Review: Citi Rewards Credit Card

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The Citi Rewards Card can either be tremendously rewarding, or extremely frustrating. It all boils down to which version you have.

Here’s the Milelion’s review of the Citi Rewards Card, Citibank’s flagship rewards offering. 

With a 4 mpd earn rate for (almost) all your online transactions, it’s definitely an essential card for miles chasers. There’s one crucial question though: do you have the Mastercard, or the Visa? 

💳 tl;dr: ★★★1/2 (Mastercard)
★★★★1/2 (Visa)
The Citi Rewards is an excellent, no-fuss option for online spending, and its regular bonus promotions and wide variety of transfer partners only sweeten the deal. Unfortunately, you can only get the Mastercard version now, which can be hit and miss with bonus points crediting.
The goodThe bad
  • 4 mpd on all online spending except travel
  • Visa version is the only card to earn 4 mpd on GrabPay top-ups
  • Periodic bonus points promotions
  • Widest variety of transfer partners in Singapore
  • Mastercard version has numerous documented complaints about missing bonus points
  • Citibank does not pool points
This Citi Rewards Card review forms part of my collection of credit card reviews. I’m constantly adding new ones, and you can browse the entire collection here.

Overview: Citi Rewards Card

Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the Citi Rewards Card

Apply Here
Income Req.S$30,000 p.a Points Validity5 years*
Annual FeeS$192.60
(First Year Free)
Min.
Transfer
25,000 Points
(10,000 miles)
Miles with
Annual Fee
NoneTransfer
Partners
  • Singapore Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • EVA Air
  • FlyingBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • IHG
FCY Fee3.25%Transfer FeeS$26.75
Local Earn0.4 mpdPoints Pool?No
FCY Earn0.4 mpdLounge Access?No
Special Earn4 mpd on online spending (excl. travel)Airport Limo?No
Cardholder Terms and Conditions
*Not exactly. See the explanation here

Citibank recently started issuing all new Citi Rewards cards on the Mastercard network. That’s a shame, because unlike the Citi PremierMiles card, there is a big difference between the Mastercard and Visa versions.

We’ll delve into the details below, but the tl;dr version is that only the Citi Rewards Visa earns 4 mpd on GrabPay top-ups. Furthermore, the Citi Rewards Mastercard is blighted with reports of people not earning bonuses on transactions which should be. 

How much must I earn to qualify for a Citi Rewards Card?

citi rewards income requirement

The Citi Rewards Card has an entry-level requirement of just S$30,000 per annum. 

If you don’t meet the income requirement, it may be possible to place a S$10,000 fixed deposit with Citibank and get a secured version of the card, with a credit limit of roughly 80-90% of the fixed deposit amount. This was the case in the past at least, and you should visit a Citibank branch if you want to explore this option. 

How much is the Citi Rewards Card’s annual fee?

 Principal CardSupp. Card
First YearFreeS$96.30
SubsequentS$192.60S$96.30

The Citi Rewards Card has an annual fee of S$192.60 for the principal cardholder, and a S$96.30 fee for supplementary cards. The first year’s fee is waived for the principal cardholder. 

Annual fee waivers are at Citi’s discretion, but I’ve never had an issue appealing for one (with annual spending in the S$10-12K range). Citi does not award any bonus points for renewals. 

What sign-up bonus or gifts are available?

citi rewards sign up bonus

Citibank started offering a sign-up bonus on the Citi Rewards card back in January 2019, which has been periodically renewed. 

This offer is for new-to-bank customers only, defined as those who do not currently hold a principal Citibank credit card, and have not in the past 12 months before application. 

Here’s the current sign-up bonus available:

🎁 Current Sign-Up Bonuses/Gifts
New-to-bankExisting

Option A: Spend S$3,000 within 3 months of approval to receive 27,000 bonus ThankYou points (10,800 miles). Assuming you spent the S$3,000 online, you’d have a total of 20,800 miles (Link | T&C)

Option B: Make one transaction of any amount in the first 60 days and get a free pair of Apple AirPods Pro (Link | T&C)

Option A: Receive S$30 cash upon approval (Link | T&C)

Offers valid till 30 June 2020

How many miles do I earn?

