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A guide to Citi credit cards
Citi, one of the nation’s largest and longest-established banks, offers plenty of opportunity in the world of credit cards. With Citi, you can find lucrative cash back, strong travel rewards, chances to build your credit, worthwhile perks and more. In addition to their slew of credit card benefits and rewards, Citi serves as a bank for people seeking mortgages, investing services and more. We’ll fill you in on the need-to-know when it comes to Citi’s credit card offers, finding the right option, and making the card work for you.
Comparing the best Citi credit cards
|Credit card||Best for||CreditCards.com Rating|
|Citi Custom Cash℠ Card||Cash back + sign-up bonus||4.1 / 5|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Cash back||3.5 / 5|
|Citi Simplicity® Card||Balance transfers||3.6 / 5|
|Citi Premier® Card||Travel||4.1 / 5|
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||Long intro APR period||3.6 / 5|
|Citi Rewards+® Card||Bonus rewards points||3.2 / 5|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUpSM Card||American Airlines purchases||3.2 / 5|
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||Building your credit||3.1 / 5|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Gas purchases||2.3 / 5|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||Lounge access||3.9 / 5|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi||Traveling entrepreneurs||2.1 / 5|
Editor’s picks: Citi credit card details
Best for cash back + sign-up bonus: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
- Best features: This no annual fee card gets you 5% cash back on purchases for the first $500 spent in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (then 1%). The 5% rate automatically adjusts to your spending rather than the task of sorting out rotating spend categories on your own. Your purchases outside of the top spend category will earn 1% cash back. New cardholders can also earn $200 in cash back (paid out in ThankYou points) after spending $750 in the first three months of account opening. There’s also a 15-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases (variable 14.74% to 24.74% afterwards).
- Biggest drawbacks: The $500 cap on your bonus rate each billing cycle is less than ideal, totaling just $6,000 in annual spending. While the card’s intro APR offer on balance transfers is great, there’s a $5 or 5% transfer fee on any balance moved. Also, there’s no annual bonuses or high-rate offers outside of your top category.
- Alternatives: Those looking for a flexible cash back card with similar options should look to the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card’s offer of 3% cash back in the category of your choice and 2% back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores.
- Bottom line: Shoppers with spending habits that vary month to month can really benefit from this card’s user-friendly rewards structure. Consistent 5% cash back is a great rate for any credit card, especially one with no annual fee.
Read our Citi Custom Cash℠ Card review.
Best for cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card
- Best features: Cardholders who stay on top of their payments get an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, a huge earnings opportunity for big spenders. To incentivize good habits, it’s 1% cash back on every purchase (excluding gift cards), plus an additional 1% as you pay off those purchases. Your cash back rewards can be converted to ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for travel purchases, gift cards and more for a rate of $1 cash back to 100 ThankYou points. Additionally, this no annual fee card offers an introductory 18-month 0% APR on balance transfers (14.74% to 24.74% variable APR thereafter).
- Biggest drawbacks: Your rewards depend on you making sufficient payments. Awards will expire if you don’t use your card over the course of 12 months. This card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, a rarity for a rewards card with a strong cash back rate. Also, there’s a $25 minimum redemption amount.
- Alternatives: Someone on the hunt for consistent 2% cash back might prefer the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases and take advantage of an introductory offer of $200 cash rewards after you spend at least $1,000 in your first three months.
- Bottom line: Unlimited 2% cash back can benefit nearly anyone as an everyday card, but it does require a certain level of financial discipline to reap the full benefits. If you can stay on top of payments, the lack of complicated rewards and a strong balance transfer offer make this a great choice for someone looking for a straightforward option or a chance at tackling their debt.
Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review.
Best for balance transfers: Citi Simplicity® Card
- Best features: This card’s balance transfer offer is one of the best out there: 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers initiated within the first four months of opening an account (then variable 15.49% to 25.49% APR). You also get an intro 0% APR on purchases for your first 12 months. There’s no annual fee, late fees or penalty APR if you miss a payment.
- Biggest drawbacks: This card doesn’t have any bonuses available and won’t reward you for your spending. Also, there’s a fee of 5% or $5 (whichever is higher) on your transferred balance.
- Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card offers another attractive balance transfer period of up to 21-months from account opening of 0% intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 13.74% to 25.74% variable APR thereafter). With this card, if you transfer your balance within the first 120 days you’ll get a reduced intro transfer fee of 3% rather than its usual up to 5% or minimum $5.
- Bottom line: Potential cardholders looking to conquer their debt have a great opportunity with this card. Its 21-month introductory offer on balance transfers gives a lengthy chance at consolidating and paying off your debt.
