Here’s our review of the Citi Rewards Visa and MasterCard credit cards issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.
Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer Miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 29th March 2019.
Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
Sign-up bonus: 10,800 miles*
Standard earn rate: 0.4 miles per $1
Bonus earn rate: 4.0 miles per $1**
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income (Singaporean): $30,000/yr
Minimum income (Foreigner): $42,000/yr
* For new to Citi cardholders, subject to minimum qualifying spend.
** Applicable in specific spending categories, see below.
Successful sign-ups for Citi cards pay MainlyMiles an affiliate commission.
The Citi Rewards card comes in two varieties, a Visa and a MasterCard. You can apply for either one, as the features are otherwise identical.
Bear in mind that generally speaking MasterCard has a slightly better foreign exchange rate than Visa most of the time. If you’re intending to use this card for foreign spend transactions it might be better to go with that one, as both cards have the same Citi foreign exchange fee levied (2.8%), but the MasterCard forex fee generally comes out on top.
The Citi Rewards card has an annual fee of $192.60, waived for the first year. The supplementary card fee of $96.30 for up to 2 additional cards is also waived for the first year.
Some people have reported having the annual fee waived after the first year of card membership, though this is at Citi’s discretion and will also depend on your spending habits. Others have reported a $100 credit offered instead of the fee waiver.
Since there is no specific additional benefit like extra miles for paying the annual fee each year (after the first year) you should always call and ask as the worst they can say is no.
The current sign-up bonus for the Citi Rewards card is 10,800 miles, awarded as 27,000 ThankYou Points and subject to a minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three full months since card approval. The bonus is valid for card applications approved between now and 30th June 2019 and you must be a ‘new’ Citi credit card holder.
For example, if you are approved for the card on 18th January 2019, the qualifying spend period is from that date until 30th April 2019 (3 full calendar months from the end of January 2019).
This card also features full fee waiver for the first year of membership as standard.
As usual with these kinds of promotions, your S$3,000 qualifying spend must fall outside the following categories:
- Equal Payment Plan (EPP) purchases.
- Refunded / disputed / unauthorised or fraudulent retail purchases.
- Quick Cash / Ready Credit PayLite and other instalment loans.
- Paywise / cash advance / quasi-cash transactions, balance transfers, annual card membership fees, interest or goods and services taxes.
- Bill payments made using the card as a source of funds.
- Late payment fees.
- Any other form of service / miscellaneous fees.
Full terms and conditions relating to this offer for new Citi credit card customers can be found here.
The Citi Rewards Visa earns 0.4 miles for every $1 spent, which is of course very poor for a miles earning card in Singapore, but the key is that this rises to 4.0 miles for every $1 spent when you shop for shoes, bags and clothes at online or retail stores, or department stores, locally and overseas.
Since March 2019, online retail transactions (excluding mobile wallet top-ups and travel-related transactions) are also eligible for the higher earn rate.
The bonus 4.0 miles per $1 rate is only applicable for the first $1,000 spend in each monthly statement cycle, so you’re capped at earning a maximum of 4,000 miles per statement month at the 4mpd rate. After that all transactions will earn the (very low) 0.4 miles per $1.
|A note about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
Beware the ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ (DCC) offer you’ll often experience overseas when paying with your Visa or MasterCard. It’s very common when settling your overseas hotel bill, for example, to be offered to pay in SGD instead of local currency. This is a terrible idea, because:
a) you’ll suffer financially, even after the credit card foreign exchange fee is accounted for. If you remember the SGD amount you were offered to pay, then pay in local currency instead, once the transaction appears on your credit card statement you’ll generally find they were scamming you, you’d have paid at least 2% more using DCC.
b) you will earn credit card miles at the local spend rate if you accept DCC, because the transaction will take place in SGD, not the local currency.
In other words, you’ll pay more, and lose miles. Always insist on paying in the local currency of the country you are in.
Eligible MCC Codes
The relatively secretive (in Singapore at least) Merchant Category Code (MCC) of the retailer is what will determine whether you will be eligible for the 4 miles per $1 bonus rate on your transaction.
Here’s the full list of MCC codes which qualify for 4 miles (10 Citi ThankYou points) per $1 spent both locally and overseas, including online transactions, according to the terms and conditions document:
- MCC 5621: Women’s Ready to Wear Store
- MCC 5699: Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Shops
- MCC 5631: Women’s Accessory and Specialty Stores
- MCC 5651: Family Clothing Stores
- MCC 5611: Men’s and Boy’s Clothing and Accessories Stores
- MCC 5655: Sports and Riding Apparel Stores
- MCC 5641: Children’s and Infant’s Wear Stores
- MCC 5661: Shoe Stores
- MCC 5948: Luggage and Leather Good Stores
- MCC 5311: Department Stores
At the Hardwarezone Forum some Citi Rewards cardholders have reported successful bonus transactions outside these categories too.
For online retail transactions outside of the above MCCs, which also qualify for 4 miles (10 Citi ThankYou points) per $1 spent both locally and overseas, there are exclusions to be aware of. These are mobile wallet top-ups and the following travel-related transactions:
- MCC 3000 to 3350: Airlines, Air Carriers
- MCC 3351 to 3500: Car Rental Agencies
- MCC 3501 to 3999: Lodging – Hotels, Motels, Resorts
- MCC 4112: Passenger Railways
- MCC 4411: Cruise Lines MCC 4511 Airlines, Air Carriers (Not Elsewhere Classified)
- MCC 4722: Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
- MCC 5962: Direct Marketing – Travel-Related Arrangement Services
- MCC 7011: Lodging – Hotels, Motels, Resorts (Not Elsewhere Classified)
- MCC 7512: Car Rental Agencies (Not Elsewhere Classified)
Get 2 cards
As we mentioned above the Citi Rewards card comes in both a Visa and MasterCard variety. These are treated as separate card accounts, and there is nothing stopping you applying for the other card, to allow you to effectively double your $1,000 monthly bonus categories spending limit, in which case you’d get the 4x miles rates on an additional $1,000 worth of eligible spending with the second card each month.