🇸🇬 SGD Spending🌎 FCY Spending➕ Bonus Spending
0.4 mpd0.4 mpd4.0 mpd on online transactions except travel

SGD/FCY Spending

Citi Rewards Card members earn 1 ThankYou point for every S$1 spent in Singapore Dollars or foreign currency (FCY).

1 ThankYou point is worth 0.4 airline miles, so that’s an equivalent earn rate of 0.4 mpd for both local and FCY spending. 

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All foreign currency transactions are subject to a 3.25% fee, so using your Citi Rewards Card for online foreign currency transactions represents buying miles at 0.81 cents each. 

 FCY
Online0.81 cents
Offline8.1 cents

Bonus Spending

You obviously don’t get the Citi Rewards Card for regular SGD/FCY spending. Instead, you get it because it earns an additional 9 ThankYou points per S$1 spent online, or offline at department stores or shops selling bags, shoes and clothes. This applies regardless of currency. 

That’s an equivalent earn rate of 4 mpd, capped at S$1,000 per statement month. 

🗓️ Calendar Month vs Statement Month
It’s important to distinguish between these two. A calendar month is pretty straight forward: 1-31 January, for example. A statement month varies from person to person. For example, your card statement month may run from the 13th to the 12th, i.e 13 January- 12 February. Check your online banking to see your e-statement date- that’s the last day of your statement month

Both the Citi Rewards Visa and Citi Rewards Mastercard have their own S$1,000 monthly cap, so if you hold both, you could earn up to 8,000 (S$2,000 x 4 mpd) miles per month. Any spend in excess of this cap earns 0.4 mpd.

Online spending excludes mobile wallet and travel-related transactions. That said, GrabPay top-ups still earn 4 mpd at the time of writing this article, at least on the Visa version. Why that is exactly, I have no idea- but what’s that saying about gift horses and mouths? 

Travel-related transactions comprise the following MCCs:

MCCDescription
3000 to 3350 Airlines, Air Carriers
3351 to 3500 Car Rental Agencies
3501 to 3999 Lodging – Hotels, Motels, Resorts
4112 Passenger Railways
4411 Cruise Lines
4511 Airlines, Air Carriers (Not Elsewhere Classified)
4722 Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
5962 Direct Marketing– Travel-Related Arrangement Services
7011 Lodging – Hotels, Motels, Resorts (Not Elsewhere Classified)
7512 Car Rental Agencies (Not Elsewhere Classified)

Every other online transaction (with the exception of the bank-wide exclusion categories like insurance) is fair game. 

But here’s where we need to bring up that caveat I mentioned at the start: while the Citi Rewards Visa is a no-fuss option for online spending, the Citi Rewards Mastercard has some notable issues. 

Even though the two should be the same on paper, in practice the Citi Rewards Mastercard doesn’t always earn 4 mpd on certain online merchants. Examples include:

  • Amazon SG
  • Circles Life
  • Deliveroo
  • Guardian Online
  • iHerb
  • foodpanda
  • PayPal transactions to merchant accounts
  • Playstation Network
  • Ryde
  • Taobao

These don’t run afoul of anything in the T&Cs, and earn 4 mpd on the Citi Rewards Visa with no drama at all. And yet, something is lost in translation when it comes to the Citi Rewards Mastercard, where 0.4 mpd is all you get.

That’s not to say the Citi Rewards Mastercard doesn’t do what it advertises- Comfort, Gojek, Grab, Lazada, Oddle, Qoo10, and Shopee have all been reported to work just fine. But more often than not, using the card feels like playing the lottery, one where the winners just receive what they were supposed to get in the first place.