Read our Citi Simplicity® Card review.
Best for travel: Citi Premier® Card
- Best features: You’ll earn 3X points per dollar spent on several high-traffic categories: air travel, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets. It’s 1X points per dollar elsewhere. As a welcoming sign-up bonus, you can get 60,000 ThankYou points if you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months (estimated $600 value when redeeming through ThankYou Travel or on thankyou.com).
- Biggest drawbacks: There’s a $95 annual fee to take advantage of this card and all it offers. Also, the redemption options for your Citi ThankYou points aren’t as valuable as one would hope – their choices result in points being worth an average of 0.5 to 1 cent each. Also, Citi’s airline transfer partners are international for the most part, with JetBlue being their only domestic partnership.
- Alternatives: Someone looking for a well-rounded travel points card could be enticed by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s 5X points on travel booked through Chase, 3X points on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services, 2X points on other travel purchases and 1X points elsewhere.
- Bottom line: For high spenders who can take advantage of high-rate categories and a juicy welcome offer, this is a worthwhile choice. If you’re torn between a general rewards card or a travel card, this card offers a nice middle ground thanks to its flexibility in where you can earn.
Read our Citi Premier® Card review.
Best for long intro APR period: Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
- Best features: Cardholders receive a 0% introductory APR for 21 months on balance transfers made in the first four months (then 14.49% to 24.49%, variable). You’ll also get a 12-month 0% introductory APR on purchases (then 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR after that). Plus, there’s no annual fee and there are a few ancillary perks to enjoy, like access to Citi Entertainment®, Citi Flex Plan, Citi Easy Deals program and the Citi Flex Loans program.
- Biggest drawbacks: There’s no rewards structure and you’ll face a balance transfer fee of 5% (or $5, whichever is higher). Also, one of the differences when compared to the Citi Simplicity is that the Diamond Preferred charges up to a $40 late payment fee and up to 29.99% variable penalty APR.
- Alternatives: Someone looking to take a different route to tackle their debt may be interested in the BankAmericard® credit card and its intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days only for the first 18 billing cycles (13.24% to 23.24% variable afterward).
- Bottom line: If you’ve planned out combatting your debt problem and the fee and terms fit your needs, the Citi Diamond Preferred is an attractive option for anyone hoping to pay down debt or finance a big purchase.
Read our Citi Diamond Preferred Card review.
Best for bonus rewards points: Citi Rewards+® Card
- Best features: Earn 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations, with every purchase rounded up to the nearest 10 points. This automatically adds impact to your small purchases, making a $2 pack of gum worth 10 points or boosting an $11 lunch to 20 points. New cardholders will also appreciate a solid sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 ThankYou points if you spend $1,500 in the first three months (redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com). To cap it off, as an annual bonus you’ll get back 10% of all the points you’ve redeemed each year (up to 100,000 points per year) and there’s no limit or expiration on the points you earn.
- Biggest drawbacks: Your earnings in the 2X categories are limited to $6,000 per year, then dropping to 1X. Additionally, although there are several redemption options, the only worthwhile choices are electing for travel or gift cards.
- Alternatives: Shoppers looking to earn on groceries and gas purchases should check out the numerous lucrative cash back options offered by the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
- Bottom line: If you want an easy-to-understand everyday rewards card, this is a great choice. There are no rotating categories to keep track of and you can squeeze extra value out of any small purchase thanks to its rounding up feature. Hopeful cardholders should check out our guide to the Citi Rewards+ Card.
Read our Citi Rewards+ Card review.
Best for American Airlines purchases: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
- Best features: You get 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and when shopping at the grocery store and 1 mile per dollar in other categories. It has an affordable sign-up bonus of 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit if you spend $500 in your first three months. Miles don’t expire as long as you use your card every 18 months and there’s no limit to how much you can earn. There’s also no annual fee and a 25% discount on American Airlines in-flight purchases when using your card.
- Biggest drawbacks: Some flight redemptions are met with blackout dates and limited seats. Also, cardholders sometimes run into complicated routing rules and there are no stopovers allowed.
- Alternatives: Another no annual fee option, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card doesn’t limit you to just one airline. Cardmembers earn a solid 1.5 points on all purchases.
- Bottom line: For American Airlines frequent flyers, this is a great choice to start earning miles. However, someone who doesn’t have any allegiance to any particular airline would benefit more from a versatile travel card.
Read our American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card review.
