Best Citi Credit Cards

Citi is one of the largest credit card issuers in the US, with the largest credit card issuance and outstanding balance in the US Citi was also one of the first issuers of rewards credit cards, introducing the American Airlines AAdvantage card in the 1980s and the Shell Mastercard in the early 1990s. Today, Citi offers a wide variety of credit cards, including balance transfers, rewards, student cards, and secure credit cards. To save our readers time, we’ve done an extensive research to pick the best Citi credit cards based on the needs of individual consumers and small business owners.

What is the history of Citi?

Citi credit cards are issued by Citibank, itself part of the global financial services giant Citigroup. Citi started issuing credit cards in New York City in the 1960s, but in the early 1980s, it expanded significantly by taking advantage of South Dakota’s repeal of usury laws that limited the number of interest banks could charge customers. The new law also allows banks headquartered in the state to charge residents of other states higher interest, a move that was upheld in a landmark Supreme Court ruling. As a result, Citi moved its credit card business from New York to South Dakota and achieved rapid growth by leveraging the mass medium of the day—direct mail—to offer these higher-rate services to consumers across the country. Through these efforts, Citi’s credit card business has transformed from the least profitable segment to the most profitable segment.

Today, Citi offers consumers and small business owners a wide variety of credit cards with rewards including cash back, points, and miles. Its credit cards also offer options for cardholders looking to transfer balances, manage to spend, and plan larger purchases. In addition, Citi maintains brand partnerships with major airlines such as American Airlines and major travel sites such as Expedia.

What kind of credit cards does Citi issue?

Citi primarily issues Mastercard network-branded cards, and several cards are issued through the American Express network. It does not currently offer Visa or Discover branded cards. It offers credit card rewards, including cashback, regular travel points, and points and miles rewards linked to co-branded partner loyalty programs. It has also issued several cards aimed at the needs of the small business community.

What type of credit does Citi need?

Citi typically targets consumers and small business owners with good or good credit, though it does offer student and secured card products that can accommodate people with lesser credit histories or lower credit scores.

How Does Citi’s Appreciation Rewards Program Work?

Citi offers several credit cards to earn Thankyou Rewards points, Citi’s courtesy rewards platform. Thank You Points can be redeemed for air travel, hotel stays, cash back, merchandise, or gift cards through Citi.

The following Citi cards can earn Thankyou rewards:

  • Citi Rewards+
  • Citi Prestige
  • Citi Premier
  • Citi’s AT&T Access Card

In addition to the Citi Thankyou Rewards program, Citi offers other rewards cards, including cash back (same as Citi Double cash) and partner-based programs such as airline and travel co-branded cards.

How good is Citi’s customer service?

Citi received a score of 801 out of 1000 in the 2020 JDPower US Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The average score for major country issuers is 810. Citi can access the FICO credit score online through its mobile app and secure website when the cardholder is logged in ;

collect message

To track and evaluate the domestic US credit card market, we collected data points on nearly 300 credit cards. This data is collected manually from issuer websites and public sources;

To ensure our information is as up-to-date as possible, we deploy automated tools to monitor changes in key data such as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, bonus yields, fees, and card benefits. We then quickly make any necessary updates to card lists, comments, and suggestions to ensure readers receive the most reliable information and advice;

initial score

Once credit card data is collected, we organize it in the database according to features, which are aggregated into feature sets (such as rewards, interest, fees, benefits, and security/customer service). Each credit card feature is assigned a star rating on a scale of 1 to 5 according to a prescribed formula. For example, for one-time bonus points, we would use the following formula: if the bonus is $500 or more, assign 5 points; if the bonus is $300-499, assign 4 points; and so on.  

Scoring weight

Once a score has been received for all features of a card, we apply a weighting factor to each feature to arrive at a weighted average score for the card (based on the general category the card is in, such as travel rewards);

This weighting process allows us to place more emphasis on attributes that are important to a particular category and downplay those that are less relevant. This allows us to objectively identify cards that stand out in their category and point out why they do so. For example, with a travel rewards card, we place significantly more weight on travel-specific features such as airport lounge access or major rental car insurance than on attributes such as interest rates or fees, which may be in other categories (such as balance transfers) card) are more important factors.

rate of return

Another key factor we consider to rate and rank travel cards and other types of rewards cards is the card’s effective yield. We first averaged the points or miles for all reward cards in the database, a painstaking process that required collecting all airfare data for popular domestic and international city pairs, as well as nightly hotel charges for all major hotel brands, through the operator;

Points and miles earned for air travel or hotel stay from various rewards programs are then used to calculate the effective yield per card. Let our readers make the smartest choice. By placing a card’s large one-time bonus or yield in the context of multiple dimensions and card capabilities, readers can more easily weigh the card’s benefits relative to costs. We believe that revealing the truth, but often opaque, the redemption value of reward points or miles is the only reliable way to make a persuasive choice among competing for value-based cards ;

Card Features We Score

As mentioned above, we take certain travel-related features very seriously when determining the rating of each rewards card. Specifically, more than 50% of our overall assessment score is based on a combination of the following factors;

  • The maximum value of any one-time bonus, whether in points or miles.
  • The initial card spend is required to earn any bonus.
  • The redemption value of award miles or points.
  • Global card acceptance as detailed by the four-card network (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover).
  • Option to redeem points or miles with travel partners (airlines and hotels).

Another consideration is the credit card coverage (if any) in these travel-related areas;

  • Car rental collision insurance, either primary or secondary.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Baggage loss or delay insurance.
  • Insurance for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Mobile phone loss or damage insurance.
  • Roadside assistance and towing.
  • Emergency travel medical/dental benefits.

General non-travel-related characteristics we consider and score include:

  • Interest rates, including introductory and periodic Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Fees, including annual fees, late fees, cash advances, and foreign transactions.
  • Security/Customer Service Features.
  • Other non-travel benefits such as access to a credit score, identity theft protection, and contactless payment capabilities.

How to complete the final assessment

We rely primarily on objective scores produced by our rating algorithms to determine which card is chosen as the best in each category or subcategory.

However, from time to time, we may make some adjustments to features and weights that may affect rankings based on the subjective opinion of credit card experts. Any potential modifications would be in line with Abcexchange’s belief that consumers are best served with the following cards:

  • Provides excellent value in earning rewards.
  • If the cardholder has a monthly balance, a reasonable interest rate is charged.
  • Chargeless and/or more reasonable fees.
  • Provide solid customer service, based on the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of customer service.
  • Helpful and protective security features.


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