Why do I hate CitiBank?

by Vinaya HS on September 13, 2005

in General Stuff

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As part of the joining formalities at my company, I was required to open a salary account with CitiBank. I was informed that I would not be able to continue my current salary account with HSBC (From my ex-job at the same company! Go figure). Little did I know about the wonders (nightmares???) that would follow.

CitiBank has this crazy policy of opening not one but two salary accounts. The normal salary account receives all your taxable income. The second salary account (also called ERA or Employee Reimbursement Account) receives all your non-taxable income. The ERA account however does NOT earn any interest and it’s your duty to transfer the amount from the ERA account to the normal account. Each account comes with its own debit card and plethora of PINs and passwords. The debit card for the ERA account throws in a googly; it has the words ERA appended to your name in order to help your brain recognize instantly that it’s an ERA account. All this in the name of customer service. Thanks CitiBank for this concern, but I think I am old enough and mature enough to differentiate between taxable and non-taxable income myself.

I had specifically mentioned in the account opening form that I did not want a debit card with my photo on it. Surprise. Surprise. I received the debit card with my photo on it. Oh well, at least I look handsome in it. This is also a hint to the female readers of this blog. Back to the topic on hand. CitiBank also merrily debited my account INR 150 + Service Tax for the damn photo card. My account balance now stood at INR -163.50 resulting in the account being locked out. I had to use the ERA card number to log in to their phone banking service (that’s one hidden advantage of the ERA card). A sweet female voice told me “Your account has been disabled because of the negative balance. Once you put money in, it will get re-activated within 24 hours.” The first thought in my mind as I slammed the phone down was “F*CK!”

In due course my account was re-activated once my salary was credited. I ran to the CitiBank ATM on Cunningham Road to smell some hard currency. The moment I stepped in the guard on duty informed me that the ATM had stopped giving out cash. I asked him something like “What in God’s name are you saying man? This is a bloody ATM. It’s only purpose is to give cash.” No response. Over the next few days I found something common at all CitiBank ATMs: serpentine queues, out-of-order machines, only notes of denomination 100, and frustrated people.

On one other day I wanted to urgently deposit some cash. I ran to the ATM on Cunningham Road (it’s close to my office). The guard told me something like “Sorry laddie. You need to go to the Fraser Town branch to deposit the money because the machine here is out-of-order.”

Thank you so much CitiBank. Now I know why “The City Never Sleeps.” It’s because they are too busy having nightmares.

HSBC, I miss you.

Thanks for reading this article. I'd love to hear your opinion. Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts. I frequently write new articles that also cover several other aspects of personal finance including credit cards, financial goals, health insurance, income tax, life insurance, mutual funds, retirement planning, and much more. You can Subscribe through Email and receive new articles directly in your Inbox or you can Subscribe through the RSS Feed and receive new articles in your feed reader.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Raj September 13, 2005 at 10:20 AM

I know its wrong to feel good about others misery but i can’t help laughing out loud. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about citibank. Apparently, even its credit card is a pain too. Unless i am forced by my employer too, i will stay away from citibank.

“Oh well, at least I look handsome in it.”
Hmm, i smell vanity, one of my most favorite traits.

Vinaya HS September 14, 2005 at 9:08 AM

Thank God, I did not signup for the credit card. Heaven knows what else I would have had to endure. Maybe a false charge even before i received the card.

Anon September 22, 2005 at 12:55 PM

Here is my experience with Citibank. For some reason my debit card stopped working. I call up their number and they say that the card might have been demagnetized, though I hadn’t used their card in any unusual way. It is quite possible it was normal wear and tear since that was my fourth year with Citibank and you need the card for any kind of transaction. So I ask them to replace the card and they said they would have to charge me. I was spellbound! I have never had to deal with a bank where the bank charges me money to replace a debit card, especially when the debit card is the only way to interact with the bank.

Vinaya HS September 22, 2005 at 2:50 PM

There is a tiny little clause in the Indian laws for banking institutions which says that “A bank is free to charge for any service as long as it provides atleast one facility for free withdrawal”. In most cases, banks keep withdrawal slips as the free facility at their premises. Then they charge for everything else. It’s not the right way but then again no one’s complaining.

Kaushal September 22, 2005 at 5:33 PM

I’ve never dealt with Citibank but know pathetic they are. So I’ve vouched never to deal with them at all! :)

Oh and I call it ShittyBank!

arzan September 22, 2005 at 11:19 PM

In many ways, citibank is the same here in NYC. Ridiculous fees, very average service.

A lot of smaller new banks have broken the market here and forced citi to come on their terms

Sarbajit September 23, 2005 at 9:59 AM

1) Avoid ATM machines

2) INSIST on full Banking Service.

3) I used to bug my Foreign Bank by paying in 10 paise coins .. imagine a teller who costs the Bank 300 bucks per hour –> having to justify his salary.


5) NEVER EVER OPT FOR DEBIT CARDS.. You have no legal recourse in case of fraud. .. and F*** those misleading VISA ads.

Lucio September 26, 2005 at 10:13 AM

I hope I never have to open an account with CitiBank

OFoster December 21, 2005 at 2:46 AM

Citibank has just stolen $500 from me!! I charged something on 12/11/05 for $500. I checked my account balance the next day and the debit for $500 showed up and my account balance went down accordingly. When I checked my account balance today, NINE DAYS LATER, it was overdrawn by $293!!! Why, because Citibank says they only “authorized” the transaction by taking the money out, but then put it back in…??? Does this even make sense??? I can’t understand why it would take 9 days for a charge to go through and my account balance only went down but NEVER went up $500 as they claim it did. I have been robbed and how can I ever prove it because their transaction ledger has erased the transaction altogether. Stay away from Citibank! If there is anyone who has experienced the same thing please write me at dropshopusa@aol.com

Dinesh Pandey June 20, 2006 at 10:24 PM

A fellow victim here. The customer service is aweful and there are only two answers the agents give you – its either ‘we need four working days’ (nothing happens at the end of four days) or ‘please write a mail to our head office in Chennai’.