Best for building credit: Citi® Secured Mastercard®
- Best features: When getting started, your initial credit limit will be equal to your security deposit ($200 to $2,500), so you essentially get to choose your own credit limit. If you can afford it, having more available credit can improve your credit utilization – which makes up 30% of your credit score. Unlike many secured cards, this card comes with no annual fee.
- Biggest drawbacks: There are no ongoing rewards here and limited perks. Plus, it has a relatively high APR at 23.24% variable.
- Alternatives: A strong option of this kind, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers cardholders 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter), plus 1% back on all other purchases.
- Bottom line: If you’re paying your balance in full each month, you can build credit at no cost to you thanks to the lack of an annual fee. Someone looking to build their credit towards the long-term alternative of graduating to an unsecured card can benefit here.
Read our Citi® Secured Mastercard® review.
Best for gas: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Best features: This card can net you 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (up to $7,000 per year, then 1%). You’ll earn 3% back at restaurants and on eligible travel, plus 2% back at Costco and 1% elsewhere. There’s also no annual fee with your paid Costco membership ($60).
- Biggest drawbacks: There’s no annual bonus or sign-up bonus, and if you’re not already a member of the store you’ll need to pay the $60 annual membership fee to carry the card. In addition, it’s not always easy to tell whether your local gas stations will earn you the 4% rewards, but cardholders can check the merchant’s category codes, or MCC codes, to find the right spots to fill up.
- Alternatives: Shoppers into the idea of a gas-and-wholesale card should look into the Sam’s Club Mastercard. Get 5% cash back on your first $6,000 spent on gas each year, plus 3% back on dining and 1% elsewhere for a lesser annual membership cost ($45).
- Bottom line: Costco members and those who spend a lot of time on the road are in for a smooth ride with this card, but someone who wants a well-rounded and lucrative rewards card should look to other options.
Read our Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review.
Best for lounge access: Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
- Best features: Its most notable feature is free Admirals Club access, a huge perk for travel lovers. You’ll also get a statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every five years. People who fly often will appreciate the 2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Also, this can be a good card to get before booking your next vacation as it takes a bit of spending to hit the high-value sign-up bonus: 50,000 miles for spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening.
- Biggest drawbacks: Unless you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer, it’ll be hard to make the $450 annual fee worth it.
- Alternatives: Travelers who are looking to earn huge rewards and don’t mind a steep annual fee could benefit from the versatility of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Earn 10X miles on select purchases and take advantage of a welcome offer that nets you 75,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within your first three months.
- Bottom line: If you fly American and want access to private airport lounges and the convenience of skipping long TSA lines, this is a great choice for you.
Read our Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review.
Best for traveling entrepreneurs: Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi
- Best features: Like Citi’s other Costco-partnered card, it’s 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (up to $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter), 3% for eligible travel and dining and 2% at the wholesale store. Your rewards are unlimited and can be redeemed at Costco for cash or merchandise.
- Biggest drawbacks: There are some restrictions when it comes to your cash back rewards. They’re only issued once a year in February, expire December 31 of that same year, and are only redeemable at Costco. Also, while there’s no annual fee, the $60 Costco membership is essential to earning rewards.
- Alternatives: If you’re searching for a strong cash-back business card, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card earns 5% cash back on your first $25,000 spent on internet, cable and phone services per year, plus 2% back on gas and dining (up to $25,000 in purchases per year) and 1% elsewhere.
- Bottom line: This is a good fit for small business owners who buy some of their inventory in bulk through the wholesaler or who are simply just regular Costco shoppers who want solid rewards.
Read our Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi review.
What is Citi?
Citibank, a division of Citigroup, is a full-service bank that provides mortgages, checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and more.
One of North America’s oldest banks in continuous operation, Citibank is steeped in the United States’ banking history. It was founded in 1812 as City Bank of New York, with Samuel Osgood as the founding president. In 1968, Citibank introduced its first credit card, known as the Everything Card, later partnering with Mastercard. In the 1970s, Citibank was one of the first American banks to introduce automatic teller machines to its customers.
Today, Citibank has 2,649 branches throughout the world, 723 of which are located in the United States. Citibank’s U.S. presence is focused primarily in the metropolitan areas around New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Miami. As Citi has expanded to new locations over the years, the bank’s selection of credit cards has grown just as significantly, now providing options for nearly any type of consumer.
How to choose a Citi credit card
Using tools like our CardMatch™ feature can help you get an idea of what you could qualify for based on your credit profile and make it easier to sort through your options. You can even see what Citi cards you may be prequalified for before making any choices.
Your budget, where you spend and what you do in your everyday life all matter when finding the right card. Take a second to consider what you need most out of a credit card – it’ll make your application process simpler from there.
