8 Interesting Things You May Not Know About Citi

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Citi Credit Card Info

Citi Credit Card Info

Citi is challenging Amex as my favorite card issuer right now.  I didn’t ever expect to say that.  I’ve historically loved Amex, so Citi even being in contention is a good thing.  In the not so distant past, Citi has substantively added to their transfer partner portfolio, improved cashout ease, and juiced their welcome offers.  No doubt, Citi has positively grabbed my attention these past few years.  Along the way, I’ve noticed some Citi wrinkles, and today I’m sharing some Citi credit card info you may find useful.

Automatic Credit Line Increases, Randomly

I’ve received credit line increases on my Premier and Double Cash cards automatically from Citi on multiple occasions.  These increases have come after I’ve significantly spent on each of the accounts.

Why does this matter?  Because moving around credit line between Citi card accounts is difficult (at best) compared to other card issuers like Chase, Amex, and Barclays, in my experience.  Citi can be a stickler for raising credit lines without a hard pull, as well.  This has slightly improved – cardholders can request credit limit increases in app without the same effects.  Nonetheless, obtaining more credit line with Citi can still be tricky, so I’ve appreciated the automatic increases after significant spend.

Question: How Will My Current AA Status Chasing Roll Into New Program?
Citi added a surprise transfer partner. With a caveat of course. Find out more in our article above.

Product Change Party!

On the flipside, Citi has a remarkably flexible product change policy.  Cardholders can product change to the vast majority of Citi cards.  We can even jump card “families.”  For instance, I’ve easily converted multiple American Airlines card accounts to Citi’s bank point-earning card products, like Double Cash and Custom Cash.  I’ve heard reports of phone reps turning down certain cardholders now and then.  If that ever happens to you, simply thank the rep, hang up, and call again. Largely, cardholders can make the product changes they desire.

No, I Didn’t Want Another ThankYou Point Account

Speaking of product changes, when one obtains a new ThankYou point-earning card, Citi often creates a new ThankYou point account even if a cardholder already has one.  This creates all sorts of confusion for cardholders who try to simultaneously use the benefits of each card they hold, such as stacking the Rewards+ points back feature with 3x bonus category earning of the Premier.  The ThankYou site offers the capability to combine ThankYou accounts, but it often errors out or doesn’t show all accounts.  Unfortunately, calling in is sometimes the only way to combine ThankYou point accounts.  Mark dealt with this not too long ago, and I’ve procrastinated with this call for my Custom Cash.

Orbitz Flash Sale

The Premier Hotel Benefit Is Surprisingly Useful

Citi introduced the Premier $100 hotel benefit back in 2020, and I originally turned my nose up at this perk.  But with a bit of tinkering, I found the benefit to be more useful thank I expected.  Sure, one must book a minimum $500 stay, but cardholders can often save at properties they couldn’t otherwise.

Here’s a more recent example.  I’ve long desired to stay at the Shinola Hotel in Detroit.  To my chagrin, my searches found no availability via Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts, The Hotel Collection, or Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort collection.  However, I found the hotel via the ThankYou portal and could use my Premier $100 hotel benefit for easy savings.  The pre-benefit price was the same as directly booking with Shinola, so the benefit provided unique, undeniable savings.

The Premier Outperforms In Its Class

Citi offers the best premium card out there, from my perspective.  For a $95 annual fee, cardholders earn at an outstanding 3x rate in these broad categories: supermarkets, gas stations, dining, air travel, and hotels.  Nothing offered by other premium cards with similar annual fees comes close.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 3x on dining, the card only provides 2x in the travel category, and 3x grocery is limited to online purchases.  With Amex, one can argue such a card doesn’t exist.  The closest versions Amex offers are the Blue Cash Preferred and the Everyday Preferred.  Unfortunately, the superior 6% cash back earning at supermarkets is capped at $6k annually on the Preferred.  One can earn 4.5x Membership Rewards on supermarkets and 3x at gas stations with the Everyday preferred, but with two significant catches.  A cardholder must have 30 transactions in a billing cycle to earn those rates, and there is a $6k annual cap on the supermarkets category.

Depending on your situation, the Premier may come up short on protections compared to its competitors.  And, of course, this doesn’t take into account one’s redemption strategy, so factor that into above, as appropriate.

Citi Double Cash > Amex Blue Business Plus

Okay, maybe not for everybody.  But many can do just as well or better with the Double Cash compared to the Blue Business Plus.  I closed my Blue Business Plus as a result.

Cardholders can easily earn 2% cash back with the Double Cash and 2.2% cash back on the first 100k points redeemed annually if they also hold the no annual fee Rewards+ (via the points back feature).  Blue Business Plus cardholders can do slightly better by earning 2.2% cash back uncapped, but this requires holding an Amex Schwab Platinum with a $695 annual fee.  And importantly, due to Amex’s general five credit card limit policy, holding a Blue Business Plus card takes up a precious card slot.

Again, redemption strategies matter here.  But while Blue Business Plus has decreased in value for some (thanks to the Amex cashout devaluation), the Double Cash remains consistently beneficial for all.

Approvals Have Gotten Trickier

Citi approvals aren’t as easy to obtain as they once were.  Mark talked about an apparent 3/6 rule back in 2020, and last summer DDG described how things have gotten worse.  Those enticing welcome offers, including the previous 80k Premier offer, have been tougher to realize.  Individuals receive a variety of reasons for declines, including:

  • Too many revolving accounts
  • Last inquiry is too recent
  • Not enough credit utilization

Despite this, Citi hasn’t come out with an official rule on new card applications.  I find this gray area a bit frustrating since many of us don’t really know where we stand with Citi before applying.  While I’ve clearly described my displeasure and rebuke of the 5/24 rule, at least Chase has sent a clear message.

Citi Credit Card Info

App > Website

As wonky as the Citi website is, I’ve found the app is tremendously streamlined and useful.  Outside of a few unique ThankYou redemptions, I can accomplish most everything I need to within the app.  I generally opt to hop online via desktop for my hobby nonsense, but I go for my phone with Citi.  Unlike pretty much any other bank, doing the same stuff via desktop with Citi takes me longer.

Citi Credit Card Info – Conclusion

For better or worse, Citi is clearly the wackiest of the big three card issuers.  I can stomach the negatives for the overarching positives Citi provides, though.  However, I can totally understand others who weigh those aspects with Citi differently.  In my view, the fact that some of the Citi negatives are so basic is both maddening and reassuring.  If what I described here is the worst it gets with them for me, I’m doing okay.  Perhaps some of you can relate, but probably not Mark, who can hardly use his Citi cards.  What unique Citi credit card info have you learned over the years?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA for close to free. He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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12 COMMENTS

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Citi’s best card isn’t mentioned. Since Citi took over the old Sears card, the offers have been incredible. I don’t know if you can still get it since I’ve had mine 38 years!
    The DC is pitiful, low CL, minimum redemption value, nowhere near as easy to use as Fidelity or Blue for Business cash cards. Citi never has any good offers on any cards but the Sears one. Chase and AMEX have offers all day long. Until they fixed TYP cash redemption, they had a crappy offering if you prefer cash over points. You are right that recently they are trying to fix the low and unchanging CL issues but has anything changed for new apps? It’s a sock drawer card much of the time and is really a 1+1 card not like the other 2% offerings. Just my experience.

    • Dave,
      Thanks for chiming in. The Shop Your Way card is definitely a solid card, provided one is targeted for the excellent spending offers. The TYP-earning Sears card is great for offers, as well, but isn’t available for product changes or new applications. Good on you for getting superior value with Chase and Amex; I still like the Citi offerings for certain plays, though.

  2. I love my Citi setup which covers the same grounds as the other issuers combine for a lot less in annual fees.

    I’ve got the Prestige, Premier, Double Cash, Custom Cash, and the Rewards+ and it only cost me $590 annually. There isn’t an Amex, Chase, or any other lender out there that covers this ground for as little as the Citi set up.

    Sure you’ll forgo travel protection with Citi but if it means that much to you, one can pick up a Sapphire Preferred which most enthusiast in this hobby already has one or just buy trip protection as needed.

    Citi doesn’t have a domestic transfer partner which is the lame argument that lots of folks use but how often are we ever really transferring to a domestic partner? Often we’re transferring to alliance partners for better value and Citi has access to OneWorld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam.

    Truth be told with the way saver space is drying up, it’s nice to be able to cash out at 1cpp with Citi and just pay cash. Cashing out with Amex means you have to pick up a hefty $695 AF Schwab, no thanks!

    Chase has PYB but its category specific and really only worth it if you have a CSR.

    So yea, Citi has its shortcomings but they all do. But when it comes to covering a lot of ground, none of them can best Citi. The closest you’ll get with Amex in covering similar ground will cost you about $1,095 with a Platinum, Gold, and Green combination. Keep in mind that the Gold has a cap on grocery and the Premier doesn’t.

    And the icing on the cake is that with Citi I don’t have to play silly games every month to capture credits from merchants I probably wouldn’t ever patronize (i.e Uber, Saks, Peacock) just to justify the annual fee.

    Amex has its place and I can’t and won’t deny it, but so does Citi if one is willing to take off their blindfold.

    • Citi has to offer more 5x earning opps & lower card fees since the end purpose – redemption – is so very weak next to AMEX, Chase, & yes even Capital 1. Not to say there aren’t opportunities, but their “ground” covered is nowhere nearly as exhaustive.

      • Pam, respectfully I ask, what airline alliance can’t you fly with Citi that you can with Amex or Chase?

        Citi’s card fee is $95 for most as one can’t get or PC into the Prestige anymore. What fee must they lower in your opinion?

        Citi allows for 1cpp redemption without any having to obtain a $695 AF like Amex requires.

        Not saying your wrong as we’re all entitled to our opinion, just trying to follow your logic as it relates to Citi being “weak” when compared to Amex.

  3. Wells Fargo Propel ($0 annual fee) > Citi Premier ($95 annual fee + 3x supermarkets). From a cash back perspective, the Propel is the clear winner. Those savvy with ThankYou points might be able to do better with the Premier though. Too bad applications are closed for the Propel!

  4. While the Double Cash at face value may initially seem better than the Blue Business Plus (BBP), I’d have to disagree because the Double Cash has no protections whatsoever. The Blue Business Plus still has purchase protection and extended warranty which I would gladly take without hesitation over the Double Cash. Just a single use of that will put you way ahead than a measly .2% extra. You also get business oriented Amex offers and transferrable points without needing an additional card.

    • Ron,
      Good point regarding the Amex Offers sometimes targeted at BBP cardholders. That said, I’d rather have that Amex credit card slot for additional welcome offers each year. But one’s Amex portfolio and strategy differs for each individual.

  5. I got the Premier when they were transferring to AA, and did the transfer in time. Like others, I hoped it would become permanent. Since it didn’t, I’m a bit baffled by transfer partners. Wyndham looks like the only one I would realistically use. So, a card with good earning potential, coupled with my Double Cash, but what do I do with TYPs? Plus the CL, even after a first boost, is too low to make this a primary card in my stable full of 14 travel cards. I’ve had a card with Citi for over 15 years, and I still feel like they’re not very good at the cc business.

    • Completely agree. I finally put real spend on my Citi family of cards when AA was an option last year. Now I am doing some Custom Cash spend only for 1:2 Choice (for Preferred Hotel bookings) or hope before then another AA transfer opportunity opens up.

      Citi was top priority for me late last year but now almost irrelevant again with the removal of AA!

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