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Citi Rewards+ review: A rewards card that lets you round up for more earnings

Citi launched the Rewards+ Credit Card in January 2019. After year one, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with this rewards card.

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Saving money can be easier if you start a little bit at a time. And the same can be said for accruing cash-back rewards with your credit card, especially when you have a card that rounds up the points you earn on small purchases.

In Jan. 2019, Citi Bank embraced this approach with the release of the Citi Rewards+℠ Credit Card — a no annual fee rewards card meant to accelerate your points-earning potential of your everyday spending. This card is most well-known for automatically rounding up your cash back points to the nearest 10, meaning you can earn 10 points from a single purchase as small as a cup of coffee.

While there are lots of great rewards cards to choose from, if you're the kind of spender who uses their credit card every day and makes consistent, smaller purchases, then the Citi Rewards+ may be just right for your needs.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Citi Rewards+ to help you decide whether this is the right card for you.

Citi Rewards+ review

  • Rewards
  • Additional benefits
  • Fees
  • Bottom line

Citi Rewards+℠ 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 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; 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers 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

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • All purchases round up to the nearest 10 points
  • 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

Citi Rewards+ rewards

The Citi Rewards + card is unique because your rewards will automatically be rounded up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. Rewards are earned as ThankYou® Points, and there is no minimum purchase required to round up. That means that if you buy something as small as a latte for $3.23, Citi will round it up to 10 points. Even spending $10.99 on a burrito earns you 20 ThankYou® Points.

Here's a breakdown of points you will earn for each spending category:

  • Gas & Supermarkets: 2 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent, up to the first $6,000 per year in combined purchase and 1 point per $1 after that
  • All other purchases: 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent, unlimited

Though this rewards structure is rather straightforward, keep in mind that with rounding, you would be earning many more points throughout the day. A $27 tank of gas, for example, yields 54 points, which rounds up to 60.

New cardholders can earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within three months of account opening.

There are lots of ways to redeem your ThankYou® Points, including applying them to Amazon.com or BestBuy.com purchases or buying gift cards. Once you redeem 100,000 ThankYou® Points annually, you will receive 10% points back to apply to your rewards balance and use the next time you redeem your points. Citi also allows you to send points to a friend via Points Sharing.

There is no limit to how many ThankYou® Points you can redeem per year, and the value of your points when you redeem them varies depending on the method you choose.

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Citi Rewards+ Credit Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

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).

Here's a breakdown of how many points you can earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: 8,952
  • Gas: 4,435
  • Dining out: 3,675
  • Travel: 2,244
  • Utilities: 4,862
  • General purchases: 3,953
  • Total: 28,121

Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated $431 in the first year of card membership, assuming you earn the welcome bonus, and $1,556 over five years. This assumes that cardholders are redeeming cash back for a typical value of 1 cent each. Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value, and you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

Additional benefits

The Citi Rewards+ card has a VIP entertainment package that appeals to concert-goers, sports-lovers and foodies who love to dine out. The list of Citi Entertainment℠ benefits that come with the Citi Rewards+ card are akin to similar perks that come with some of the best credit cards for entertainment spending. Here are the entertainment perks the Citi Rewards+ card has to offer:

  • Special access to preferred tickets, presale tickets and VIP access for concerts, sporting events and more
  • Exclusive dining experiences
  • Complimentary movie screenings at the Citi Entertainment website

Fees

The Citi Rewards+ Credit Card comes with no annual fee and a introductory 0% APR period of 15 months (then 13.49% to 23.49% variable APR, based on your creditworthiness).

Another fee to keep in mind is the 3% foreign transaction fee for any purchases outside the U.S. If you anticipate traveling internationally in the near future, you may want to consider a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, like the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. You may be surprised to learn that you can even qualify for a no foreign transaction fee credit card with fair to average credit.

Bottom line

The Citi Rewards+ Card is great for consistent, everyday spenders who want to take advantage of the generous round-up program that can turn $2 purchases into 10 ThankYou® Points. This card is also great for commuters and families who spend a lot of money on gas and groceries and want to take advantage of double ThankYou® Points for up to $6,000 in purchases at the pump and the supermarket combined.

If this doesn't apply to you, CNBC Select recommends you take the time to figure out which categories your spending falls under, then finding a card that matches your behavior. If you're a traveler, you may want a credit card that offers higher rewards rates for hotel or airline spending.

On the other hand, if you prefer a card that rewards consistently in every category of spending, the Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the best ways to earn up to 2% cash back on eligible purchases.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular 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 Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

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