I ever ordered checks so didn’t have the problem. I’ll add that to the post.

    • Gadget says:

      Ummm, unless this is something new they do, or maybe because of where you live, but I never had to “register” my checks from them. I have held two Citi checking accounts in the past, and the most recent was last summer for the $400 / 15K promo. I recall shredding the checks after closing, so I know I had checks issued.

      I did however go thru the pains of setting up new logins, and would have never thought to “deregister” a checking account. I will certainly be looking for that option next time.

  6. MJG says:

    Between my old Citigold account and various credit cards split between my wife and I, this has become a nightmare making me want to never get another Citi product of any sort ever again. I can now only login to my wife’s AA card if I reset the password every single time I login. We should have let Citibank die in 2008.

    • Lily says:

      OMG, i thought i was the only person having this problem, because the reps i spoke to had no clue, even the IT rep i talked to couldn’t figure out the problem other than telling me to try with different browsers, bla bla. At one time one of 3 browsers worked so he told me to just use that browser. Unfortunately it worked for only one time and now none of them works, so i have to resort to reset the pw every time i login. I gave up on calling them now.

  7. RB says:

    Is it possible to have a separate login for just credit card accounts and another separate login for the checking/savings accounts?

    I had this issue when I took advantage of the $400 offer. I already had 2 Citi credit cards for which I was using one login account. But when I opened this new checking account and was trying to add the checking to the credit card account login, it did not work. I could not figure out what was going on. In the end I ended up losing my username I had for the credit card account login and had to create a new one for the checking account and then add the 2 credit cards to this account.

    Too much hassle.

    • Chuck says:

      Yes, you can keep a separate login for the checking. That’s what we recommend in this post.

      • Angie says:

        Not 100% correct =( Might be true for a little while before Citi or whoever from Citi noticed. Citi eventually closed one of my logins. I had two separate logins. One for CC’s only and one for my checking only. See my post below.

  8. Ted says:

    One idea for before you get shut out:
    1) Remove/unlink all credit cards from current Citi login
    2) Rename current Citi login username to something else, ie. username_temp
    3) Link all credit cards to original Citi login username by creating “new” online account using original username.

    I had Citi checking closed a while back and it was even no longer visible in online account, only credit cards remained. But it was still considered a “checking” online account because ATM card still tied to it. Then one day I couldn’t log in either. I had heard a while back from rep that when debit card expires, so does online account, so I was aware of this problem. I had already transitioned my wife’s account doing the 3 steps above, but put mine off because the credit cards won’t unlink online, required chatting/calling.

    When they “deactivate”, sometimes they also take the liberty (while I was on the phone, in my case) to DELETE the username from the system. I got them to restore it (took a few days and a few escalations), then I was able to do the 3 steps above. I like to keep my original username because I use Mint and want to preserve the settings/history.

  9. Angie says:

    I posted this in the Milestomemories post, but posting it here too. Keeping two separate logins won’t always work since it didn’t work for me. Citi would not allow me to do that.

    “I had a somewhat different experience. I had a login for my existing citi cc’s. I created another login for the citi checking so I would have two separate logins. Without my permission, citi moved my cc’s from my original login to the newly created one and closed the first login. Now everything is linked under my second login that I created when I opened the citi checking. I originally wanted my citi checking to my linked to my original one, but I was told that couldn’t be done and I had to create a new login.”

  10. Evan says:

    This is great info as Citibank has the worst back end system of any bank I’ve ever done business with.

  11. Constantine says:

    This is amazing! You’d think it happens often enough for them to have realised all the extra turnover and have fixed it; instead, they let random bloggers document the horrific experience!

  12. Patrick says:

    This exact thing happened to me.

    They told me it was because I input the wrong password too many times. But I didn’t.

    I’d forgotten to activate a new debit card. I had no idea where I had put it since I don’t use it.

    Citi IT…

  13. Robert says:

    Also add that when opening citi for a promo, better go into branch and fill out paperwork, otherwise, ur account can be open, and finish the requirements for the promo, yet won’t get promo bc W9 papers…
    Which they will make you go into branch for.

    • Chuck says:

      I think most people get their bonuses without going into branch? I didn’t have to go. Or maybe it’s the cash bonuses that need the W9? I’m not really sure.

  14. JASON says:

    Not necessary to keep the login separated, they like sending me what I called “duplicated” credit or debit cards even though it’s not close to the expiration date. I just used the original cards and never activate the new ones. No problem with account, I use my account/cards daily.

  15. Abey says:

    I canceled my Citi gold a long time ago
    And it still shows in my log in
    And occasionaly when i call citi
    They tell me something like
    thanks for being a valued gold member
    (For me i only needed to create a new user name for the business card).

  16. Bob says:

    FYI I cancelled my Citigold account a long time ago but still kept the debit card. I got the same security prompt and entered my old Debit card number, PIN, and the account number of a CC attached to the account. It was accepted.

  17. Highsky says:

    I was trying to unlink both my checking and saving accounts from the current login today.

    The saving account was unlinked successfully and instantly, while for checking the account, it says that it takes 2 to 3 business days to process it.

    Is it normal?

  18. Dan says:

    I just saw this post. This happened to me a few months ago and was the most frustrating experience with a bank. I probably won’t do another checking bonus again because of all the time Citi wasted.

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