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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.
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||3.6 / 5|
|Citi Simplicity® Card||0% intro APR + low fees||3.6 / 5|
|Citi Premier® Card||Travel||4.3 / 5|
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||Long intro APR period||3.6 / 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||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
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: Best for cash back + sign-up bonus
Why we picked it: One of Citi’s newest options, this no annual fee card will give you access to earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (after that, 1% cash back). The best part: instead of enrolling in rotating bonus categories to capitalize on the bonus rate, your earnings will automatically adjust as your spending changes each billing cycle. You’ll earn 1% on all purchases outside of your top category, and eligible selections for the high rate include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.
Pros: You can earn $200 in cash back (paid out in ThankYou points) after you spend $750 in your first three months of account opening as a worthwhile sign-up bonus. New cardholders will also appreciate the 15-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases (variable 13.99% to 23.99%, after that).
Cons: The card’s limits on your top-earning category aren’t ideal. Your high-end earnings are limited to about a $6,000 budget per year ($500-per-billing cycle), which may not fit certain spenders’ needs. Also, if you want to transfer a balance you’ll pay a steep 5% balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is greater).
Who should apply? If your spending habits vary month to month or even seasonally, this can be a phenomenal choice. There’s no stressing over strategically spending with multiple cards to earn extra cash back, Citi does the sorting for you.
Who should skip? Potential cardholders with a consistent high-budget spending category should look elsewhere. If your annual spending in your top category exceeds $6,000, there’s likely a better choice out there for you.
Read our Citi Custom Cash℠ Card review.
Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for cash back
Why we picked it: This card comes with worthwhile consistency so long as you pay your bills. You’ll get 1% on general purchases (excluding gift cards) and then an additional 1% cash back as you pay off those purchases, making the Citi Double Cash one of the most competitive cash back cards available and a clear standout among flat-rate cash back cards that avoid an annual fee.
Pros: To add some flexibility, 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. The Double Cash also boasts a lengthy 18-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (then variable 13.99% to 23.99%).
Cons: Earning valuable rewards is contingent on whether you can pay your balance or not. Also, there’s no sign-up bonus and rewards expire if the card isn’t used in more than 12 months.
Who should apply? This option could benefit nearly anyone as an everyday card. The uncomplicated flat-rate cash back is a good match for someone who values flexibility, particularly for existing Citi customers already earning ThankYou points. The intro APR on balance transfers also makes this a great choice for someone tackling debt.
Who should skip? Someone worried about falling behind on payments should look for another card. If you’re not on top of your bills, this card’s value significantly drops.
Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review.
Citi Simplicity® Card: Best for 0% intro APR + low fees
Why we picked it: The Citi Simplicity® Card is true to its name – a solid debt relief choice that comes without a complex rewards program or complicated fee structure.
Pros: The introductory APR offer is a great opportunity to save: 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and 0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers conducted within the first four months of account opening (then variable 14.74% to 24.74% APR). Also, there’s no annual fee, late fees or penalty APR for missed payments. Note: Late payments still hurt your credit score and should be avoided when possible.
Cons: If you’re looking to earn on your spending, you’ll be out of luck here.
Who should apply? Someone trying to conquer their debt by executing a balance transfer or establish their credit with a low-penalty card should consider the Simplicity.
Who should skip? This is a solid balance transfer credit card, but if you believe you’ll need more than 21 months to make an impact, you should explore other options.
Read our Citi Simplicity® Card review.
Citi Premier® Card: Best for travel
Why we picked it: Getting away from cash back rewards, the Citi Premier is a great choice to earn some travel points on a wide variety of purchases. Cardholders can take advantage of high-traffic categories and earn 3X points on purchases related to air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, along with 1X points on all other purchases.
Pros: There’s a high-end sign-up bonus: Cardholders can earn 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in their first three months. If you elect to use these points towards travel through the ThankYou Travel center, we estimate that the bonus is worth around $800.
Cons: There’s a $95 annual fee to get access to the high-rate rewards. Also, while there’s plenty of redemption options, including statement credits, gift cards and travel, none of them really let you stretch your Citi ThankYou points, which are, on average, worth between 0.5 to 1 cent each. Another shortcoming: the majority of Citi’s airline transfer partners are international, with JetBlue being it’s only domestic partnership.
Who should apply? Anyone torn between general rewards cards or a travel card might be enticed by this card’s ability to earn travel points in a variety of ways. The versatility and lucrative sign-up bonus make it a great high-earning option.
Who should skip? While this is a great card for general rewards, it does require a certain level of spending to take full advantage. Capitalizing on the sign-up bonus is an essential to squeezing value out of this card.
Read our Citi Premier® Card review.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: Best for long intro APR period
Why we picked it: This card comes with a lengthy introductory APR period and an opportunity for a low go-to interest rate: Cardholders receive a 0% introductory APR for 21 months on balance transfers made in the first four months (then 13.74% to 23.74%, variable).
Pros: You’ll get a 12-month 0% introductory APR on purchases as well (then 13.74% to 23.74% 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.