This strategy means you can accrue up to 96,000 miles per card anniversary year in total, provided you can spend $2,000 per statement cycle across both cards in the designated categories.
Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?
No, rather than being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘Citi ThankYou Points’ for your spending on this card. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 2.5:1 ratio (so the standard accrual rate is 1 Citi ThankYou Point per $1 spent, which translates to 0.4 miles per $1, and the bonus rate is 10 Citi ThankYou Points per $1 spent, which is 4 miles per $1).
How much is a Citi ThankYou Point worth?
Anything from 0.3 cents (if you use them as a cash rebate against your statement balance) to 0.8 cents (if you convert them to airline miles, like KrisFlyer miles).
Clearly the 0.3 cents option is terrible, and represents a poorer return than you would expect to achieve from many cashback cards, so don’t do that. Conversion into airline miles is the best deal.
What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?
It’s the same for all 12 frequent flyer schemes linked to the program, $25 each time you transfer Citi ThankYou Points to airline miles (like KrisFlyer miles).
Is there a minimum transfer amount?
Another snag is that since March 2017 the minimum amount of Citi Rewards points you can transfer into airline miles is 25,000 (giving you 10,000 miles), and they must then be in blocks of 25,000 (previously the blocks were much more flexible at 1,250 to 500 miles each).
So if you have 99,999 Citi ThankYou Points, and you don’t have time to tick it over by making a small purchase, you’ll only be able to transfer 75,000 points across to KrisFlyer (30,000 miles). You will then be left with 24,999 Citi ThankYou Points in your rewards account.
Do Citi ThankYou Points expire?
Yes, according to Citi for Citi ThankYou accrued using the Citi Rewards card points “are valid for a period of 60 months”. That’s five years, which sounds very generous, but it’s not as simple as they make out.
In fact you have to accrue and redeem your points in fixed five-year periods, which to us is not really the same thing. For example, if you open your card account on 1st July 2018 your first 60-month reward period ends on 30th June 2023. Any points accrued on that date will expire no matter whether you earned them five years ago or in the final week of the 60-month period!
Citi then give you 3 months to use any unredeemed points from that 60-month period before wiping them from your account. It’s easy to get caught out here so beware, especially considering the new 25,000 Citi ThankYou Points minimum transfer amount to KrisFlyer.
Once you have an account you can view how many of your points are expiring in the next 60 days on the Citi Thank You Rewards page.
How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?
The official line is “up to 14 working days”. In reality the last two times I converted, it took 2 days both times. Citi have one of the quicker turnaround periods and for reference this timing has also applied to transfers I have made to British Airways Avios.
Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?
Citi Rewards points can be transferred at 2.5:1 ratio into the following frequent flyer programs:
- Air France / KLM (Flying Blue)
- British Airways (Executive Club)
- Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)
- Garuda Miles
- Malaysia Airlines (Enrich)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways (Privilege Club)
- Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)
- Thai (Royal Orchid Plus)
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
and into the following hotel loyalty programs:
- Club Carlson
- IHG Rewards Club
There are a few other perks with the Citi Rewards card, the key benefits which will be of most interest to our readers are:
- Occasional 8 miles per S$1 spent at specific retailers, capped at $1,000 spend per statement cycle. For example recently the same offer applied for spending at Duty Free Singapore (DFS), Takashimaya and TANGS department stores.
- Esso and Shell fuel savings.
Designed as a 4 miles per dollar rewards card for shoppers, Citi Rewards has regular 8 miles per dollar promotions, which tend to cycle through specific retailers throughout the year which may be of interest.
If you do a lot of shopping in the specified categories, like at Department Stores, this is a very good card to have in your wallet for ongoing 4 miles per dollar at these merchants year-round.
Since March 2019, the addition of most online retail transactions to the 4 miles per dollar bonus category is a very nice enhancement, making it much easier to reach the monthly cap than before.
Remember we value KrisFlyer miles at about 2 cents each so at the 4 mile per dollar and 8 mile per dollar rates you’re earning 8% or 16% ‘value back’ on your purchases.
Outside the bonus rate however it’s a very poor earning rate on this card of 0.4 miles per dollar, so we would strongly recommend having an alternative for your day to day spending (like groceries and dining) where you should be earning at least 1 mile per dollar, and ideally 1.2 or 1.5 miles per dollar.
This is especially important if you exceed the $1,000 bonus cap each month. Consider the DBS Woman’s World Mastercard, with a less restrictive $2,000 monthly cap for online transactions at 4mpd.
The ability to transfer miles into several frequent flyer schemes other than KrisFlyer is a useful feature of the Citi cards, indeed we often use them to top up our British Airways Avios balance.
Beware however the strange ‘five year validity’ period, which is actually a fixed period. If you still have this card five years down the line be very careful – all your points might be about to expire!
Since many people report that the annual fee for this card is waived on request, and the first year is fee-free, there’s really no downside to having this in your credit card arsenal in Singapore to take advantage of the bonus categories. That’s true more than ever now that most online retail transactions are eligible for the 4mpd bonus.
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Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.