Customers who complain to Citibank usually get the missing points credited on appeal, but this puts the burden of tracking on them. Who knows how many take it on faith that the card will do what it says it’ll do, and never bother to check?

That’s why I’d urge caution with the Citi Rewards Mastercard. You’ll want to monitor your points balance and check that you’re being credited with the right bonuses. 

The Citi Rewards isn’t the only card that gives a bonus for online spending; in fact, you could earn 4 mpd with the DBS Woman’s World Card, the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa, and the OCBC Titanium Rewards

However, each of these cards varies in terms of their bonus cap, and how strictly they define “online spending”. The Citi Rewards has a relatively generous scope, second only to the DBS Woman’s World Card. 

Card4 mpd capIncludes*
DBS Woman’s World CardS$2,000 per c. monthAll online transactions
Citi RewardsS$1,000 per s. monthAll online transactions except travel 
UOB Pref. Plat VisaS$1,110 per c. monthDining, entertainment, groceries, e-commerce, fashion
OCBC Titanium RewardsS$12,000 per m. yearE-commerce, electronics, fashion
C. Month= Calendar Month | S. Month= Statement Month | M. Year= Membership Year
*Standard bank-wide exclusions apply, e.g insurance, government transactions, charitable donations, prepaid wallet top-ups

Citi Rewards Card members will also earn 4 mpd on offline transactions at merchants with the following MCCs: 

MCCExamples (non-exhaustive)
5311: Department StoresTaobao, Isetan, Marks & Spencer
5611: Men’s ClothingBenjamin Barker, Dockers, Superdry
5621: Women’s Ready to WearbYSI, Coast, Forever21
5631: Women’s AccessoriesBimba Y Lola, Chomel, Coach
5641: Children and Infant WearAbercrombie Kids, Cotton On Kids, Kidstyle
5651: Family ClothingASOS, Bossini, Desigual
5655: Sports and Riding Apparel StoresAdidas, Golf House, Lululemon
5661: Shoe StoresALDO, Bata, Birkenstock
5691: Men’s and Women’s ClothingPrada, G2000, Ezbuy
5699: Accessory and Apparel LeSportsac, Crumpler, Esprit
5948: Luggage and Leather Goods StoresKate Spade, Michael Kors, Rimowa
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Do note that these transactions share the same 4 mpd cap with online transactions. For example, if you spent S$600 at Takashimaya and S$800 on Lazada for the month, you would earn S$1,000* 4 mpd + S$400 * 0.4 mpd. 

↩️ Back to the Future
The Citi Rewards card was enhanced in 2019 to offer 4 mpd on all online transactions. However, some of Citi’s CSOs are frustratingly poorly trained, and still insist the card only earns 4 mpd on “bags, shoes and clothes” (the old T&Cs). Resist the urge to scream, hang up and call again if you run into such an objection.

Other promotions

Citibank isn’t shy about running promotions for the Citi Rewards cards, and we’ve seen some very generous ones in recent history. 

For example, from 13 May till 30 June 2020, Citi Rewards members could earn 8 mpd on food delivery, online pharmacy and leisure transactions, and 2 mpd for groceries. 

There have also been  8 mpd promotions for Qoo10 and Lazada, and who can forget the infamous Citi x Apple Pay bonanza, where Citi Rewards members could earn an uncapped 8 mpd on all Apple Pay transactions? Good times, good times. 

When are ThankYou points credited? 

ThankYou points are credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.

How are ThankYou points calculated?

Here’s how you can work out the ThankYou points earned on your Citi Rewards Card. 

Base Points (1X)Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 1
Bonus Points  (9X)
Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 9

This means the minimum spend required to earn miles is S$1. 

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If you’re an excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate your points: 

Base Points (1X)=ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*1
Bonus Points  (9X)
=ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*9
Where X= Amount Spent

For the full list of formulas that banks use to calculate credit card points, do refer to these articles:

What transactions aren’t eligible for ThankYou points?

The following transactions are ineligible for ThankYou points, as per the general Citibank rewards T&Cs. I’ve highlighted a few noteworthy categories below:

  • Quasi cash transactions (MCC 6529-6540)
  • Utilities payments (MCC 4900)
  • Insurance (MCC 6300)
  • Real  Estate Agents and Managers (MCC 6513)
  • Educational Institutions (MCC 8211-8299)
  • Professional Services and Membership Organizations (MCC 8651-8661)
  • Government Services (MCC 9000-9999)
  • Top-ups to prepaid accounts like YouTrip

You will not earn 4 mpd on CardUp, ipaymy or RentHero

What do I need to know about ThankYou points?

The expiry of ThankYou points is a bit complicated. Most people think that points have a 5-year validity- heck, that’s what Citibank says on its own website.

citi rewards 5 years expiry

But that’s not quite true. Don’t believe me? Go to the ThankYou rewards portal and check the expiry date of your points. You’ll see they all expire on the same day! 

citi thankyou points expiry

What’s going on here is that ThankYou points expire every five years (+ three months’ grace) from card approval, not from when points are earned. This means you’ll effectively have less than a year to consume some of the points earned in your fifth year. 

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In Citi’s words:

Points Validity Period means a period of:
a) 12 months for Citibank Silver and Clear Visa cardmembers; or
b) 60 months for Citibank Gold, Platinum, Visa Signature and WORLD Mastercard cardmembers, by reference to which Points are calculated, but so that the first Points Validity  period shall commence on the date when the cardmember is entitled to participate in the Program and expire at the end of 12 months or 60 months (as the case may be) thereafter and each subsequent Points Validity Period will commence on the expiry of the previous one

Here’s an example. Suppose I get my card approved on 1 May 2020. All ThankYou points I earn between 1 May 2020 and 30 April 2025 will expire on 31 July 2025 (5 years + 3 months). 

On 1 May 2025, a new ThankYou points “period” will commence, and all points earned during that period will expire on 31 July 2030 (5 years+ 3 months). It’s needlessly counter intuitive, but important to know about lest your points expire without you knowing. 

Citibank has a policy of not pooling points across cards. If you have 12,000 ThankYou points on the Citi Rewards Visa and 30,000 ThankYou points on the Citi Rewards Mastercard, you will have to pay two separate conversion fees. This also means that you’ll need to transfer all your points out before cancelling the card, or else forfeit them. 

Citibank has the widest variety of transfer partners in Singapore, with 12 airline and hotel programs to choose from. This gives you access to some great sweet spots, like with British Airways Executive Club, Etihad Guest, and Turkish Miles&Smiles

Points transfer at a 5:2 ratio, with a minimum transfer block of 10,000 miles. 

Frequent Flyer ProgramConversion Ratio
(ThankYou Points: Partner)
krisflyer logo25,000: 10,000
asia miles logo25,000: 10,000
british airways logo25,000: 10,000
etihad guest logo25,000: 10,000
evaair logo25,000: 10,000
flyingblue logo25,000: 10,000
ihg logo25,000: 10,000
enrich logo25,000: 10,000
qantas logo25,000: 10,000
qatar logo25,000: 10,000
thai airways logo25,000: 10,000
turkish airlines logo25,000: 10,000

Transfers cost S$26.75 per program, regardless of how many points are transferred.

citi pay with points sms

ThankYou points can also be redeemed for cash rebates at a pretty dismal rate of 440 points =S$1. There’s no reason you should take this option, no matter how many post-transaction SMSes Citi throws at you (and there will be a lot, mind you). 

Other card perks

The Citi Rewards Visa is a Visa Signature, and therefore eligible for certain generic Visa benefits like the Visa Luxury Hotels Collection.

The Citi Rewards Mastercard is a World Mastercard, and has its own set of Mastercard benefits like discounted airport limosdiscounted airport lounge access, and even some fast track status offers

Summary Review: Citi Rewards Card

Apply Here

The Citi Rewards Card has a kind of Jekyll and Hyde thing going on.

