Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Citi Rewards+ Student Card Review

overall rating
4.1

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Citicards has removed the online application for the Citi Rewards+ Student card as of June 1, 2020. The terms and conditions referenced in the review below are the most current available.

The Citi Rewards+ Student card is designed for young people who want to start building a credit history while also getting rewarded as they spend. Part of the Mastercard network, this card is generous with its rewards structure and offers students opportunities to save money by not charging an annual fee and offering a 0% introductory APR on purchases.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Overall Rating
4.1
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
On Citi's Secured Site.
Current Offer

Earn 2,500 Bonus Points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card 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 (%) 14.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X point on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 7 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all student cards in our database:
Low Interest
Security/Customer Experience
Low Fees
Benefits
worst best

The Citi Rewards+ Student Card is not one of our top rated student credit cards. You can review our list of the best student credit cards for what we think are better options.

Full Review of Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Pros
  • Decent rewards rate for a student card

  • Good for everyday spending

  • Pay no interest on purchases initially

Cons
  • Not ideal for travel abroad/travel rewards

  • Penalty APR for late payments

Pros Explained

  • 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.

Cons Explained

  • 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

  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for College Student Persona
    Currently enrolled in an accredited four year college or university
    College Student

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

Standard Benefits

  • 24/7 customer service
  • Digital wallet-compatible
  • Touch or tap for contactless pay

Cardholder Experience

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. 

Security Features

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. 

Our Verdict

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.

Compare This Card
See how this card compares to similar cards
CURRENT CARD
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
overall rating
4.1
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
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 (%) 14.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 7 Months
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.