The Best Citi Rewards Credit Cards: A Complete Guide
We detail the pros and cons of the top Citi rewards credit cards - including the Citi Prestige, Double Cash and ThankYou option - to help you find the one that best meets your needs and spending style.
Citi Bank offers quite a few rewards credit cards worth knowing about, several of which earn you Citi ThankYou points, as well as the popular Citi Double Cash card, which offers one of the highest cash back rates (2%!) across all credit card companies.
But not all Citi cards are equal.
We're going to give you a helpful overview of each Citi Rewards credit card listed below, so you can decide which is best for you.
We selected these cards for review because they offered the most rewards among all Citi credit cards.
We'll look at The Best Citi Travel Rewards in a separate piece.
Here are all five Citi Rewards credit cards to consider:
- Citi ThankYou Preferred card
- Citi ThankYou Premier card
- Citi ThankYou Preferred card For college students
- Citi Prestige card
- Citi Double Cash card
Go with the Citi Prestige card to cash in on travel rewards
Most of the Citi Rewards cards tend to give you extra points for dining and entertainment purchases.
For frequent travelers, there is, indeed, one Citi Rewards card that rises above the pack—the Citi Prestige card, which is one of the most generous and flexible Citi Rewards credit cards currently available.
It offers more lucrative travel perks than similar cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, including an annual $250 airfare credit and free fourth-night hotel stay that more than offset its $450 annual fee.
Other notable Citi Prestige card benefits
- A very generous sign-up bonus of 75,000 ThankYou points when you spend $7,500 within three months of opening the card. The Citi Premier card offers the next best sign-up bonus of Citi Rewards cards—50,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in three months. The Citi ThankYou Preferred will only give you 15,000 ThankYou points when you spend $1,000, and the Citi DoubleCash card offers no sign-up bonus.
- Free airport lounge access
- Free Global Entry credit every five years
- $250 annual airfare credit
- Generous trip delay protection that offers you compensation after only a three-hour flight delay (this is better than offerings by similar cards)
True, the spend threshold for this Citi Rewards card is on the higher end, but if you're charging that much anyway within three months and travel often, this is a card worth having.
You can redeem the 75,000 points for $750 in cash—or as much as $1,200 in airfare when you book via the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
You also have the option of transferring your ThankYou points to more than 15 travel partners.
Citi Rewards credit cards are strong because of the bonus points they offer on travel, dining out, and entertainment
The Citi Rewards cards are especially worthwhile for those who spend a large portion of their discretionary money on eating out at restaurants, travel, and entertainment, as opposed to cards like the American Blue Cash Preferred card, which gives you as much as 6% back on grocery and gas purchases, but only 1% back for restaurants and entertainment.
The Citi Preferred card offers double points on dining and entertainment, categories that often only get you 1% back on other cards.
Citi Prestige cardholders receive an annual $250 travel credit and free fourth-night hotel stay free.
The Citi Thank You Premier card offers 3x ThankYou points on travel and gas purchases (the American Express Blue Cash Preferred also gives you 3% on gas, but not travel).
The ThankYou Premier card also carries a $95 annual fee—so if you spend more than $3,300 a year on travel and gas, you'll offset that fee. And the Citi Double Cash card will give you 2% back on every purchase, assuming you pay your bill.
Another perk is Citi Rewards cards' Price Rewind, a complimentary benefit that searches online merchants for a lower price on items you pay for with your Citi Rewards card.
If the same item is found online at a lower price within 60 calendar days of your purchase, you can receive a credit.
(To qualify for Price Rewind, you'll need to register each item you purchased with your Citi Rewards card.)
The Citi Rewards credit cards' weaknesses lie in the diminished value of the ThankYou points
Credit card experts tend to assign a lower value to Citi ThankYou points than they do to AMEX or Chase Ultimate Reward points.
Redeeming Citi points for cash or a statement credit only gets you 0.5 cents per point, which the New York Times calls "a particularly anemic way to use points." Chase Ultimate Rewards, on the other hand, are worth 1 cent per point when redeemed for cash or gift cards.
Across the board, you'll maximize the value of your credit card reward points by redeeming them for travel.
In the case of the Citi ThankYou points, when you redeem ThankYou points for travel, you can get as much as 1.25 cents per point.
If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, however, you get a 50% bonus when redeeming travel through the Chase Ultimate Reward Center—making those points worth 1.5 cents!
Another downside to the Citi Prestige card, in particular, is that as of summer 2017, it no longer offers access to the American Airlines Admiral Club airport lounges.
If you exclusively travel on American Airlines, this can be a big drawback.
Who It's Made For
You should get a Citi Rewards card if you spend a lot of money on travel and dining out
To determine whether one of the top Citi rewards cards currently available is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I travel often on different airlines, and rarely fly American Airlines?
- Do I usually pay extra to use an airport lounge?
- Do I spend a lot of money on dining out and entertainment?
- Do I often stay at the same hotel for four or more nights in a row?
- Do I bank at Citi and want the convenience of seeing all of my accounts (checking, savings, and credit cards) in one place?
- Do I tend to charge about $2,500 or more on a credit card each month?
If you answered yes to the questions above, the Citi Prestige card is likely a good fit for your personal spending patterns and lifestyle.
If you answered "no" to many of the questions above, then the Citi Double Cash card may work better for you.
Sit tight as we detail the pros and cons of each of these Citi Rewards credit cards to help you find the best Citi Rewards credit card that meets your needs and spending style.
Everything you need to know about Citi Rewards credit cards.
Click on any tip below to learn more about which Citi Rewards card is right for you.
Did You Know?
Citi is now the official credit card for Costco—and many other retailers
Citibank is a subsidiary of Citigroup, which operates 2,649 bank branches in 19 countries including 723 branches in the U.S. concentrated in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C, and Miami, as well as nearly 1,500 branches in Mexico.
Citi is the bank behind many retail credit cards, including Staples, Shell Oil, HomeDepot, ExxonMobil, and Sears.
In 2016, Citi made news when it edged out American Express as the exclusive issuer of the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi.
Citi Rewards credit cards work anywhere you may travel
Citi Rewards credit cards can be used domestically as well as internationally, but some cards charge a foreign transaction fee, including the Citi Double Cash card and Citi ThankYou Preferred card—both of which charge a 3% fee on all foreign transactions.
If you travel internationally, you're better off using the Citi ThankYou Premier card or the Citi Prestige card to avoid paying any foreign transaction fees.
Citi's Prestige card competes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve
As far as premium credit cards go, the Citi Prestige card offers strong competition to Chase's Rewards cards, the most notable comparison with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Same $450 annual fee, but Citi Prestige offers better travel rewards.
The Citi Prestige card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card both have a $450 annual fee—but the Citi Prestige comes out ahead when you factor in the fourth-night-free hotel stay.
Also, adding additional card holders—who then qualify for perks like airport lounge access—costs $50 on the Citi Prestige and $75 on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Citi Prestige offers a higher sign-on bonus — 75,000 points!
The Citi Prestige card offers a higher sign-up bonus (75,000 ThankYou points) as compared to the Chase Sapphire Reserve's 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
However, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you only need to spend $4,000 to qualify for the bonus.
With the Prestige card, you need to spend almost twice that ($7,500) to earn the 75,000 ThankYou points.
So if you're not already spending about $2,500 on your credit card per month, you may be better off with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve offers more points for dining out.
The Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Reserve both give you 3x points per dollar spent on travel.
But if you are a regular at restaurants, you'll want to stick with the Chase Sapphire Reserve because dining out gets you three points per dollar on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but only two ThankYou points on the Citi Prestige.
The Prestige offers 2x ThankYou points for entertainment purchases, while the Sapphire Reserve includes that category in its one point per dollar for all other purchases.
Chase Sapphire Reserve offers better travel credit.
Chase Sapphire Reserve will give you a $300 annual travel credit, while the Citi Prestige card only gives you a $250 credit in airfare or baggage fees.
Where the Citi Prestige credit card really shines is when it comes to hotel stays of four or more nights.
With the Prestige card, you'll receive the fourth night hotel stay free—a perk that is not offered by the Sapphire Reserve or other premium credit cards.
So while the spend requirement to earn the 75,000 ThankYou points is higher with the Citi Prestige, if you stay at a hotel for two weeks each year at an average of $250 a night, the Citi Prestige card will save you $500—money you won't get back from the Sapphire Reserve.
Overview of the Card
The overall pros and cons of Citi Rewards cards, so you know best
Here are the pros and cons of each of these Citi Rewards credit cards, listed in order of our preference, with the Citi Prestige earning the distinction of our favorite Citi travel rewards 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 (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.
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.
- $250 annual airfare credit, including tickets, baggage fees, upgrades, in-flight expense and more
- Complimentary hotel nights—4th 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
- 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 Double Cash card
The Citi Double Cash card offers one of the highest cash-back rates available. You'll earn 1% back on all purchases, and another 1% when you pay your bill—no restrictions or limitations on these cash rewards.
Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which only offers 1.5% cash back, the Citi Double Cash card has no annual fee.
If you are transferring a credit card balance, the Citi Double Cash card is ideal because it offers a generous 18-month 0% interest balance transfer rate.
Like many other Citi cards, the Citi Double Cash card offers the Citi Price Rewind feature, which tracks the price of items you buy and refunds you the difference if the price decreases within 60 days.
If you pay your bill on time or are looking for a 0% balance transfer rate, the Citi Double Cash card is worth considering.
- No annual fee
- 2% cash rewards, which can be redeemed as a statement credit or check
- Generous 18-month 0% balance transfer rate
- Convenient way to earn cash back on all of your purchases without having to keep track of rotating bonus categories
- Late-fee waiver for first missed payment
- Free access to your FICO score
- Citi Price Rewind
- Damage and theft protection—if an item you purchased with your Citi Double Cash 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
- If you travel frequently or dine out a lot, you can get up to 6% cash back with other cards like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred
- You need to have good credit to be approved for this card
- 3% foreign transaction rate
- No sign-up bonus
- High-interest rate on new purchases, ranging from 14.24-24.24% if you carry a balance
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, though it is waived for the first year.
- 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
- $95 annual fee after the first year
- Interest rate of 15.49%-24.49% on purchases
Citi ThankYou Preferred card
If you like to eat out at restaurants and spend a lot on entertainment, the Citi ThankYou Preferred card is a no-fee card that offers two points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment. It also offers an OK (but not great) sign-up bonus of 15,000 ThankYou points when you spend $1,000 in three months. For a no-fee card, it's a decent deal—but if you're looking to really rack up the reward points on groceries, for instance, versus restaurant and entertainment spending, you may want to go for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred.
- No annual fee
- 2x ThankYou points on dining and entertainment (so if you spend $1,000 in these categories, you'll earn 2,000 ThankYou points, worth about $10)
- 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
- Citi Price Rewind
- Damage and theft protection, which can cover the costs of repairs or give you a refund if purchases made with your Citi card are damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase (90 days for New York residents)
- Other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer 3x points on dining purchases
- 3% foreign transaction rate
- After the introductory zero-interest period, if you carry a balance, you'll pay a variable interest rate of between 14.49-24.49%, based on your credit
Citi ThankYou Preferred card for college students
One of the best cards out there for college students looking to build their credit, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for college students offers a sign-on bonus of 2,500 ThankYou points when you spend $500 in three months.
Students earn two ThankYou points for every dollar spent on entertainment and dining and one ThankYou point for all other purchases.
The card has no annual fee.
Get the most bang for your buck by redeeming ThankYou points for bill payments and gift cards - you'll get less value if you redeem the ThankYou points for cash or merchandise.
- No annual fee
- Earn 2 ThankYou points for every dollar spent on entertainment and dining
- 0% interest rate on purchases for 7 months
- Damage and theft protection
- Citi Price Rewind
- After promotional period, you'll pay an interest rate of between 15.49-25.49%, based on your credit
- Relatively small sign-up bonus
What People Love Most
People love the Citi Prestige card best because of its free fourth-night hotel stay
"The best perk this card has is the 4th-night free perk," says Quora user Brian Hou, a self-proclaimed credit expert and travel hacker, in Credit Expert and Travel Hacker. "Book four nights or more at a hotel and Citi will reimburse you for the fourth night."
Of course, this benefit is only helpful if you tend to stay at a hotel for four days or more when traveling. "As far as the fourth-night free benefit goes, I won't initially put a value to it," comments Ben Schlappig on his blog, One Mile at a Time.
"Instead I'll judge the value of it after I've had the card for a year. I could see it being something that saves me thousands of dollars, or it might not be something I ever end up using. We'll see."
Experts and consumers say that the trip protection benefits offered by the Citi Rewards card—with the Citi Prestige card leading the pack—are more generous than other cards.
"The Citi Prestige card offers an exceptionally wide range of travel insurance policies. For example, you receive $100,000 of medical evacuation insurance," says Quora user Kenneth Hardy.
"It also features up to $5,000 of trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, per covered traveler, per trip. A baggage delay plan covers you for $500 of expenses per traveler per trip when your baggage is delayed.
And if your baggage is lost, it will cover you for $3,000 per bag ($2,000 per bag for New York residents), with a maximum benefit of $10,000. You also receive $1 million of travel accident insurance."
Experts point out that Citi Prestige's trip delay insurance covers you for $500 per traveler when your trip is delayed by at least three hours—while other cards require that the flight is delayed eight hours or more.
What People Dislike Most
The biggest consumer complaints about Citi Rewards credit cards include not being eligible for Citi sign-on bonuses
Consumers say that Citi is cracking down on its sign-on bonuses. If you've closed or opened a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier, or Citi Prestige card within the past 24 months, you won't be eligible for a bonus point offer on any Citi ThankYou or Prestige card. "Obviously this is a pretty major change by Citi, they have really been cracking down on people chasing sign up bonuses," explains Doctor of Credit writer William Chase. Indeed, this is a significant downside to the Citi Rewards program for people who like to churn credit cards, especially when they are anticipating a one-time period of high spending.
Some consumers feel that Citi points are less valuable than AMEX or Chase points. Redeeming Citi points for cash only gets you 0.5 cents per point.
Chase Ultimate Rewards, on the other hand, are worth one cent per point when redeemed for cash or gift cards.
Your best bet is to redeem ThankYou points for travel; you can get as much as 1.25 cents per point.
The Citi Rewards credit cards' mobile app is easy to use and has a 4.5-star rating in the Apple iTunes app store
You can log into the Citi Mobile App on your phone using Touch ID, and then view statements and recent card activity, report fraudulent activity, pay your bill, and lock and unlock your credit card with Citi Quick Lock.
You can also maximize the value of your ThankYou points by booking an upcoming trip by redeeming your ThankYou points online at the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
Once you have a Citi login, you'll be able to use Citi Pay Masterpass, a digital wallet that lets you make online purchases easily without sharing your card number with merchants.
It helps protect your card information by replacing your real card number with a unique digital number when you shop at participating online merchants and within merchants' mobile apps.
How to Apply and Cancel
Go to the Citi website if you want to sign up for the Citi Rewards credit cards
To view the latest sign-up bonuses Citi is offering on its rewards credit cards, visit the Citi website.
There, you can read the fine print about each card, review promotional offers, and easily sign up for a Citi Rewards credit card.
The easiest way to close your account for the Citi Rewards credit cards is to call customer service
To close any of your Citi Rewards credit cards, call the toll-free number listed on the back of your credit card.
If you are registered for online access with Citi, you can also send a secure message through their online portal.
There are no penalties for closing an account but you will be responsible for paying off any of the remaining balance before the account can be terminated.
In addition, you will want to redeem the ThankYou points you have earned because the points expire 60 days after canceling your Citi Rewards credit card.
You can transfer your ThankYou points to a spouse or relative's account but those points will still expire 90 days after transferring them.
The answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Citi Rewards credit cards
What's the difference between the Citi ThankYou Preferred card and the Citi ThankYou Premier card?
The Citi Preferred card has no annual fee, while the Citi Premier card will cost you $95 a year. However, the Preferred card only gives you 2x points on dining and entertainment while the Premier card gives you 3x bonus on travel expenses, including gas.
The sign-on bonus is better for the Premier card—you'll get 50,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 as compared to only 15,000 ThankYou points when you spend $1,000 on the Preferred card.
What are the transfer rates for the Citi reward card(s)?
Your best bet when it comes to transferring a credit card balance to a Citi rewards card is the Citi ThankYou Preferred card, which offers 0% balance transfer rate for 12 months, and the Citi Double Cash card, which offers a 0% balance transfer rate for 18 months.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred for college students offers 0% balance transfer rate for seven months. The ThankYou Premier card and the Citi Prestige card do not have a promotional balance transfer rate. On those cards, you'll pay 15.49-25.49% interest on the amount transferred.
What is the minimum credit score one should have before applying for a Citi reward card?
The Citi rewards cards are generally available to those with good credit, above 660. However, for college students looking to boost their credit score, the Citi Preferred card for college students may be a good bet.
If I'm looking for generalized hotel rewards, which is the best credit card for me?
Unless you always stay at one hotel chain (such as Hilton), you're better off with the Citi Prestige rewards card, which offers a fourth-night hotel stay for free no matter where you stay.
Which is a better cash back credit card, Citi Double Cash card or the Citi ThankYou cards?
If you are planning to redeem points for cash you're better off with the Citi Double Cash card, which gives you 2% back on all purchases. The Citi ThankYou points are worth less than that unless you redeem them for travel.
How does the Citi Double Cash card cash back work?
With Citi Double Cash card, you earn 1% on all purchases when you use the card. Plus, you'll earn an additional 1% when you pay your bill.
How does the Citi Double Cash card compare to other cash back rewards cards?
The Citi Double Cash card is among the most generous cash back cards available. Other cash back rewards cards, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, only give you 1.5% cash back when you make a purchase—and no extra cash back upon paying your credit card bill.
Do all Citi Rewards 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.
Which Citi Rewards cards do not have an annual fee?
The Citi Double Cash card and Citi ThankYou Preferred cards do not have an annual fee. Other Citi rewards cards do have an annual fee, including the Citi ThankYou Premium card ($95 a year) and the Citi Prestige card ($450 a year).
Do the Citi Rewards cards offer any purchase protection benefits?
Yes, the Citi Rewards cards offer damage and theft protection. If an item you purchased with your Citi Double Cash 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.
Citi Rewards 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. Only the Citi Prestige card offers 90-day Return Protection, providing you with a refund within 90 days of purchase if the retailer refuses to accept the return.
How much does Citi charge for late fees?
Paying your bill late can cost you up to $35 per bill. However, the Citi Double Cash card offers a one-time late fee waiver so you won't be charged a late fee the first time it happens.
Can I use Citi rewards cards internationally?
Yes, all Citi cards are equipped with an EMV chip, enabling you to securely use the card as you travel internationally. The Citi Double Cash card and the Citi ThankYou Preferred both have a 3% foreign transaction fee—so avoid using these cards when traveling abroad. The Citi Prestige, with no foreign transaction fee, would be a better bet on your international travels.
Choosing the must-have Citi Rewards card for your wallet
If you travel regularly and enjoy perks like free lounge access, hotel stays, and annual travel credits, the Citi Prestige card is a must-have card for your wallet.
Just be sure you'll actually maximize the perks offered by this top Citi rewards card.
If not, you'll end up losing out due to the steep $450 annual fee—and therefore the Citi Double Cash card may be a better option for your everyday credit card spending.
Do you use the Citi Prestige credit 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.