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The Best Citi Bonus Cards

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That friend of yours who constantly brags about their all-expenses-paid, luxurious trips to the Bahamas or Paris that they booked using credit card points—ever wonder what his secret is?

Credit card power users take advantage of what is known as the sign-on bonus. And you can, too. The key is to find out which quality credit cards are currently offering a mouth-watering bonus offer when you spend a certain amount — typically within three months of opening the new credit card.

Citi has several bonus credit cards with enticingly big sign-up bonuses that are worth exploring if you're looking to rack up bonus points. We've looked at more than a dozen and narrowed it down to the top three.

We'll outline the pros and cons of these cards, so you can decide which of the popular Citi bonus cards is the best one for you:

the verdict

1. The Citi Prestige card is the best of the Citi Bonus bunch because of its introductory rewards offers

The Citi Prestige card is the best of the Citi Bonus bunch.

Among the many Citi bonus rewards cards offering generous sign-up bonuses, the Citi Prestige is our number 1 choice. This premium Citi bonus card, which has a $450 annual fee, is currently offering a high 75,000 ThankYou points offer when you spend $7,500 in the first three months.

We chose the Citi Prestige over the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard—our second favorite, which also offers a competitive 75,000 mile sign-up bonus when you spend $7,500—because the Prestige is more flexible in its earning opportunities and redemption possibilities.

Other valuable Citi Prestige card benefits:

  • Annual $250 airfare credit
  • Free fourth-night hotel stay
  • Earn 3x ThankYou points on air travel and hotels as well as free Priority Pass airport lounge access.

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard has the same $450 fee as the Citi Prestige but only gives you 2x miles for American Airlines-related spending. The AAdvantage Executive World Elite card gives you free checked bags when flying domestic but only access to the Admiral Club airport lounges.

The $7,500 spend threshold on both top Citi bonus cards is steep, but if you have a big purchase planned in the next month or two, the Citi Prestige card will reward you more handsomely than the other Citi bonus cards.

the strengths

2. The Good: Strong sign-up bonuses

Highest sign-up bonuses

Citi offers among the best credit card sign-up bonuses in the industry. While the Chase Sapphire Reserve made news last year when it offered an unheard-of 100,000-point sign-up offer, that bonus has now been reduced to only 50,000 points—giving the Citi bonus cards an edge.

One of the few sign-up bonus offers that beats out the Citi Prestige and AAdvantage Executive World Elite is the American Express Personal Platinum 100,000 Points offer, which only requires $5,000 in spending to earn those extra points.

However, this offer is targeted very narrowly and the card has a $550 annual fee—$100 more than the Citi cards we are recommending.

The airline incidental credit is only $200 per year (as opposed to $250 on the Citi Prestige), but it does offer an annual Uber credit of $200.

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The Citi bonus offers are more widely available than the American Express Personal Platinum, though you will still need good credit (660-800s) to qualify for them.

The weaknesses

3. The Bad: High annual fees & large spending thresholds

High annual fees and large spending thresholds

While the Citi bonus cards offer among the best sign-up bonuses of any credit card company, Citi does favor big spenders.

To earn the 75,000 bonus, Citi Prestige and AAdvantage Executive World Elite cardholders will have to spend $7,500 in three months to qualify.

Yes, that's $2,500 a month for three months. If you're already spending that amount on a monthly basis, or you have a big purchase planned, then these cards can be good choices.

However, if you never spend anything near that amount on your credit card, you may find yourself spending more to secure the sign-up bonus—and these splurges can end up costing you more than you'll make from the bonus itself, especially if you don't pay your bill in full and carry a balance.

Also, be aware that both Citi bonus cards have high annual fees of $450. The 75,000 bonus points are valued at over $1,000 when redeemed for travel so you'll likely come out ahead, but in future years when there is no sign-up bonus, you'll need to examine whether the annual fee is worth the extra perks.

These extra perks include a $250 travel credit, a free fourth-night hotel stay on the Citi Prestige, free Admiral Club access and free checked baggage on the AAdvantage Executive World Elite, to name a few.