I’d recommend the Citi Rewards Visa to anyone in a heartbeat. It’s not just the 4 mpd on online spending, it’s the fact that this is the only card which earns 4 mpd on GrabPay top-ups, opening up a world of possibilities (e.g using your GrabPay Mastercard to pay for insurance or government transactions and indirectly earning 4 mpd in the process). In fact, ownership is almost mandatory for any miles chaser. 

But the Citi Rewards Visa is no longer available. In its place we have the Citi Rewards Mastercard- on paper the same, but in practice very different. Citi Rewards Mastercard members will need to carefully track their bonus points to ensure they’re not getting shortchanged, and some may find it simpler to just use the DBS Woman’s World Card instead. 

These issues are why I’m knocking down the Mastercard rating by a full 1-Star. It’s still a good card, don’t get me wrong, but these finicky issues are holding it back. Those of us who have the Visa version should count ourselves very lucky (Citi has confirmed that all Rewards Visa cards will remain valid until their current expiry dates). 

So that’s my review of the Citi Rewards Card. What do you think?

Ratings Guide
5 Stars
★★★★★
An essential card for miles chasers, with few viable alternatives 
4 Stars
★★★★
A very good card, although other equally good alternatives may exist
3 Stars
★★★
A decent card to round out your collection, but not absolutely essential
2 Stars
★★
Very limited use cases, and outperformed by most other cards
1 Star
★
Paperweight. Use for picking teeth or ninja stars
Overall

Summary

The Citi Rewards is an excellent, no-fuss option for online spending, and its regular bonus promotions and wide variety of transfer partners only sweeten the deal. Unfortunately, you can only get the Mastercard version now, which can be hit and miss with bonus points crediting.
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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dkdk

I’m not sure about the new MasterCard but when I registered for reward visa back in march (before it became MC exclusive), the card expiry date is march 2025

This means that my cc has an effective 5 years validity and I should use up all my thankpoints when the cc expiry is up.

If reward MC also has a 5 years card validity, you can also use that date as a marker in which you have to exchange all thankpoints before that date.

dkdk

I noticed that Citi line of credit cards tend to have 5 years validity and that coincide with the validity of the thankpoint duration (according to this article)

It will be easier to track if you keep in mind that you need to use up all the thankpoints before the credit card expiry date

Yiwei

Ah, by statement month, learnt it the hard way last year 🙁
Will you be doing a review on the UOB Lady’s Card too?

Shawn Lee

Hey Aaron, would you recommend the Citi Rewards or PremierMiles for a first timer? Or should i get both and use them whenever applicable?
Also, i’d like to ask, if i transfer the miles i’ve earned from the Rewards card to my KrisFlyer, can i also transfer my PremierMiles miles to the same KrisFlyer account? (Although i’ll have to pay the transfer fee twice)

Adam

Get both and use when applicable. Alternatively, get DBS Altitude + WWMC which are both similar to the Citi Premiermiles + Rewards combo but the points pool.

Adam

What do you think of using the CRV to top up the GPMC and using GPMC to pay for FCY purchases? Grab charges a 2% FX fee, so your cpm is 0.50 cpm.

Last edited 5 days ago by Adam
Adam

Well, GPMC does have a lower FX fee so my point still stands that it’s a viable alternative. For example, if you would normally put your FX spending on the CRV, you could instead top up the GPMC with your CRV and then use that for your online spending.

Huien

Hey there, thank you for writing this! I have been using the Citibank Rewards Mastercard for the past two years and have accumulated 216,614 points on it (it’s my primary card). I recently also signed up for the DBS Altitude Visa card and am thinking of making a switch to that as my primary card given the non-expiry of points and waiver of annual fees above a certain spend. I didn’t think that the Citibank Rewards offered much. Should I transfer my points to Krisflyer to use at some future date or cash it all out (it’s 22,000 points for… Read more »

Huien

Thank you! Appreciate the response!

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