pub-4576806260745905

The Ultimate Citibank Travel Card Review

The Citibank Travel Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards on the market. In this in-depth blog post, we will provide a comprehensive review of the Citibank Travel Card by analyzing its key benefits, fees, eligibility requirements and comparing it to other travel cards. Our goal is to help you determine if the Citibank Travel Card is the right choice for your travel needs and spending habits.

Travel rewards credit cards can be a valuable tool for travelers, providing perks, rewards and incentives that save money and enhance trips. However, with many travel cards to choose from, it’s important to fully understand the intricate details of a card’s program before applying. This blog post aims to be the ultimate Citibank Travel Card resource by examining everything you need to know about the card from rewards earning to terms and conditions.

We will take an close look at all of the card’s features, sharing personal experiences and feedback from other cardmembers. Each section of the outline will be its own paragraph or more to ensure breadth of coverage on each topic. Key facts will be highlighted and statistical data shared where applicable. By the end, readers should feel confident in their evaluation of whether the Citibank Travel Card merits application or if another option may be a better fit.

Rewards Program

The Citibank Travel Card offers a generous rewards program that allows cardmembers to earn ThankYou Rewards points they can redeem for travel, gift cards and cash back. Here are some of the key components of the rewards program:

  • Earning Rates: Cardmembers earn 3x ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel and dining. This includes flights, hotels, public transportation, taxi/rideshares and more for the travel category. Eligible dining includes restaurants, bars and food delivery services. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.
  • Redemption Options: Points can be redeemed for any travel purchases through the ThankYou Portal at a rate of 1 cent per point. This includes flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards from brands like Amazon, Starbucks and Uber or cash back as a statement credit.
  • Transfer Partners: ThankYou points are transferable to over a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio, opening up premium award options. Partners include JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and more.
  • Point Pooling: Cardmembers have the ability to pool points with those of any other Citibank credit cards in their household for a potentially faster path to redemptions.
  • No Blackout Dates: There are no restrictions on when points can be redeemed for travel, providing maximum flexibility for cardmembers.

The generous earning rates, flexible redemption options and ability to transfer points make this one of the more valuable travel rewards programs on the market for covering a wide range of travel expenses.

Like This Post: Domestic Cruise Travel Insurance

Travel Benefits

Travel Benefits

In addition to the rewards program, the Citibank Travel Card offers an impressive suite of travel benefits that can save cardmembers money and stress when taking trips. Some of the key travel benefits include:

Travel Insurance

  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance – Reimburses prepaid non-refundable expenses if a trip is canceled or cut short due to covered reasons like severe weather or illness.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance – Covers essential purchases like clothing and toiletries if bags are delayed more than 6 hours.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver – Provides secondary collision coverage when renting and paying for a car with the card.

Airline Perks

  • 25% back on airfare purchases as a statement credit once per calendar year.
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every 4 years.
  • Priority boarding on select airline loyalty programs when flying with that carrier.

Additional Perks

  • Access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide where cards with annual fees may have complimentary visits.
  • Extended warranty protection extends original manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible purchases.

With options for insurance, statement credits, application fee reimbursements and airport lounge visits – the Citibank Travel Card provides perks that can offset its annual fee for many cardmembers.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

No Foreign Transaction Fees

One of the most valuable benefits of the Citibank Travel Card is the lack of foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. Where many other cards charge 3% or more for international spending, the Citibank Travel Card does not add any extra exchange fees.

When travelling overseas, small fees on each purchase can balloon quickly. Avoiding these fees altogether is a substantial savings, especially for frequent international travelers or those who take longer trips abroad.

Without foreign transaction fees, cardmembers can use their Citibank Travel Card with confidence anywhere in the world, knowing they won’t face surprise charges after their trip. This benefit alone can easily outweigh the annual fee for those who travel internationally often.

Citibank also offers competitive exchange rates on foreign transactions comparable to global banks. Not only are fees waived, but cardmembers won’t endure poor exchange margins when paying in other currencies.

For multi-country European trips, world cruises, or prolonged international assignments – the lack of foreign transaction fees makes the Citibank Travel Card a standout choice versus other domestic cards with fees. Customs taxes may still apply, but all currency conversion is done at fair rates.

