All information about Citi Simplicity® Card, Citi® Secured Mastercard®, and Citi Rewards+SM Student Card have been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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 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% at time of purchase and an additional 1% at time of payment).
- No annual fee
- The 18-month 0% intro balance transfer APR is impressive for a cash back card.
- No sign-up bonus or introductory 0% purchase APR
- 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 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 it’s 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.
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 and balance transfers (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 excellent credit
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 (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 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 business travel
Business owners who frequently fly American Airlines will enjoy the boarding perks and inflight discounts along with the rewards: 2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. You’ll also pay no foreign transaction fees.
- Large sign-up bonus for a reasonable minimum spend: 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
- 25% inflight discounts on American Airlines Wi-Fi and food and beverage purchases when using your card
- Make your team’s travel smoother with perks like preferred boarding, free first checked bag for you and up to 4 travel companions and a yearly American Airlines Companion Certificate for domestic travel (after $30,000 in purchases and card membership renewal).
- Unless you’re an exclusive American Airlines flyer, you can probably find another business credit card with travel rewards that offers higher rewards rates.
- $99 annual fee after your first 12 months
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.
Compare Citibank credit card offers
|Credit card||Best for||CreditCards.com Rating|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Flat-rate cash back||3.8 / 5|
|Citi Simplicity® Card||Long 0% intro period for balance transfers||3.7 / 5|
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||Excellent credit||3.9 / 5|
|Citi Rewards+SM Card||Bonus rewards points||3.0 / 5|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM Mastercard®||Lounge access||3.9 / 5|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®||Business travel||3.8 / 5|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUpSMCard||American Airlines purchases||3.5 / 5|
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||Building your credit||3.0 / 5|
|Citi Rewards+SM Student Card||College students||2.4 /5|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Gas purchases||2.5 / 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.
Citibank was founded in 1812 as City Bank of New York, with Samuel Osgood as the founding president. One of North America’s oldest banks in continuous operation, it is steeped in the United States’ banking history.
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
Citi’s 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
|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 on travel booked with American Airlines, American Eagle, oneworld airlines and other partner airlines. Naturally, Expedia rewards points earned through Citi’s co-branded cards are redeemed for travel booked through Expedia.
- 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
Frequently asked questions
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, a few benefits Citi cards don’t offer include industry travel and shopping 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, Citi Diamond Preferred, or the AT&T Access Card from Citi 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 concert tickets for $30 or less. 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.
Shopping and security
- Citi Flex Loan for eligible cardholders
- PayPal and mobile wallet card linking
- $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
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 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?
You might be wary of any offers you get in the mail saying you “prequalified” for a credit card. But does Citi actually preapprove potential cardholders for offers? The answer is yes, and Citi makes it an easier process than many issuers.
Whether you hear the term “prequalify” or “preapprove,” they both essentially mean that the issuer has made a “soft inquiry” and thought your credit report showed you’re probably eligible for one of their cards. The keyword here is probably. Preapprovals don’t mean that you’re guaranteed to qualify. Although being prequalified is a good hint at your standing with the issuer and boosts your approval odds, you’re only guaranteed when you apply and a “hard inquiry” is made into your credit.
Since those hard inquiries put a tiny, temporary ding on your credit score, finding card offers that match your credit profile with tools like CardMatch™ can save you time and points on your score before applying. Luckily, getting matched with a Citi card is usually easier because they have a page on their site dedicated to showing you if you’re prequalified. The bad news is that it’s currently not matching customers but visiting a Citibank branch or keeping your eyes peeled for an offer in the mail are also good ways to gauge your preapproval odds for a Citi card.
Laura is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura’s work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.