Point Hacks Credit Card Guide

Guide to Citi Rewards – Citibank’s rewards program for it’s Citi-branded Visa credit cards

The Citi Rewards credit card points program is a flexible credit card points program, with the Signature and Prestige Visa as the primary linked cards.

In March Citi reduced the rate at which you can transfer your points out to Velocity and KrisFlyer, so I’ve overhauled this guide accordingly to reflect the new transfer rates.

The upshot? With Citi being one of the first to make changes to their rewards program and linked cards, it’s not possible to see yet which bank rewards programs are coming out as being most appealing. That said, there are still several unique benefits of Citi Rewards, especially for Prestige Visa cardholders, which are worth knowing about.


Digging into the details of Citi Rewards

Citi Rewards does continue to offer some of the highest points earning linked Visa options on the market with a flexible points currency.

You’ll get a choice of earning points into either Qantas Points (under a direct earn arrangement called ‘Citi Qantas Rewards’, costing $49 per year, and with a monthly sweep of your points ), or into Citi Rewards – the focus of this guide.

If you prefer flexible points programs, where you can choose which frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program you want to transfer your points to at the time of making a redemptions – it’s worth assessing whether Citi Rewards could work for your own ongoing spend and earn preferences.

The program has a couple of quirks, for example where a number of frequent flyer and hotel program partners are only available to the Citibank Prestige Visa cards, and bonus partners earn points at different rates depending on the card you hold.

The Citi Rewards Card Range

Citibank often offer the Prestige and Signature cards with different signup bonuses for Qantas points vs Citibank Rewards points, so keep an eye out to ensure you are signing up for the offer you want.

The Citi Prestige is the high end card of the Citi Rewards range, and has an annual fee of $700 along with a heap of travel benefits and partners.

Citi Prestige Visa - 70,000 Citi Rewards points (35,000 KrisFlyer / Velocity points if transferred)

70,000 Citi Rewards Points are on offer with the Citi Prestige Visa when signing up and linking to Citi Rewards - you can transfer these points to Virgin, Krisflyer or Asia Miles.

  • 70,000 Citi Rewards points after first eligible transaction
  • Ability to transfer points to Velocity, Krisflyer, Asia Miles or other international frequent flyer programs
  • Priority Pass lounge access, Visa Luxury Hotels service, and other premium benefits
  • 2 Citi Rewards points earned per $ or 1 Qantas point per $, 5 Citi Rewards points per $ earned on overseas transactions
  • Points earn equivalent to 1 Velocity points or KrisFlyer miles per $ spent domestically, or 2.5 per $ spent on overseas transactions
  • 0% interest p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months
  • $700 annual fee
  • $150,000 p.a. minimum income requirement
  • Offer expires: April 30th 2017

Find out more or apply →

Point Hacks earn a maximum of $280 per applicant for this card. More about this →

Card Details

CardCiti Prestige Visa 'Infinite'
Loyalty programCiti Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer via Citi Qantas Rewards
Citi Rewards earn rate2 Citi Rewards points per $ spent domestically or 5 Citi Rewards per $ on overseas transactions
Velocity, KrisFlyer & Asia Miles effective earn rate 1 point/mile per $ on domestic spend, 2.5 points/miles per $ on international spend, when transferred from Citi Rewards at 2:1
Qantas Point earn rate1 Qantas Point per $ spent, earned directly into Qantas Frequent Flyer each month
Points capNone
Earns points at ATONo
Travel benefitsVisa Luxury Hotels, Hilton HHonors Gold status
Ritz-Carlton & Starwood preferred booking benefits
Two limousine transfers per year
Priority Pass membership
Included insurancesTravel, purchase protection and warranty insurances (PDS)
Minimum income requirement$150,000 p.a.
Overseas transaction fee3.40% of the converted amount
Annual fee$700 + $49 for optional Qantas Point opt-in

Then, the Citi Signature Visa usually comes in around half the annual fee of the Prestige, but also has some decent benefits.

Citi Signature Visa - 75,000 Citi Rewards points (37,500 KrisFlyer / Velocity points if transferred)

75,000 Citi Rewards Points are on offer with the Citi Signature Visa, convertible to 37,500 Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles or Virgin Australia Velocity points, with an effective earn rate of 0.75 airline points per $ on spend.

  • 75,000 Citibank Rewards points
  • 0% interest p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers
  • Priority Pass lounge access and some other premium card benefits
  • Ability to earn Citi Rewards points where you can transfer points to Velocity & Krisflyer, or swap the card to Qantas Points down the track
  • 1.5 Citi Rewards points per $1 spent - capped to $20,000 per statement period for domestic spend, uncapped for international spend
  • $199 p.a. annual fee first year, $395 ongoing
  • Offer expires: 30 April 2017
  • Spend on everyday purchases within the first 90 days to receive bonus points

Find out more or apply →

Point Hacks earn a maximum of $160 per applicant for this card. More about this →

Card Details

CardCiti Signature Visa
Loyalty programCiti Rewards or Citi Qantas Rewards (+$49)
Citi Rewards earn rate1.5 Citi Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases
Velocity / KrisFlyer effective earn rate 0.75 points/miles per $ when transferred from Citi Rewards at 2:1
Qantas Point earn rate1 Qantas Point per $ spent, earned directly into Qantas Frequent Flyer each month
Points capCiti Rewards points are capped to $20,000 per statement period for Australian spend, uncapped for overseas, OR

Qantas Points are capped up to $3,000 per statement period, 0.5 points per $ after, with international spend uncapped
Earns points at ATONo
Travel benefitsPriority Pass lounge access and two included lounge visits
Annual fee$395, but sometimes offered at $299 for life
Overseas transaction fee3.40% of the converted amount
Minimum income requirement$75,000 p.a.

Finally, the Citi Rewards Platinum Card (no guide on Point Hacks yet) comes in with a standard annual fee of $199, and an earn rate of 1.25 points per $1 spent on purchases in Australia and 3 points per $1 spent internationally.

What were the changes to Citi Rewards in March?

Citi implemented a 25% cut to the value of transfers to Velocity and KrisFlyer across all cards in the Citi Rewards program. They were one of the first banks to announce changes to their rewards program for 2016, and some other banks have not yet announced changes which makes it hard to do an effective comparison across rewards programs.

Put simply, Citi’s changes reduced the effective earn rates from spend for airline points of their cards, primarily for the Citi Signature and Citi Prestige Visas.

Citi Rewards Transfer Partners

Citi Rewards transfer partners for the Signature Visa are low in number, but high in quality:

  • Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
  • Virgin Australia Velocity
  • Emirates Skywards

For the Citi Prestige Visa the following partners are also included:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta Skymiles
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid
  • Etihad Guest
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Garuda Frequent Flyer
  • Eva Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Hilton HHonors
  • IHG Rewards
  • Club Carlson

For Prestige and Signature cardholders, points transfer out to the most commonly used programs of Virgin Australia‘s Velocity, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles programs at 2 Citi Rewards point to 1 Velocity point.

There’s a minimum transfer of 15,000 Citi Rewards points and you can transfer as many points over the 15,000 minimum as you like.

Citi Rewards Transfer

Source: Citibank’s website

This means if you’re closing your account you’ll need to pay particular attention to the points balance to be able to transfer it all in one go – if you let it go below 15,000 points, the points will be stuck there.

Transfers to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Qantas Frequent Flyer are only available on certain card types. Citi Prestige cards (with a $700 annual fee) get access to Asia Miles transfers as well as all the other international partners, while all Citibank cards which allow earn into Qantas have to be set up as direct sweep into compulsory Qantas points, where you can’t hold a balance in Citi Rewards.

Emirates Skywards transfers are possible from the Citibank Signature and Prestige Visas at 2.5 Citi Rewards points to 1 Skyward mile. Again, the 15,000 point minimum transfer level applies.

Citi Rewards Bonus Point Partners

Citibank has a wide range of bonus partners – many of which are quite niche. There are a few mainstream retailers though, and it depends on where you spend your money as to whether you’ll get the most out of their bonus partner program.

The earn rates for bonus partners differ from card to card, as follows:

  • Citi Classic – 1 point + 3 bonus points = 4 points per $1 spent
  • Citi Platinum – 1.25 points + 3 bonus points = 4.25 points per $1 spent
  • Citi Signature – 1.5 points + 3 bonus points = 4.5 points per $1 spent
  • Citi Prestige – 2 points + 3 bonus points = 5 points per $1 spent

There’s no really big bonuses like some of the 10:1 points per dollar rates from a few of the Amex partners, but the offers on dining and various hotel groups could be lucrative.

One of the more interesting partners is InterContinental hotel groups, with bonuses on spend at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels, and as they have a wide reach in the region, and hotel spend can be fairly ‘big ticket’, this could yield some good bonus points. Hertz and Europcar are also bonus partners too.

Bonus points are not available to those who earn points into Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Citibank Travel Program

It’s possible to use your points for travel paying directly with your points using the Citibank Travel Program. This might prove to be an OK use of points if you can’t find any points flights for your travel dates, with redemptions yielding a value of 1c per point.

Other offers and benefits

Citibank Dining is a benefit of some of Citibank’s cards too, however it’s value is debatable. Some may get great value out of it, with a free bottle of wine and some occasional discount offers when dining at a large range of selected restaurants. In our experience though, some restaurants don’t consistently offer or respect the benefit, making it hard to make the most of. The full list of benefits is here..

There’s also a changing range of other offers and benefits, including some discounts at select retailers, detailed here.

Why Citi Rewards? My thoughts

Citi Rewards is a useful rewards program, given it has the key airline partners for points transfer – transfer rates to Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer are at least equivalent to others in the market for a non-American Express card program.

If you like dining out in any of their dining partner restaurants where you can earn significantly more points than with other cards; or pay for stays often at Holiday Inn, InterContinental or Crowne Plaza hotels and earn bonus points for doing so.

American Express Membership Rewards is a bit more accessible though, with some lower fee cards in the range like the Platinum Edge, especially if you’re interested in hotel, rather than airline redemptions, and for their flexibility in transferring much smaller amounts of points – the minimum transfer levels for Citi Rewards transfers to airline partners are comparably high.

If you think you’re able to direct the majority of your spend onto an American Express, then you may be better served with Membership Rewards.

However, if you’re not into Qantas Frequent Flyer, and want a flexible secondary card, then a Citi Rewards linked card is worth considering.

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Comments Expand Comments

  1. Nelson

    Hi Keith,

    I don’t think the Signature Card comes with the Visa Luxury Hotel service. I think its only for Visa Select.

    • Keith Author

      For sure, Asia Miles and Enrich are very handy to have across the board. Just a shame the earn/transfer rates are generally not so great on Altitude cards.

      • kmc

        Amex altitude earn is really good. Mastercard obviously less so. Depending on how dedicated someone is to asking the question “do you take Amex” they may find the Altitude cards better. Also the fee free for life offer on the citi signature card appears to be running until end July, which unless you’re churning would be a better offer.

  2. Margaret

    Hi Keith, Just thought I would share that when transferring points from Citibank to velocity, they say it can take 3 weeks to be credited to the receiving velocity account. This is my first transfer, so I am not sure if it will take that long, but I think it might be worth mentioning!

    • Keith Author

      I’ve found it to be much faster, hope you do too. Usually a couple of working days, but it’s been a while since I’ve done one. That’s also the case for Krisflyer.

  3. David

    Hi Keith, thanks for this informative article, which is infinitely more helpful than anything that Citibank can provide. I have been trying to get basic information from them to do some planning for next year – simple question “what is the ballpark number of points I need to have to fly from Australia to the UK” (or anywhere) Their approach is basically – tell us EXACTLY what you want, and we will tell you if you can have it. They offer no calculator and no guide. There is nowhere to find information on their website. I rang the helpdesk – the person wanted me to nominate a date – fine. Then told me how much extra I would have to pay with my current points (lots) but couldn’t tell me how many points would be needed for the nominated date.

