The last time I reviewed Citi Rewards, it gave 4 miles per dollar on Grab top-ups, came in a Visa variant, and Covid wasn’t a word yet. Needless to say, things have changed quite a bit and it’s time to update older reviews of cards that are still relevant today.
An online (and offline) card
|Earn Rate||10X points on online transactions excluding travel (4 miles per dollar)|
10X points at department and clothing stores (4 miles per dollar)
1X points on other spend (0.4 miles per dollar)
|Points||1 point = 0.4 mpd or 0.227¢|
|Limits||10,000 points per statement month ($1,000 spend)|
|Annual Fee||S$192.60 (free for first year)|
The Citi Rewards Card offers 10X points per dollar spent on clothing and departmental store spends, as well as online retail transactions (excluding mobile wallet and travel-related transactions). While clothing-related spend is a rather niche category, online spend is a lot wider and permissive since we can buy practically anything online these days.
Through the use of the Amaze Card, Citi Rewards becomes an offline card as well. Essentially, when you add your Citi Rewards card to your Instarem Amaze app and charge your Amaze card to it, transactions become online, even if you use your Amaze card physically at a retail store. This gives 10X points as if the transaction were an online one. Note that DBS has put an end to this for their cards a few months ago, and there is always a possibility Citi clamps down on this too, although it has so far been quiet.
For now, at least, you can use the Citi Rewards as a very versatile online and offline card for most kinds of expenditure and get 10X points per dollar spent.
Please note there are two different promos and select carefully:
- Citi PremierMiles: 30,000 miles
- Citi Prestige: 177,500 points and more
- Citi Rewards: 40,000 points + S$50 FRx gift card
- Citi Cash Back: S$300 cashback
- Citi SMRT: S$300 cashback
- Tap here to see Citi promos
Until 31st January 2024
Points cards aren’t just for miles
Most points cards are very quickly labelled as miles cards, and the Citi Rewards has indeed been a favourite for miles chasers. The 10X points per dollar earn rate is equivalent to 4 miles per dollar, and that is about as high an earn rate you can get for miles. Citi Rewards is hence often used almost exclusively by people gunning for miles.
Points, however, have always been a versatile and flexible form of currency, and you can also the ThankYou Points earned by Citi Rewards to offset your bill to a tune of 1 point for 0.227 cents. This means that a 10X points earn rate is roughly about 2.27% cashback.
It’s not a fantastic rate, of course, but it is surely far better than the 1.5% cashback cards some people still use.
If you were to trade your points for vouchers, your rebate percentage goes up depending on what you are redeeming for.
I picked a few items after a cursory look through Citi Rewards’ reward catalogue:
|Item||Points||Cent Per Point||10X Earn Rate|
|Crystal Jade My Bread $10 voucher||3,020||0.331||3.31%|
|Harvey Norman $50 voucher||15,940||0.314||3.14%|
|Jack’s Place $20 voucher||5,370||0.372||3.72%|
|Lendlease $20 voucher||6,720||0.298||2.98%|
With the 10X earn rate, you can easily around 3% in rebate if you were to exchange your points for vouchers available for redemption. It’s not quite as versatile as direct cashback, but the range of vouchers available is wide enough you can consider the Citi Rewards a 3% rebate card for most people.
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But Citi’s points are great for miles
Many are still going to use the Citi Rewards as a tool for garnering miles, and Citi points are indeed great for that. Citi features the most airline partners, allowing you to convert your Citi points to a variety of airline frequent flyer programmes. While every mile/point-earning card in Singapore partners with Singapore Airlines, there are times you might want to take a different airline for better promotions and/or flight paths, and having Citi points allow you this versatility of choice.
Citi points can be converted to these programmes:
- Asia Miles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Etihad Guest
- Eva Air Infinity Mileagelands
- Flying Blue
- IHG Rewards Club
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Very fast crediting of points
Citi Rewards credits bonus points very quickly – as soon as the transaction is posted, which usually takes a few days after your actual transaction.
