Citibank to cut off online access for customers who don't go paperless

The bank will shut off the customer's access to both their online website and mobile app

A Citibank branch in San Francisco
A Citibank branch in San Francisco, California
(Image credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Citibank has issued its customers an ultimatum: ditch your paper statements or lose access to your digital account.

The country's third-largest bank released new guidance last week saying that going paperless was "now required to access your account on and the Citi Mobile App," according to a customer notification obtained by The Wall Street Journal. A representative for the bank told the Journal that the new guidelines were meant for a "small number" of Citibank customers who access their accounts online but still receive paper bills in the mail. This reportedly represents a single-digit percentage of their customers.

However, this change does come with some caveats. For example, customers who receive large-type or braille statements will continue to receive paper copies. Customers who have issues with their accounts such as past-due payments will also get paper reminders sent to them, the bank said. The change also only affects current Citibank customers, as new customers are automatically enrolled in paperless statements. 

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The bank also told USA Today that if customers "opt-in to go all digital and find it’s not for you, you can request to go back to paper." Still, the change elicited some strong reactions from financial advisors. "It does not sound legal to me," Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, told the Journal, adding that the decision could push the limits of federal banking laws.

The move is in line, though, with an overall trend toward paperless billing in the banking industry. In 2022, 72.86% of all credit card payments were made online, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — up from 64.18% in 2019. Additionally, 67.2% of credit card accounts were enrolled in paperless billing in 2022, compared to 54.8% in 2019, according to the CFPB.

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