    • Keith Author

      Sounds frustrating. So this would be through citibank travel? Sounds like an impossible situation – they won’t tell you the price of something without having enough money (points) in your account, is that right – they just told you you don’t have enough?

    • Keith Author

      Ah, maybe I’m confused – are you talking with Emirates? I thought Emirates points pricing was pretty clear, there’s a calculator on their site.

  4. Matthew

    Hi Keith,

    I just called Citi to confirm if the Citi Classic Credit Card earns points which can be transferred into airline programs. Citi were very adamant that this card does allow transfer out to Velocity and KrisFlyer.

    Not sure if this is something that may have changed since this article was written.

  5. Joe

    Please note, Citibank changed the conversion rate for KrisFlyer miles and virgin too. It’s not 1.1 on visa domestic and 2.5 on international. They did this without telling anyone.

  6. Hi Keith,

    Thanks for your thoughts on options for Citi Prestige card holders post this week’s developments.

    With interchange dropping dramatically, I don’t blame Citi for dropping our earn rate as that’s what funds the points. I do blame them for the way in which they handled things and am glad they’ve backtracked to allow us to make an informed decision on transfer.

    I think reduced interchange will affect other issuers too and we’ll see everyone else reduce their points earn. It will be interesting to see what happens with Amex now they’ve “designated” – assuming we’ll see some cuts to Amex too. Hopefully, Amex will be able to hold current Membership Rewards rates given they’re paying less than Bank issued Amex at 1.5ppd – might give them room room to absorb some of the hit.

    I’ll be transferring all my Citi points out as a safety measure. I’m considering transferring my ANZ and Amex MR points as well in light of the above – interested in others’ thoughts on my thoughts in this post. May make these transfers during the current 15% Velocity Promo. I don’t like the thought of them all being at Velocity but seems the lesser of 2 evils.

  7. Jay

    Not sure if this was mentioned here before but with CITI Prestige right now, there is a Hilton point transfer promotion where you get 2 Hilton points per 1 Citibank reward point. This allowed me to book 3 nights for a family of 4 at a Hilton KL Grand Executive Suite (89sqm) with breakfast buffet at Vasco & executive lounge access with only 65000 CITI points! (130k Hilton points) Very happy.

    Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 2 Hilton HHonors™ Points for each Citi Reward Point you transfer by January 17th. That is 1 Hilton HHonors Point in addition to the base redemption rate of 1 Citi Reward Point to 1 Hilton HHonors Point, for a total of 2 Hilton HHonors Points. Each Points Transfer must include a minimum of 15,000 Citi Rewards Points.

  8. Gilbert Leung

    Hi Keith,

    Thank you for the updated summary. However, I am afraid that the benefit of Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status under the Citi Prestige has been removed – I called Citibank Prestige Concierge a few weeks ago to request for such but was told the bad news. Please verify.

    Also, do you know if the one night free accommodation in selected hotels per year still applies?

    Cheers

    • Keith Author

      Thanks, I’ll check this out and update the guide. AFAIK the one night free hasn’t changed but the number of available hotels as grown.

Links to this article

  1. Citibank Signature Visa - Ultimate Benefits Guide
  2. Citibank Prestige Visa Infinite - Ultimate Benefits Guide
  3. The best uses of Qantas Points - partners, upgrades and redemptions that offer most value - Point Hacks
  4. Citibank Select Visa - Ultimate Benefits Guide - Point Hacks
  5. How to use Asia Miles to get to the US from Australia - Point Hacks
  6. Citibank cut Citi Rewards transfer rates to Velocity and KrisFlyer with no notice to existing customers - Point Hacks
  7. Earning points or rewards at hotels - how to choose between hotel rewards programs - Point Hacks
  8. Why interchange fee changes will impact credit card points earn
  9. How to get to India using your Qantas, Velocity or other frequent flyer points - Point Hacks
  10. Choosing how to book a hotel for the most points or rewards - Point Hacks

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