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Citi Credit Card Review

The Ultimate Guide to Citi Credit Cards

1. Introduction: Why Citi Credit Cards Matter

You’re here because you want to learn about Citi credit cards – and that’s smart. With so many options out there, choosing the right credit card is crucial. It impacts everything from your finances to your lifestyle. Citi has been a major player in the credit card game for decades. Their cards offer a wide range of features, from cash back to travel rewards. But with so many Citi cards available, where do you start? This guide will break it all down for you – the pros, the cons, the fine print. We’ll cover it all, so you can decide if a Citi card deserves a spot in your wallet.

2. Cash Back Credit Cards: Double the Rewards

If you’re looking to earn cash back on your purchases, Citi has some standout options. Their cash back cards are straightforward – you earn a percentage back for every dollar you spend. No confusing categories or caps to worry about. It’s cash in your pocket, pure and simple.The Citi® Double Cash Card is a fan favorite. You earn 2% cash back – 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off. It’s that simple. No hoops to jump through, no rotating categories. Just double cash back on everything you buy.But what if you spend a lot in certain categories like gas or groceries? The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card automatically earns 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle. That could be restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, or several other options. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back. It’s a nice way to maximize your rewards in the areas where you spend the most.

Cash Back Card Key Features
Citi® Double Cash Card – 2% cash back (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay)
– No categories or caps
– No annual fee
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card – 5% cash back in top eligible spend category each billing cycle
– 1% cash back on all other purchases
– No annual fee

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “how do I actually redeem this cash back?” With Citi, it’s refreshingly simple. You can redeem your cash as a statement credit, direct deposit into a bank account, or even request a good old-fashioned check. No jumping through hoops or playing the points game.

3. Travel Rewards: Jet-Setting Made Easy

If you’re more of a jet-setter than a homebody, Citi’s travel rewards cards could be a better fit. These cards earn ThankYou® Points, which you can redeem for flights, hotels, cruises, and more. The Citi Premier® Card is a heavy-hitter, earning 3X points on air travel and hotels, and 3X points at gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants.For those who really go all-in on travel, there’s the Citi Prestige® Card. This premium travel card is packed with perks like a $250 annual travel credit, complimentary 4th night free on hotel stays, and access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass™ Select. You’ll earn 5X points on air travel and restaurants, and 3X points on hotels and cruise lines.

Travel Rewards Card Key Features
Citi Premier® Card – 3X points on air travel, hotels, gas, groceries, restaurants
– $95 annual fee
– No foreign transaction fees
Citi Prestige® Card – 5X points on air travel and restaurants
– 3X points on hotels and cruises
– $250 annual travel credit
– $495 annual fee

But what’s the point (pun intended) of earning all these rewards if you can’t use them easily? Citi makes it simple to redeem your ThankYou Points for travel through their travel portal or you can transfer points to airline partners like JetBlue, Emirates, and more. You can also redeem for gift cards, cash back, or even pay with points at retailers like Amazon.”That’s all well and good,” you might say, “but what about when things go wrong on my travels?” Don’t worry, Citi has you covered there too. Many of their travel cards come with travel protections like trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, and even lost baggage protection.

4. No Annual Fee Cards: Rewards Without the Fees

Let’s be real – annual fees can put a damper on those hard-earned rewards. Luckily, Citi offers several no annual fee cards that still pack a punch when it comes to earning potential. The Citi Rewards+® Card is a unique option that rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. So that $4 coffee earns 10 points instead of 4. It also earns 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 spent per year.If you’re looking for a simple, no annual fee card with a solid welcome bonus, check out the Citi® Double Cash Card we mentioned earlier. There’s also the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, which offers an intro 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for a number of months.

No Annual Fee Card Key Features
Citi Rewards+® Card – Rounds up to nearest 10 points on every purchase
– 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6k/year)
– No annual fee
Citi® Double Cash Card – 2% cash back (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay)
– Welcome bonus offer
– No annual fee
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases
– No annual fee
– Flexible financing with Citi Flex Plan

Having no annual fee doesn’t mean skimping on benefits either. Many of Citi’s no annual fee cards still offer perks like access to the Citi Entertainment program for event tickets, travel and purchase protections, and Citi’s suite of digital money management tools.

5. Student Credit Cards: Building Credit from Day One

If you’re a student looking to establish credit history, Citi has cards designed specifically for you. The Citi Rewards+® Student Card and Citi® Diamond Preferred® Student Card can help you build credit responsibly while earning rewards or taking advantage of a 0% intro APR period.With responsible usage like making payments on time, these student cards can be a stepping stone to better credit scores and eligibility for other credit products down the road. They also come with benefits like Citi Entertainment access, so you can still enjoy perks while building your credit foundation.

6. Fees, Rates, and Fine Print

Of course, no credit card review would be complete without discussing the not-so-fun stuff – fees, rates, and the fine print. Let’s start with the annual fees. As we covered, Citi offers plenty of no annual fee card options. But for their premium travel cards like the Citi Prestige® Card, you’re looking at a $495 annual fee. It’s steep, but the travel credits and lounge access could make it worthwhile for frequent flyers.Interest rates are the real wildcard. Citi’s APRs can range from around 15% all the way up to 25% for some cards. If you tend to carry a balance, those high APRs can really add up over time. That’s why it’s so important to pay your balance in full each month when possible.Now for the fine print – those pesky fees for things like late payments, balance transfers, cash advances, and foreign transactions. Late fees can be up to $40. Balance transfer fees are either $5 or 3-5% of the amount transferred. Cash advance fees are either $10 or 5% of the advance amount. And foreign transaction fees, when applicable, are typically 3% of the purchase amount.

Common Fees Typical Amounts
Annual Fee $0 – $495
APR 15% – 25% variable
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Balance Transfer Fee $5 or 3-5% of amount
Cash Advance Fee $10 or 5% of amount
Foreign Transaction Fee 3% of transaction amount

The key takeaway? Those fees can really add up if you’re not careful. Be sure to read the fine print, understand the rates, and use your Citi card responsibly to avoid getting dinged with extra charges.

7. Application Process and Eligibility

So you’ve decided a Citi card is right for you – now what? The application process is pretty straightforward. You can apply online, over the phone, or even by mail if you’re old-school. Just have your personal and financial information handy.As for eligibility, Citi is typically looking for applicants with good to excellent credit scores, usually 670 or higher on the FICO scale. If you have a rocky credit history or limited credit experience, you may want to consider one of Citi’s student or secured card options first to build up your profile.During the application review, Citi will look at factors like your income, existing debt, and credit utilization ratio. They’ll also check if you have any derogatory marks like bankruptcies, charge-offs, or excessive credit inquiries. Once approved, your credit limit and APR will be determined based on your overall creditworthiness.If you are denied, don’t panic. Citi will provide the reasons for denial, which can help you identify areas to improve before reapplying. You can also call the reconsideration line to plead your case or provide additional information.

8. Security, Protections, and Digital Tools

In today’s world, security and fraud protection should be top priorities for any credit card. Citi has you covered on that front with $0 liability on unauthorized charges, fraud early warning systems, and the ability to lock your card through their mobile app if it’s misplaced.Many Citi cards also come with additional protections like extended warranty coverage, purchase protection against theft or damage, and even cellphone protection plans. Travel cards have extra goodies like trip cancellation/interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waivers.But Citi’s digital capabilities don’t stop at security. Their online banking and mobile apps provide robust money management tools to help you track spending, set budgets, and stay on top of due dates. You can even access your FICO credit score for free.With Citi’s suite of digital tools and security features, you can enjoy the convenience of modern banking while still safeguarding your financial life. It’s a win-win in our book.

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