Thursday, April 7, 2011

Take the CitiCard/Compost Challenge...


Ready to do something really exciting for your credit card company?
Keep reading... 

Every week since I moved out of my parents' house in the fall of 2000, I've gotten at least two of those 'pre-approved' credit card offers from CitiCard in the mail.  That works out to over 1,150 CitiCard applications.

You know the ones I'm talking about, don't you?  They each come with a 'personalized' letter from the CEO of the bank, an application that's mostly filled out, a three-fold document that has all of the terms and conditions listed, and a postage-paid return envelope.  If you want to start wrecking your credit, simply take twenty-seven seconds to fill out the application, sign it, and return it in the postage-paid return envelope.

Or, you could visit the bank's website, type in the handy online 'approval code' from the paper application, and complete the application online.

I've actually gotten one or two weekly offers from numerous banks and credit card companies during the past ten years, in addition to Citi.  However, the Citi applications stand out to me because I already have a CitiCard Mastercard.  I've had it for almost eight years, but I don't use it very much anymore.  I originally got it for the rewards program.  When I first started using it, I'd charge everything I could on the card, and then pay off the full balance at the end of the month.

I get at least four or five of these damn things every week.  Four or five of them...  every...  week.

In almost eight years, I've never paid even a penny in interest to Citi, and I've probably collected almost $500 worth of 'rewards' from them.  They're certainly not making any money off me.  Instead, they're making me money.  I'm sure they hate me, and that's OK.

I stopped using my CitiCard just over three years ago, when I got a letter in the mail saying that the rewards were going to be reduced all across the board.  Once I started investigating other cards, I realized that I could do much better.  Within a month, I had a new 'Cash Back' Discover Card in my wallet.  All of the monthly purchases started going on my Discover Card.  In almost three years, I've probably robbed them of several hundred dollars in rewards.

But I still kept my CitiCard account open.  As long as you don't have a bunch of credit cards, it never hurts to have one or two extra lines of available credit.  And the CitiCard pre-approval applications are still coming...  twice a week.

At first, this was very puzzling to me.  Why would CitiCard be sending me an application for a new credit card every week, when I already have an active Citi Mastercard?  They obviously know that I still have an account.  Just a few weeks ago when I opened our mail, I found my new Citi MasterCard waiting with the updated expiration date...  along with two 'pre-approved' offers for a new Citi MasterCard.

     Hmmmm...  I thought to myself.  I must be missing something.  There must be something really deep and meaningful going on here....  There's a significant message here, and I'm not picking up on it.

When life gives you used coffee
filters, send them to CitiCard.
Then, I had an epiphany.  Each one of these 'pre-approved' credit offers was accompanied by a postage-paid return envelope.  CitiCard knew that I had an active CitiCard MasterCard, but they still kept sending me envelopes.  Obviously, they wanted me to send them something twice a week.

I frantically looked around the room I was in, which happened to be the kitchen.  After a few moments, my gaze settled on the Clever Coffee Dripper sitting on the counter.  I had used it to brew a cup of coffee that morning.  I wandered over to the counter and peered inside at the used coffee filter and spent coffee grounds.

     "That's IT!" I blurted out.  "Citicard wants me to send them used filters and spent coffee grounds twice a week!  They must want me to help them start a compost pile!"

As any serious gardener knows, spent coffee grounds make a great addition to the backyard compost pile because they contain lots of nitrogen...  an element that's vital to the composting cycle.  By sending me two postage-paid envelopes every week, CitiCard was providing me the means to mail them my used coffee filters, along with a modest amount of spent coffee grounds.

I breathed a sigh of relief, as I felt the weight of the CitiCard mystery lift off my shoulders.

Fold it up for a better fit. 
They were obviously constructing some sort of monstrous compost pile at main headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware (or wherever the hell they set up their shady operations), and they were looking for their loyal cardholders for help with this ambitious project.  While I'd been tossing all of our used coffee filters and grounds into our own compost pile for the past several years, I could certainly part with one or two a week to assist Citi in their exciting and creative endeavor to 'Go Green'.

I enthusiastically reached for the postage-paid envelope from the most recent application.  Gently, I lifted the used coffee filter out of the Clever Coffee Dripper and placed it inside the envelope.  I tried to seal the envelope, but the flap wouldn't close because there was too much spent coffee inside.

     "Ah-HA!" I exclaimed.  "I'll bet that I can close the envelope if I scoop out some of the coffee!"

I shoveled out two spoonfuls of spent coffee grounds and dumped them into our compost can by the sink.  Then, I folded the coffee filter in half and stuffed it back in the envelope.  Crossing my fingers, I tried closing the envelope again.

     "BINGO!" I roared, as the envelope closed completely.  "Like a glove!"

I sealed the envelope and dropped it in my brief case.  The next day, I walked across the street during my lunch hour and pushed the envelope through the 'Out-of-Town' slot inside the post office.

Go ahead.  Stuff the coffee filter and
grounds in your postage-paid envelope.
Then seal it and send it!
As I headed back to the office, I was beaming with pride.  Within a matter of days, CitiCard would have my spent coffee grounds, and they'd be able to add it to their growing pile of compost.  It felt great to be personally invited to participate in such a worthy endeavor.  For the rest of the day, I was flying high...  like a kite on a windy day...  or a bald eagle on a still day.

Guess what?  There's more good news.  You can all join me in participating in the CitiCard/Compost Challenge.

Check your mail every day for 'You're Pre-approved' credit card offers.  If you decide that a particular offer looks good and you actually want to apply for the card, simply complete the application and return it in the postage-paid envelope.

Or, if you're not interested in a particular offer, you can shred the application, along with the tri-folded document with the terms, conditions, and fine print.  However, don't shred the postage-paid envelope.  Instead, find a recently used coffee filter, fold it up, and seal it in the envelope, along with some spent coffee grounds.

Then, drop it in the mail.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  That's another benefit of the CitiCard/Compost Challenge.  By sending away coffee filters several times a week, you're helping to keep the United States Postal Service in business.

And that's all there is to it.  Wasn't that easy?  You should be very proud of yourself, knowing that you're helping large banks in Wilmington Delaware start a gigantic compost pile.

OMG it hurts so good MOL! 


  1. Question! If you don't drink coffee, what should you mail back to Citi? Thanks...

  2. Mara, that's a great question.

    Do you drink tea? If so, save your tea bags and let them dry on the counter.

    If you don't drink tea, then just save some of your scraps from cutting up veggies or fruits, wrap them in a paper towel once they've dried out a bit, and then seal them in the envelope.

    Or, you could just rip up the part of the application that doesn't have your personal information (the tri-fold document with the terms and conditions or the top half of the welcome letter), and mail it back to Citi.

  3. Very creative. My approach was to stuff the whole works (including promotional materials and their mailing envelope) into their return envelope and write on the application in big letters with a red Sharpie "TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST AND STOP SENDING ME JUNK MAIL" and send it back to them. After a few years of this Citibank decided that perhaps I wasn't interested and stopped sending me love letters.

  4. That's probably the next best thing to do.

    That was obviously before the days of credit card compmpanies wanting to start compost piles in Wilmington, DE...

  5. Man that was awesome. I simply loved it. Same case with me as well. I run short of credit sometimes that is where this pre approved credit card offers comes to light. But when i am going smooth i use this kind of mails to write some unwanted things and burn them off :D

  6. Yeah, I suppose I should just do the right thing and get on the 'Do Not Mail' list, but what fun would that be?