How to choose your next Citi travel card (2019 guide) | finder.com
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How to choose your next Citi travel card (2019 guide)

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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

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual Fee Filter values
Earn 60,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening
3x points on travel and gas, 2x points on dining and entertainment and 1x points on everything else
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening.
$50 after the first Expedia purchase over $50 in the first 3 months plus 10,000 points after spending $1,000 within
3x points on eligible Expedia purchases and 1x points on all other purchases
$0
Earn a $50 statement credit after your first eligible Expedia purchase greater than $50 within 3 months of account opening plus, earn 50 Expedia Rewards bonus points after spending $50 within 3 months of account opening.
N/A
4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually, then 1%. 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Earn Costco cash rewards everywhere Visa® is accepted.
50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
2x miles on American Airlines, dining, and gas and 1 miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months.

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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.

Jump to…

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

This is Citi’s flagship card, and it’ll set you back $495 a year. For the price, however, you’ll earn a stellar 5x points on air travel and restaurants, plus great rewards in other travel categories.

Airport lounge access and a strong annual travel credit are welcome, though expected, perks. The card’s real standout feature is its complimentary-fourth-night at a hotel benefit, which can easily offset the annual fee.

Runner up: Citi Premier℠ Card

This Citibank travel card more than holds its own against the fan-favorite Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which is an impressive feat.

It offers better rewards than its rival, including 3x points on travel and 2x points on entertainment and dining out. It also allows point transfers for great reward flexibility.

For gas and groceries: Citi Rewards+℠ Card

You’ll earn 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations on the first $6,000 per year, then 1x points. This isn’t bad, but you’ll find better grocery and gas credit cards from other providers.

If the card’s point rounding and point rebate catch your eye, consider your annual spending and see whether those features will produce substantial returns.

For students: Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

TheCiti Rewards+℠ Card is outclassed by other gas-and-grocery cards. But turn it into a Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card and it’s a good deal, with solid rewards and an intro APR on purchases.

For eligible AT&T, retail and travel purchases: AT&T Access Card from Citi

This card might make sense if you’re a frequent shopper, but its bonus rewards may feel limited. For a great cash back alternative, consider the 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.

On top of offering reward miles, these cards may offer American Airlines-specific perks like in-flight savings, free checked baggage and preferred boarding.

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®

This isn’t the premium American Airlines card, but it’s the “just right” option for most travelers. It offers American Airlines perks you won’t get elsewhere, such as your first checked bag free and preferred boarding on itineraries with the carrier. It also offers 2x miles not just on American Airlines purchases but also on restaurants and gas.

Airline card for business: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

This business credit card is similar to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®. The main difference is it offers 2x miles in select business categories, such as cable and satellite providers and select telecommunications providers.

No-annual-fee airline card: American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

Unfortunately, this card doesn’t offer preferred boarding or your first checked bag free on American Airlines itineraries. But it could be useful if you don’t want to deal with an annual fee and want to save up slowly for an American Airlines award flight.

For loyal American Airlines flyers: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

This is American Airline’s flagship card, and it can be an automatic pick for the carrier’s most loyal flyers.

If you’re a diehard fan of the Admirals Club lounges, this card is an easy choice. Otherwise, you’ll find better rewards — as well as a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit — with other travel cards. Plus, the less-expensive Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® offers many of the same American Airlines-specific perks.

Costco cards

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

Here, you’ll find a great 3% cash back on travel purchases. On top of that, you’ll find strong rewards on gas, Costco and Costco.com purchases.

Business Costco card: Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card

This card offers the same great rewards as its personal-card version, and it might be useful if you need to separate your business expenses from your personal expenditures.

Expedia 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

Though you’ll earn 3x points on Expedia purchases, points are worth around 0.7 cents apiece. That means you’re earning a 2.1% rewards rate on Expedia spending — still good, but not as impressive as you’ll find with some other travel cards.

You might find the complimentary boost to Expedia Rewards Silver more useful. It offers special perks at VIP Access hotels — such as spa credits and free breakfast — as well as 10% more points on bookings.

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 will be capped at twice a calendar year starting September 1, 2019, though it’ll 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.

  • Annual fee.

    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.

  • Bonus-reward categories.

    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.

  • Signup bonus.

    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.

    Do Citi travel cards have travel protection?

Bottom line

If you want a travel card, take a look through Citi’s catalog. You’ll find great options that hold up well against products from Chase, American Express and other providers.

For more products, check out our guide to the best travel credit cards.

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