Best Overall, Best for Cash Back

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rating as a Citi Card
4.6
Citi® Double Cash Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Citi's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 18 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Citi Double Cash Rewards card is our choice for best overall Citi card as well as Citi's best cash back card. Double Cash is the gold standard for cash back rewards, with 1% back on purchases followed by another 1% when you pay your bill. There is no one-time bonus, but the lack of an annual fee and the card's ongoing rewards structure on all purchases make it a winner.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Ability to earn an outstanding 2% cash-back rewards on unlimited purchases
    • Generous introductory APR on balance transfers

    Cons

    • No one-time bonus
    • $25 minimum for cash back redemption
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn cash back twice. Earn an unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, with an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases.
    • No spending categories, rewards caps, or annual fee.
    • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening, and a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of each transfer (whichever is greater) will apply.

Best Airline

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Rating as a Citi Card
4.3
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Full Review
Apply Now
On Citi's Website
Current Offer

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Plus 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    We chose the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard as Citi's best airline credit card because of its one-time bonus, enhanced earnings opportunities on American Airlines, global dining, and gasoline purchases as well as its exceptional per-mile value, which Investopedia estimates to be worth 2.32 cents.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Generous 50,000-mile one-time bonus after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months of account opening
    • Strong 2 miles per dollar rewards on flight purchases
    • No annual fee the first year

    Cons

    • Limited lucrative options for rewards
    • Maximizing rewards value requires savvy—and probably an international destination
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Get 50,000 miles after making $2,500 in purchases during the first 3 months of account opening.
    • Earn a $125 American Airlines credit if you make at least $20,000 in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card.
    • Pay no foreign transaction fee.
    • Get a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraties for you and four companions on your reservation.

Best for Balance Transfer

Citi Simplicity®

Rating as a Citi Card
4.1
Citi Simplicity®
Full Review
Apply Now
On Citi's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 18 Months
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 18 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Citi Simplicity is our pick for the best Citi balance-transfer card because of its 0% APR on transfers and new purchases that extends for 18 months from the date of account opening. Many issuers have eliminated balance transfers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Citi has kept this customer-friendly card open for business. There is a 3% balance-transfer fee, but that can be justified if you're moving a significant balance from a high-interest card.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding 0% APR offer for 18 months from account opening on balance transfers
    • 0% introductory APR offer on new purchases for 18 months from account opening
    • No late fees, penalty rates, or annual fees

    Cons

    • High balance-transfer fee
    • 3% foreign transaction fee
    • No rewards program or one-time bonus offer
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • No late fees.
    • No penalty rate.
    • No annual fee.
    • Plus, get a low intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers and purchases.

Best Business

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

Rating as a Citi Card
3.6
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Full Review
Apply Now
On Citi's Website
Current Offer

Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $99
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines, telecommunication, cable and satellite providers, car rentals and gas station purchases. Earn 1 mile per $1 on other purchases.
Cash Advance APR (%) 25.24%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard is Investopedia's choice for best Citi business card due to its substantial bonus and travel benefits like priority boarding, free first checked bag for up to four travel companions, and no foreign transaction fees. Travel-related earnings opportunities are also impressive, with 2X miles on American Airlines, gasoline, and car rentals.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Excellent one-time offer
    • Useful travel extras on American Airlines
    • No foreign transaction fees

    Cons

    • Annual fee applies after the first 12 months
    • Limited travel benefits
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions.
    • Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights so you can save time and be more productive.
    • 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi purchases when you use your card.
    • 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when you use your card.

Best for No Credit History

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Rating as a Citi Card
3.5
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Full Review
Apply Now
On Citi's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Citi Secured Mastercard is our pick as the best Citi card for those with little or no credit history. It provides access to a credit line with a deposit as low as $200 and credit-building potential with responsible use. There are many secured cards on the market, but it can be advantageous to begin your credit journey with a major issuer like Citi that can provide a wide array of non-secured options once you've established a solid credit history. The Citi Secured Mastercard also has no annual fee.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Unsuited to those with bad credit
    • No rewards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Build a credit history for your financial future with no annual fee.
    • Secure your credit line with a security deposit between $200 - $2,500.
    • Citi Secured Mastercard is an option for customers with little or no credit history and can help you build your credit when used responsibly.
    • Unlike a debit card, Citi Secured Mastercard is a real credit card that helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus.

What Is the History of Citi?

Citi credit cards are issued by Citibank, which itself is part of the global financial services giant Citigroup. Citi began issuing credit cards in the 1960s in New York City but greatly expanded its reach in the early 1980s when it took advantage of South Dakota's repeal of usury laws that had restricted the amount of interest banks could charge customers. The new law also allowed banks headquartered in that state to charge higher interest to residents of other states, a move that was upheld in a landmark Supreme Court ruling. As a result, Citi moved its credit card operations from New York to South Dakota and grew rapidly by leveraging the mass medium of the day - direct mail - to make these higher-rate offers to consumers across the nation. Through these efforts Citi's credit card operations changed from being the least profitable to the most profitable division among Citigroup.

Today Citi offers a variety of cards to consumers and small business owners, with rewards that include cash back, points, and miles. Its cards also provide options for cardholders wishing to transfer balances, manage spending, and plan for larger purchases. In addition, Citi maintains co-brand partnerships with major air carriers like American Airlines and major travel sites like Expedia.

