All information about Citi Simplicity® Card, Citi Rewards+SM Student Card and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard have been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.
Comparing Citi credit card offers
Citi, one of the nation’s largest and oldest banks, offers much more than credit cards. In addition to rewards, business and credit-building cards, Citi serves as a bank for people seeking mortgages, investing services and more.
Here, we delve into what is Citi and what the bank offers:
Best Citi credit cards
Why this is the best Citi card for cash back + sign-up bonus
The newest addition to Citi’s line-up offers 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter). Eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment. You’ll also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, there’s a generous sign-up bonus of $200 in cash back (fulfilled as ThankYou points that can be redeemed as cash back) if you spend $750 in your first three months.
- 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (then variable 13.99% to 23.99%)
- No enrollment required to earn bonus cash back; Your rewards earnings automatically adjust when you spend in any of the eligible categories in a given billing cycle.
- No annual fee
- 5% cash back is capped at $500 each billing cycle (then 1%).
- There’s a balance transfer fee of 5% of the transferred balance or $5 minimum (whichever is greater).
Why this is the best Citi credit card for cash back
The cash rewards are both simple and generous with this card: Earn 1% as you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay off your purchase. With no restrictions on purchase categories, the Citi Double Cash has one of the highest earning potentials of all cash back cards.
- One of the highest unlimited cash back flat rates – up to 2% on all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% as you pay off).
- No annual fee
- The 18-month 0% intro balance transfer APR is impressive for a cash back card. (13.99% – 23.99% variable).
- No sign-up bonus or introductory 0% purchase APR
- For those who tend to carry a balance, the regular APR of 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) on purchases means interest payments will quickly outweigh cash back earnings.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for travel
The Citi Premier Card offers a generous 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels, and 1X points on general purchases. Cardholders can also earn 60,000 ThankYou points if they spend $4,000 in their first three months, which is worth $600 in gift cards when redeemed at ThankYou.com.
- The combination of rewards on common travel and everyday expenses is a nice option for someone torn between a travel or general purchase rewards credit card.
- Points don’t expire and there are no blackout dates.
- The card carries a $95 annual fee.
- Your points redemption value is only high on gift cards and travel purchases.
- Citi’s airline partners are mostly based overseas, so domestic travelers won’t have the most robust transfer options.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for long intro APR period
The Citi Diamond Preferred offers practically identical benefits to the Citi Simplicity, including the same zero-interest balance transfers and purchases periods, but without the same protection against late fees and the penalty APR. This makes the Diamond Preferred a solid second 0% intro APR card for Citi cardholders with excellent credit.
- Competitive 18-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 4 months (14.74% – 24.74% Variable after)
- No annual fee
- Access to Citi Easy Deals discounts and, potentially, the Citi Flex Loan program
Why this is the best Citi credit card for rewards
The unique additional features on top of the ongoing rewards structure are what make this card stand out. In addition to rounding up rewards on each purchase, Citi will also gift you 10% back on redeemed ThankYou points, on up to 100,000 points redeemed annually. This means you can rake in ThankYou Points on everyday expenses – especially if you’re also earning extra points from Citi banking products.
- For no annual fee, the sign-up bonus is decent and only requires a small minimum spend: 15,000 ThankYou points (redeemable for $150 in gift cards) if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.
- 2X points per $1 at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1X point per $1) with 1X point per $1 on all other purchases. Then every purchase rounds up to the nearest 10 points (for example, a $3 sandwich earns 10 points).
- Solid 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases from date of account opening and balance transfers from date of first transfer (then 13.49% – 23.49% Variable)
- The rewards structure makes it difficult to gauge your rewards earnings ahead of time; some people may prefer a more straightforward flat-rate rewards card.
- The roundup feature isn’t particularly helpful if you only use credit cards for large purchases.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for American Airlines
There are several Citi cards with similar rewards rates for American Airlines flyers, but no annual fee and rewards on everyday spending make the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ card unique as a fantastic airline card for occasional flyers.
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on grocery store purchases and eligible American Airlines purchases, along with 1X miles per dollar on all other purchases.
- No annual fee
- 25% discount on inflight food and beverage purchases with your card
- Like many no annual fee cards, the sign-up bonus isn’t a standout: 10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening.
- There are complicated routing rules and limitations on how you can use your miles, including blackout dates on some awards and a $35 fee for booking awards via phone.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for building credit
Unlike many secured cards, this card comes with no annual fee. So, if you’re paying your balance in full each month, you can build credit at no cost to you, making this a good option for those who have a short credit history.
