Explained: Citi Rewards Card blacklist for “travel-related” transactions

The Citi Rewards Card is a great choice for online transactions- except travel-related ones. How does Citi define this category?

If you have a Citi Rewards Card, I hope you’ve memorised its mantra by now: 4 mpd on all online spend, excluding mobile wallet and travel-related transactions.

Citi Rewards Card
ComponentPostingCap
Base: 1X points
0.4 mpd
Posted at the time of transactionNo cap
Bonus: 9X points
3.6 mpd
$1,000 per statement month

I’ve already addressed mobile wallet transactions in this post, so let’s now look at how Citi defines “travel-related”, and which transactions run afoul of this restriction.

How does the Citi Rewards Card define “travel”?

As per the Citi Rewards Card’s T&Cs, any transaction with the following MCCs is considered travel-related, and therefore ineligible for 4 mpd (you’ll earn the base reward of 0.4 mpd instead).

❌ Travel-Related Blacklist
MCCDescription
MCC 3000 to 3350 MCC 4511Airlines
MCC 3351 to 3500 MCC 7512Car Rental Agencies
MCC 3501 to 3999 MCC 7011Lodging- Hotels Motels, Resorts
MCC 4111 MCC 4112* MCC 4789*Passenger Transport and Railways
MCC 4411Cruise Lines
MCC 4722 MCC 4723*Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
MCC 5962Direct Marketing- Travel Related Arrangement Services
MCC 7012*Timeshares
*From 1 April 2024
👎 Amaze won’t help
To pre-empt the inevitable questions: no. Amaze won’t help you circumvent these restrictions, because it only changes the merchant description, not the MCC

Do note that some of the abovementioned MCCs (denoted with *) are officially with effect from 1 April 2024, when Citi expands its travel-related blacklist. However, I’ve seen numerous reports which suggest that these MCCs are already on the blacklist, so I wouldn’t risk it.

Airlines (MCC 3000 to 3350, 4511)

✈️ Airlines: MCC 3000 to 3350, 4511
(non-exhaustive)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Scoot
  • Air Asia
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Cebu Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Delta
  • Jetstar
  • Indigo
  • Lufthansa
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Ryanair
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United

Any purchase of airline tickets will not be eligible for 4 mpd with the Citi Rewards Card, thanks to the blanket exclusion of all airlines in the MCC 3000 to 3350 range. 

Even if you’re flying with a carrier that hasn’t been assigned a dedicated MCC in the 3000-3500 range (e.g. Scoot), it will almost certainly fall under MCC 4511 Airlines Not Elsewhere Classified, which is also excluded.

Car Rental Agencies (MCC 3351 to 3500, 7512)

🚗 Car Rental: MCC 3351 to 3500, 7512
(non-exhaustive)
  • Advantage
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • BlueSG
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Drivelah
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • GetGo
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty

Any car rentals will not be eligible for 4 mpd with the Citi Rewards Card, thanks to the blanket exclusion of all car rental agencies in the MCC 3351 to 3500 range. 

Even if you’re renting with a car rental agency that hasn’t been assigned a dedicated MCC in the 3351 to 3500 range, MCC 7512 Car Rental Agencies Not Elsewhere Classified will rule it out. For example, New Zealand’s local car hire firms (Ace, Apex, Ezi, Omega) all fall under 7512.

Closer to home, car sharing platforms like BlueSG, Drivelah and GetGo also fall under 7512.

Hotels (MCC 3501 to 3999, 7011)

🏨 Hotels: MCC 3501 to 3999, 7011
(non-exhaustive)
  • Airbnb
  • Accor
  • Ascott
  • Banyan Tree
  • Best Western
  • Four Seasons
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt
  • InterContinental
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • Marriott
  • Millennium Hotels & Resorts
  • NH Hotels
  • Pan Pacific
  • PARKROYAL
  • Radisson
  • Rosewood
  • Wyndham

Any hotel stays will not be eligible for 4 mpd with the Citi Rewards Card, thanks to the blanket exclusion of all hotel chains in the MCC 3501 to 3999 range. 

Even if you’re staying at a hotel that hasn’t been assigned a dedicated MCC in the 3501 to 3999 range, MCC 7011 Hotels Not Elsewhere Classified will rule it out. 7011 includes most serviced apartment brands (e.g. Ascott, Citadines, Fraser), as well as AirBnb. 

Passenger Transport and Railways (MCC 4111, 4112, 4789)

🚆 Passenger Transport & Railways: MCC 4111, 4112, 4789
(non-exhaustive)
  • Batam Fast
  • Easybook
  • Eurostar
  • Eurail
  • Horizon Fast Ferry
  • KLIA Express
  • Marina South Ferries
  • Trenitalia
  • Turo
  • Shinkansen
  • Sindo Ferries

Train tickets and ferry tickets will not be eligible for 4 mpd with the Citi Rewards Card, to the extent that they fall under MCCs 4111, 4112 and 4789 (and most of them do).

Do note that certain P2P car rental firms, such as Turo, code as MCC 4789. 

