Point Hacks Credit Card Guide

Guide to Citi Rewards, Citibank’s rewards program for its Citi-branded Visa credit cards

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

At the end of last year, Citibank announced a decision to overhaul the earn rates on their rewards cards and also adjust the transfer rate to their partner frequent flyer programs from Citi Rewards. This was primarily a response to RBA’s changes to credit card payment regulations.

Digging into the details of Citibank Rewards

Citibank offers the option to earn points in a flexible points program called Citi Rewards, which contains at least 4 airline programs and possibly more depending on the Citibank card that you own, or to directly earn Qantas points through the Citi Qantas Rewards program, costing $49 per year, and with a monthly sweep of your points into your Qantas Frequent Flyer account. This guide focuses on the Citi Rewards program.

Citi Rewards is suited to those looking for a flexible points program, where you choose the frequent flyer or hotel program you want to transfer your Citi Rewards points to at a time of your choosing.

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 some partners earn points at different rates depending on the card you hold.

The Citi Rewards Card Range

Citibank has three main cards associated with the its Rewards programs. These are:

These cards often come 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 many travel benefits and partners.

Card Details

CardCiti Prestige Visa 'Infinite'
Loyalty programCiti Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer via Citi Qantas Rewards
Earn rates1.5 Qantas point or 3 Rewards Points per $1 for selected purchases made and booked directly from a range of major restaurants and restaurant chains, major hotel chains and flights directly booked with major airlines and international spend

1 Qantas point or 2 Rewards points per $1 for selected purchases made at major petrol outlets, major supermarkets and major national retailers

0.5 Qantas point or 1 Reward Point per $1 spent everywhere else on Eligible Transactions
Points capNone
Earns points at ATONo
Minimum credit limit$30,000
Travel benefitsVisa Luxury Hotels
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.

Card Details

CardCiti Rewards Signature Credit Card
Loyalty programCiti Rewards Program
Citi Rewards earn rate2 Rewards Points per $1 for selected purchases made and booked directly from a range of major restaurants and restaurant chains, major hotel chains and flights directly booked with major airlines and international spend

1.5 Rewards points per $1 for selected purchases made at major petrol outlets, major supermarkets and major national retailers

1 Reward Point per $1 spent everywhere else on Eligible Transactions
Points capCiti Rewards points are uncapped
Minimum credit limit$15,000
Earns points at ATONo
Travel benefitsPriority Pass lounge access and two included lounge visits
First Year Annual Fee$199
Regular Annual fee$395 p.a.
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 $149, and an earn rate of 1 point per $1 spent on purchases in Australia (capped up to $10,000 spend per calendar month) and 1 point per $1 spent internationally (uncapped).

Citi Rewards Transfer Partners

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

  • Emirates Skywards
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Australia Velocity

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

  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid
  • Hilton Honors
  • IHG Rewards
  • Radisson Rewards

For Signature and Prestige cardholders, points transfer out to Velocity Frequent Flyer at a rate of 2 Citi Rewards points to 1 Velocity point, and 2.5 Citi Rewards points to 1 mile for both Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Emirates Skywards.

Citibank has recently amended the minimum number of Citi Rewards points that can be transferred, and the change is a welcome one. Previously, the minimum number of points that could be transferred was 25,000, and points could only be transferred in blocks of 25,000 points thereafter.

The new requirements vary by frequent flyer program, and are as follows for the 3 main Citi Rewards programs:

  • Velocity Frequent Flyer – Minimum 2,000 points in 1 point increments
  • Singapore KrisFlyer – Minimum 20,000 points in 1 point increments
  • Emirates Skywards – Minimum 15,000 points in 1 point increments

Any balance less than the minimum is ineligible to be transferred to frequent flyer programs until the minimum threshold is reached.

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 a useful way to use your 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, which offers a free bottle of wine and some occasional discount offers when dining at a large range of selected restaurants, is a benefit of all 3 Citibank cards above, however it’s value is dependent on how often you dine at these restaurants and of course whether you like wine! In our experience, 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 does have its strengths, including quality airline transfer partners, and with the Citi Prestige, add a great variety of airline partners to that. However the transfer rate does fall short of a number of Visa and Mastercard cards in the market for everyday spend, especially for those looking to earn Qantas points through Citi Qantas Rewards. However, the rates are competitive if you find that a majority of your spend is with retailers that attract the higher earn rate.

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.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, for those looking for a flexible points program with quality airline partners, a Citi Rewards may be a good choice.

Guide to Citi Rewards, Citibank’s rewards program for its Citi-branded Visa credit cards was last modified: September 20th, 2018 by Keith

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Comments Expand Comments

  1. Kiki

    Hi Keith, thank you for another great article!
    I am just wondering whether the information on the bonus points partners is still current… I have tried contacting Citi but no one seems to know about it! Did anyone manage to earn the bonus points recently?
    Thank you in advance.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. Nelson

    Hi Keith,

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

Links to this article

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

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