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Credit Cards

Here are the best Citi credit cards for earning cash back and paying off debt—plus one with no late fees

CNBC Select analyzed Citi credit cards using an average American's annual spending budget to assess the pros and cons of each — here are the best cards based on your consumer habits.

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Citi credit cards are known for simple cash back, unique rewards and lengthy balance transfer periods. When the Citi® Double Cash Card launched in 2014, it started the trend of easy-to-use cash-back cards with the same lucrative rewards rate on all purchases. And six years later, the Citi Double Cash Card remains one of the best cash-back cards.

Beyond generous rewards, some Citi cards are known for long balance transfer periods that allow you to pay off debt without interest for up to 15, 18 or 21 months. Plus Citi issues the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which is the warehouse club's signature card.

While a handful of Citi cards have annual fees that can be between $95 and $495, most have none, in addition to money-saving benefits, such as no late fees or a one-time late fee waiver and $0 liability on unauthorized charges.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the best Citi credit cards in six categories, so you can choose the best card for your needs.

Best Citi credit cards

Best cash-back card

Citi® Double Cash Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Simple cash-back program that doesn't require activation or spending caps
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers at 18 months

Cons

  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Minimum cash-back redemption of $25
  • 3% fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $443
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,213

Who's this for? The Citi® Double Cash Card is a straightforward no-annual-fee cash-back card that offers one of the best flat-rate rewards programs. Cardholders earn 2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill.

This is a top-notch rewards rate and great choice for people who don't want to keep track of bonus categories or activation. Unlike other cash-back cards, the Double Cash doesn't offer a welcome bonus, but it has a competitive balance transfer period.

Most cash-back cards that also offer 0% APR periods typically have 12- or 15-month periods, but the Citi Double Cash Card offers a longer 18-month interest-free period on balance transfers (after 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR).

Keep in mind, balance transfers need to be completed within four months from account opening and there's an industry-average 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5), which can be outweighed by the amount you save on interest.

Best no-annual-fee card

Citi Rewards+® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 2X ThankYou® points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases from date of account opening; 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfer from date of first transfer

  • Regular APR

    13.49% - 23.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • All purchases automatically round up to the nearest 10 points — with no cap
  • Get 10% points back on all of your redemptions for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem each year
  • Special financing offer for new purchases and balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% fee on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $431
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,556

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? Many of the best no-annual-fee cards offer unique rewards programs and the Citi Rewards+® Card is a great example. This card benefits people who frequently make small purchases with its "round up" feature that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase — with no cap. That means a $1 bag of chips earns 10 points, compared to only earning one point without this benefit.

The Citi Rewards+® Card also provides another great way to maximize rewards by giving you 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year. For instance, if you redeem 50,000 points in a year, you get 5,000 of those points back, which is enough for a $50 gift card.

Cardholders earn 2X ThankYou® points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X points thereafter. Plus, 1X points on all other purchases. While you can earn a higher rewards rate on purchases with the Double Cash Card, you won't receive the "round up" perk or a 10% bonus on point redemptions.

The Rewards+ Card also offers no interest for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and no interest for 15 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer (after 13.49% to 23.49% variable APR). Take note, there's a 3% balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Best balance transfer card

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Information about the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    14.74% to 24.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers at 18 months

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program

Who's this for? The Citi Simplicity® Card offers one of the longest balance transfer periods at 0% for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR), beating out many other balance transfer cards. With a year and a half period, you can benefit from more time to pay off transfers compared to cards that have shorter 6-, 12-, 15-month time periods.

Like the two prior cards, the Simplicity Card has no annual fee, but it does come with a higher balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum $5). However, the fee can be worthwhile in the long-run if you're currently paying high interest charges.

Cardholders have four months to complete their balance transfer, which is longer than the typical 60 to 90 days. But since the intro 0% APR period starts at account opening, you should aim to complete the transfer as soon as possible.

Beyond balance transfers, this card also offers a 0% APR for the first 18 months on purchases (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR). And while the Citi Simplicity Card has no rewards program, you can benefit from no late fees and no penalty APR (though you should always pay on time to avoid damage to your credit score).

