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How to choose your next Citi travel card (2019 guide)
A rundown of Citi travel cards, including our "best of" picks.
Chase and American Express products often dominate in the travel space, but a Citi travel card might be well worth a look too.
To choose the right card, consider whether you want a product for ThankYou Points, American Airlines, Costco or Expedia. Then think about the bonus rewards you might earn.
Compare Citi travel credit cards
Citi travel card overview
There are 12 Citi travel cards that offer either rewards redeemable for travel or bonus rewards for travel spending.
These cards can be split into four categories: cards that let you earn ThankYou points as well as cobranded American Airlines, Costco and Expedia cards.
In the following sections, we’ll cover the benefits of each Citibank travel card and pick our favorites in each category.
Cards with ThankYou Points
ThankYou Points are Citi’s in-house rewards. You can redeem them for multiple items, including flights, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, statement credit and charitable donations.
You can get the highest value from your ThankYou Points by transferring them to Citi’s travel partners, which include JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and more.
Best Citi travel card: Citi Prestige® Credit Card
Runner up: Citi Premier℠ Card
For gas and groceries: Citi Rewards+℠ Card
For students: Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
For eligible AT&T, retail and travel purchases: AT&T Access Card from Citi
American Airlines cards
Look into a Citibank travel card in this category if you’re a regular American Airlines flyer, or if you want to save your rewards for flights on the carrier.
Read this before applying for an American Airlines credit card
American Airlines has one disadvantage versus its biggest competitors, Delta and United. While you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta and Chase Ultimate Reward points to United, there’s no major credit card that allows direct point transfers to American Airlines.
Here’s what that means: If you get a cobranded American Airlines card from Citi, you have fewer options to supplement your rewards via a general-rewards card. Consider the rewards you’d earn with your American Airlines card and how long it might take to earn enough for an award flight.
Also, consider whether you’re set on flying on American Airlines, or whether you might be just as happy with Delta or United. In the latter case, you can still find great cobranded cards.
Best American Airlines card: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Airline card for business: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
No-annual-fee airline card: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
For loyal American Airlines flyers: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
If you prefer simple cashback rewards, try the Costco credit cards. Before applying for one, make sure you have a Costco membership.
Best for Costco (personal card): Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Business Costco card: Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card
There’s one Expedia card, which offers accelerated rewards at the online travel agency (OTA) and complimentary status in the company’s loyalty program.
Best for Expedia customers: Expedia® Rewards CARD from Citi
How we chose our best credit cards
For many of our “best” picks, we chose products with the highest rewards rates. This is an important factor because it consistently generates value for a cardholder.
Rewards rate isn’t the only deciding factor, however. We also placed heavy emphasis on each Citibank travel card with perks you can’t find with other products. In these cases, premium cards aren’t always the best option if their features are replicated elsewhere. A lower-priced option may be a better value for more consumers.
What’s changed in 2019
The Citi Prestige® Credit Card — which has traditionally lagged behind other premium cards — is now a force to be reckoned with. Its revamped rewards structure can be incredibly valuable, and its fourth-night-free benefit is getting a second look from many consumers.
Unfortunately, the fourth-night-free benefit is now capped at twice a calendar year, though it’s still be a great deal.
How to compare Citi travel credit cards
What type of card do you want?
It can be helpful to decide which of the four categories of Citi cards appeals to you. If you’re a loyal customer of one of Citi’s cobranded partners, you might like an American Airlines, Costco or Expedia card.
Otherwise, you might like a card that offers ThankYou Points, which will give you more flexibility for reward redemptions.
Consider whether you want to pay an annual fee. An annual-fee card might offer better rewards, but a no-annual-fee card will let you accrue travel rewards without the pressure of offsetting your card’s cost.
What type of rewards do you want?
Cash back is simple, and its value usually doesn’t change. Points, on the other hand, can be more complicated, as you won’t know their true value until you redeem them. While they can represent more headaches, they can offer more value than cash back.
Each Citi travel card offers bonus rewards for certain categories. To get the most out of your card, you’ll want the bulk of your spending to match with those categories.
If your normal spending will bring you few bonus rewards, consider another card.
A signup bonus can sweeten the prospect of getting a credit card. Annual-fee cards tend to have higher signup bonuses than no-annual-fee cards.
For more products, check out our guide to the best travel credit cards.
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