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)
|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 good||The bad|
|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
|Income Req.||S$30,000 p.a||Points Validity||5 years*|
(First Year Free)
|FCY Fee||3.25%||Transfer Fee||S$26.75|
|Local Earn||0.4 mpd||Points Pool?||No|
|FCY Earn||0.4 mpd||Lounge Access?||No|
|Special Earn||4 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 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?
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 Card||Supp. Card|
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?
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|
|Offers valid till 30 Sept 2020|
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spending||🌎 FCY Spending||➕ Bonus Spending|
|0.4 mpd||0.4 mpd||4.0 mpd on online transactions except travel|
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.
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.
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. GrabPay top-ups with the Visa version used to earn 4 mpd, but this ended on 17 July when Visa reclassified the MCC to quasi-cash.
Travel-related transactions comprise the following MCCs:
|3000 to 3350||Airlines, Air Carriers|
|3351 to 3500||Car Rental Agencies|
|3501 to 3999||Lodging – Hotels, Motels, Resorts|
|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
- Guardian Online
- PayPal transactions to merchant accounts
- Playstation Network
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.
Citi Rewards Card members will also earn 4 mpd on offline transactions at merchants with the following MCCs:
|5311: Department Stores||Taobao, Isetan, Marks & Spencer|
|5611: Men’s Clothing||Benjamin Barker, Dockers, Superdry|
|5621: Women’s Ready to Wear||bYSI, Coast, Forever21|
|5631: Women’s Accessories||Bimba Y Lola, Chomel, Coach|
|5641: Children and Infant Wear||Abercrombie Kids, Cotton On Kids, Kidstyle|
|5651: Family Clothing||ASOS, Bossini, Desigual|
|5655: Sports and Riding Apparel Stores||Adidas, Golf House, Lululemon|
|5661: Shoe Stores||ALDO, Bata, Birkenstock|
|5691: Men’s and Women’s Clothing||Prada, G2000, Ezbuy|
|5699: Accessory and Apparel||LeSportsac, Crumpler, Esprit|
|5948: Luggage and Leather Goods Stores||Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Rimowa|
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.|
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.
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)
|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.
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!
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.
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 Program||Conversion Ratio
(ThankYou Points: Partner)
Transfers cost S$26.75 per program, regardless of how many points are transferred.
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
Summary Review: Citi Rewards Card
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, because it’s a simple tool to earn 4 mpd on all online spending (sadly, the GrabPay top-ups have been nerfed).
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?
|An essential card for miles chasers, with few viable alternatives|
|A very good card, although other equally good alternatives may exist|
|A decent card to round out your collection, but not absolutely essential|
|Very limited use cases, and outperformed by most other cards|
|Paperweight. Use for picking teeth or ninja stars|