Cons: You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 5% (or $5, whichever is higher). Also, the only real difference when compared to the Citi Simplicity is that the Diamond Preferred charges up to a $40 late payment fee and 29.99% variable penalty APR.
Who should apply? 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.
Who should skip? While the card features useful perks to improve yourself financially, the lack of rewards will make it a no-go for many.
Read our Citi Diamond Preferred Card review.
Citi Rewards+® Card: Best for bonus rewards points
Why we picked it: Family shoppers should take a good look at this card’s special offer – 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year and then 1X points thereafter), and every purchase is rounded up to the nearest 10 points. This will add impact to your small purchases, making a $2 pack of gum worth 10 points or boosting an $11 lunch to 20 points.
Pros: New cardholders will 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). Also, 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). To cap it off, there’s no limit or expiration on the points you earn.
Cons: The 2X rewards rate at supermarkets and gas stations is only eligible for up to $6,000 per year in purchases, which may be too strict of a restraint for some spenders. Also, although there’s many redemption options, you’re really only getting great value if you exchange your points for travel or gift cards.
Who should apply? If you want an easy-to-understand everyday rewards card, this is a great choice. There’s no rotating categories to keep track of and you can squeeze extra value out of any small purchase.
Who should skip? Someone who specifically wants air travel rewards would benefit more from one of Citi’s more flight-focused cards.
Read our Citi Rewards+ Card review.
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Best for American Airlines purchases
Why we picked it: The AAdvantage MileUp Card allows you to earn travel rewards on your everyday purchases, giving 2X points at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases as well.
Pros: You can earn an affordable sign-up bonus of 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles and a $50 statement credit with just $500 in spend in your first three months. There’s also no annual fee and a 25% discount on American AIrlines in-flight purchases when using your card.
Cons: This card sometimes has blackout dates and limited seating when claiming your rewards.
Who should apply? If you like to fly American, this is a great choice to get started with earning airline rewards.
Who should skip? Travelers who don’t stay loyal to a particular airline would better benefit from a more versatile travel rewards card.
Read our American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card review.
Citi® Secured Mastercard®: Best for building credit
Why we picked it: 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 great option for those who have a short credit history.
Pros: 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.
Cons: There’s no ongoing rewards here, and while this is normal for a secured card, select options do allow for the best of both worlds.
Who should apply? Someone looking to build their credit with a no annual fee option that gives the long-term alternative of graduating to an unsecured card.
Who should skip? Credit beginners who want a more traditional card and don’t want to begin their journey with a sizable deposit should check out student credit cards or other cards for bad credit.
Read our Citi® Secured Mastercard® review.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Best for gas
Why we picked it: As maybe the most fuel-efficient credit card, the Costco Anywhere Visa can net you 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (up to $7,000 per year, then 1%). Although you have to be a member of the superstore to qualify, there’s plenty for non-members to consider changing their mind, such as the 3% back at restaurants and on eligible travel, 2% back at Costco and top-tier gas rewards rate.
Pros: There’s no limit on the total amount of cash you can earn and redeem your cash back for as little as $1 at Costco.
Cons: There’s no annual bonus or sign-up bonus, and you’ll need to pay the $60 annual Costco membership fee to avoid an annual fee with this 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 MCC code to find the right spots to fill up.
Who should apply? Costco members and those who spend a lot of time on the road are in for a smooth ride with this card.
Who should skip? Someone who wants a well-rounded cash back card with more bonuses and benefits, with limited restrictions on spending categories.
Read our Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review.
Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Best for lounge access
Why we picked it: In addition to the statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every five years, you’ll have free Admirals Club access – a huge perk for frequent travelers that’s valued at up to $650.
Pros: 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.
Cons: Unless you’re a frequent American Airlines flyer, it’ll be hard to make the $450 annual fee worth it. There’s also some blackout dates and fees for booking awards over the phone.
Who should apply? Someone who chooses to fly American and wants the luxury travel experience of skipping long TSA lines and access to private lounges.
Who should skip? Travelers who book each flight with the most convenient or affordable carrier rather than airline loyalists.
Read our Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi: Best for traveling entrepreneurs
Why we picked it: The card features competitive cash back on common expenses, like gas and restaurants. 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.
Pros: Your rewards are unlimited and can be redeemed at Costco for cash or merchandise.
Cons: There’s 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 an essential to earning rewards.
Who should apply? Small business owners who buy some of their inventory in bulk through the wholesaler or who are simply just regular Costco shoppers will love this card’s rewards.
Who should skip? If you don’t live near a Costco or rarely shop there, there are better, more well-rounded rewards cards for you.
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.
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
Is a Citi credit card worth it?
Citi’s catalog of cards brings a lot to the table. There’s options for debt relief through balance transfers, secured cards to build credit, high-end gas rewards and significant cash back earnings. On top of the main attractions, Citi’s cards come with some strong benefits to make them worthwhile. While earning ThankYou rewards and taking advantage of Citi’s other offers can be easy, it’s always important to make sure the card’s rewards and benefits 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 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, 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 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 and paying off while 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).
Through partnering with American Airlines, Citi offers two high-value airline cards for frequent travelers. 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.
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: