Below we rank the main Citi-branded credit cards (Citicards) and give a short review of each card to help you see which (if any) is right for you. Note that we’ve listed the student and secured Citi cards at the bottom in a separate area, because they are intended only for certain types of cardholders. Also, we have not included co-brand cards issued by Citibank such as the Costco credit cards or cards from American Airlines.
Citi Double Cash Card – Our favorite Citicard gives you 2% cash back on everything you buy, although you get that 2% back in an unorthodox way: 1% cash back when you make the purchase, and then 1% cash back when you pay off your purchases. No annual fee. Who It’s For: If you want a great cash back card that doesn’t require you to keep track of various spending categories in order to maximize your return, start here.
Citi Prestige Card – This is Citi’s high-end travel credit card, meaning it has a high annual fee but also loads of perks. Annual fee is $495, but perks include a $250 travel credit each year, access to over 1,000 airport lounges, a 4th night free hotel stay when you book a stay of four consecutive nights at the same hotel, and more. Plus, you earn Citi ThankYou points: 5 points per dollar on air travel and dining purchases, 3 points per dollar at hotels and cruise lines, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Has a 50,000-point bonus opportunity for new cardholders. Who It’s For: Anyone that can take advantage of both the 4th-night-free offer AND the $250 travel credit might want this card, especially with its generous points on travel and dining. However, if you can’t take advantage of the 4th night free or max out that travel credit, the card’s annual fee will not be worth it.
Citi Premier Card – This rewards card is sort of a hybrid, with a nod toward travel but also goodies for the more general rewards-seeking cardholder. It has a $95 annual fee, and tries to justify that annual fee with enhanced points earning and an attractive new cardholder bonus. You get 3 points per dollar on travel purchases and gas station purchases, 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment, 1 point everywhere else. Bonus opportunity of 60,000 points, which could equal $750 in travel if you use those points in Citi’s ThankYou travel portal. (All points earned on this card get a 25% boost when used toward travel in this way.) Who It’s For: If you spend a lot on travel and gas purchases in particular, and if the 25% points boost on travel redemptions is attractive to you, this card makes sense. Otherwise, stick to no-annual-fee cards.
Citi Rewards+ Card – This no-annual-fee card offers 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations, 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Those rewards are a bit paltry, but they do get beefed up a bit in two different ways. First, the card rounds up each individual transaction to the nearest 10 points to give you a little extra in rewards. This is especially good for smaller purchases. (For example, a $3 cup of coffee would earn you 10 points instead of just three.) The other points boost comes in the fact that you get 10% of the points you redeem rebated back to you, on up to 100,000 points redeemed per year. Still, it’s unlikely this card would beat out most of the better rewards cards on the market, and these round-ups and point rebates just make it harder to understand exactly what you can expect to get in rewards. Who It’s For: If you make a lot of purchases under $10 with the card, you could justify this card, otherwise it’s hard to make a good case for it.
Citi Simplicity Card – This no-annual-fee Citi card is a bit deceptive, so be careful. It offers a 0% interest rate on your purchases for 12 months, and a 0% rate on balances you transfer from other credit cards for 21 months. However, there are two big caveats as far as balance transfers go. First, you pay a one-time fee of 5% of the amount of the balance transferred to this card, which is a high fee when compared to most of the credit card industry. Second, if you transfer a balance to get those 21 months at a 0% rate, be sure not to use the card for new purchases after that initial 12 months. Otherwise, the 0% rate essentially goes away and you’ll start paying interest on that transferred balance.
The “Simplicity” branding on this card does not refer to that not-simple balance transfer rule, but instead refers to the fact that there are no fees for late card payments, and no “penalty rate” if you are late with payments, either. No rewards with this card. Who It’s For: If you need to transfer a balance at a 0% interest rate, the 21-month offer is among the best in the industry. If you have a habit of making your payments a few days late, you won’t pay more.
Citi Diamond Preferred Card – This card is essentially the same as the Simplicity card in terms of its 0% interest rate on balance transfers for 21 months and a 0% rate on new purchases for 12 months, with all the same caveats (5% balance transfer fee, deceptive balance transfer offer that starts charging interest after 12 months if you make a new purchase with the card). The only differences are that you might get a slightly lower interest rate with this card but you won’t get a break on late payments like with the Simplicity card. No annual fee. No rewards. Who It’s For: Hard to say, really. It is too much like the Simplicity card.
Other Citi credit cards:
Citi Secured MasterCard – This credit card is intended for those who need to build a credit history. If you have been turned down for other cards due to no credit history or limited credit history, a secured card like this could help you. You must put down a security deposit to get the card, then you get a credit line equal to that deposit. (Example: $500 deposit = $500 credit limit on the card.) You use the card like any other credit card, making your bill payments each month. Over time, this could help you build better credit, assuming you make your payments on time. No annual fee, which is nice as many secured cards do have annual fees. Note that your security deposit is returned when you no longer want the card, assuming you have paid off your card’s balance in full. Who It’s For: People who need to build a better credit history in order to be approved for regular, unsecured credit cards.
Citi Rewards+ Student Card – While we are lukewarm on the standard Citi Rewards+ Card for the non-student market, we like the Rewards+ Student Card much better, because it stacks up well to other student credit cards. (There are a fairly limited number of cards created especially for students.) It offers 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations, 1 point per dollar everywhere else. The card’s “round up” feature gives you a little boost in points, rounding up each individual transaction to the nearest 10 points, making the card especially good for smaller purchases. (For example, a $3 cup of coffee would earn you 10 points.) No annual fee. Who It’s For: College students, who are generally unlikely to qualify for “regular” credit cards but can be approved for student cards with slightly reduced features.