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Citi is one of the U.S.’s largest credit card issuers, offering a wide selection of cards to choose from. Looking for cash back? Citi has you covered. Have a trip coming up? Citi offers travel credit cards with point transfer opportunities. Citi has a card for every occasion.
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Citi (short for Citigroup or Citibank) sets itself apart as a global bank with 200 years experience of helping customers make responsible financial decisions while also contributing to overall economic growth. Its core services include protecting assets, lending money, and making payments, as well as guiding connections between clients and the capital market.
Amongst these core services, Citi offers a range of credit cards designed to support cardholders through every purchase they make.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) is Citi’s only cash back card, but it’s one of the most well-known of the bunch. You’ll earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, which is double the standard rate for general, non-category purchases — a relatively excellent reward you’ll find on few other cash back cards.
This Citi credit card also provides a fairly lengthy balance transfer offer, though you will have to pay a balance transfer fee.
Read moreBest Cash Back Credit Cards of October 2021
Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
No Annual Fee
Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person.
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (Review) is an interesting new contender in the 5% cash back space. Rather than having a set of rotating categories, or being able to choose your own, you’ll automatically get a great rate on whatever you spend the most on.
ThankYou Points and Travel Rewards
The following three cards earn Citi ThankYou points, which can be transferred to partner airline loyalty programs where they could be more valuable. Two of them are travel-oriented as well, with useful features to go along with their rewards programs. One other card earns ThankYou points: the student credit card below.
FOR A LIMITED TIME, earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% – 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
The Citi Rewards+® Card – the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase – with no cap.
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% – 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
The Citi Rewards+® Card (Review) is one of Citi’s no-annual-fee options for earning ThankYou points. It offers a 10% redemption bonus and a unique Round Up feature, which rounds up all purchases to the nearest 10 points and makes it easier to rack up credit card rewards.
This Round Up perk is most effective with smaller purchases, however. If you spend $1 on a pack of gum at a gas station, and would typically earn 2 points, this perk will round up to the nearest 10 points, effectively earning 10 points for just $1. That comes out to be five times the points, quite a nice bonus.
But if you made a purchase for $101 (usually earning 202 points), you’ll still only earn an additional 8 points when rounding up to the nearest 10 points. Compared to what you’ve just spent, that isn’t a significant number of added points.
1X ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases
80,000 ThankYou points for spending $4,000 in first 3 months (worth $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com)
You cannot receive the signup bonus points if you received a new cardmember bonus or have closed any of these cards in the last 24 months: Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier® or Citi Prestige®
Considerably more affordable than the Prestige, the Citi Premier® Card (Review) comes with a smaller rewards return. But you may prefer the expanded travel category if you have some unusual purchases on the horizon.
While the Prestige just offers points on separate, specific travel expenses such as air travel and cruises, the Premier credit card offers more broad rewards, which include gas stations, airfare, hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants.
The Citi Prestige® Card (Review) is Citi’s premier travel card, designed for the cardholder who plans to rack up travel rewards. It offers points on certain travel purchases with an emphasis on airfare, and allows cardholders to transfer any miles earned to select airline loyalty programs.
No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
Aim to pay off your relevant balances before the intro periods are over, and remember that you’ll always need to make at least a minimum monthly payment. The Simplicity comes with no late fees or penalty rate, making it fairly low-risk in terms of cost, but remember that paying late can still do serious damage to your credit, whether you get a fee or not. Taking advantage of the ability to change your due date and adjust your bill payment schedule can help you stay on top of your balances.
0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi®Identity Theft Solutions.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
It requires a security deposit to fund the credit limit, and the limit you get will match the amount of your deposit. With responsible card use over time, Citi may refund your security deposit and upgrade you to an unsecured card, potentially the Simplicity.
The Citi Rewards+ Student Card is not currently available for new applicants.
The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card has the same spending rewards as the standard Rewards+ card, but doesn’t offer as much in terms of the intro APR and welcome bonus. The student card’s intro APR period is much shorter, and you’ll get considerably fewer bonus points.