Citi has several options with long introductory APR periods, perfect for consolidating outstanding credit card debt to pay off while temporarily avoiding interest. The Citi Simplicity and Diamond Preferred cards each bring a generous introductory APR period, and those who don’t want to lose out on rewards while tackling debt could look at the Citi Rewards+ or Citi Custom Cash’s intro APR offers.
Well-rounded cash back
The unique offer of the Citi Custom Cash makes it a very strong cash back option for any shopper, especially those with a particularly high spending category. The Citi Double cash also brings plenty to the plate with it’s 2% effective cash back rate on all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% as you pay).
Citi offers several high-value airline cards for American Airline loyalists. Those who want the elite travel experience should consider the slew of perks that come with the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, but those who are getting started with earning flight rewards might see more appeal in the less expensive American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card.
You’ll have to be at least interested in being a Costco member to take advantage here, but everyday credit card users and small business owners who have an especially high budget on gas will love the 4% cash back (on up to $7,000 worth at the pump per year, then 1%) brought by the Costco Anywhere Visa Card and the Costco Anywhere Visa Business.
Those who are just starting with their credit-building journeys or recovering after a depleted score could benefit from a secured option. The Citi Secured Mastercard is a no-frills card that comes without an annual fee, so you can save on extra costs to make payments that eventually build your score.
What programs does Citi offer?
Citi’s catalog of cards brings a lot to the table. On top of the main attractions like cash back rewards, travel points and debt relief opportunities, Citi’s cards come with some strong additional benefits and user-friendly programs to make them worthwhile. Earning ThankYou rewards and taking advantage of Citi’s other offers might be easy, but it’s always important to make sure the card’s perks and other extras actually apply to your lifestyle and finances; a mismatched card and cardholder can cause problems.
Besides each card’s respective rates and rewards, many Citi credit cards come equipped with useful add-ons, such as standard travel, shopping and security perks like account monitoring, fraud protection and a free concierge service.
We’ve included a list of other Citi credit card benefits, headlined by Citi Easy Deals and the Citi Entertainment® program.
Citi Easy Deals
Cardholders with either the Citi Simplicity or Citi Diamond Preferred can qualify for discounts on restaurants, merchandise and more through Citi Easy Deals. Easy Deals operates according to tiers – depending on certain annual spending requirements, users can climb and access more deals. Although most of the discounts aren’t anything you couldn’t get from online coupons, the meatier travel and gift card deals in the upper tiers could be worth your while.
- Base tier – Gives you access upon registration to local offers for restaurants, shops and services.
- Enhanced tier – In addition to Base tier benefits, spend $100 in purchases on your eligible credit card in one calendar year for access to savings on gift cards and magazines.
- Plus tier – In addition to Base and Enhanced benefits, spend $500 in purchases on your eligible credit card in one calendar year for access to savings on merchandise, travel and Daily Deals.
With Citi Entertainment, qualifying cardholders gain access to reserved pre-sale tickets for events in four categories: music, sports, dining and “theater and more.” Users subscribed to Citi Entertainment’s email list can score first dibs on special deals like LiveNation virtual concert tickets and other livestream events. Although other issuers offer similar experience access programs, like Capital One Access and Chase Experiences, Citi Entertainment comes at no added cost and pretty much every Citi card (even select debit cards) is eligible. Cards with Citi Entertainment will have the Visa, Mastercard or American Express logo on them.
Travel and Shopping
- Citi® Concierge
- PayPal and mobile wallet card linking
- Travel notice
- Citi Flex Loan for eligible cardholders
- $0 liability on unauthorized charges
- Virtual account numbers
- Free monthly FICO® Score
- Citi® Quick Lock mobile app account freezing
- Free Citi® Identity Theft Solutions account monitoring
- Customizable account alerts
- Fraud early warning
How we picked the best Citi credit cards
In order to determine which Citi credit cards are best, we’ve examined Citi’s top credit card offers and narrowed down based off of the following key components:
- Rewards program: We review rewards categories, rates and fees, program partners and other key details to assess overall value.
- Special features: Does the card have unique features or standout advantages over other cards?
- Rates and fees: Are rates and fees associated with the card comparable to the value offered by its rewards program?
Citi may be without some of the bells and whistles other cards offer in the way of perks, but its cash back, ThankYou Points, and travel rewards programs offer a lot of value, particularly if you already bank with Citi. Still having difficulty deciding between card offers? Check out this guide to choosing a credit card.
More information on Citi credit cards
For more information on all things Citi credit cards, continue reading content from our credit card experts: