The Milelion Credit Card Omnibus Week 4: Citibank

The Milelion is running a new series that aims to profile every credit card available in Singapore. Each week we will cover a different bank. The appendix below will be updated weekly with hyperlinks as more banks are added, allowing you to navigate between weeks seamlessly

Appendix

Week 1- OCBC
Week 2- DBS
Week 3- UOB
Week 4- Citibank
Week 5- ANZ
Week 6- American Express
Week 7- HSBC
Week 8- Standard Chartered


Citibank has a solid lineup of cards for miles earning. Between the Citi Premiermiles card and the Citibank Rewards card, you can look forward to getting a solid amount of miles on your general and category spend.

My biggest gripe with Citibank is that they do not pool your rewards points together. Suppose I have a Premiermiles card and a Rewards card. The points from these 2 will be on different “rewards accounts”, meaning I need to pay 2 conversion fees when I want to liberate them. Contrast this to DBS and UOB which pool all points from your cards into 1 account. This is especially a problem if you’re going for the strategy I adopt, which is right card, right place. Your points balances on individual cards may be low- meaning a higher cost of liberation. Right card, right place is ok with UOB because it all goes to the same place (meaning spending $100 a month on dining with UOB Preferred Platinum is ok because that will get lumped together with all the UNI$ from my PRVI Miles cards)

I’ve been told that you can pool points from 2 similar currencies- that is, if you have 1 Citibank Rewards Visa and 1 Citibank Clear Platinum, you can ask the customer service rep to manually combine the two before redeeming. But if you have 2 different currencies, eg 1 Citibank Premiermiles AMEX (which earns Citimiles) and 1 Citibank Rewards Visa (which earns Citi ThankYou Points) you can’t.

Miles/Points Cards

Citi PremierMiles

citi premier

  • Annual Fee: $192.60  (First year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $50,000 (Singaporeans & PRs)
  • Marketing Spiel: 1.2 miles on general spending, 2 miles on overseas, miles never expire, special promotions with OTAs to get 6-10 miles
  • The catch: Good all-round card to have, although it’s still slightly behind the ANZ Travel Visa at 1.4 miles
  • Sign up here for Visa, here for AMEX

A lot of people use the PremierMiles card as their one and only card. I’m sure by now you’ll know that I’m opposed to using one card and one card only, because you’re going to miss out on lucrative category spend. But if you insist on doing that, then the Premiermiles card will serve you well, earning

  • 1.2 miles per S$1 on local spend
  • 2 miles per S$1 on overseas spend
  • 6 miles per S$1 at Expedia
  • 10 miles per S$1 at Kaligo (I’ve covered Kaligo here– their rates tend to be higher than other OTAs, so do the math and be sure the rewards are worth it)

What is especially attractive about the Citibank PremierMiles card is these tieups they have with OTAs. Assuming you’re not actively trying to earn elite status with any chain, earning bonus miles through these OTAs is extremely enticing- 10 miles per S$1 at Kaligo is not to be sniffed at.

There’s a promotion till year end that offers 50% bonus miles on overseas spend during “long weekends” (the remaining dates for 2015 are 8-10 Nov, 25-27 Dec, registration required) subject to S$1,000 min spend per 3 day period and the maximum bonus you can earn is 3,000 miles.

Since the conditions on this are so strict, you’re better off not bothering and using your DBS Altitude AMEX (assuming you got in on the first 6 months bonus promo where all overseas spend gets 3 miles per $1, no minimum/maximum on earnings)

Citibank is slightly misleading (ok very misleading) its marketing materials for this card- it claims that you can redeem your miles at over 60 airlines. However, it only transfers to

  • SQ Krisflyer
  • Cathay Asia Miles
  • BA Executive Club
  • EVA Infinity Mileagelands
  • MAS Enrich
  • Garuda Frequent Flyer
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Thai ROP
  • Etihad Guest

It’s a decent list to be sure, but nowhere near 60 airlines. How they get that, is because SQ is part of Star Alliance, you can redeem your miles on any Star Alliance carrier (whether you should do that, however, is a different matter altogether).  So you can in theory, but you’ll get quite bad value for them.

