Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: Citi Rewards Card

Cover

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 21st September 2018.

Key features

Citi Rewards Card.jpg

Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
EIR/APR: 26.9%
Sign-up bonus: $120 cashback*
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 cardholders, paid in S$20 instalments over 6 months subject to minimum qualifying spend.
** Applicable in specific spending categories, see below.

Our link below helps this site and awards you up to $120 cash back

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Two cards

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.

Visa MC.jpg
Pretty indistinguishable

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.

You can’t currently apply for the Citi Rewards MasterCard through Citi’s primary product page, but you can through our link.

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 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.

Sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Citi Rewards card is $120 cashback, paid in instalments over the first six calendar months of card membership and subject to a minimum spend in each statement period. The bonus is valid for card applications approved between now and 30th June 2018 and you must be a ‘new’ Citi cardholder.

The first spending period commences on the first day of the calendar month after your account is opened. For example if your card account is activated on 15th May, the promo would work as follows:

Spend period Qualifying spend Cash back
1-30 June $200+ $20
1-31 July $200+ $20
1-31 August $200+ $20
1-30 September $200+ $20
1-31 October $200+ $20
1-30 November $200+ $20

The cash back is in the form of an account credit and gets awarded towards the end of the month following the month in which the qualifying spend was met. To be eligible you’ll have to be a new Citi cardholder (i.e. you don’t currently hold another Citi credit card), or you must have terminated your last Citi credit card at least 12 months ago.

Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Earning rates

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.

Currently the bonus 4.0 miles per $1 rate is only applicable for the first $12,000 of annual spend in the bonus categories, so you’re capped at earning a maximum of 48,000 miles per card anniversary year at the 4x rate. After that all transactions will earn the (very low) 0.4 miles per $1.

Note that from 4th October 2018 the spending cap switches to a monthly limit (per statement cycle) of $1,000. Theoretically that’s a 4,000 miles per statement month which is still 48,000 miles per card anniversary year, however it is much more difficult to achieve and means some expensive single items aren’t obtainable at 4.0 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 Dollars) 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.

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 once you’ve reached your $12,000 bonus categories spending limit, in which case you’d get the 4x miles rates on an additional $12,000 worth of eligible spending with the second card.

This strategy means you can accrue 96,000 miles per card anniversary year in total, provided you can spend $24,000 per annum in the designated categories. If you started off with a MasterCard for example, you can apply online or call up Citi to apply for a Visa version as you approach the $12,000 annual cap.

Note that this strategy is still possible after 4th October 2018, however the spending limit switches to a much more strict $1,000 per monthly statement cycle per card.

Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?

No, rather than being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘Citi Dollars’ 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 Dollar per $1 spent, which translates to 0.4 miles per $1, and the bonus rate is 10 Citi Dollars per $1 spent, which is 4 miles per $1).

How much is a Citi Dollar 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 Dollars 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 Dollars, 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 Dollars in your rewards account.

Do Citi Dollars expire?

Yes, according to Citi for Citi Dollars 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 Dollars) 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 Dollar 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 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

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:

  • 8 miles per S$1 spent at Love, Bonito until 30th September 2018, capped at $1,000 spend per statement cycle. Ending soon but often repeated with different retailers, 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.

The upcoming change capping the bonus points to the first $1,000 of monthly spend is a disappointing move for this card however.

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 1.4 miles per dollar.

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.

Citi Rewards Card

Our link below helps this site and awards you up to $120 cash back

APPLY HERE

Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.

7 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?

    Like

    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

      Like

      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!

        Like

  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.

    Like

  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..

    Like

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