- Your initial credit limit is equal to your security deposit ($200-$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 is 30% of your credit score.
- No annual fee, which is rare for secured cards
- The high ongoing APR (22.49% Variable) could make other cards a better choice if you plan to carry a balance.
- No ongoing rewards, although that’s normal for secured cards
Why this is the best Citi credit card for gas
Although the required Costco membership and annual redemption only at Costco are worth weighing for non-members, the 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (for the first $7,000 annually, 1% thereafter) is one of the highest gas rewards rates available.
- Stellar unlimited cash back rewards: 4% on eligible gas worldwide including Costco (for the first $7,000 per year, then 1%), 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% back on Costco purchases and 1% on all other purchases.
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
- You must have a paid ($60) Costco membership to qualify for this card.
- You can only redeem rewards once a year – specifically, after your February billing statement closes – for a certificate that is only redeemable at Costco for cash back or merchandise. The certificate also must be redeemed in a single transaction before Dec. 31 each year.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for lounge access
In addition to an up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every 5 years, you’ll have free Admirals Club access – a huge perk for frequent travelers that’s valued at up to $650.
- The 2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases will likely be valuable for frequent flyers.
- The sign-up bonus is hefty if you’re able to meet the high minimum spend: 50,000 miles for spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
- It will be hard to make the $450 annual fee worth it if you don’t frequently fly American Airlines.
- The sign-up bonus’ high minimum spend doesn’t fit within the budget of many consumers.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for traveling entrepreneurs
Business owners can earn a generous 4% cash back rate on eligible gas purchases for the first $7,000 per year (after that, 1%). They also earn 3% cash back on eligible travel and restaurants, 2% on all Costco and Costco.com merchandise, and 1% on general purchases.
- The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offers one of the highest rates of return on gas purchases.
- You can redeem your rewards in any amount over $1.
- Rewards are issued once a year as a certificate with your February billing statement.
- You must use the certificate by Dec. 31 of that same year or it will expire.
- You can only redeem your rewards at Costco for Costco merchandise or cash back.
Why this is the best Citi credit card for balance transfer
This card boasts one of the currently best 0% introductory periods of all balance transfer cards: low fees and 18 months of no interest on purchases and on balance transfers made within the first 4 months of account opening. After that the APR is 14.74% – 24.74% (Variable).
- Lengthy 18-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (14.74% – 24.74% Variable after)
- Fantastic and flexible option to pay down debt – no annual fee, no late fees and no penalty APR.
- Access to Citi Easy Deals discounts and possible Citi Flex Loans
- No ongoing rewards or sign-up bonus
- There is a standard $5 or 3% balance transfer fee (whichever is greater) and a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Compare Citibank credit card offers
|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||3.6 / 5|
|Citi Premier® Card||Travel||4.1 / 5|
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||Long intro APR period||4.0 / 5|
|Citi Rewards+® Card||Bonus rewards points||3.2 / 5|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUpSMCard||American Airlines purchases||3.2 / 5|
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||Building your credit||2.7 / 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|
|Citi Simplicity® Card||Balance transfers||3.7 / 5|
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.
America’s oldest continuous banks…
|Year founded||Rank||Founding name||Current name|
|1784||1||Bank of New York||BNY Mellon|
|1792||2||State Street Deposit & Trust||State Street Corp.|
|1799||3||The Manhattan Company||Now part of JPMorgan Chase|
|1812||4||City Bank of New York||Citibank|
|1818||5||John A. Brown & Co.||Brown Brothers Harriman|
Wikipedia and creditcards.com research
What are the benefits of a Citi credit card?
Besides each card’s respective rates and rewards, many Citi credit cards come with standard travel, shopping and security perks like account monitoring and a free concierge service. Unfortunately, Citi removed several industry staples like car rental insurance, trip cancellation protection and 90-day return protection.
We’ve included a list of other Citi credit card benefits, but the Citi Easy Deals and the Citi Entertainment® programs could be the most interesting.
Citi Easy Deals
Cardholders with either the Citi Simplicity or Citi Diamond Preferred can qualify for discounts on restaurants, merchandise and more through 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
Citi’s membership rewards program: overview and best redemption options
Although Citi’s rewards cards may look overwhelming since many of them are co-branded with different reward types, we can simplify them to just 3 earning structures: cash back, ThankYou Points and travel rewards.