You get 10,000 miles when you pay the annual fee of S$192.60, thereby offering you the possibility of buying miles at <2 cents each (good value for redeeming premium cabin flights at upwards of 4 cents of value)

Note that this card comes in 2 flavours- the AMEX version gives 1.3 miles for local spend (vs 1.2 for the visa version) and 2 miles per S$1 spent on SQ/MI tickets. You’re still better off with the DBS Woman’s Card or the DBS Altitude AMEX, which grant 4 and 4.5 miles respectively per S$1 spent on airtickets (need not be SQ).

Yay or Nay: YayI don’t think the 0.1 incremental miles the AMEX version offers is worth having to deal with lower AMEX acceptance, so go for Visa. The Visa version doesn’t publicise 2 miles on purchases at SQ as a benefit, but in any case you shouldn’t be using this card for airtickets

Citi Rewards

citi rewards

  • Annual Fee: $192.60  (First year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $42,000 (Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: 4 miles per $1 spent at department stores, on shoes, clothes, bags and online shopping.
  • The catch: Citibank’s definition of online shopping is a bit more restrictive than DBS’s. Bonus capped at $12,000 per annum
  • Sign up here 

The Citi Rewards card should be your go-to card for all department store purchases + shopping. Citibank defines shopping as purchases at any merchant whose primary line of business is shoes, clothes or bags. I suppose that’s open to interpretation but it should be quite safe to charge things from Mango, Zara, Fred Perry etc to this card.

This extends to online shopping as well. Note that Citi’s definition of online spending does not include  food & beverage, travel, airline, government, brokerage/ securities, cinema, insurance, tuition and online gambling websites.

The Citi Rewards card comes in 2 flavours- Visa and Mastercard. The Mastercard version is a World Mastercard, which means you can participate in the Starwood Gold offer– make 1 stay in any Asia Pacific property and get Gold status after that.

Granted, not all of us spend a lot at department stores, but to the extent that you’ve identified a big ticket household item to purchase you can price shop and decide if buying it at a department store is good value.  I had the hallowed responsibility of buying a PS4 for the office and did so at the electronics section in Taka, earning 2,400 miles on a ~$600 purchase. Had I gone to Best Denki or Challenger I’d be looking at best at 1.3/1.4 miles per $1.

Either this card or the DBS Woman’s World card can be your go-to cards for Amazon spending too.

Yay or Nay: Yay. Useful card to have for your shopping needs- get a supp card for your partner if he/she is the shopping kind.

Citibank Clear Platinum Card

citibankclearplatinum

  • Annual Fee: $160.50 (1 year waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $42,000 (Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: 5X rewards points on overseas spend, dining and online shopping
  • The catch: Earn rate not as good as the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX card (4 miles vs 2 miles for Citi Clear Platinum), but useful for places where AMEX not accepted
  • Sign up temporarily not available 

This is a good, flexible rewards card which I recommended as part of the suite of entry-level credit cards. 

This card earns 2 miles per S$1 for spend on dining, overseas and online shopping. Note that Citibank’s definition of online spend is not as generous as DBS’s. Citibank excludes online spend on food & beverage, travel, airline, government, brokerage/ securities, cinema, insurance, tuition and online gambling websites.

It’s clearly a good card for dining. Although the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX gets you 4 miles per $1, Visa is accepted at a lot more places than AMEX.

The only issue now is that you can’t seem to sign up for this card online. I tried poking around the Citibank website but the sign up links have disappeared. It’s possible this card is currently undergoing a re-brand, and I’ll update this page when we know more.

Yay or Nay: Yay, if you want a dining Visa to compliment your UOB PP Amex

Citibank Prestige Card

citiprestige

  • Annual Fee: $535.50 (1 year waiver)
  • Income Req: $120,000 (Singaporeans & Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: Earn a miles bonus based on your relationship with Citibank, free unlimited lounge access, get 25,000 miles with annual fee
  • The catch: High income requirement
  • Sign up here

If you can afford the high price of entry (annual income of $120,000), you might want to take a look at this card.

The base deal is 1.3 miles for local spend and 2 miles for overseas spend, which is slightly better than the Altitude portfolio and slightly worse than the PRVI portfolio. But there’s a kicker to this- you earn a bonus based on your relationship with Citibank

Tenure 0 – 5 years 6 – 10 years > 10 years
Citigold / Citigold Private Client 15% 20% 30%
Non Citigold/ Citigold Private Client 5% 10% 15%

The way to read the chart above is- if you’re a non-Citigold client who just got this card, you’d earn 1.365 miles per $1 of local spend and 2.1 miles for overseas spend. This could potentially scale to as high as 1.69 miles per $1 of local spend and 2.6 miles for overseas spend, which would put this card as one of the best miles earning value propositions out there. Of course, you’d need to have been a Citigold member for more than 10 years to qualify for that…

EDIT: Apparently i’ve misunderstood this. Scott from the comments clarifies

The Citi Prestige Card Relationship Bonus is actually rather misleading. How is works is you get a percentage bonus on your total spendings in Citi Dollars which you can then convert to miles. So suppose we have been Citigold members for more than 10 years with $10,000 annual spent. This gives 10,000*0.3 additional Citi Dollars and thus 1200 additional miles. So, assuming only local spendings, this adds up to roughly 1.42 miles on the dollar.

I copied the following from the Prestige site.

“You are a Citigold Client who has been a Citibank customer for the past 8 years, with an annual retail card spend of S$50,000.
Your Relationship Bonus rate would be 20% and you will receive a Relationship Bonus of 10,000 Citi Dollars (S$50,000 annual retail spend x 20% bonus rate) at the end of membership year. “

 

You get a welcome gift of 25,000 miles by paying the $535 annual fee- that is a cost of 2.14 cents per mile. This is potentially good value if you have a high value redemption (premium cabins where you get 4 cents and up in value) in mind.

Other interesting value propositions of this card include lounge access via Priority Pass, (you get the unlimited use membership, not those 2 free visits a year type offered by other banks) a buy 4 nights get 1 free promotion at hotels, special benefits at the Ritz and Four Seasons and 4 one way limo transfers per year (with $1,500 spend per quarter)

Yay or Nay: If you can afford the cost of entry, might be worth a look if only for the opportunity to manufacture miles at ~2 cents each

Cashback/Co-branded

Citi Dividend

citi dividend

  • Annual Fee: $192.60  (Two years fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $42,000 (Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: 8% cashback on 3 categories- grocery, dining and fuel
  • The catch: Subject to minimum spend of $888 per statement month, capped at $25 per category per month. You need to earn a minimum of $50 cashback before you can start cashing out
  • Sign up here 

Another cashback card promising big and delivering small. The Citibank Dividend card awards 8% rebates in 3 categories, but you need to spend a total of $888 on the card each month and the maximum rebate you can get per category is $25. This means you max out the benefit once you hit $312.50 per category. At most, you should spend $937.50 on this card per month, if you want to maximse your benefit.

Given that the rebate caps out at such a low amount, the more you spend on this card, the less rewarding it gets. Which, I find, is a characteristic trait of all cashback cards. And you can’t cash out on your cashback until you hit $50. If you want to do cashback, you can find much better alternatives.

Yay or nay: Nay. You can do much better with the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX for dining.

