Citibank is one of the largest banks in the United States. They are best known for their Thank You (TY) Points and international travel partners in the points and miles world. But not all credit cards are created equally. Therefore, this post highlights the best Citi credit cards.
Premium Thank You Points Earning
Anyone who earns points and miles for travel should collect at least one type of transferrable points. Citi’s points are called Thank You (TY) points. Citi has a much smaller card lineup than Chase. But both banks have a similar two-tier system for their transferrable points cards.
The following cards give you the ability to transfer points without holding another card. This is because you receive access to the Citi travel portal and travel partners. Either option, especially the latter, lets you redeem TY points for high value.
Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points for $4,000 spend in 3 months
Earning: 5x points on Airfare and Dining; 3x points on Cruises and Hotels
Perks: $250 Annual General Travel credit, Priority Pass Airport Lounges, Pre-TSA / Global Entry Fee Waiver, Fourth Night Free, Citi Concierge, Cell Phone Protection
Annual Fee: $495
The Citi Prestige Card is one of the issuer’s best based on earning potential. However, you must spend a lot of money within the categories to justify the card’s hefty annual fee. Justifying the annual fee is even easier if you can use the Fourth Night Free perk, airport lounge access, and $250 general travel credit.
Sign-Up Bonus: 60,000 points for $4,000 spend in 3 months
Earning (Cardholders who applied before April 10, 2020): 3x points on General Travel, Dining, Groceries, and Gas Stations; 2x on Dining & Entertainment
Earning (Cardholders who applied after April 10, 2020 / all cardholders after April 10, 2021): 3x points on Air Travel, Dining, Gas, Grocery, and Hotel expenses; one point per dollar on non-bonus expenses
Perks: $100 Annual Hotel Credit (coming on August 23, 2020)
Annual Fee: $95
The Citi Premier is great if you want both a high sign-up bonus and good earning potential. This card is a better option than the Prestige if you don’t purchase airfare directly with the airline or if you don’t spend within the Prestige’s categories or value its perks. The Citi Premier is the first Citi Thank You point-earning card that I would consider given its annual fee and what it offers.
No Annual Fee Thank You Points Earning
These cards require a premium card to transfer points to partners or use the Citi travel portal. Otherwise, the best redemption options are gift cards and cash back. Either option makes TY points worth 1 cent apiece (1.25 CPP with the Citi Premier Card before August 23, 2020).
Sign-Up Bonus: 15,000 points (or $150) for $1,000 spend in 3 months
Earning: 2x points at Gas Stations and at Grocery Stores; 1x points for non-bonus spend; points are rounded up to the nearest 10 for all purchases
Perks: Citi Private Pass
The Citi Rewards + Card is a great option for beginners in points and miles. It is also the best card in the industry for small purchases. This is because Citi rounds points earned to the nearest 10. For example, a $2 cup of coffee will earn you 10 points instead of just two.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Earning: 2% / 2x points for everything (1% / 1x earned at the time of purchase plus 1% / 1x earned when you pay your bill)
The Citi Double Cash is one of the best cash back cards in the industry. I recommend this card as a long-term keeper card for those who want cash rewards. The Double Cash is one of the only 2% flat rate cash back cards that has no annual fee. It also serves as an excellent downgrade option for either of the premium TY point-earning cards. However, it’s main weakness is a lack of sign-up bonus. Those who want to earn a bonus in the short-term should look elsewhere.
Costco Anywhere Card
Sign-Up Bonus: Whatever free merchandise is offered at your local Costco store if you apply for the Anywhere card there
Earning: 4% on Gas ($7,000 annual limit); 3% on Dining and Travel; 2% at Costco; 1% for everything else
Credit Card Annual Fee: $0
Costco Membership Fee: $60 for Gold Star or Business membership; $120 for Executive or Executive Business membership
Costco members rejoice! The Costco Anywhere Card will give you loads of cash back if you spend within its categories. However, the cash back must be redeemed at Costco. You could ask Costco for a check or straight cash for redemption.
Costco and Citi also offer a business version of this card. It has the same earning structure, redemption options, and perks as the personal version.
AA Platinum Select Card
Sign-Up Bonus: 40,000 AA Advantage miles for $2,000 spend in the first 3 months. Plus, another 10,000 AA Advantage miles for another $8,000 spend in the first 6 months.
Earning: 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, Gas, and Dining.
Burning: American Airlines flights and travel packages
Perks: Priority Boarding, Free First Checked Bag, 25% off in-flight purchases, $100 annual AA credit
Annual Fee: $99 (waived the first year)
American Airlines loyalists would love this card! It strikes a nice balance between perks and earning. Plus, the $100 annual AA credit offsets the card’s annual fee if you can use the whole thing. Everything else is a bonus that will make your flight easier.
I don’t like its sign-up bonus because most people won’t be able to hit the second $8,000 in spend. Also, the reward for spending $8,000 is just 10,000 miles. This is not worth the spend for many people.
Even though Citibank doesn’t have the options that Amex and Chase has, certain people can benefit from Citi’s cards. Costco lovers and international travelers are two of the biggest beneficiaries. The latter group can especially get outsized value if they wisely transfer their TY points to the right partners.