Citi CashReturns MasterCard Credit Card Review

A Balance Transfer Card With a Great Rewards Program

The Citi CashReturns MasterCard has an attractive cash-back rewards program, but it works just as well for balance transfers.

Who the Citi CashReturns MasterCard Is For

  • People who want to earn cash rewards on their credit card spending.
  • People who are looking for a low-cost balance transfer option.

Credit Rating Required

  • Excellent (740+)
  • Good (700-739)
  • Fair (660-699)

Pros of the Citi CashReturns MasterCard

  • Full 1 percent cash back on purchases.
  • Rewards earned on cash advances and balance transfers.
  • Automatic rewards redemption by check.
  • Long introductory 0 percent APR period on balance transfers (if you qualify).

Cons of the Citi CashReturns MasterCard

  • High redemption threshold.

Citi CashReturns MasterCard Rewards

  • Two percent cash back on purchases for first six months, then one percent cash back.
  • One percent cash back on cash advances.
  • Rewards earned on balance transfers.
  • Five percent cash back "on average" on purchases through Citi Bonus Cash Center.

Citi CashReturns MasterCard Annual Percentage Rates (APRs)

  • Balance transfers: 0 percent for seven to 18 months, depending on your credit rating.
  • Purchases: 12.99 percent to 20.99 percent, depending on your credit rating.
  • Cash advances: 25.24 percent.
  • Default rate: 29.99 percent.

Citi CashReturns MasterCard Fees

  • No annual fee.
  • Balance transfer and cash advance fee: 3 percent of amount.
  • Late payment fee: $15 to $39
  • Over-limit fee: $39.

Citi CashReturns MasterCard Review

The Citi CashReturns MasterCard is advertised as a good cash-back rewards card - which it is. But it works just as well, if not better, as a balance-transfer card.

If you have really good credit, you may qualify for a 0 percent balance transfer rate for as long as 18 months - or 12 to seven months if you have weaker credit.

The balance transfer fee is 3 percent, which is one of the lowest around. What's more, you earn five "CitiDollars" on all balances transfers over $1,500. (You can redeem 50 CitiDollars for $50.)

If you use the card for purchases, you earn 2 percent cash back for the first six months, then 1 percent after that. You can also earn 5 percent back "on average" if you shop through Citi's Bonus Cash Center, which the bank says has more than 400 merchants. For example, you can earn 9 percent at FTD.com and 2 percent at Frederick's of Hollywood.

The cash-back reward has both good points and bad points. Unlike other similar cards, such as Discover and Chase, you don't have to call the bank to redeem your points - Citi automatically mails you a check when you reach the $50 rewards threshold. However, that minimum is fairly high compared to those other cards. But if you shop at stores that pay rich rewards, you may be able to reach the $50 mark fairly quickly.

The Citi CashReturns MasterCard also lets you earn the full reward on cash advances. But don't do that - the cash advance fee is three percent, and the APR is over 25 percent. So any reward you would earn wouldn't come close to making that up.

Recommendation

Although the Citi CashReturns MasterCard card works well for either balance transfers or to earn rewards, don't use it for both - choose one or the other. Best option: Transfer your balance for as long as you can, pay it off, then start earning cash-back rewards on purchases.

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