Citi Credit Cards

Abigail Welles

Abigail Welles

Updated Sep 03, 2019

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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.

Cash Back Rewards

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back for every purchase you make
    • 1% back when you make a purchase
    • 1% back when you pay for that purchase

Key Features

  • Citi Concierge: Receive personal assistance with non-emergency tasks including dining, entertainment, and travel.
  • Free FICO credit score: Monitor your FICO Bankcard Score 8, based on your Equifax credit report and updated monthly.
  • Citi Entertainment: Get special access to thousands of tickets to popular events.
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months
  • Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 15.99% – 25.99% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0

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.

Card & Rewards Annual Fee
Citi Prestige® Card

  • 5X ThankYou points on:
    • Air travel
    • Restaurants
  • 3X ThankYou points at:
    • Hotels
    • Cruise lines
  • 1X ThankYou point for every other purchase
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
$495
Citi Premier Card

  • 3X ThankYou points for Travel, including gas
  • 2X ThankYou points for:
    • Dining
    • Entertainment
  • 1X ThankYou point for every other purchase
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
$95
Citi Rewards+ Card

  • 2X ThankYou points (up to $6,000 spent annually) at:
    • Supermarkets
    • Gas stations
  • 1X ThankYou point for every other purchase
  • Point Round Up: Each purchase rounds up to the nearest 10 points
  • 15,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
$0

 

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • Air travel
    • Restaurants
  • 3X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • Hotels
    • Cruise lines
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 12.5%–25%

Key Features

  • Complimentary 4th night hotel stay: Receive a free night at a hotel of your choosing after booking a minimum four-night stay through ThankYou.com, capped at twice per year.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Enjoy access to over 1,000 VIP Priority Pass airport lounges (up to two guests are free, additional guests cost $27 each).
  • $250 annual travel credit: Covers a wide variety of travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, commuter transportation, parking lots, and more
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Covers the cost of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85), once every five years
  • Transfer points: To partner airline loyalty programs
  • Annual fee: $495

 

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 a broad travel category, which includes gas stations, airfare, hotels, car rentals, transit, tolls, and parking.

Spending Rewards
  • 3X ThankYou points per dollar for Travel, including gas
  • 2X ThankYou points per dollar for:
    • Dining
    • Entertainment
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 15%–30%

Key Features

  • 25% point bonus: When redeeming points for airfare through the ThankYou Travel Center
  • Transfer points: To partner airline loyalty programs
  • Citi Concierge: Receive personal assistance with non-emergency tasks including dining, entertainment, and travel.
  • Annual fee: $95

 

The Citi Rewards+ Card 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.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X ThankYou points per dollar (up to $6,000 spent annually) at:
    • Supermarkets
    • Gas stations
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
  • Point Round Up: Each purchase rounds up to the nearest 10 points
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 15,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $150–$300 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 15%–30%

Key Features

  • 10% Points Back: On up to 100,000 points redeemed annually
  • Citi Concierge: Receive personal assistance with non-emergency tasks including dining, entertainment, and travel.
  • Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months
  • Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0

Low Interest Rates

Card APR Annual Fee
Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever
  • Purchase APR: 0%* for 12 months, then 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0%* for 21 months, then 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)
$0*
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 18 months, then 15.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months, then 15.24%–25.24% Variable
$0

 

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever (Review) doesn’t offer any rewards, but provides cardholders with a long 0% intro APR period for balance transfers and a shorter intro period for purchases.

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.

Key Features

  • Intro Purchase APR: 0%* for 12 months
  • Regular Purchase APR: 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0%* for 21 months
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)
  • Citi Concierge: Receive personal assistance with non-emergency tasks including dining, entertainment, and travel.
  • Free FICO credit score: Monitor your FICO Bankcard Score 8, based on your Equifax credit report and updated monthly.
  • Annual fee: $0*

 

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review) also has no annual fee and offers a long 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers.

Cardholders can enjoy some perks, including access to Citi Private Pass to receive discounts on concerts and sporting events. And unlike many zero-interest cards like this you’ll even get concierge assistance provided by Citi.

