Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: Citi Rewards Card

Citi Laptop Cover 6

Here’s our review of the Citi Rewards credit card 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 3rd April 2020.

Fast Facts

$Card MC 2020

Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
EIR:
26.9%
Sign-up bonus:
10,800 miles*
Standard earn rate: 0.4 miles per $1
Bonus earn rate: 4.0 miles per $1**
Foreign transaction fee: 3.25%
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.

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Annual fee

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 two 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.

Pro Tip: Since there is no specific additional benefit like extra miles or points 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.

Sign-up bonus

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 from card approval. The bonus is valid for card applications approved between now and 31st March 2020 and you must be a ‘new’ Citi credit card holder.

For example, if you are approved for the card on 11th March 2020, the qualifying spend period is from that date until 30th June 2020 (three full calendar months from the end of March 2020).

Bonus miles are awarded within two months of meeting the spend criteria.

Spend Period MC

As you can see you’ll get the remainder of the month in which your card was approved plus three full calendar months thereafter to meet the spend threshold.

Pro Tip: Get approved towards the beginning of the month to give yourself almost four months to meet the spend threshold.

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.

Earning rates

The Citi Rewards card 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.

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)

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 0.25 cents (if you use them as a cash rebate against your statement balance, or to pay for a specific transaction) to 0.8 cents (if you convert them to airline miles, like KrisFlyer miles).

Clearly, the 0.25 cents option is terrible and represents a poorer return than you would expect to achieve from many cashback cards, so we don’t recommend that. Conversion into airline miles is the best deal.

What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?

It’s the same for all 11 frequent flyer schemes linked to the program, $25 each time you transfer Citi ThankYou Points to airline miles (like KrisFlyer miles).

Note: Citi is increasing its transfer cost into airline partner programmes and hotel loyalty schemes to $26.75 with effect from 17th May 2020, to take account of GST.

Is there a minimum transfer amount?

Yes, since March 2017 the minimum amount of Citi ThankYou Points you can transfer into airline miles is 25,000, and they must then be in blocks of 25,000. Previously, much more flexible 1,250-point block transfers were possible.

Screenshot 2018-01-10 16.12.33

So if you have 99,999 Citi ThankYou Points, and you don’t have time to tick it over by making a small purchase (miles from purchases tend to reflect in your account within a few days), you’ll only be able to transfer 75,000 Citi ThankYou Points across to KrisFlyer (and will be left with 24,999 in your Citi ThankYou Points 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!

Rewards Validity
We would say this is misleading. Validity of Rewards points (Citi ThankYou Points) is a maximum of five years.

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.

This strange policy is quite unlike the Citi PremierMiles card (see our review) and Citi Prestige card (see our review) where the miles earned never expire.

How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?

The official line is “up to 5 working days”. In reality the last few times I converted, it took 24-48 hours on each occasion. That’s not a bad turnaround, especially if you are looking to jump on a flight redemption that’s currently available.

Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?

One of the best things about Citi ThankYou Points in Singapore is the wide range of transfer partners compared with other bank loyalty points.

You can transfer your miles into 11 different frequent flyer programmes (FFPs), plus into IHG points on the hotel loyalty side.

Citi ThankYou Points credit to the following loyalty schemes:
KFtrans

Asia

BA

QRtrans

EYtrans.png

TGtrans

AFKLtrans.png

EVtrans.png

MHtrans.png

QFF.png

TKtrans.png

IHG

Citi ThankYou Points transfer at the same 2.5:1 ratio into all these programmes, giving you a wide range of flight redemption options including oneworld and SkyTeam carriers.

Points rounding

Every eligible transaction you make using the Citi Rewards card is rounded down to the nearest Singapore dollar (after conversion from foreign currency if applicable), before Citi ThankYou Points are then assessed.

Example:

  • $21.49 rounds down to $21
  • $21.99 rounds down to $21

The appropriate multiplier of Citi ThankYou Points is then applied to the transaction, depending on its nature, then rounded to the nearest whole mile.

Example (regular earn rate):

  • $21 x 3.25 (local) = 68.25 Points (rounds to 68 Points, which converts to 27 miles)
  • $21 x 5.0 (overseas) = 105 Points, which converts to 42 miles

Minimum spend to earn points

Since every amount you spend is rounded down to the nearest dollar before Citi ThankYou Points are accounted for, $1.00 is the minimum transaction amount in order to earn points.

Other benefits

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.

Our summary

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 around 1.9 cents each so at the 4 mile per dollar and 8 mile per dollar rates you’re earning close to 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.

$Card MC 2020

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8 comments

  1. Hi Andrew,

    I’ll be in BKK for a July weekend.. Last chance for 8mpd on Apple Pay.. Do you know of any list avail of merchants in BKK that have Apple Pay?

    1. Don’t know of anywhere in particular sorry! I believe it’s hard to come by in BKK.

      Currently in the USA and am actually disappointed at the lack of Apple Pay options here – compared to Australia for example where it can be used almost everywhere!

      If you can switch your trip to Sydney? Haha

      1. Haha.. I’m not the biggest fan of Australia, I’m afraid.. and I’ll be in BKK for just 2 nights.. SYD’d a bit far for a quick 2 night trip..

        Thanks for replying.. safe travels!

  2. Hi Andrew, I have both Visa and Mastercard versions, and would like to confirm that the annual cap to earn 10x rewards applies to each card, and not a combined cap to both. I have heard a Citi member of staff mention that the cap is a combined one across both, but to my knowledge, the cap applies to each version of the card. Just wanted to reconfirm with you. Thanks.

  3. Hi Andrew (or anyone who may know)..

    I’m trying to find out if anyone can confirm recent use of Citi Rewards Visa on Ikea.com/sg for successful 4mpd..? HWZ Excel sheet says “yes”, but I’m hoping to get confirmation, else if no 4mpd I’d rather use something that gives at least 1.4mpd..

    Thanks in advance..

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