Who it's for

4. You should get a Citi Bonus credit card if you travel a lot, particularly on American Airlines

Get a Citi Bonus credit card if you travel a lot

Ask yourself the following questions to see whether these cards are a good fit—and, if so, which card is best for you, based on your personal spending patterns and lifestyle:

  • Do I fly often (and typically choose American Airlines)?
  • Do I spend $2,500 or more a month on my credit card?
  • Is complimentary access to an airport lounge important to me or something I'd use often?
  • Do I spend several thousand dollars each year on American Airlines-related purchases?
  • Do I often check a bag when I travel?
  • Do I have good reason to prefer priority boarding (to ensure room in the overhead bin, or make sure my kids can get settled in on the plane before everyone else begins to board)?
  • Do I often book hotel stays of four days or more?

If you've answered yes to the questions above, one of the Citi bonus cards will be a welcome addition to your wallet. (If you answered no, you may be better off with the Citi Double Cash Card, which gives you 2% - hence the "double cash card" - cash back rewards on every purchase when you pay your bill in full.)

Read on as we detail the pros and cons of each of the Citi bonus cards mentioned above to help you find the perfect card for a frequent jet-setter like you.

5. The history of Citibank and why bikes (yes, bikes!) matter to them

The history of Citibank and why bikes matter to them.

Citi offers a wide variety of bonus credit cards issued by Citibank, a subsidiary of Citigroup. The bank has more than 700 branches in the United States, located primarily in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Miami.

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If you have been to New York City, Brooklyn, or New Jersey in the last few years, you may have seen Citi Bike stations and Citi Bikes on many a street corner. The bikes proved to be a huge success when they were introduced in May 2013, selling out 5,000 advanced memberships in 30 hours!

It's creative marketing programs like this that Citi believes will help make its bonus credit cards top of mind.

Citi Bonus credit cards will work best when traveling—near and far

Citi Bonus credit cards will work best when traveling

While Citi branches are mainly located along the coasts in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, Citi bonus cards can be used anywhere in the United States as well as abroad.

If you travel on American Airlines, you'll get extra perks like a free checked bag if you use an American Airlines-branded bonus credit card.

An added plus—the top Citi Bonus cards (the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, Citi Prestige, and Citi ThankYou Premier) do not charge foreign transaction fees.

The competition

6. Main Competition: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Citi Bonus credit cards compete with Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is considered a best-in-class credit card for those of you who travel frequently and are looking to maximize your points using the flexible redemption options offered through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The Citi Bonus cards give even the Chase Sapphire Reserve a run for its money.

Identical annual fees.

Identical annual fees. The Sapphire Reserve has the same $450 annual fee as the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard and Citi Prestige.

Increased sign-up bonus.

Increased sign-up bonus. The Chase Sapphire Reserve currently only offers 50,000 sign-up points when you spend $4,000 in three months.

Both the Citi Prestige and AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard offer a 75,000 bonus when you spend $7,500 in three months.

While the spend threshold is almost double for these Citi Bonus cards, the sign-up rewards are 50% greater.

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Luxe travel perks.

Luxe travel perks. Frequent American Airlines flyers will find that the AAdvantage Executive card's generous travel perks exceed those offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

In addition to complimentary access to the Admirals Club airport lounges, Executive card holders receive their first checked bag free on domestic itineraries, preferred boarding, and 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airline flights.

Citi Prestige cardholders get an annual $250 airfare credit and free fourth-night hotel stay. The Chase Reserve card gives you $300 annual travel credit ($50 more than the Prestige) but no free checked bags or hotel stays.

Let's do the math: The sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is only worth $750 when redeeming points via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; the American Executive card's 75,000 points can be worth as much as $1,050—a difference of $300!

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As you can see, if you regularly fly American, the Executive card is a no-brainer. However, if you fly whichever airline is cheaper—or don't have a large American Airlines hub in your city—you'll probably be better off with the Citi Prestige since it offers a 75,000 sign-on bonus along with flexibility in redeeming points for travel.