It took one month for me to get my address updated with them. And you wont believe how I got it updated in the end. I went to the M G Road office, gave them the address change request, and told them I was going to sit there till it got done. The girl at the counter told me it would take a day, but I assured her I had plenty of time at hand and was going nowhere. It got changed in 10 minutes flat. After that, I have been waiting for 15 days to get my ATM card and PINs. Called the citiphone tonight and the agent has asked for ‘another four working days’.

I am slowly trying to disengage with them but my home loan account is going to make things difficult. However, I am going to do it soon.

Prasaad Gadkari August 17, 2006 at 11:45 PM


I use local banks. Works good. By the way Vinaya, there are two links at the bottom of this page. Please correct it from:




In short, remove feed. Hi hi! Stop feeding (it tickles) Hi hi!


Gerry August 25, 2006 at 7:22 AM

This is why I don’t have a traditional bank account. Most of my money is at Fidelity and ING and I never have problems, nor do I have any weird charges.

Roco September 16, 2006 at 1:32 AM

Citibank is horrible in the US too. I’m in New York City and 1. every branch is always jam-packed 2. every employee is incredibly rude 2. no one seems to know anything about how to get things done. Recently I became overdraft by accident, got locked out of my account, couldn’t deposit. So I went down to the branch to deposit, turns out that because I opened my account in another state I can’t deposit anything at a live teller, only at the ATM. That would be great except they’ve locked me out of using my ATM. I try to get someone in my home state to transfer funds to me to get out of the lock out, no transfer of funds either, and I can’t authorize more payers. So essentially I’m in a limbo zone where the only recourse I have to get out of a minor lock-out for being overdraft by $100 is to fly back to another state to use a live teller. Sorry. Eventually they told me the account could not be reopened, all because of their fault. Needless to say I now have a new bank and will NEVER willfully open an account at Citibank ever again. Be forewarned.

Srinath December 26, 2006 at 9:48 AM

Yeah the article is true, I have joined for a new company in Bangalore, they also wanted us to open a salary account in CITI Bank, we were 5 members who have to open a new salary account, among 5 3 opted for Photo card and 2 opted normal card, there was an negative balance in all my colleques account who have opted for Photo card
(eg: -527.016, and -623.88)

Now BANK will not take care our transactions, we have to take care of our transactions every month spending hours to-gethere near the bank, “BE CAREFULL ABOUT BANK TRANSCATIONS”

Rugger February 23, 2007 at 1:20 AM

Ever try to CALL citibank? There are a thousand numbers and a thousand agents from a thousand different contries… none of which have the answer you need… yikes.

raj May 25, 2007 at 5:47 AM

hi all,
i m raj frm b’lore , i just applied for a personal loan with citi bank and i got approved, so plz give me sum guidelines about the bank and how they treat the customers IF i fail to pay any one of the EMI……
just a precaution

thanks for reading this msg


Anumodh June 20, 2007 at 11:35 AM

But as far as I am concerned service of CITIBANK is far far better than HDFC .. HDFC bank succkss !!!! neither will any of their ATM works. One day i went to their branch for enabling my Netbanking, that can done by filling a request. When i went there, the helpdesk person said that they don’t have any form… ! Simple things they mess up … !!

Anonymous November 15, 2007 at 11:36 AM
Mani Sinha May 30, 2008 at 8:32 PM

I have similar experience with Citibank. I think they want to recover their sub primes losses they made in USA from their Indian Credit Card Customers……….Stay Away from Citibank …….cheers

paul March 30, 2009 at 2:56 AM

I hate Citibank too ,evil incarnate, I have started boycotting businesses that due business with Citibank with credit cards here is the start , of the list Radio shack, BJs wholesale club, Sears, AT&T, check your credit cards add to the list and tell these companies to stop doing business with Citibank

Abhijeet D November 12, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Very true

I am another of those who is bugged by citibank service. I closed my citibak credit card for settlement of money. But i still get a statement every month that i have to pay money

This is CITIbank guys

Praveen Kumar May 14, 2010 at 4:02 PM

May be you are right to say citi bank is pathetic or bla bla…

But my experience is like its service is too good,it net bankuing is better than others.Its customer service are all time best.About credit card ,it is not bad as comapre to others.

Thanks to citi bank for your service.


Nishant January 26, 2011 at 3:41 PM

“Wow!” … is the service Citibank has provided me in the last few years. I have accounts with SBI and HDFC too, but I prefer Citibank for most of the time, as it provides a no-frills banking experience. (I transfer all my salary from HDFC to Citi).

Vinaya, despite of my experiences at Citibank, I agree to your point. But yours is a 5 year old story. Things have changed now.

I remember, that once a friend of mine had hit the ceiling limit in his credit card. On just a phone call, he was given two extensions of 7 days each to clear off his bills. And Citibank never charged a penny for this delay. I challenge any other bank to do the same.

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Ash November 5, 2012 at 10:04 PM
GV November 22, 2012 at 7:02 PM

I am happy using Citi bank. Like some one mentioned a lot has changed… Few months back i wanted to take a loan of 50K. I called up several banks. almost every bank requested for 3 photos, 6 month salary slip, address proof, id proof. Called up CITI. they santioned the loan in a phone call. i did not even sign a document.

Guys i am having a CITI salary account & CITI credit card since 5 years. Havent faced a single issue till date. one happy customer.

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