What Kinds of Credit Cards Does Citi Issue?

Citi primarily issues Mastercard network branded cards, along with a few cards through the American Express network. It currently does not offer Visa or Discover branded cards. It offers rewards credit cards with cash back, generic travel points, and points and miles-based rewards tied to co-branded partner loyalty programs. It also issues several cards targeted to the needs of the small-business community.

What Type of Credit Is Required for Citi?

Citi generally targets consumers and small-business owners with good to excellent credit, though it does offer student and secured card products that can accommodate those with less credit history or lower credit scores.

How Does Citi's ThankYou Rewards Program Work?

Citi offers multiple cards that earn ThankYou Rewards points, which is Citi's propriety rewards platform. ThankYou points can be redeemed through Citi for airline travel, hotel stays, cash back, merchandise, or gift cards.

The following Citi cards earn ThankYou Rewards:

  • Citi Rewards+
  • Citi Prestige
  • Citi Premier
  • AT&T Access Card from Citi

Aside from Citi ThankYou Rewards program, Citi offers other rewards cards that include cash back (as with Citi Double Cash) and partner-based programs like airline and travel co-branded cards.

How Good Is Citi Customer Service?

Citi received a score of 799 out of 1,000 points in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The average score among major national issuers was 806. Citi offers online access to FICO credit scores through its mobile app and through its secure website when cardholders are logged in. 

Methodology

Information Gathering

In order to track and assess the U.S. domestic credit card market, we gather scores of data points on nearly 300 cards. This data is collected manually from both card-issuer websites and publicly available sources. 

To ensure that our information is as up-to-date as possible, we deploy automated tools that monitor changes in such key data as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, rewards earnings rates, fees, and card benefits. We then rapidly make any needed updates to our card listings, reviews, and recommendations to make sure that readers have the most reliable information and advice. 

Initial Scoring

Once we collect credit card data we organize it in our database according to features, which roll up into feature sets (such as rewards, interest, fees, benefits, and security/customer service). Each individual card feature is assigned a star rating score on a 1 to 5 scale, using a prescribed formula. For instance, for a one-time bonus score we would use a formula like: If bonus is $500 or greater, then assign a score of 5; if $300-$499, then 4; and so forth. 

Weighting of scores

Once all of a card’s features have received a score we apply a weighting factor to each feature to arrive at a weighted average score for the card (according to the general category in which it resides, such as travel rewards). 

This weighting process allows us to assign significantly more emphasis to the attributes important to a particular category, and downplay those that are less relevant to it. That lets us objectively identify cards that stand out in their category and indicate why they do. For example, with travel rewards cards we apply significantly more weight to such travel-specific features as airport lounge access or primary rental car insurance than we do to attributes such as interest rates or fees that might be more strongly considered for other categories, such as balance-transfer cards.

Earnings rates

Another critical factor we consider when rating and ranking travel cards and other types of rewards cards is the cards’ effective earnings rates. We first calculate the average value of points or miles for all the rewards cards in our database, a painstaking process that entails collecting all airline fare data by carrier across scores of popular domestic and international city-pairs along with per-night hotel charges at all major hotel brands. 

The required number of points and miles for air travel or hotel stays from the various reward programs is then used to calculate an effective earnings rate for each card. That allows our readers to make the most informed choices. By putting a card’s large one-time bonus or earnings rates into context across many dimensions and card features, readers can more readily weigh the card’s benefits relative to its costs. Uncovering the true but often opaque redemption value of rewards points or miles is, we feel, the only reliable way to make cogent choices among competing value-based cards.  

Card Features We Score

As mentioned above, we place significant weight on certain travel-related features in determining our ratings for each rewards card. Specifically, we base over 50% of our overall assessment score on the combination of the following factors:  

  • Maximum value of any one-time bonus, whether in points or miles.
  • Initial card spending required to earn any bonus.
  • Redemption value of the bonus miles or points.
  • Global card acceptance, as detailed by the four card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover).
  • Options to redeem points or miles with travel partners, both airline and hotel.

Another consideration is the cards’ coverage, if any, in these travel-related areas: 

  • Car-rental collision insurance, whether primary or secondary.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost or delayed luggage insurance.
  • Insurance for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Cell phone loss or damage coverage.
  • Roadside assistance and towing.
  • Emergency travel medical/dental benefits.

General, non-travel related features that we consider and score include:

  • Interest rates, including both introductory and regular APRs for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Fees, including those for annual membership, late payments, cash advances, and foreign transactions.
  • Security/customer service features.
  • Other non-travel benefits, such as access to credit scores, ID theft protection, and contactless payment capability.

How We Reach Our Final Assessments

We rely primarily on the objective scores created by our rating algorithms to determine which card is chosen as the best in each category or subcategory.

However, we may make some adjustments from time to time, to both features and weightings that could affect rankings, based on subjective input from our credit card experts. Any potential modifications will be consistent with Investopedia’s belief that consumers are best served by cards that:

  • Provide superior value in earning awards.
  • Charge reasonable interest rates in the event that the cardholder carries a balance from month to month.
  • Charge fewer and/or more reasonable fees.
  • Provide solid customer service, based on the number and quality of customer service features.
  • Have helpful and protective security features.