How the card works

7. Pros and Cons

Pros and cons of Citi Bonus Cards

If American Airlines is your go-to airline for business and personal travel—or even if you simply travel a lot on many different airlines—you'll want to add a Citi Bonus credit card to your wallet, and cash in on the high-value sign-up bonus.

Read on for a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the best Citi Bonus Cards, listed in order of our favorites.

We begin with the Citi Prestige Card, which leads the pack in terms of luxe travel perks including an annual airfare credit and a free fourth-night hotel stay.

Citi Prestige Card

Citi Prestige Card

The Citi Prestige Card is one of Citi's higher-end rewards cards. Those who travel often and tend to charge a lot on their credit card will gravitate toward this card.

Citi is currently offering one of its best bonus offers—when you spend $7,500 in three months, you'll earn 75,000 ThankYou points.

That's worth $750 in cash, up to $1,200 when redeemed directly for airfare at the Citi ThankYou Travel Center, or $940 when transferred to Citi's 15 travel partners.

The Citi Prestige Card offers travel perks that are among the best in the industry— you'll get an annual airfare credit of $250 that can be used on any airline and for a wide range of travel fees.

You'll also get a complimentary fourth night hotel stay for free, a perk that can save you thousands of dollars if you regularly vacation for four nights or longer.

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Citi Prestige cardholders earn 3x ThankYou points on air travel, hotels, and travel agencies (the Citi AAdvantage Executive card only gives you 2x miles per dollar spent on American Airlines).

They also earn 2x ThankYou points on dining and entertainment and 1x ThankYou points on all other purchases.

Pros

Pros:

  • $250 annual airfare credit, including tickets, baggage fees, upgrades, in-flight expense and more
  • Complimentary hotel nights—fourth night free for any hotel stay (excluding taxes)
  • Global concierge service
  • Earn 3x ThankYou points on air travel, hotels, and travel agencies
  • Lounge access—Priority Pass Select membership, which includes access to more than 1,000 airport lounges for immediate family or two guests
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $100 Global Entry credit every five years
  • Flexibility with travel redemption credits
  • Trip protection insurance and trip delay protection, reimbursing you up to $500 if your flight is delayed more than three hours
  • Purchase protection of up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year for items damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase
  • 90-day return protection, providing you with a refund within 90 days of purchase if the retailer refuses to accept the return
  • Extended warranty of 24 months (best of any premium credit card)
  • Citi Price Rewind, a complimentary benefit that searches online merchants for a lower price on items you pay for with your Citi Rewards Card

Cons

Cons:

  • Annual fee of $450
  • Interest rate of between 16.74%-24.74%, based on your credit
  • As of July 2017, the Citi Prestige card doesn't give you access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges (you'll only get access to the airport lounges within the Priority Pass network)
  • You'll have to spend a lot—a whopping $7,500 in 3 months—to earn the 75,000 sign-up bonus

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World EliteTM Mastercard

Citi® / AAdvantage Executive World EliteTM Mastercard

This premium Citi travel card costs $450 a year but offers big rewards, including 75,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $7,500 in three months, making it our second favorite card of the bunch.

Pros

Pros:

  • Complimentary Admiral Club Lounge access
  • Free checked bags, for you and up to eight companions flying on the same reservation
  • 2 AAdvantage miles on US Airways and American Airlines-related spending, 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent on general spending
  • The opportunity to earn up to 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines when you charge $40,000
  • $100 reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry every five years
  • 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection, lost baggage protection, worldwide car rental insurance, worldwide travel accident insurance

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  • Citi Price Rewind (see above for details)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Reduced mileage awards
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Trip delay protection
  • Baggage delay protection
  • Concierge service
  • Damage and theft purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Missed event ticket protection
  • 90-day return protection

Cons

Cons:

  • $450 annual fee
  • 16.74-24.74% APR

Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Citi ThankYou Premier Card

The Citi ThankYou Premier Card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in three months. You'll also receive 3x ThankYou points on travel expenses, including gas.