Key Features

  • Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months
  • Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 15.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Citi Concierge: Receive personal assistance with non-emergency tasks including dining, entertainment, and travel.
  • Citi Private Pass: Discounted tickets for concerts, sports, dining, and more
  • Citi Entertainment: Get special access to thousands of tickets to popular events.
  • Annual fee: $0

Secured Card

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® (Review) is designed to be used as a credit building tool. This card is intended for those looking to establish, improve, or rebuild credit entirely.

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.

Key Features

  • Security deposit: $200–$2,500
  • Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 24.49%* (Variable)
  • Citi Entertainment: Get special access to thousands of tickets to popular events.
  • Annual fee: $0

Student Card

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X ThankYou points per dollar (up to $6,000 spent annually) at:
    • Supermarkets
    • Gas stations
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
  • Point Round Up: Each purchase rounds up to the nearest 10 points
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 2,500 bonus points for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $25–$50 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 5%–10%

Key Features

  • 10% Points Back: On the first 100,000 redeemed points annually
  • Round Up Points: To the nearest 10 points on every qualifying purchase
  • Citi Entertainment: Get special access to thousands of tickets to popular events
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 7 months
  • Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 16.49% - 26.49% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0*

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.

Card & Rewards Annual Fee
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

  • 7X AAdvantage miles at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 1X AAdvantage mile for every other purchase
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
$450
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

  • 7X AAdvantage miles at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 2X AAdvantage miles at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1X AAdvantage mile for every other purchase
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
$99, waived for first 12 months*
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

  • 7X AAdvantage miles at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 2X AAdvantage miles at Grocery stores
  • 1X AAdvantage mile for every other purchase
  • 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit for spending $500 in the first 3 months
$0*
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

  • 7X AAdvantage miles at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 2X AAdvantage miles at:
    • Gas stations
    • Telecommunications merchants
    • Cable and satellite providers
    • Car rentals
  • 1X AAdvantage mile for every other purchase
  • 60,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
$99, waived for first 12 months*
Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi

  • 3X Expedia Rewards points at Expedia
  • 1X Expedia Rewards point for every other purchase
  • 10,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
$0

 

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® will run you $450 annually, but offers Admirals Club membership, which will provide access to over 50 worldwide lounges.

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 7X AAdvantage miles per dollar at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 1X AAdvantage mile per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$750 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 10%–15%

Key Features

  • Admirals Club membership: Access to over 50 worldwide lounges for you and up to two guests
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Covers the cost of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85), once every five years
  • Enhanced Airport Experience: Priority check-in, priority screening, and early boarding for domestic AA flights
  • First checked bag free: On domestic AA flights, for you and up to eight traveling companions
  • 25% savings: On eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases on AA flights
  • 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles: After spending $40,000 in purchases within a year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $450

 

Similar to the Executive World Elite Mastercard, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (Review) has preferred boarding and a 25% savings on in-flight purchases. The annual fee is considerably lower, and is even waived for the first year.

With this smaller fee, cardholders can’t earn bonus Elite Qualification Miles and won’t get an Admirals Club membership, but will still enjoy a sizable bonus mile offer.

Spending Rewards
  • 7X AAdvantage miles per dollar at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1X AAdvantage mile per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $2,500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$750 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 20%–25%

Key Features

  • 25% savings: On in-flight food and beverage purchases on AA flights
  • First checked bag free: On domestic AA flights, for you and up to four traveling companions
  • Preferred boarding: Group 5 boarding for AA flights
  • $125 AA flight discount: Get a $125 American Airlines flight discount for each calendar year you spend at least $20,000.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $99, waived for first 12 months*

 

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card is on the low end of the AA totem pole. It has no annual fee and is designed for people who might not fly very much.

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 7X AAdvantage miles per dollar at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar at Grocery stores
  • 1X AAdvantage mile per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value (miles): $100–$150 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend (miles): 20%–30%

Key Features

  • 25% savings: On in-flight food and beverage purchases on AA flights
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%
  • Annual fee: $0*

 

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® (Review) is your only business card option for American Airlines. It’s mostly like the consumer Platinum Select card above, except for some business-related bonus categories and relatively minor differences in the fees and benefits.