Citi ThankYou Rewards
Unless you’re a frequent traveler or prefer cash back, ThankYou Point cards might deliver the most versatile and valuable rewards, especially if you also bank with Citi. Rewards start at 1,000 points, which are rock-bottom compared to other programs, but TPG’s 1.7 cents ThankYou point value really shines when you redeem through the ThankYou Travel Center portal. Our ThankYou rewards guide reports your points lose value outside travel, but redeeming for gift cards and paying with points are the next best options. Plus, eligible cardholders can maximize their points with Citi’s limited-time promotion that discounts select Amazon purchases through 9/30/20.
Fortunately, the loads of extra monthly points you could earn using other Citibank accounts can help cardholders stock up for the redemption options below.
Citi banking ThankYou Rewards
Citibank account holders can earn additional points through regular monthly Citi account activities such as direct deposit in a Citi checking account, bill payment scheduling, mortgage payments, automatic savings deposits, and more. Citigold, Citi Priority, and Citi Private Bank Account services could potentially earn an extra 1,600 Thank You Points in the course of a month by using all nine Citi services in the chart below. A basic Citibank account could potentially earn 1,000 points per month.
|Eligible products & services||Citigold, Citi Priority, or Citi Private Bank Account||The Citibank Account|
|Checking account, bill payment, direct deposit||650||450|
|Home equity loan||175||100|
|Custom credit line||150||75|
Citibank’s banking rewards breakdown
- Gift cards
- Booking travel rewards
- Shop with points at online retailers like Amazon.com and PayPal
- Statement credits
- Cash back
- Payment toward mortgage or student loan
- Bill payments through Citibank’s online bill pay feature
- Point transfer to participating loyalty programs
- Point sharing with other ThankYou members
- Charitable contributions
Cash Back Rewards
Straightforward reward-seekers may feel most at home with the flat-rate Double Cash Card – one of Citi’s only rewards cards that doesn’t require categories to maximize. Although you can technically redeem ThankYou Points or AAdvantage® miles for cash back, Citi’s cash back cards are best suited for the job. Likewise, redeeming for cash back is your best value with a cash back card.
Costco cash rewards can only be redeemed as an annual reward certificate (after your February billing statement) for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses.
Cash back redemption options
- Direct deposit
- Statement credit
- Convert to ThankYou Points
For more dedicated flyers, the American Airlines-branded Citi credit cards earn you AAdvantage miles you can redeem for travel to nearly 1,000 destinations worldwide. AAdvantage miles can be used for travel booked with American Airlines and American Eagle, as well as the following carriers:
- Eligible flights
- Eligible vacation packages
- Cabin upgrades on select airways
- Seat reservations
- Admirals Club® membership and renewal
- Five Star Service™ luxury experiences
- Select newspaper subscriptions
- Charitable donations
- Eligible flights
- Eligible hotel reservations (points worth double at VIP Access™ hotels)
- Select car rentals
- Attraction and activity discounts
- Flight + Hotel coupon worth $25+
- St. Jude’s Children Research Center donations
What credit score do you need for a Citi credit card?
It’s not a rule set in stone, but most Citi card offers and their best rates will require applicants to have an excellent credit score (a FICO Score of 740-850).
If you’re just starting out in the world of credit, Citi does have a credit-building card for applicants with limited history: the Citi Secured Mastercard. Starting out with a secured card and improving your credit score are the most direct ways to obtain a Citi credit card and other top-tier cards. If you’ve already established a solid credit rating, check if you prequalify for a Citi card.
Can Citi prequalify you for a credit card?
Yes, Citi does preapprove potential cardholders. Getting preapproved by Citi is a fairly simple process, though it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the card. When a credit card issuer says you’ve prequalified –or been preapproved – for a credit card, that means they’ve made a preliminary review of your credit and think you may qualify. This type of credit prescreening is known as a soft inquiry because, unlike a hard inquiry, it won’t ding your credit score.
Again, this is by no means a guarantee. In order to receive final approval, the issuer must make a more thorough evaluation of your credit. That closer look results in a hard inquiry that can temporarily lower your credit score. Because of this, it’s good to have a sense of your approval odds in advance of applying. Finding card offers that match your credit profile with tools like CardMatch™ can save you time and minimize impact to your score.
You can find out what Citi cards you may prequalify for by visiting a Citibank branch or keeping your eyes peeled for an offer in the mail
How we choose the best Citi credit cards
In order to determine which Citi credit cards are best, we’ve examined Citi’s top offerings in the following key credit card categories.
- 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.