When Citi introduced the no-fee Rewards+ card recently, we were surprised and confused. The card rounds up rewards to the nearest 10 points. This means that a $1 purchase earns 10X rewards, a 10 cent purchase earns 100X rewards, and a 1 cent purchase earns 1000X rewards. Those numbers sound awesome until you think more about it. How many tiny purchases do you really make? Even if you make two small purchases every single day for a year, we’re only talking about 7K points earned. The only way to make this into a big deal is to game the system. Does Citi really want us doing that? Today’s post isn’t about that subject, but you can read our thoughts in these posts:
- Nick wrote: Earn up to 100x w/ new Citi Rewards+ card. No, really. Ok, maybe not?
- And I followed up with: Perk abuse, coming soon
10% rebate, for the win
The real value with the Rewards+ card is as a companion to the Citi Premier or Prestige card. The Rewards+ card rebates 10% of points redeemed, up to 100,000 points redeemed. In other words, you can get up to 10K points back per year. Out & Out has confirmed that the rebate works with pooled points. He combined his ThankYou accounts, including the Rewards+ card, and transferred points earned on other ThankYou cards to an airline program. The result was that he earned a 10% rebate on that point transfer. See the “Combine points across cards” section of our Complete Guide to ThankYou Rewards.
10K points per year is hardly a huge win, but it does make the annual fees on the Premier and Prestige cards easier to swallow…
What this means for Premier cardholders
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The Citi Premier card costs $95 per year. In exchange, you get excellent category bonuses, 1.25 cents per point value towards travel, and the ability to transfer points to airline miles. If you also have the Rewards+ card, you’ll get back up to 10,000 points per year just for redeeming ThankYou points. For example, if you use 100,000 points to purchase $1,250 worth of travel through the ThankYou portal, you’ll get back 10,000 points. Those 10,000 points then can be used to purchase $125 worth of travel. That more than makes up for the Premier card’s $95 annual fee! If you have the Premier card and were thinking of cancelling or downgrading due to the annual fee, you might want to rethink it.
What this means for Prestige cardholders
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The new Prestige card costs a whopping $495 per year. In exchange, you get an annual $250 travel rebate, awesome category bonuses, lounge access, 4th Night Free (2 times per year), the ability to cash out points at 1 cent each, and the ability to transfer points to airline miles. The card currently lets you get 1.25 cents value for flights (not travel in general, just flights), but that benefit goes away in September. Still, whether you cash out points for a penny each, transfer points to airline programs, or book 4th Night Free hotels through the portal, the Rewards+ card will give you up to 10K points back.
To make the math easy, let’s assume that you regularly spend at least 100K points per year. And we’ll generously value the travel rebate at it’s full face value, but we’ll value the 10K rebate at only 1 cent per point. We then can see that the net annual fee for the Prestige card drops to only $145 ($495 – $250 – $100). That’s not bad at all for an ultra-premium card that offers 5X rewards for dining & airfare plus excellent perks.
Citi Rewards+, sign up new or product change?
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You might think that it’s a no brainer to sign up new so that you can get the signup bonus, but there are some reasons to prefer product changing from another ThankYou card:
- Have you earned a welcome bonus or closed another ThankYou card in the past 24 months? If so, you won’t qualify for the Rewards+ signup bonus. Here are the current terms: “Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these cards, in the past 24 months.”
- Do you have plans to sign up for other ThankYou cards? At the time of this writing, the Premier card has an excellent signup offer with the first year fee waived (found here). If you want that card, you can get it at the same time you sign up for the Rewards+, but not once you earn the signup bonus.
- Do you have plans to sign up for other non-Citi cards? Some card issuers won’t approve your applications if you’ve opened up for lots of cards from any bank recently. The most famous example is with Chase’s 5/24 Rule (you won’t be approved for a new Chase card if you’ve opened 5 or more cards in the past 24 months).
If any of the above are issues for you, and if you have another Citi card sitting around that you can product change to the Rewards+, then that may be your best bet. Note, though, that if you change from an American Airlines card, Citi will treat the change as if you cancelled that AA card and you’ll then have to wait 24 months before you can sign up for a new AA card (other than the MileUp card or the CitiBusiness card, neither of which is affected).
In my case, I’m considering ditching my quest to get under 5/24 for Chase (I’m still about a year away). If so, I’ll sign up new for the Rewards+. My wife, though, is only a few months away from getting under 5/24. In her case we’ll look to product change a Preferred card to the Rewards+.
Can you get two new ThankYou cards at once?
For those who are eligible, it would be awesome to open both the Premier or Prestige and the Rewards+ card at once in order to get both bonuses. Citi won’t let you open the cards on the same day, but they will let you open them within 9 days of each other. And since Citi’s bonus rules for these cards have changed, it is at least theoretically possible to get both signup bonuses. See: New Citi application rule might be a net win.
Here’s the relevant signup bonus language again:
Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these cards, in the past 24 months.
A risk of signing up for two at once is that once you earn the signup bonus on one card Citi may determine that you are then ineligible for the bonus on the other card. I don’t think that’s likely, but it is possible. If I were doing this I’d make sure to get the bigger bonus on the Premier or Prestige card first, and then complete the minimum spend on the Rewards+ card.