Full Review of Citi Rewards+ Student Card
Decent rewards rate for a student card
Good for everyday spending
Pay no interest on purchases initially
Not ideal for travel abroad/travel rewards
Penalty APR for late payments
- Decent Rewards Rate for a Student Card: The Citi Rewards+ Student credit card offers a respectable rewards rate on purchases: 1 or 2 points per dollar. This card also sweetens the pot by offering a few ways to increase rewards earnings when you spend and redeem.
- Good for Everyday Spending: This card has a tiered rewards rate, meaning that purchases made in certain categories earn more rewards than others. Some of the most generous returns—that is, double points—are for mundane purchases, like groceries and gas.
- Pay no Interest on Purchases Initially: This card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first seven months. After that, the normal variable APR you're assigned kicks in, ranging from 14.49% to 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
- Not Ideal for Travel Abroad/Travel Rewards: Students who want to earn big points or miles for travel might be disappointed with this card, as it doesn't offer anything special or major for such purchases: just the standard 1 point per dollar. Besides that, the Citi Rewards+ Student credit card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, making it less suited for a semester or summer abroad.
- Penalty APR for Late Payments: When you're still learning the ropes of using credit responsibly, it's not unthinkable that you could slip up and pay late one month. While there are some student credit cards that won't penalize you for that by raising your card's annual percentage rate, this card isn't one of them. A stiff penalty rate of up to 29.99% can be applied when you pay late or if your payment bounces.
This Card is Best For
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Currently enrolled in an accredited four year college or university
The Citi Rewards+ Student credit card is, obviously, geared towards students. It especially seems oriented to those who have never had a credit card before. This card makes it as easy as possible to earn rewards when you spend, with no cap on the amount of rewards you can earn.
It also has features to appeal to the budget-conscious, like no annual fee. Plus, those initial seven interest-free months could be good for a student who's splurged on a big purchase—like a new laptop, say—and needs time to pay it off; or someone who's just learning how credit card payments and interest work.
Citi Rewards+ Student Card Bonus
There is an introductory bonus offer for this card, which is worth 2,500 Citi ThankYou Points. To qualify for the introductory bonus, students need to charge $500 in eligible purchases within the first three months. Redeemable for a $25 gift card, the bonus isn’t the most generous in the world, compared to those offered by traditional credit cards, but it's a nice little bump to get students started with earning rewards. The minimum spending requirement is also low enough that students can meet it fairly easily without worrying about accumulating a large amount of debt.
Rewards Earning Details
This card features two rewards tiers for purchases. When you spend with this card, you can earn:
- 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations, up to the first $6,000 in purchases each year
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
The $6,000 cap averages out to $500 a month in supermarket and gas station spending. Once you hit that threshold, you'll continue earning 1 point per dollar on those purchases.
What makes this card a little different with its rewards structure is the Round Up feature. This benefit rounds up every purchase you make to the nearest 10 points with no cap. Say you charge $27 for gas—you would earn 54 points, then Citi would round it up to 60 points. If you charge $225 for concert tickets, Citi rounds it up to 230 points earned. Since 10 points is the maximum roundup, the biggest boost comes from smaller purchases: for example, a $3 pack of pens would net you more than triple number of points (not just three, but 10). Spending $10.15 for a sandwich and a soda gets you 20 points.
You don't have to do anything to earn those extra points, other than spend as you normally would. There's no limit on the number of points you can earn from these round ups.
Rewards Redemption Details
Once you've earned some rewards, Citi gives you several ways to redeem them. Students can use rewards to:
- Shop online at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com
- Redeem for flights, hotels, cruises and other travel expenses
- Get gift cards from partner restaurants and retailers
- Pay off purchases as a statement credit
- Pay bills from a linked Citibank checking account
- Redeem for cash
- Make payments toward their student loans
- Make charitable donations
Citi makes redeeming points more rewarding by offering 10% points back on all redemptions on up to the first 100,000 ThankYou Points redeemed each year. So if you redeem 5,000 points, you get 5,00 of those points back. Similar to the round up rewards, the 10% back bonus is applied automatically when you make a qualifying redemption.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
If you're opening a brand-new account, the first thing you'd want to do is work on reaching the $500 minimum spending requirement to earn the 2,500-point bonus. This comes out to $167 in purchases on average for the first three months, which might equal one or two trips to the grocery store each month.
The next way to maximize rewards is to continue charging at least $500 in supermarket and gas station purchases each month. This way, you can max out the 2 points per dollar rewards rate for the first $6,000 in purchases each year. Once you do that, you can continue charging those purchases at the 1 point per dollar rewards rate but you'll still benefit from points round ups.
You can round out rewards earnings by charging all other purchases to the card and redeeming them to get the 10% points back bonus.
Citi Rewards+ Student Card's Outstanding Benefits
- Automatic points round-up
- 10% points back bonus on redemptions
- Exclusive access to selected entertainment events
- 24/7 customer service
- Digital wallet-compatible
- Touch or tap for contactless pay
Citi earned a 799 rating in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. That puts it just below the national average rating of 806 for credit card satisfaction.
The Citi Rewards+ Student card offers the standard account management tools you'd expect, including online and mobile banking access. Citi customer service representatives are available via live chat or phone by calling 1-800-950-5114. You can link your card to your preferred digital wallet app for secure and more convenient shopping in-store or online.
In addition to being able to shop security through digital wallet apps and contactless pay, Citi offers additional security features to protect your account. Those include Citi Identity Theft Solutions, $0 liability on fraudulent and unauthorized purchases and fraud detection services to monitor for suspicious activity. Citi also offers the Quick Lock feature, which lets you disable your card if it's lost or stolen to prevent anyone from using to make purchases or cash advances.
Fees to Watch Out For
The biggest fee to consider with this card is the 3% foreign transaction fee. If you're planning on spending a semester overseas or spending spring break outside the U.S., then another credit card with no foreign transaction fee may serve you better. Other than that, this card doesn't pack any surprise or hidden fees.
The Citi Rewards+ Student credit card is a good beginner’s card: ideal for young people who are ready for their first piece of plastic. Remember, the 2009 CARD Act requires you to be at least 21 to get a card in your own name without a cosigner unless you're at least 18 and have proof of income.
In terms of rewards, this card's 1-points-per-dollar rate is typical of what you can expect with a student credit card, and the 2 points for certain categories is even on the generous side (though it being capped at $6,000 per year seems limiting but most students shouldn’t come near that spending cap).
The no annual fee is nice, but pretty common with student cards. On the other hand, having your points rounded up is an excellent added benefit that you won't get with other cards and it can significantly augment your rewards points balance. It's also rare to find student cards, or traditional credit cards, that pay you back some of your points when you redeem them.
Whether this card is right for you depends largely on your student lifestyle and the expenses you're likely to incur. The fact that the biggest benefits are for those who spend most heavily at gas stations and grocery stores suggest it's best for undergraduates living off campus or attending a community college. Those having a more traditional, four-year college experience—eating in dining halls, living in dorms—probably won't be making such purchases that often. They might want to seek out student cards that can offer a higher or less restricted rewards rate. For example, the Chase Freedom Student card lets you earn 1% cash back on every purchase, with no special categories or annual limit. There’s also the Discover it Student Cash Back card, for those who'd prefer to earn cash to points.