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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 into six categories, so you can choose the best card for your needs.

Best Citi credit cards

Best cash-back card

Citi Double Cash® Card

  • Rewards

    Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

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

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    For balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening, an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies; after that, a balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Fair/Good/Excellent

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all eligible 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

  • 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.

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 19.24% - 29.24% variable APR). There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first four months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Best no-annual-fee card

Citi Rewards+® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    As a special offer, earn 5 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on CitiTravel.com through December 31, 2025. 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 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening.

  • Regular APR

    18.74% - 28.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See rates and fees. 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, 18.74% - 28.74% variable APR). Take note, there's an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first four months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Best balance transfer card

Citi Simplicity® Card

On Citi's Secure Site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening.

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

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

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 21 months from date of first transfer (after, 19.24% - 29.99% variable APR), beating out many other balance transfer cards. With nearly two years, you can benefit from more time to pay off transfers compared to cards that have shorter 6-, 12- and 15-month time periods.

Like the two prior cards, the Simplicity Card has no annual fee, but it does come with an introductory balance transfer fee: 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5). This can be worthwhile if you're 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 12 months on purchases (after, 19.24% - 29.99% 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

    Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

  • See rates and fees. Terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 3 points per $1 spent at gas stations
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No special financing offers

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.

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 Costco card

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases 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

    20.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See rates and fees. Terms apply.

Pros

  • Generous gas rewards
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

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 and EV charging purchases 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.)

Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every credit card review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of credit card productsWhile CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best credit cards.

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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.

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.

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.

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.
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