Spending Rewards
  • 7X AAdvantage miles per dollar at American Airlines
    • 2X miles from the card
    • 5X miles from base AA member status
  • 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar at:
    • Cable and satellite providers
    • Gas stations
    • Select telecommunications merchants
    • Car rentals
  • 1X AAdvantage mile per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$900 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 20%–30%

Key Features

  • 25% savings: On in-flight food and beverage purchases on AA flights
  • First checked bag free: On domestic AA flights, for you and up to four traveling companions
  • Preferred boarding: Group 5 boarding for AA flights
  • AA Companion Certificate: Spend $30,000 in a cardmember year and renew your account to get an AA Companion Certificate, good for domestic main cabin travel.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $99, waived for first 12 months*

Co-Branded Store Cards

Citi offers a vast selection of co-branded store cards, the most notable probably being the Costco credit cards.

Card & Rewards Annual Fee
AT&T Access Card from Citi

  • 2X points at:
    • AT&T
    • Retail websites
    • Travel websites
  • 1X point for every other purchase
$0
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

  • 4% cash back on gas, including at Costco (up to $7,000 spent annually)
  • 3% cash back for:
    • Restaurants
    • Travel (including Costco Travel)
  • 2% cash back on other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase
$0*
Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi

  • 4% cash back on gas, including at Costco (up to $7,000 spent annually)
  • 3% cash back for:
    • Restaurants
    • Travel (including Costco Travel)
  • 2% cash back on other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase
$0 (Costco membership required)
Goodyear Credit Card

  • 6-month deferred interest on purchases of $250 or more
  • $5 off oil changes
$0
The Home Depot Commercial Account

  • Fuel Rewards 
  • 60 days to pay with no interest
  • 1-year return policy
$0
The Home Depot Commercial Revolving Charge Card

  • Fuel Rewards 
  • 60 days to pay with no interest
  • 1-year return policy
$0
The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

  • 6-month deferred financing on purchases of $299 or more
$0
The Home Depot Project Loan

  • Credit lines up to $55,000
  • 84-month financing at 7.99% Fixed
$0
L.L.Bean Mastercard

  • 4% cash back at L.L.Bean
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase
$0
My Best Buy® Credit Card

  • 5% back at Best Buy or deferred financing for eligible purchases
$0
My Best Buy® Visa®

  • 5% back at Best Buy or deferred financing for eligible purchases
  • 1% back for every other purchase
  • Plus limited-time bonus categories
$0 or $59 (depending on creditworthiness)
Office Depot OfficeMax Business Credit Account

  • No annual fee, but approval requirements
$0
Shell Fleet Navigator Card

  • Up to 5 cents off per gallon at Shell
  • Up to 20% off at Jiffy Lube
$0
Shell Fleet Plus Credit Card

  • Up to 6 cents off per gallon at Shell
  • Up to 15% off at Jiffy Lube
$0
Shell Small Business Card

  • Up to 6 cents off per gallon at Shell
  • Up to 15% off at Jiffy Lube
$0
Sears Card®

  • Monthly savings and coupons for Sears and Kmart
  • Deferred financing offers for eligible purchases
$0
Sears Mastercard®

  • 5% in points at Gas stations
  • 3% in points at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Restaurants
  • 2% in points at Sears and Kmart
  • 1% in points for every other purchase
$0

 

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi (Review) offers sizable cash back rewards across a fairly diverse spectrum of categories, and is great for gas.

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.

Spending Rewards
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas worldwide, including at Costco (up to $7,000 spent annually)
  • 3% cash back for:
    • Restaurants
    • Travel (including Costco Travel)
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back for every other purchase

Key Features

  • Perks: Damage and Theft Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty
  • Annual fee: $0*
The business version of this card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi, offers the same rewards but with slightly different benefits.

Citi Card Features

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.
  • Virtual account numbers: Virtual credit card numbers can conceal your actual card details when shopping online.
  • Citi Entertainment: Cardholders can gain exclusive access to popular events from concerts to dining experiences.
  • Citi Easy Deals: Eligible cardholders can find discounts and deals at local merchants.
  • Citi Identity Theft Solutions: Personal support in case of identity theft, like help contacting credit bureaus and filing police reports.
  • $0 Fraud Liability: You won’t be held responsible if an unauthorized charge appears on your account, as long as you contact customer support to report it ASAP.

A Brief History of Citi

The history of Citi spans over 200 years.

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

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

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 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

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.

Each card issuer has its own unique qualities, and Citi is just one among many. Find some excellent cards from a variety of issuers in our picks for the Best Credit Cards.
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