Recently we saw the introduction of the new Citi Rewards+® Card, which is a no annual fee card that I’m excited about. Given some of the other popular cards that Citi has, like the Citi Premier® Card (review), I figured it made sense to look at the best way to go about getting this card.
The basics of the Citi Rewards+ Card
The Citi Rewards+ Card has no annual fee and offers some valuable bonuses. The card:
- Offers a welcome bonus of 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within three months
- Rounds up purchases to the nearest 10 ThankYou points
- Offers 2x ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations, for the first $6,000 spent per year
Furthermore, in conjunction with either the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card, you can pool points at thankyou.com, and can redeem points that way. You should be able to link this card with other Citi cards using your Citibank login.
Eligibility for the Citi Rewards+ Card
If you’re considering applying for the Citi Rewards+ Card, it’s important to keep in mind restrictions for being approved for this card:
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.
This means that you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on the Rewards+ Card if you’ve closed the Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card in the past 24 months, or if you’ve received a new cardmember bonus on either of those cards in the past 24 months. It’s fine to have one (or both) of those cards open, you just can’t have actually opened it or closed it in that time period.
Product changing to the Citi Rewards+ Card
In addition to being able to apply directly for the Citi Rewards+ Card, note that anecdotally it’s also possible to product change another Citi card, including the Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card, to this card.
Generally speaking you’ll need to have a card for at least 12 months before you can product change, and you’ll need to phone up Citi to see exactly what’s possible, since the ability to product change varies by cardmember.
So what’s the best strategy for getting this card?
The way I see it, there are a few approaches you can take for getting this card, depending on whether or not you’ve opened one of the other “restricted” cards within the past 24 months.
If you’ve opened or closed a Citi Premier or Citi Prestige in the past 24 months…
Then you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on the Citi Rewards+ Card. Note that you can still be approved for the card, you just won’t get the welcome bonus. Your options are to:
- Apply for the Rewards+ Card without the welcome bonus; this isn’t that huge of a loss, since it’s not a massive welcome bonus
- Product change from the Premier Card or Prestige Card; this could make sense if you have both of those cards and only want one
- Wait until it has been over 24 months since you’ve been approved for the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige; if you do this, there could still be a better strategy, as I’ll discuss below
What would I do? It depends on the situation, but I think it could definitely be worth applying for this card directly even without a bonus, at least if you only recently “reset” your Citi 24 month clock. Like I said, the bonus isn’t huge.
The other option I’d seriously consider is product changing from the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, especially if you have both of those cards (or multiple of one).
If you haven’t opened or closed a Citi Premier or Prestige in the past 24 months…
Then you are eligible for the welcome bonus on the Citi Rewards+ Card. Your best options are to:
- Apply directly for the card and get the welcome bonus
- Apply for the Citi Premier Card, and then a year later product change it to the Rewards+ Card
The reason that second strategy could make sense is because the Premier Card is very well-rounded itself, offering 3x points on airfare, hotels, dining, supermarkets and gas stations. You could use the card for a year, and then if you decide you prefer the Rewards+ Card, you can product change after a year.
Also keep in mind that the Prestige Card is expected to once again become available for applications later this month, so if that’s something you’re waiting on, you may want to hold off in order to be able to apply for that card.
If you’re a student…
This card has most of the same benefits, but has a smaller welcome bonus, of 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within three months. So if you’re a student and looking to build your credit, this is a great place to start, as this card will be valuable to you long term.
The Citi Rewards+ Card is a unique card, especially thanks to the rounding up feature. It’s a card that I know a lot of us want to get, but given Citi’s application restrictions, it can pay to be strategic here.
If you’re not going to be eligible for the welcome bonus on the card anytime soon, it could make sense to just apply for the card outright without a welcome bonus, and start taking advantage of the features.
Otherwise there’s potential value in getting the Citi Premier Card, which has a big welcome bonus and useful bonus categories, and downgrading it to the Rewards+ Card after a year.
With all of this it’s important to keep in mind that the newly refreshed Citi Prestige Card is expected to once again be open to new applicants later this month.
If you’re interested in the Rewards+ Card, what’s your strategy for getting it?