Whether spending a few hundred dollars per week abroad or much more on extended vacations overseas, the ability to avoid fluctuating foreign transaction fees brings significant savings to international explorers.

Ease Of Use

Beyond its generous rewards and travel perks, the Citibank Travel Card also aims to provide a seamless user experience. Some of the key factors that make the card easy to use include:

  • Application Process: Applying is straightforward and can be completed fully online in just a few minutes. A decision is rendered instantly and cards are shipped out promptly.
  • Account Management: The online account portal allows cardmembers to view statements, check balances, make payments and redeem rewards all in one place. Account security features like purchase alerts keep the card protected.
  • Mobile App: Citi’s mobile app is robust, giving access to your balance, payment due date, recent transactions and rewards activity on the go. Location-based security alerts add an extra level of protection.
  • Good Partner Integration: Transferring points to airline and hotel partners is done with just a few clicks within the ThankYou portal. Updating frequent flyer/stayer numbers is also simple.
  • 24/7 Support: Customer service is available any time by phone, online chat or email to answer questions and resolve issues quickly. Emergency card replacement assistance is offered as well.
  • Global Acceptance: As a major bank-issued card, the Citibank Travel Card is accepted at the widest possible number of merchants around the world, from big stores to small shops.

Overall, Citibank makes using the card from application through ongoing management straightforward so travelers can focus on enjoying their experiences instead of dealing with a complex product.

Customer Service

With any financial product, the quality of customer service is extremely important, especially when issues may arise during travel. Citibank has a strong reputation for providing helpful support to its cardmembers.

  • Multiple Contact Methods: Cardholders can get assistance via phone, secure online chat, email or mail, allowing them to use the most convenient channel.
  • Extended Hours: Customer service representatives are available 24/7/365 to address any concern large or small at any time. This provides peace of mind while traveling internationally.
  • Knowledgeable Agents: Representatives are highly trained to competently answer questions about account management, rewards redemption, travel benefits usage and more with an initial resolution whenever possible.
  • Concierge Service: The Citi Concierge program offers complimentary assistance from destination experts for help planning trips, booking activities and dining, obtaining tickets/reservations and more.
  • Travel Protection: If lost luggage, flight cancellations or medical emergencies occur away from home, agents can help facilitate insurance claims, new travel arrangements and other urgent support.
  • Proactive Updates: Cardmembers may receive phone calls or secure messages about potentially fraudulent activity without needing to initiate contact first.

Overall, the exceptional customer support helps ensure any hiccups don’t ruin trips and that cardholders receive the maximum benefits from the Citi Travel Card. Satisfying service creates loyal customers.

Like This Post: Best travel insurance companies

Competitor Comparison

No product exists in a vacuum, so it’s important to see how the Citibank Travel Card compares to other leading travel rewards credit cards. Here’s a brief overview of how it stacks up:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Similar intro bonus and annual fee, but offers 2x points on travel & dining vs 3x with Citi. Bonus categories are more limited.
  • American Express Gold Card: Higher annual fee ($250) but offers 4x on dining and 4x at U.S. supermarkets. No annual travel credit like Citi.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Simple flat 2x miles on all purchases, but no bonus categories or annual travel credit. Requires redeeming miles for “award travel” vs cash/gift cards.
  • Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card: Lower annual fee ($95) than Citi but earns less at 1.5x on travel & dining. Requires Bank of America account relationship.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Significantly higher annual fee ($550) but offers excellent travel & purchase protections. Annual $300 travel credit reduces effective cost.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earns 3x on shipping/travel/advertising but is a business card, with different benefits & considerations.

Overall the Citibank Travel Card offers a strong mix of lucrative bonus categories, flexible redemption options, and respected benefits for a reasonable annual fee. But other cards may be better tailored for certain spending patterns.

Spending Requirements

Like many premium travel cards, the Citibank Travel Card has minimum spending obligations to receive enhanced rewards like sign-up bonuses. Understanding these requirements is key to maximizing the value of the card.

  • Welcome Bonus: New applicants can earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 within 3 months. This is enough points for $500+ in travel redemptions.
  • Anniversary Bonus: Each cardmember anniversary, earn 3,000 bonus points after making $500 in purchases within the previous 3 months.
  • Points Expiration: ThankYou Points do not expire as long as the card account remains open and in good standing. This allows holding them indefinitely for high-cost trips.
  • No Retroactive Points: Only spending after the application date will count toward minimums. Be sure to plan necessary purchases in the bonus period.
  • Multiple Cards Allowed: The bonus is available for each Citi card product once per rolling 24 months. So one could apply for a new Citi card type every 2 years.