Citi SMRT Platinum

download (1)

  • Annual Fee: $160.50  (Two years fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $42,000 (Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: 7% savings on groceries, 15% savings on coffee, 5% savings on toys and books
  • The catch: Conditions, conditions, conditions. Maximum cashback in a year is $280
  • Sign up here 

Although the card is marketed as an SMRT co-brand, the actual benefits you get from SMRT are minimal. You get 2% back on your EZ-Reloads in terms of Smart$, but the bigger draw for this is groceries. There is a current promotion for grocery shopping, as shown below

Participating Merchant Total Savings Earned from SMRT$ Earned from Citi Rebate Additional SMRT$ Earned
Giant 12% 5% 2% 5%
Sheng Siong 12% 5% 2% 5%
FairPrice Supermarkets 10% 5% 5%
FairPrice Xtra – Kallang Wave 12.3% 7.3% 5%

As with all cashback cards, there are many T&Cs attached. This promotion lasts till 31 Oct and you need to spend at least $600 per month to maximise this. You’ll only earn the bonus 5% if your total transaction is $50 and more, otherwise you earn 3%. There’s a lot more fine print, but the TL;DR version is don’t bother.

I don’t understand how people can opt for cashback cards over miles cards on the premise that they’re “simpler”, especially when cashback cards have so many T&Cs attached to the cash back- minimum monthly spends, minimum transaction spends, monthly caps on earnings, minimum cashout blocks…

Yay or nay: Nay

Citi Paragon WORLD Mastercard

citi paragon world

  • Annual Fee: $192.60  (first year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $40,000 (Singaporeans), $42,000 (Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: 10% rebate at selected Paragon stores, 3% rebate on taxis and Paragon Marketplace, complimentary parking and coffee
  • The catch: Parking and coffee require $100 single receipt spend and limited to first 50 cardholders, rebates only redeemable in intervals of $50. Rebates valid for 6 months
  • Sign up here 

Citibank’s answer to DBS’s Takashimaya and UOB’s Metro cards comes in the form of the Paragon WORLD card. You might remember Paragon as “that place with the bloody expensive parking”, and therefore it’s a good thing that this card gives you free parking! Oh, only with $100 spending in a single receipt and for the first 50 customers.

The Paragon WORLD card gives 10% rebates at selected merchants (quite an extensive list, to be fair). Note that you could earn 4 miles per $1 by spending on the Citi Rewards card at some of these merchants (eg the clothes, bags and shoe stores), so do the math and decide which one you’d rather have.

One interesting thing about this card is the presence of what’s called the Citibank Paragon Premium Membership Program. Apparently this is offered to a subset of Paragon card holders (presumably those with higher spend) and offers complimentary year long parking and $500 of Paragon shopping vouchers. The spending requirement is $50,000 in a given calendar year. Enjoy your 1% rebate!

Note that this is a World Mastercard, so it should be eligible for the SPG Gold promotion.

Yay or Nay: Nay- who can afford to shop at Paragon anyway?

Citibank M1 Platinum Visa

citibankm1

  • Annual Fee: $160.50  (first year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $42,000 (Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: Enjoy savings on your phone bill with M1
  • The catch: Obviously, only of use to you if you’re an M1 subscriber
  • Sign up here 

Given the craptacular nature of UOB’s Singtel card, can Citibank’s M1 card be any better (and why doesn’t Starhub have a co-branded card, I wonder)?

You get 2.5% rebate on M1 mobile/broadband bills. Plus you get some special VAS if you’re an M1 subscriber…

M1 recurring bills Up to 2.5% Citi Rebate
Purchases at M1 Shop 0.7% Citi Rebate
Additional Value Added Services if you are an M1 Subscriber:
Handphone accessories at M1 Shop 10% discount
Free mobile data $20 worth of usage per month for first 3 months upon card approval
Free 3G video calls $5 worth per month for first 3 months upon card approval
SIM card Free replacement
M1 Value-Added Services (eg. Roaming) Free registration
Interest-free installments 12-month loans on new handset purchases above $200
Free loan phone Free use for up to 2 weeks within a calendar month if you lose yours

I think the free loan phone program has since been discontinued, and a lot of the perks above aren’t really worth shouting about (except maybe the $20 of free mobile data)

There used to be a 5% rebate on overseas spend with this card but the promotion expired more than a year ago (and for some strange reason is still being advertised on the site).