Best travel card

Citi Premier® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on hotels and air travel, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 23.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 3 points per $1 spent at gas stations
  • Points are worth 25% more on airfare when booked at thankyou.com
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No special financing offers
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $858
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,125

Rewards totals incorporate the rewards earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The Citi Premier® Card is a good option for frequent travelers. Cardholders earn 3X points per $1 spent on hotels, air travel and at gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets.

Citi recently made new changes to the Citi Premier Card, and now cardholders can qualify to receive $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) once per calendar year on bookings through thankyou.com.

This card has been known for offering 25% more value on points redeemed for airfare, hotels, cruises and car rentals through the ThankYou Travel Center, but this perk will end April 9, 2021.

While the Citi Premier Card has a $95 annual fee, that's in line with other travel cards and cheaper than luxury cards which can cost over $500. This card has no foreign transaction fee, so you can benefit from using it abroad with no added fee.

Best luxury card

Citi Prestige® Card

Information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X points at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, 3X points at hotels and cruise lines, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $495

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    16.99% to 23.99% variable on purchases

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $250 annual travel credit
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, up to $100 every 5 years
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $495 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $836
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,782

Rewards total incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? If you want a premium card that allows you to travel in luxury, consider the Citi Prestige® Card. For starters, this card offers a competitive rewards program for common travel expenses: Earn 5X points at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, 3X points at hotels and cruise lines and 1X points on all other purchases.

For a limited-time, cardholders also earn 5X ThankYou points on all online purchases up to 7,500 points, through August 31, 2020. Eligible purchases include online grocery orders, online drugstore orders and retailer website orders.

In addition to rewards, you receive up to $250 travel credit every calendar year to offset eligible travel purchases, such as airfare and hotels, in addition to eligible purchases at supermarkets and restaurants through December 31, 2020. Plus you receive a complimentary fourth night at a hotel when you stay a minimum of four consecutive nights and book through ThankYou.com (up to twice a calendar year). And there are no foreign transactions fee, which saves you the typical 3% fee other cards may charge.

This card also provides an application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every five years and a complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership with access to over 1,300 airport lounges.

While this card has a pretty steep $495 annual fee, you can offset it through the points you earn and the annual credits and perks. Plus the annual fee isn't as high as some other luxury cards with $550 fees.

Best Costco card

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0, Costco membership required

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Generous gas rewards
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Reasonable 15.24% variable APR

Cons

  • Costco membership is required
  • Rewards are distributed once a year and can only be redeemed at U.S. Costco Warehouses
  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $406
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,031

Who's this for? If you prefer to buy in bulk at Costco, consider the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi. This is one of the best cards for the retailer, which only accepts credit cards backed by Visa at its warehouses.

Cardholders earn 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all eligible purchases from Costco and Costco.com; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This card has no annual fee, though Costco membership is required. But this shouldn't be an issue since you need a membership to shop at the warehouse (unless you piggyback off a family member or friend's membership).

While this card has a robust rewards program, you should take note that point redemptions aren't easy. Cardholders receive rewards once a year via an annual reward certificate that's only redeemable at U.S. Costco Warehouses. This can be a setback if you want more flexibility on when and how you can redeem rewards. (Learn more about how to redeem Costco credit card rewards.)

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Best Citi credit cards

Category Cash back No annual fee Balance transfer Travel Luxury Costco
Credit card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Citi Rewards+® Card
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Citi Premier® Card
Citi Prestige® Card
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Rewards2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill2X ThankYou® points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6000 per year and then 1X points thereafter. Plus earn 1X ThankYou® points on all other purchasesNone3X points per $1 spent at restaurants; supermarkets; gas stations; and on hotels and air travel; 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchasesNone4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases
See below for our methodologyLearn MoreOn Citi's secure siteLearn MoreOn Citi's secure siteLearn MoreInformation about the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.Learn MoreOn Citi's secure siteLearn MoreInformation about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.Learn MoreOn Citi's secure site

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed Citi credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Information about the Citi Simplicity® Card, and Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.