Co-Branded Airline and Travel Cards
Citi offers a portfolio of travel rewards cards, with a focus on one particular airline. While the Expedia co-branded card is the only one of its kind in the lineup, Citi offers four different rewards credit cards affiliated with American Airlines.
Cardholders will also enjoy a 25% savings on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases, as well as priority check-in and boarding privileges for AA flights. Expect to receive a statement credit of up to $100 every five years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
10,000 AAdvantage bonus miles and a $50 statement credit for spending $500 in the first 3 months
Statement credits and bonus miles are not available to you if you have received a statement credit or American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles for a new AAdvantage MileUp℠ account in the past 48 months.
If you’re not ready to commit to one of the AA cards with fees above, or if you’re not sure when you’ll be flying next, this card might be the right fit. But it’s not very exciting, and doesn’t even offer the free bags that are common to so many airline credit cards.
In 2016, Costco Wholesale ended its partnership with American Express, which was formerly the only credit card payment network accepted at the bulk-buy giant, and began a new one with Visa. During this time it also formed a relationship with Citi, which helped develop and issue the Costco Anywhere Visa cards — one designed for the everyday consumer and one with businesses in mind.
You’ll need a Costco membership to apply for the Costco cards.
Beginning September 2019, Citi will be removing many of the benefits from most of the cards in its collective offering. These discontinued benefits will include programs like Citi Price Rewind, Trip Cancellation, Worldwide Car Rental Insurance, and Roadside Assistance.
Citi will still be offering cardholders a selection of travel, shopping, account protection, and entertainment credit card benefits. Check your online account or contact customer support to confirm which perks are available with your card. Depending on what you have, you may be able to enjoy the following benefits:
Citi Concierge: Eligible cards can access a concierge service that acts as a personal assistant, working to lend a hand with travel, shopping, dining, entertainment, and more.
ThankYou rewards: ThankYou rewards points can be redeemed in a few different ways but we recommend point transfers to airline frequent flyer programs, where you can find the best value.
Point transfer between cards: ThankYou rewards can be moved between cards. If you have the Rewards+ and either the Premier or the Prestige, you can transfer the points you earn with the Rewards+ to the other card, where you can redeem them for a better value.
Originally founded in 1812 under the name “City Bank of New York,” the company began as a dream to incorporate NY into the financial industry and help it compete with Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore.
Earning Its Place in Banking
City Bank of New York earned its place as a financial force during America’s war with Britain from 1812 to 1815. During this time, City Bank lent the U.S. government $200,000 to help fund the war effort.
After the war was over, City Bank was rewarded for its help and named a government depository. It received a third of all federal balances held in New York.
Becoming a National Bank
After the Civil War broke out, President Lincoln sought out financial assistance from banks in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. The banks of each area, City Bank of New York included, agreed to contribute.
Moses Taylor, who served as president of City Bank and spokesperson for the three areas, vowed to contribute a $50-million gold loan. As the war forged on, the circulating banknotes from the various contributing banks became confusing.
Moses Taylor, former president of City Bank. Image credit: Citigroup
This led the federal government to pass the National Bank Act of 1863, which began the process of establishing a uniform national currency. With the passing of this act, City Bank forfeited its charter status and became a national bank. Adopting the new name, “National City Bank of New York,” came with a set of new federal constraints as well as the benefit of a new prestigious status.
An Era of New Leadership
After the company became recognized as a national bank, New York City rapidly grew into the nation’s commercial and financial capital. In 1890, the son of a long-time City Bank client, James Stillman, joined the bank’s board. Stillman eventually became the bank’s new president, and during his tenure it grew to $1 billion in assets and began a foreign department that kicked off overseas business.
Under James Stillman’s leadership of City Bank, the company made strides in leading the way for foreign exchange trading. Stillman fostered financial relationships with Spain and Japan, as well as Latin America when City Bank opened the first foreign branch for an American bank in Buenos Aires.
A New Home, Domestically and Abroad
Nearing the end of 1908, National City Bank moved into a new building on Wall Street.