Cruise Liners (MCC 4411)

🛳️ Cruises: MCC 4411
(non-exhaustive)
  • Carnival Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Costa Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Dream Cruises
  • Holland America Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean 
  • Silversea Cruises
  • TUI Cruises
  • Viking Cruises

Any cruise bookings will not be eligible for 4 mpd with the Citi Rewards Card, thanks to the blanket exclusion of all cruise companies under MCC 4411.

Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (MCC 4722, 4723)

🏖️ MCC 4722
(non-exhaustive)
  • Agoda
  • Changi Recommends
  • Expedia
  • Hotels.com
  • Kayak
  • KKday
  • Klook
  • Pelago
  • Rail Europe
  • Skyscanner
  • Traveloka
  • Trip.com
  • All brick-and-mortar travel agents (e.g. Chan Brothers, CTC, Dynasty, EU Holidays, Nam Ho etc.)

If you were hoping to circumvent the restrictions on airline and hotels by booking through Agoda or Expedia, think again. Citi excludes MCC 4722, which covers all online and offline travel agencies. 

This rules out any transactions through Klook and Pelago, including attraction tickets and tours purchased through such platforms. It also rules out your traditional brick-and-mortar travel agents like Chan Brothers and Dynasty Travel. 

In case you’re wondering about MCC 4723, this is a bit of a strange appendix that’s only used for Package tour operators in Germany (because of local regulations, I dunno). 

Travel Related Arrangement Services (MCC 5962)

This is a rather nebulously-defined category, and I can’t think of any particular merchant which falls under MCC 5962.

Timeshares (MCC 7012)

If you’re purchasing a timeshare with Club Wyndham, Hilton Grand Vacations, Marriott Vacation Club or any other operator, these code as MCC 7012 and are excluded from earning 4 mpd.

What isn’t travel?

While Citi’s travel exclusions are extensive, they’re not quite exhaustive. There are some travel-related transactions I can think of that aren’t included in its MCC blacklist, though I should insert a caveat by pointing out this line in the T&Cs.

 

For clarity, travel-related transactions refer to transactions which are either wholly or partially related to any form of travel, whether local or overseas and include but are not limited to transactions that fall within the following MCCs.

-Citi Rewards T&Cs, Point 6 (ii)

This gives Citi the right to deem a transaction as “travel-related”, even if it’s not explicitly listed in the T&Cs.

Grab, gojek and other ridesharing/taxis

Grab, gojek and ridesharing/taxi apps code as MCC 4121 Taxicabs and Limousines, and I’ve verified that these earn 4 mpd. 

Scenic cruises and flights

While it may differ by provider, the helicopter sightseeing flights I’ve done in New Zealand coded as MCC 7991 Tourist Attractions and Exhibits.

Certain scenic cruises (e.g. Circle Line in New York City) may also fall under MCC 7991, though you need to exercise caution because some may fall under MCC 4111 (which is excluded). 

Attraction tickets

Tickets to Disneyland, Lotte World, Universal Studios and other amusement parks code as MCC 7996 Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses or Fortune Tellers.

Yes, fortune tellers have their own MCC. 

Bus tickets

Greyhound, Peter Pan, BoltBus, and Megabus code as MCC 4131 Bus Liners.

However, it is possible that MCC 4131 falls under the Citi Reward’s “secret blacklist”, seeing as how it’s explicitly mentioned on the travel-related blacklist for the Citi SMRT Platinum Visa Card. Proceed with caution. 

Duty free

Duty free shopping, whether at the airport or onboard, should code as MCC 5309 Duty Free Stores. 

VRBO (?)

VRBO, an alternative to AirBnb, supposedly codes as MCC 6513 Real Estate Agents and Managers-Rentals. Therefore, it should earn 4 mpd with the Citi Rewards Card, though I’ve put a quesiton mark because it may change to MCC 7011 at some point in the future to match Airbnb. 

How do I find the MCC?

Before you start asking “what MCC is X?”, here’s three ways of looking it up before making a transaction:

MethodEase of UseReliability
HeyMax●●●
📱 Instarem app●●●●
🤖 DBS digibot
●●●

Thanks to these tools, MCC ambiguity should be a thing of the past. So long as you can find it on HeyMax, or do a test transaction via the Instarem app or DBS digibot, you’ll have your answer.

Conclusion

The Citi Rewards Card is a great option for online spending, but you need to be careful to avoid anything travel-related. Citi specifies a list of MCCs in its T&Cs, though it may not be comprehensive; cardholders have learned the hard way about a “secret blacklist”. 

Ultimately, if all this uncertainity is too much for you, then you’re better off using the DBS Woman’s World Card for online transactions, or the UOB Lady’s Card/Lady’s Solitaire Card with Travel as your quarterly bonus category. 

Explained: Which MCCs are included in the UOB Lady’s Card “Travel” category

Any other travel-related MCCs to highlight?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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chk

I wish I knew 2 yrs back that car rental excluded esp when renting for more than a week. I thought only airlines, OTA & hotels 🙁
Lesson learnt

Lincoln

Similar T&Cs apply to Citi SMRT VISA too; which has 5% cashback for Online transactions, excluding Travel-related transactions?

Leon

Bonus points should still be awarded for Amaze+CRMC on Atome but with a surcharge.

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