Yay or nay: Nay

 

28 thoughts on “The Milelion Credit Card Omnibus Week 4: Citibank”

  1. One more for the list…
    You can use Citibank Prestige Mastercard to buy 25K discounted miles with its annual fee, plus its earning rate is reasonable and you get unlimited PP lounge visits.

    1. updated to reflect this one too. it seems they’re targeting the same crowd as ocbc voyager/cimb visa infinite at the 120k pa salary price point…

  2. Citi rewards 4x miles bonus is not limited to online shopping for bags shoes and clothes.

    Website says it’s all online shopping (rather broad definition). Believe the latest pdf T&Cs say that too. So best Denki online shopping for eg or book depository or toiletries, when Ive tried, earns 4x.

    But stuff like transport (i.e. Uber) is excluded.

  3. Hey ya!
    The Citi Prestige Card Relationship Bonus is actually rather misleading. How is works is you get a percentage bonus on your total spendings in Citi Dollars which you can then convert to miles. So suppose we have been Citigold members for more than 10 years with $10,000 annual spent. This gives 10,000*0.3 additional Citi Dollars and thus 1200 additional miles. So, assuming only local spendings, this adds up to roughly 1.42 miles on the dollar.

    I copied the following from the Prestige site.

    “You are a Citigold Client who has been a Citibank customer for the past 8 years, with an annual retail card spend of S$50,000.
    Your Relationship Bonus rate would be 20% and you will receive a Relationship Bonus of 10,000 Citi Dollars (S$50,000 annual retail spend x 20% bonus rate) at the end of membership year. “

    1. i called 3 months ago and they said i could apply over the phone. whether or not that’s still the case i’m not clear

      1. I just called in to apply since the UOB PP Amex sms did not work for me. The operator told me that this Citibank Clear Platinum is still available through phone, just that they are not actively promoting it.

  4. Hi Aaron!

    Am looking through the Citibank Premier Website and it seems like they are offering x2 complimentary visits per year – but was unable to find the link to apply them.

    Do you mind writing up an article which includes how we could hack & get as many travel lounge benefits as one could get?

    Thank you!!

    1. sorry I missed your comment on this. yeah that’s an interesting idea for an article, will add it to the to-do list. which cc has the “Best” priority pass, for example

  5. Can you use the Citi Rewards card to purchase Amazon gift cards (to use for yourself later), and get 4 miles to $1? Amazon’s got an offer going on now with $5 bonus for every $100 top-up.

    1. interesting. i think some people in the states were using amazon GCs for MS but i forgot exactly how. I think amazon payments let you cash out the GCs for a period of time. or maybe i’m remembering something else. anyway that loophole no longer exists

      yes, it will count as 10x for citibank rewards

  6. Citibank Rewards 4x miles is limited to $12k spend per year per card member or per card basis? I have maxed out Citibank rewards Mastercard by making AXS payments so wondering if I should apply for the Visa.

  7. Hi, anyone has experience using citipremiermiles amex/visa card for expedia. I did a flight booking on 20 July. Called the CSO and was told that I will only see the miles credited after 31 December. That’s a long wait. And for citibank – u cannot pool together your miles and transfer to Krisflyer. It would be a consider a new transaction per card – i.e. will incur $25 for each transfer. Doesn’t sound good at all. After this experience, I would definitely prefer my DBS cards which charge a flat annual rate.

    1. from my (very limited) knowledge of the citibank redemption process, you can call in and ask the CSO to pool your miles together so you pay 1 x transfer fee. not sure if that’s still possible

  8. Hi Btw where did you see a waiver for the first year for citi prestige?

    I was under the impression its not, but you get welcome gift?

    1. i didnt see any first year fee waiver for citi prestige. i would imagine that in rare exception cases where they offer that (and i’ve yet to hear of any), you wouldn’t get the welcome gift either.

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