The card does have an annual fee of $95, however; it is waived for the first year. (Please note that several of the ThankYou Premier Card's perks—such as Citi Price Rewind—are also associated with the Citi Prestige Card, and are detailed above.)

Pros

Pros:

  • 50,000 ThankYou sign-up bonus with qualifying purchases
  • 3x ThankYou points on travel expenses, including gas
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Citi Price Rewind
  • No limit on the amount of ThankYou Points you can earn
  • Damage and theft protection

Cons

Cons:

  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Interest rate of 15.49%-24.49% on purchases

what people love about it

8. People love the bonus perks

People love the Citi Bonus cards

$100 discount on Prestige's annual fee. A little known but lucrative perk of being a Citigold or Citi Priority client is that you'll receive a $100 discount on the Citi Prestige Card's annual fee.

You do need to keep a certain monthly balance in your account to waive monthly fees on these checking accounts, such as $50,000 to avoid the $30 monthly Citi Priority checking account fee.

If you already are a Citigold or Citi Priority client, the extra discount on the Prestige card is nice, bringing the annual fee down to $350.

$100 discount on Prestige's annual fee.

15% bonus ThankYou points. Even more exciting is the relationship bonus Citigold and Citi Priority clients get in the form of extra ThankYou points.

Citi will total the dollar amount of the purchases you made during your membership year and then give you a 15% bonus based on the base earning a rate of one point per dollar spent.

15% bonus ThankYou points.

For example, if you typically spend $2,500 a month on your Citi Prestige Card for a year and are a Citi Priority banking client, you'll get a bonus 4,500 ThankYou points—15% of $30,000.

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Customer Quote 1

When consumer Bryan Meisel called to activate his Citi Prestige Card, customer service told him about the reduced annual fee and bonus. "Even if I use the fourth night free once in a year, this is a no brainer," he wrote.

biggest consumer compliants

9. Biggest Customer Complaint: 24 months to qualify for a new bonus point offer

Biggest consumer complaints about Citi Bonus credit cards

Citi has gotten much stricter with its sign-up bonuses, disqualifying you from getting the bonus if you've already had any of the same types of credit card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

Can't double dip for points. The Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier cards are considered the same "type" of card—so if you already have the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you won't be able to take advantage of the Citi Prestige 75,000 sign-up bonus unless your Premier card has been closed for more than 24 months.

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Citi's 24-month rule is confusing. The 24-month rule has confused some consumers who aren't clear when the clock starts, especially when they downgraded their card or needed a new card issued due to their card being lost or stolen.

A commenter named Pat on a One Mile at a Time post learned the hard way that if you convert from one Citi Card to another, you are not eligible for the sign-up bonus on the new card.

Customer Quote 2

"I recently converted my AAdvantage Platinum card to the Citi Prestige, got denied the sign-up bonus, and now won't be eligible for the Prestige signup bonus for at least a year," she wrote.

She recommends canceling your existing card, or converting it to a no-annual-fee card, and then applying for the new card separately so you can still earn the sign-up bonus.

Score 150,000 ThankYou points. The good news is that theCiti / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard and the Citi Prestige Cards are not considered the same type of card—so you can qualify for both 75,000 bonus point offers.

Just be aware that you can only apply for one Citi card every eight days.

Key digital services

10. The Citi Bonus app makes it easy to manage your credit card on the go

Citi Bonus credit cards' app

Download the Citi mobile app on your phone (iPhone, Android) so that you can manage your credit on the go. The well-rated app enables you to:

  • View statements
  • Monitor recent transactions
  • Pay your bill
  • Report fraudulent activity
  • Book your next vacation

How to sign up for the cardD

11. Applying on Citi's website

Apply for a Citi Bonus credit card at Citi website

This past summer, Citi boosted the sign-up bonuses on several of its most popular bonus cards. The Citi Prestige sign-up bonus increased from 40,000 to 75,000 points, and the Citi ThankYou Premier Card's bonus went up 20,000 points (it's now 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in three months).

