The Citi Rewards + is a decent no annual fee credit card for aspiring international travelers. It earns Citi Thank You (TY) points in two useful bonus categories and can be a possible long-term keeper card. It’s also one of the best Citi credit cards for those with light spend and those who make lots of small purchases.
However, travelers might be better off with another credit card if they want long-term value and more earning opportunities.
The Citi Rewards + has a unique earning structure. It earns 2x TY points at Grocery Stores and Gas Stations; and one point per dollar on everything else. But the uniqueness in the Rewards +’s earning structure comes from the rules of rounding. Citi rounds up the amount of points earned to the nearest 10 for all purchases. This is fantastic for small purchases. For example, if you spend $1 at a convenience store, you will receive 10 points.
Plus, Citi is offering a sign-up bonus worth 15,000 TY points on this card. The bonus can be earned after spending just $1,000 within the first three months. This bonus is like that of the American Express Everyday cards and the Chase Freedom cards, but you’re earning TY points.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. You can redeem points for cash back, gift cards, and travel booked directly with Citi. Points are worth 1 cent per point (CPP) when redeemed all three ways. You also receive a 10% rebate bonus when you redeem points no matter how you redeem them.
A major caveat with this card is that transfer partners are not directly available with the exception of Jet Blue. You can transfer points to Jet Blue at a 5:4 ratio. You will need a Premier or Prestige card to transfer your points. This is just like having a Chase Freedom Unlimited Card without a Sapphire or Ink Business Preferred Card.
If you have a premium Citi card, you can transfer your points to the following partners:
- Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Etihad Guest
- Eva Air
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Jet Airways
- JetBlue (5 TY = 4 True Blue Points if you do not have a premium Citi card, otherwise 1:1)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Even though Citi discontinued a plethora of benefits on September 22, 2019, the Rewards + card still has a few remaining that could make life a little easier. However, none of them are significant travel benefits.
Citi Private Pass
This perk gives you access to a multitude of pre-sale tickets and VIP experiences. If you’re a concert or sports lover, Citi Private Pass will help you get to events faster.
Citibank is the best issuer for extended warranty. You will receive an extra two years of warranty on purchases with warranties of five years or less.
Damage & Theft Protection
You can receive up to $10,000 if an item you bought is stolen or damaged. Each cardholder is eligible for up to $50,000 per calendar year.
Rules & Regulations
Citi has several rules to consider before applying for one of their cards. While these rules are annoying, they serve as a reminder to be certain before applying. However, their main purpose is to dissuade “churners” from getting sign-up bonuses.
The 1/24 Rule states that you cannot receive a sign-up bonus if you opened or closed a card within the same family in 24 months. For this card, you can’t receive a bonus if you opened a Citi Thank You Preferred, Premier, or Prestige within the last two years.
Also, the 6 Inquiries Rule states that those with more than five hard inquiries in six months will be automatically denied.
The 1/8 Rule states that only one card can be approved within a rolling 8-day period. Its corollary, the 2/65 Rule, states that only two cards can be approved within a rolling 65-day period.
Consider the following alternatives if the Citi Rewards+ is not for you:
The Citi Premier is an excellent alternative for international travelers who want to earn Citi Thank You points. That’s because it earns 3x TY points on five categories: Airfare, Hotels, Gas, Groceries, and Dining. This five-category earning structure is one of the best among mid-tier travel cards. And this is especially true given how powerful many of the Citi Premier’s competitors are.
Moreover, Citi is offering a sign-up bonus worth 60,000 TY points for the Premier. This bonus can be earned by spending $4,000 within the first three months. The Premier Card’s bonus offers four times more points than the bonus for the Rewards +. But its minimum spend is also four times as large. These differences are worth considering if you are deciding between Citi cards.
The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But its earning potential outshines that of the Rewards + for larger spenders and frequent travelers.
American Express Everyday Preferred Card
The American Express Everyday Preferred card earns Membership Rewards (MR) points in the same categories as the Citi Rewards +. It earns 3x MR points per dollar at Grocery Stores, 2x at Gas Stations, and 1x on everything else. If you use your card at least 30 times per month, you will receive a 50% points bonus. You can earn 4.5x points at Grocery Stores, 3x at Gas Stations, and 1.5x on everything else with the bonus.
Furthermore, Amex is offering a sign-up bonus worth 15,000 MR points for the Everyday Preferred Card. This bonus can be earned by spending $1,000 within the first three months. It is also the same bonus as the Citi Rewards +, except for the type of points being earned. What makes the Citi card’s bonus better is that the Amex Everyday Preferred has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). Cards with annual fees usually offer much higher sign-up bonuses. Therefore, the Rewards + offers more value given annual fees.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is another no annual fee alternative to the Citi Rewards +. It has a richer earning structure and a larger sign-up bonus. The Freedom Unlimited earns cash back as a standalone credit card. But its rewards can be converted into Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points if you have a premium Chase credit card.
The Freedom Unlimited earns 5% cash back (or 5x UR points) on travel purchased from the Chase Travel Portal. It also earns 3% (or 3x UR points) on dining and pharmacy purchases, as well as 1.5% (1.5x UR points) on non-bonus spend.
Plus, Chase is offering a sign-up bonus worth $200 (or 20,000 UR points) for the Freedom Unlimited. This bonus can be earned by spending just $500 within the first three months. That’s half the minimum spend of the Citi Rewards + for the same amount of points.
Those who have varied spending or who want a flat rate card would like the Freedom Unlimited better than the Rewards +. However, the Freedom Unlimited can also be a complement to the Rewards + because of their different earning structures. Those who travel domestically or like to redeem at hotels would like the Freedom Unlimited more. But international travelers would like the Rewards + better.
Citibank’s successor to the Thank You Preferred is a winner. This card is great for those who want a supplementary card to the Citi Prestige or Premier. It’s also a good option for those who want to get started in collecting TY points.
By itself, this card is limited by its lack of redemption options. But its fullest potential could be maximized with combined with the Citi Prestige or Premier. This is especially true if you like Citi’s transfer partners.
Apply Today: Citi Rewards +
“This card can also be a complement to the Freedom Unlimited because of their different earning structures.”
Shouldn’t this sentence say “…complement to the Freedom because of….” since you are talking about the Unlimited card?
Thanks for reading PYCR and pointing out this error. I meant to say “…complement to the Rewards + because of….” because I’m comparing the Chase Freedom Unlimited to the Rewards +, not the Chase Freedom. I have changed the post to correct this.
Also, you could argue that the Rewards + and Freedom (classic) are complements. Both cards have different earning structures and earn different points currencies. You could also add the Freedom Unlimited to the mix and have a trio of complementary cards.