Provided minimum expenditures can be met through normal spending, the sign-up offers provide substantial immediate rewards value. Advanced planning is advised to maximize the spending windows however.

Acceptance

As one of the largest issuers of both credit and debit cards in the world, Citi enjoys an extensive merchant acceptance network both domestically and internationally. Some key acceptance details include:

  • Accepted at millions of merchants worldwide where Visa is accepted. This includes practically all large retailers, hotels, restaurants and transportation providers.
  • Can be used to withdraw cash at any ATM displaying the Visa, Plus or Citi logos. Fees may apply for non-Citi ATM usage.
  • Popular for payment at grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and other everyday spend categories.
  • Also works with digital wallet services like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay for contactless “tap and pay” usage.
  • Accepted for purchases online, by phone and mail order through merchants accepting Visa.
  • Convenient for paying bills, booking travel and purchasing tickets through provider websites and apps.

While acceptance is largely universal, very small “mom and pop” merchants, certain government agencies and organizations may not accommodate Visa. But global travelers will find the card functions smoothly nearly everywhere. And with digital payments growing, physical cards are less important for acceptance anyway.

Overall the Citibank Travel Card opens doors at an enormous number of merchants for seamless purchases wherever life’s adventures may lead.

Credit Needed

Credit Needed

Like other premium travel rewards cards, the Citibank Travel Card has fairly stringent credit requirements that must be met to qualify for approval. Here are some key points regarding credit scores and creditworthiness:

  • Minimum Credit Score: Applicants generally need a middle score of 690 or higher for approval. Those under 700 may only be offered a lower credit limit.
  • Credit History: At least 1 year of positive credit history showing responsible payment habits is recommended by Citi. First-time credit users may be denied.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Total existing monthly debt like loans, mortgages and credit cards should be below 30% of pre-tax income. Higher ratios increase risk.
  • Recent Inquiries: Too many recent credit applications can be viewed negatively as a sign of overextension. Space out new requests when possible.
  • Derogatory Marks: Accounts in collections, bankruptcies, late/missed payments within the last 24 months may prevent approval even with a high score.

While the credit bar is high, approved applicants typically enjoy credit limits of $5,000+ which can adequately support annual travel budgets. Credit-building strategies like on-time payments on other cards can strengthen profiles for reconsideration as well. Overall the Citibank Travel Card works best when supported by solid credit fundamentals.

Annual Fee

Like most premium travel rewards cards, the Citibank Travel Card carries an annual fee that is offset by the value of the perks and benefits it provides.

  • Citibank Travel Card: The base card has a $95 annual fee.
  • Citi Premier Card: An enhanced version earns bonus points on gas & supermarkets and has a higher $95 fee (usually waived 1st year).
  • Citi Prestige: The premium multi-perk card has a $495 annual fee but offers a statement credit of up to $250 for airline incidental purchases and a more robust set of travel protections.

All annual fees are charged on each cardmember anniversary. However, the fees are easily offset by taking advantage of the cards’ benefits:

  • Sign-up bonuses alone can far exceed the fee. And they don’t expire as long as the account remains open.
  • The annual travel tax credit on cards like the Citi Prestige lowers its practical fee.
  • Perks for trips protected by insurance or airport lounge access are quite valuable.
  • Regular rewards earned cancel out any fee for users spending over a few thousand dollars annually.

So while an annual fee exists, savvy cardmembers find themselves profiting after using the cards’ lucrative benefits, in effect making them “free”. It’s well worth examining fee value before dismissing premium cards.

Interest Rates

While the various rewards and perks are very appealing, it’s important to also understand potential interest charges associated with the Citibank Travel Card.

  • APR for Purchases: 13.99% to 23.99% Variable APR depending on creditworthiness. This is the interest charged on new purchases if the balance isn’t paid in full each month.
  • APR for Cash Advances: 27.24% Variable APR. In addition to interest, cash advances also incur a fee of either $10 or 5% of the amount (whichever is greater).
  • Grace Period: At least 25 days interest-free on new purchases as long as payments are received by the due date. Carrying balances incurs interest from transaction date.
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% APR may be applied for violations like late/missed payments. Can continue for 6 months after violation is rectified.

