Burn Notice: Citibank and Jet Airways – friends turning foes!

I did not intend to put out such an attention-grabbing headline out here, but considering I feel cheated and walked over, I might as well. And that too with brands such as Jet Airways and Citibank which I profess all over the place. I’m glad this happened before I wrote my Sunday Review series on the Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card though.

The bad news…something I can claim proudly I was ahead of the curve on. The Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card partnership, which is was about 12 years old, is over. Yesterday, a lot of Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card members received the following email informing them of the move:

Dear Card Member,

We would like to thank you for your continued patronage and use of the Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card.

Jet Airways and Citibank came together 12 years back to offer the first co-branded travel card in India – Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card, which offered great airline privileges.

Citibank and Jet Airways have now mutually decided not to renew their arrangement of offering the co-branded credit card and hence the Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card program will be withdrawn by July 15, 2012.

As a JetPrivilege member and Jet Airways Citibank Card member, you can rest assured that all the JPMiles earned are intact and can be used as per the terms and conditions of the JetPrivilege Programme.

We, at Citibank and Jet Airways, have always strived to offer world class products and would continue to do so, keeping in mind your evolving requirements.

We look forward to continue serving you in the near future

I had already unsubscribed from this card in late 2011 after the benefits devaluations hit this card. While I don’t know who pulled the plug, it must have been clear that Citibank was churning out more JP Miles by spends than Jet Airways was being able to allow to burn. This would have led to customer dissatisfaction at the Citibank end as well whose customers paid to keep this card and would be frustrated that they could not redeem their miles due to limited availability of redemption seats on Jet Airways. Also, massive number of upgrade instruments were being minted which had no place to go since 9W was so stingy about allowing upgrades.

Jet Airways is clearly talking to another credit card partner, since they are very confident as per their website of launching another product very soon:

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Citibank clearly wants to retain all these customers and has launched a re-hashed version of the Citibank Premier Miles Credit Card, which is significantly different than the previous offering I’ve reviewed before. They are offering the current customers of their Jet Privilege Citibank Credit cards an option to switch to the new card for a nominal fee of INR 1000 only and offer 10,000 Premier Miles in return.

Jet Airways, on the other hand, wants to retain this customer base for their new upcoming card, so they’ve already announced a new bait for the current JP co-branded card holders:

In the interim, do continue using your Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card (JACC) until 15th July, 2012 and every spend between now and 15th July, 2012, will entitle you to earn the base plus triple JPMiles. This offer is applicable to all JACC card holders – Platinum, Titanium and Citibusiness.

Example: A Jet Airways Citibank Platinum credit card holder earns 4 base JPMiles for every Rs. 100 spent. During the offer period, the member will earn 4 base JPMiles + a bonus of 12 JPMiles, i.e. a total of 16 JPMiles for every Rs.100/- spent.

But who got burnt in this war?

You would like to believe that there was an amicable settlement and no one got hurt, right? Trouble is, the holders of the old Premier Miles credit card are. Like I mentioned a few days ago, I did a test transaction with transferring my Premier Miles to my Jet Privilege account and gave a glowing report here. On the 22nd of May when I heard of this move, I called up Citibank, and to my surprise, they had banished Jet Privilege from their list of partners you could transfer your miles to. It existed till 21st May (I suppose) and on 22nd May 2012 it was gone as per the agents I talked to.

Citibank overnight revamped the Premier Miles offering, even for holders of the old product, and have refused to facilitate any transfers to the JetPrivilege program or the KingClub program. Unlike an Amex who gives out a formal notice before changing their product offering, Citibank has found it well within their rights to change the program without informing their existing PM card customerbase that they have withdrawn JP and KingClub as mileage partners. Now, I have nothing but respect for Amex to inform me a month in advance (and repeatedly inform me) that they will have a MR partner leave their stable or they will tweak the cards T&C or impose a new fee or change MR earn rate.

While this may be a #firstworldproblem, I find it quite a harassment to be told by a bank that they changed the deal I signed up for overnight, and I have no right to be informed. Do you think it is fair? Your views…

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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  1. I got my first credit card because the offer came to me thru my JP membership in 2006. This March, I became one of the latest enrollees to the Jet/Citi Platinum card from the Titanium one. The motivation factor for me was: The annual fee was less than the price of a free ticket which it proposed to offer to me; increased luggage weight to 35Kg (free); and use of the less crowded Premier counters. I saw no immediate use of the PM card as my flights had become both infrequent and irregular. When I saw the email of the divorce, and its immediate effects, I tried to check with 9W and Citi agents. Neither were clear other than seeming desperate to retain customers.

    In greed of the 10K miles, I’ve switched to the PM card; but if the Amex 9W card has good options and benefits I am looking for, I might be go ahead. As of right now, unless I spend INR 100,000, I won’t have enough miles to get a free ticket on PM (and still pay the taxes). The incremental benefits far outweighs the advantages of the JP Platinum card.

    • @Anirban, at 10k miles you have enough miles for a one-way free ticket between the metro cities like BOM-DEL. and maybe a roundtrip between -BOM-BLR etc.

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