In 1911, it set up an investment affiliate to expand its services into bond sales. The new creation, the National City Company, began selling corporate bonds, and offered educational services to inform the public about investment and war bonds.
The National City Company, an affiliate of National City Bank. Image credit: Citigroup
World War I broke out in 1914, and when the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917 many of City Bank’s male employees went to war. The bank began hiring female clerks to make up for their absence. After taking control of the International Banking Corporation (IBC) in 1915, City Bank gained property in Europe after acquiring the IBC’s London branch. The war was still going on through much of Europe, but City Bank still opened an additional bank in Italy the following year in 1916.
Until the U.S. entered the war in 1917, these two branches continued to allow City Bank certain opportunities abroad. The company was able to use them to enter territories belonging to the Central Powers. From these branches, it was able to assess the potential for postwar trade opportunities.
Banking in the Great Depression and World War II
By 1921, City Bank’s New York network of branches and services expands through mergers, becoming a stronger force in retail banking. When the Great Depression hit in 1933, the bank’s average gross deposits fell from $1.26 billion to $987 million.
As World War II devastated Europe, City Bank commercial customers in Paris and London were relying on commercial overdrafts, discounting trade bills, and foreign exchange in order to make it through. When Germany invaded France, the bank evacuated the Paris branch and relocated to south-central France.
During this time, the bank began to recruit a large number of women for work as secretaries, stenographers, typists, and bookkeepers. As the war went on, City Bank offered education and training to its female workers to help them be promoted to clerks and higher positions of power.
Post World War II, the European branches were confined to London.
The Introduction of the Eurodollar and Credit Cards
Within one of its thriving London branches, National City Bank helped refine the Eurodollar, which was a product of Cold War tensions. The Eurodollar made it easier to send and deposit money outside of the country, facilitating foreign banking.
In order to support further expansion, City Bank moved from Wall Street to midtown Manhattan, which housed the financial district. This move, which took place in 1961, was to mark the beginning of the modern age of banking. In 1967, City Bank introduced the First National City Charge Service, known and marketed as The Everything Card.
The Everything Card, issued by City Bank in 1967. Image credit: Citigroup
The Citicard was released in 1974, which allowed customers to cash personal checks via bank terminal. At this time, Citicorp was established as a holding company for City Bank.
In 1976, City Bank took on the name Citibank, marking a new era in which consumer banking became a new priority. To help jump-start this new mission, the company revitalized the ATM by building its own customized version for more efficient, 24-hour banking.
By 1994, Citibank was the world’s largest card issuer of bank and charge cards, with 50 million active cards worldwide (34 million of those were in the U.S.).
Supporting the Economy in the 21st Century
In 2010, Citi and the Citi Foundation launched the Communities at Work Fund to help small businesses develop. This program gives out loans to a variety of projects, donating nearly a billion dollars total, in order to support the economy and create jobs.
Mission statement of the Communities at Work Fund. Image credit: Citigroup
Citi has also made strides in modernizing banking, opening 48 “smart banking” branches across 11 countries. These re-engineered branches offer a sleeker design to make managing finances simpler, more efficient, and more engaging.
The company continues its relationship with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, to provide top-level financial education in order to recruit quality talent and bring the best banking experience to its customers.
The company took a hard hit during the 2008 U.S. recession and required a federal bailout in excess of $300 billion, but has since made a comeback over the past decade. It even repaid its debts, providing a net profit to the government (by the numbers, at least).
Citi, now officially “Citigroup Inc.,” is considered to be a member of the “Big Four” in U.S. banking, which also includes Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. This term is used to describe the biggest banks in the United States (and other countries), with each of these companies holding over $1 trillion in assets. Citi has been considered a top contender on Wall Street in 2019, due to a significant increase in stock prices of nearly 40%.
Citi’s 2018 annual report showed that it had 142 million active personal credit cards in circulation and another 55 million branded credit cards in circulation. Personal credit cards generated $534 billion in annual purchase sales while branded generated $448 billion. During this same year, the company saw a 26% increase in mobile banking users and earned recognition as one of the best consumer mobile banks.
Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.
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