While the rewards are valuable when used responsibly, interest charges can quickly negate rewards if revolving balances are carried long-term. It’s ideal to pay statements in full each month to avoid unnecessary costs. For emergencies, a lower interest card is preferable to avoid damaging credit long-term.

Mobile App

In today’s world, having a robust mobile app that allows easy management of financial accounts on the go is very important. Citibank’s mobile app aims to provide a user-friendly experience for Travel Card holders.

  • Account Overview: Check balances, available credit, payment due date and more with a quick glance.
  • Payments: Setup automatic payments from external accounts or make one-time payments from the app.
  • Statements: Access 18 months of electronic statements and receipts.
  • Alerts: Manage purchase and payment notifications plus location-based transaction alerts.
  • Rewards: Check rewards balances, view earning activity, browse redemption options.
  • Virtual Card Number: Generate secure one-time use credit card numbers for online shopping protection.
  • Card Controls: Temporarily lock physical card if lost/stolen and enable/disable controls on digital wallet usage for added protection while traveling.
  • Maps Integration: Use in-app maps to find nearby ATMs and merchants accepting the card.

While not every feature is available through the app yet, Citi receives generally positive reviews for providing secure and convenient account access on mobile. Continued improvements keep it competitive.

Airport Lounge Access

A coveted travel perk many premium credit cards offer is complimentary access to airport lounges where cardholders can relax pre-flight in comfort. Citi offers the following lounge benefits:

  • Citi Prestige: This card provides unlimited access for the primary cardholder and two guests per visit at any Carlson or Priority Pass Select lounge locations worldwide after paying a $495 annual fee.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: Two complimentary visits per annual card renewal period at any American Express Centurion, Delta Sky Club or Priority Pass lounge when traveling on a same-day American Airlines flight or one-way itinerary.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: Two complimentary visits per annual card renewal period at any American Express Centurion or Priority Pass lounge when traveling on a same-day American Airlines flight or one-way itinerary.
  • Priority Pass Select Membership: Most other Citi cards provide the option to add a $429 Priority Pass Select membership providing unlimited lounge visits for the primary cardholder and two guests at over 1,300 airport lounges globally after enrollment.

The ability to bring guests varies between cards, but overall Citi provides solid airport lounge access benefits compared to many no annual fee cards with no or limited complimentary access.

Potential Drawbacks

While generally positively reviewed, no product is perfect and some cardmembers report encountering issues. Here are a few potential downsides to the Citi Travel Card based on online user reviews:

  • Customer Service: Though improved in recent years, Citi customer service still receives some complaints about long hold times to speak with an agent.
  • Value of Points: The 1 cent per point minimum redemption value for travel can be perceived as low compared to programs allowing more flexibility like booking any purchase with credits.
  • Portal Limited: Flight and hotel options on the ThankYou portal earning the 1 cent bonus may be more limited than other programs with more extensive airline/hotel transfer partners.
  • Product Changes: Citi tends to be less flexible than competitors like Chase or American Express about allowing existing cardholders to change their product to a different type of Citi credit card.
  • Bureaucratic: Some users complain Citi requires more documentation around claims and award redemptions than simpler programs to redeem or use travel benefits.
  • Lower Credit Limits: Citi sometimes extends lower credit limits than other major issuers for applicants with comparable credit profiles.

As with any large bank product there will inevitably be some customer service mishaps or complaints. Overall Citi receives positive ratings, but these scenarios are worth considering and Citi could still improve in certain areas according to its users.

Should You Get The Citi Travel Card?

Should You Get The Citi Travel Card?

After examining the comprehensive details of Citi’s Travel Card program, hopefully you now have enough information to determine if it is a suitable option for your travel needs and spending habits. Here are a few final points to consider:

  • If you spend $4,000 or more on travel and dining within 3 months, the sign-up bonus alone could make the first year effectively free or profitable.
  • With no foreign transaction fees, this card shines for frequent international travelers avoiding extra charges abroad.
  • Flexible redemption for travel through the ThankYou portal or cash/gift cards makes points useful for a variety of budgets and trip types.
  • Travel protections for trip delays, cancellations, rental cars and more offer peace of mind when adventures go awry.
  • Generous 3x rewards on a combined $6,000+ annual travel/dining spend outweighs the moderate $95 annual fee for many users.
  • Global acceptance from hotels to restaurants means the card works seamlessly everywhere adventures lead.