Aside from quick gratification, having your bonus points in early serves a few tangible benefits: you could be short of points for a particular redemption, and having your points come in quickly allows for your redemption to be done quickly. Two, you might have some reservations whether a particular type of transaction gets the 10X earn rate, and nothing confirms it better than seeing the bonus points being credited so you can have more assurance in making a subsequent transaction.
In a world where nearly every points card credits the bonus points in end of the current or even next month, having your bonus points just days after your transaction is made is a very good thing, and Citi Rewards gives you just that.
Citi PayAll runs good promotions
As a Citi card, Citi Rewards is also eligible for Citi PayAll service. On its own, it’s terrible value to be paying the 2% fee for just 1X points (0.4 mpd), but Citi often runs promotions that bumps up the earn rate. The most recent one boosts the earn rate to 6.25X points (or 2.5 mpd). That’s a good rate to buy your miles at.
Citi points do not pool
Unfortunately, the card also has some downsides, and per Citi’s usual practice, points earned are kept in individual silos and not pooled together. Because there is a minimum number of points to redeem for stuff, and miles redemption requires a conversion fee, this poses a couple of issues.
You could have earned 23,000 miles worth of points in your Citi Rewards card, and 17,000 miles worth in your Citi PremierMiles card. For banks like UOB and DBS, such points can be redeemed together, and you would pay $25 of conversion fees to get 40,000 miles in your airline account. With Citi, however, you can only redeem 20,000 miles from your Citi Rewards, and 10,000 miles from your Citi PremierMiles. This leaves 3,000 and 7,000 miles worth of points left in both accounts, and on top of that, you would have to pay the $25 conversion twice since each account has to be converted separately from the other.
It’s just not very customer friendly, and I’m quite surprised that Citi has persisted in this for the past few years.
Relatively low monthly limit
Citi Rewards, many moons ago, used to have an annual cap of 120,000 points earned under its 10X earn rate, which meant $12,000 of eligible spending within the year would max this earn rate out.
It has since been changed to 10,000 points per statement month, which means that a mere $1,000 spend within the month would max out the 10X earn rate. This means that it’s simply not suitable for buying an iPhone 14 Pro Max from Apple, for instance, since higher-end phones go for $2,000 or more these days. The DBS Woman’s World Card, in comparison, gives a roomier $2,000 limit for online transactions.
$1,000 of spend per month is also more comparable with UOB Preferred Platinum ($1,110) and HSBC Revolution ($1,000), both of which give their high earn rate on Paywave as well as online transactions. A $1,000 per month spend online or offline card is a lot more in line with the competition, and this leads me to believe (totally uninformed) that Citi would continue the Amaze “synergy”, or even just allow for contactless payments to earn 10X points, thus removing the need for the use of Amaze altogether.
Travel transactions excluded
Travel transactions are not counted for Citi Rewards’ 10X earn rate, and I find this exclusion rather puzzling. It’s not a common exclusion for other cards, but Citi does seem to have something against this category of spend. Even Citi SMRT excludes it as well.
It’s an ironic thing for a travel-oriented card, and you’d just have to find something outside of Citi’s cards to get a decent earn rate on your travel expenses.
Peculiar way of handling expiry
Unlike most other cards whose points expire one or two years after they are earned, Citi’s way of dealing with points expiry deserves a post on its own.
Points earned at the start of your 5-year window have a really long shelf life, while points earned towards the end would expire really quickly. In this way, it’s neither really a pro nor a con, but something you should take note of.
As it is right now, Citi Rewards is a great versatile card for most who don’t want to track their credit cards too closely. All you need to do is to add it to Instarem Amaze, and then use the Amaze card for your purchases as long as it’s not more than $1,000 a month, and not on travel expenses. You get 10X points which are great for miles, or a pretty decent 2 to 3% rebate – for a fuss-free card – if you’re not into miles.
- Get 10X points for online transactions which is an easy condition
- Get 10X points for offline transactions through Amaze
- Fast crediting of points
- Wide range of redemptions and airlines
- Citi points do not pool
- Relatively low monthly limit of $1,000 for 10X rate
- Travel transactions excluded
- Offline transaction is dependent on Amaze which Citi may exclude
- Overlooking your 5-year window and losing your entire stash of points
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