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Airline miles: Credit card offer comes with ticking clock

September 04, 2013|By David Lazarus

It looked a sweet deal: Citibank would give Ole 50,000 American Airlines miles if he took out a new credit card.

The only catch was that he'd have to spend at least $3,000 over three months.

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

Ole had no problem with that. He applied for the card and, when it arrived, called to activate it. That's when he learned that the three-month clock had started two weeks earlier, when he'd originally applied for the card.

Hardly seemed fair. But Ole wanted to know if it's illegal. In other words, does he have grounds to sue?

He can try, but I scoured Citi's card contract and didn't see anything that would stop them from this decidedly customer-unfriendly practice. I didn't see anything in American Airlines' offer either.

So I think Ole was smart to have immediately canceled the new card. I'd also advise him to find a new airline to fly. For more, check out today's Ask Laz video.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.

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