Therefore, if significant travel expenses are charged and the annual fee can be offset within a year, the Citi Travel Card offers a worthwhile rewards program and benefits package for most circumstances. But alternative cards may be a better fit depending on individual travel patterns and credit profile. Use this detailed review to best evaluate all factors for your needs.

Application Process

Applying for the Citi Travel Card is straightforward thanks to Citi’s entirely online application system. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Gather Info: To apply, you’ll need some personal information like your name, address, SSN/ITIN, annual income and an estimate of your monthly expenses.
  2. Submit Application: Go to the Citi credit cards website and select the Travel Card product. Complete the online form providing your contact details and income/expense information.
  3. Credit Check: Citi will perform a “soft” credit inquiry to evaluate your creditworthiness without affecting your credit score. This allows for an instant decision.
  4. Decision: Within seconds, you’ll receive an instant approval decision. If approved, your credit limit and expected arrival date for the physical card are displayed.
  5. DocuSign: If approved, you’ll receive an email to review and sign your credit agreement online using DocuSign technology.
  6. Receive Card: Your new Citi Travel Card will arrive within 7-10 business days via standard mail. You can start using it right away.
  7. Activate and Enjoy: Follow activation instructions and you’re all set to start earning rewards and taking advantage of your new card’s benefits.

The fast, fully online application process makes it convenient to instantly apply for the Citi Travel Card from any device, any time. Approvals are given quickly so rewards earning and perks access can commence rapidly.

Additional Card Options

While the standard Citi Travel Card is excellent on its own, Citi also offers some derivative cards with variations tailored to certain customer needs:

  • Citi Premier Card: Builds on the Travel Card with bonus categories of 3x points at gas stations and supermarkets (max $6,000 annually). Annual fee is also $95.
  • Citi Prestige: The top-tier product earns 5x points on airlines and hotels booked directly plus a $250 airline credit and other premium travel perks. The annual fee is $495.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite: A co-branded American Airlines credit card earning bonuses on AA purchases plus two annual admirals club passes. Fee is $450.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select: More middle-tier AA card with same two annual club passes but lower fees of $99 for personal or $99/$199 for business.
  • Citi Custom Cash: Non-travel focused card allowing flexible 5% back in top eligible spend category each billing period, up to $500 per month. No annual fee.
  • Citi Rewards: Basic flat rate 1 point per dollar card with no annual fee and occasional sign-up bonus opportunities.

So Citi travelers have options suited to certain budgets, spending patterns or airline loyalty status. Evaluate the full lineup to find the best Citi fit. Combining cards allows maximizing across broader categories as well.

FAQs

Do I have to be a US citizen?

No, permanent residents with a valid US SSN or ITIN can also apply.
Is there a credit check

Is there a credit check? 

 Yes, Citi will perform a soft credit pull as part of its application process to check your report.

When are points awarded?

ThankYou Points are awarded on the date the eligible purchase posts to your account, typically within 3 business days.

When is the annual fee billed?

 It’s charged on each cardmember anniversary, typically 12 months from when your account is opened.

Can I add authorized users?

Yes, each with their own card and spending/earning ability for $75 per user annually. Scores impact will be less than primary applicant.

How do I redeem points?

Points can be redeemed directly through the Citi ThankYou site or by transferring to any of 13 airline and hotel partners.

Can points be transferred?

No, Citi points may not be transferred between ThankYou Members, only redeemed directly or to partners.

When will my card arrive? 

New cards usually arrive 7-10 business days after approval. Physical card is required to access travel or payment benefits.

Are there any activity requirements?

As long as payments are made on time, there are no specific transaction requirements to maintain the account.

Conclusion

The Citi Travel Card offers significant perks and rewards for many travelers. But take time to honestly assess your finances, travel patterns, and redemption goals to see if this card truly provides excellent long-term value for you. Consider factors like your annual bonus category spending, ability to use various travel credits, and fit of theThankYou points program for your plans.

Doing diligent research will help you decide if applying is the right choice to start enjoying premium travel funding, or if an alternate option may better suit your unique situation.

Leave a Comment