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When the new Citi Rewards+ SM Card launched in January, I almost immediately applied for the card. The unique round-up feature really intrigued me, especially since I buy a $2 iced coffee almost every workday, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to like the card as much as I do.
The Citi Rewards+ Card offers 2x ThankYou Points at gas stations and supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases annually) and 1x Points on everything else. Plus, the benefit that piqued my interest: the cards unique round-up feature that means every time you earn points, it’s rounded to the nearest 10 points. I felt like that was going to be a lot of earning potential for a no annual fee card.
My credit card strategy with the Citi Rewards+ Card
Applying for the card was a no-brainer. I make at least one or two purchases under $5 every day, and I was curious about how great the round-up feature really worked. Doing a little math, I realized that I could easily earn enough rewards to cover a round-trip domestic flight each year.
I fly to my hometown for Christmas each year, and I’d rather save my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for international flights. Using this card on smaller purchases gives me a way to fund that Christmastime trip home without sacrificing my CSP points.
What cards am I pairing it with?
My overall credit card strategy is simple: I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for pretty much everything. Since I got the Citi Rewards+ Card, I’ve started using it for just three “categories” of spending: purchases under $5, gas and groceries. Once I hit the $6,000 cap on 2x rewards for gas and groceries, I’ll switch back to using my CSP for those.
I earn 2x points on dining and travel with my CSP, and those points are worth 1.25 cents a piece when I redeem for travel through Chase. Considering all of the other benefits I get when I book my travel through Chase, those points are worth far more to me than the basic Citi ThankYou Points — which are only worth 1 cent per point when I redeem for travel — I earn with the Citi Rewards+ Card. That being said, the round-up feature my Citi card offers allows me to maximize rewards on smaller purchases in a way that Chase does not.
My spending habits with the card
I don’t spend a lot on this card; my average spend so far is $250 to $300 each month. In February, for example, I spent right at $275 on my Citi Rewards+ Card.
About half of my spending went towards groceries and gas, but the other half was split between those smaller, everyday purchases — mainly my daily coffee fix and in-app purchases from playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery on my phone.
Here is how that broke down into how many ThankYou Points I earned:
During February, I averaged 2.5 Points per dollar spent, which is higher than any flat-rate card available right now.
Citi ThankYou Points is not the most user-friendly rewards program
It’s no secret that the user experience on the Citi website and mobile app aren’t the best. I’ve not had to deal with Citi customer service, and I will most likely only engage with the redemption process once or twice a year.
For me, the largest disappointment is how Citi reports your points breakdown. This might be because I’m used to how Chase outlines the points you earn per transaction — they do a great job of letting me know which purchases earned 2x points and how many points that equates to.
When I expand a transaction online or in the app, Chase breaks down how many base points, bonus points and the total number of points earned. Citi, on the other hand, makes me play a guessing game at how many points I get per transaction with an underwhelming overview online or in the app.
However, the rate at which I can accumulate points without having an annual fee to worry about outweighs the negatives in my book.
Using the Citi Rewards+ Card to fund family visits
Over the past three months, I’ve already racked up almost two thousand points on top of the 15,000-point sign-up bonus (earned after hitting $1,000 in spend within the first three months), all with minimum effort and spending on the card. If I continue to spend around the same amount each month, that will be $250 by the end of my first year — enough to cover the short plane ride to see my family.
In order to fully fund a plane ticket next year, I’ll have to up my spend on the Citi Rewards+ Card a bit — which will most likely end in more coffee intake and offering to drive more often when I carpool with friends.
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