To take advantage of the limited time sign-up bonuses Citi is offering on its bonus credit cards, visit the Citi website to apply for your new Citi credit card.

Be sure to write down the date you apply for the card, since your three-month window to spend the qualifying amount to earn those extra miles or ThankYou points begins the day you apply for the card—even if it takes a week or two for your new card to arrive.

How to close your account

12. Closing your account through customer service

Close your account for the Citi Bonus credit cards by calling customer service

If you wish to cancel your credit card, call the number on the back of your Citi Bonus card to speak with customer service. You can also send a secured message through Citi's online portal requesting that your account be closed.

Send a secured message through Citi's online portal to close account

There are no penalties for closing your Citi Bonus credit card, but you do need to pay your balance off in full.

Once the miles you have earned have been transferred to American Airlines, you will have 18 months to use them before they expire. Often, by purchasing a magazine subscription or a small gift card, you can extend the expiration date for your miles.

For the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier cards, your ThankYou points will expire 60 days after closing your account—so redeem them quickly.

FAQ

13. Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the difference between the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and the Citi Prestige Card?

    Both cards are premium credit cards that offer 75,000 sign-up bonuses and a $450 annual fee, but that's where the similarities end. The AAdvantage Executive card gives you free checked bag and complimentary Admiral Club access, while the Citi Prestige gives you a $250 annual travel credit and a free fourth-night hotel stay.

  • What are the transfer rates for the Citi Bonus card(s)?

    None of the Citi Bonus cards featured above offer a 0% balance transfer rate. The APR on these cards ranges from 15.49-24.74% for any balance transfer requested.

  • What is the minimum credit score one should have before applying for a Citi Bonus card?

    The Citi Bonus cards are generally available to those with good credit, above 660.

  • Do all Citi Bonus cards come with the Price Rewind feature?

    Yes! Here's how it works: When you buy a laptop or another item on Citi's list of eligible items, you can upload your receipt. Citi will search hundreds of online retailers to see how much they are charging for the same item. If the price drops within 60 days, you'll receive a credit automatically for up to $500 per item. There is a maximum $2,500 you can claim each year through the Price Rewind program.

  • How much is the annual fee on the Citi Bonus cards?

    Both the Citi Prestige and AAdvantage Executive World Elite cards have a $450 annual fee. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year.

  • Do the Citi Bonus cards offer any purchase protection benefits?

    Yes, the Citi Bonus cards offer damage and theft protection. If an item you purchased with your Citi card is lost or stolen within 120 days (or 90 days if you live in certain states), Citi will reimburse you up to $50,000 within a year for damages.

    The Citi AAdvantage Executive and Citi Prestige cards also offer an extended warranty program that provides you with an extra year of warranty—covering you up to $10,000 a year to repair, reimburse, or replace the item up to the amount charged on your card.

  • How much does Citi charge for late fees?

    Paying your bill late can cost you $35.

  • Can I use Citi Bonus cards internationally?

    Yes, all Citi cards are equipped with an EMV chip, enabling you to securely use the card as you travel internationally.

    The AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, Citi Prestige, and Citi ThankYou Premier all have zero foreign transaction fees, so you can use these cards fee-free when traveling abroad.

Boost your ThankYou points with this top bonus offer

Boost your ThankYou points with this top bonus offer

Citi's robust selection of bonus cards means you can earn as many as 75,000 points or miles when you spend $7,500 within three months of opening the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier cards.

If you're a frequent traveler who isn't loyal to American Airlines, you'll want to choose the best card out of the bunch—the Citi Prestige Card.

In addition to the generous 75,000 sign-up bonus offer, this top bonus card will give you a $250 annual travel credit and free fourth-night hotel stay.

Since you're interested in a bonus credit card like the Citi Prestige Card, then you may also want to check out these reviews and articles:

Do you use the Citi Prestige card? How has the card worked out for you? Any great tips-or nightmares-to share with the rest of us? Let us know in the comments below.


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