Citi Rewards+ Student Card Review

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The Citi Rewards+ Student Card offers college students an interesting rewards proposition: Not only can you earn points for each dollar you spend, but a “rounding up” feature juices up the earnings rate. Just be prepared to study up on the rules and restrictions of the rewards program, because there are more than a few.

Citi is not accepting new online applications for this card right now. To find an alternative, check out our list of the best student cards available right now.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

overall rating
4.0
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 7 Months
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X point on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.9
for Fees
3.2
for Rewards
3.5
for Credit
2.2
Current Offer

Earn 2,500 Bonus Points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening.

Top Rated For

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Credit Builder Persona
    Takes improving their finances seriously and wants recognition for using credit responsibly See more cards
    Credit Builder
  • Avatar for Student Persona
    Looks for deals that make a limited budget go further See more cards
    Student

If you’re a college student, living (and eating and commuting) off campus, you may be drawn to the points offered on the Citi Rewards+ Student Card, especially if you’re particularly organized and want flexibility in your redemption options. 

That said, there are other student cards on the market with simpler rewards schemes and better incentives for new cardholders, and these cards could be more attainable too. The Citi Rewards+ Student Card may require a stronger credit profile than some competitors, and that can be tricky to achieve if you’re still building your credit history.

Pros
  • Rounding-up feature for rewards points

  • Decent 0% APR offer

Cons
  • Good credit is recommended

  • Redemption values aren’t transparent

  • High-maintenance rewards program

Pros Explained

  • Rounding-up feature for rewards points: The Thank You points you’ll earn on this card are rounded to the nearest 10 points, meaning you’ll earn more than the stated rewards rate on most items. For example, anything under $10—even a $1 pack of gum that would normally earn 1 point—earns 10 points, and a $67 dress earns 70 points. What’s more, whenever you redeem your points, you’ll get 10% of them back (up to a limit.) 
  • Decent 0% APR offer: This card offers new cardholders seven months to make purchases without accruing interest. It’s not the longest stretch available on a student card, but some competitors don’t have any interest-free promotion at all. This perk can help you make a large purchase and pay it off over several months while avoiding any borrowing costs. 

Cons Explained

  • Good credit is recommended: You may need a stronger credit profile for this card than some on the market. 
  • Redemption values aren’t transparent: The number of points you earn is only part of the equation. You’ll also want a good value when it comes time to use those points. But with the Citi ThankYou program, points for some uses aren’t worth the benchmark 1 cent each, and worse still, you won’t know until you’re signed in to your online account and try to use them. (More on this in the Redeeming Rewards section below.)
  • High-maintenance rewards program: Besides varying redemption values, there are rules and restrictions to keep track of. Not only is there a cap on the higher rewards rate at grocery stores and gas stations, but you may need to accrue a certain number of points before you can use them (different options have different thresholds.) All this may make the program feel more complicated than some students are up to handling.

As you compare your options, make sure to check our list of the best student credit cards

Bonus for New Cardholders

The Citi Rewards+ Student Card offers 2,500 bonus points (worth up to $25) if you spend $500 within three months of account opening. This welcome offer is pretty meager compared to some incentives on competing student credit cards, although some don’t offer anything at all. On the plus side, you’ll only need to average $167 a month in charges to reach the spending requirement.

Earning Points & Rewards

At first glance, the Citi Rewards+ Student Card has a pretty middling rewards proposition. You’ll earn 2 ThankYou points per $1 you spend at supermarkets and gas stations and 1 point per $1 you spend on everything else. The double points rate applies to the first $6,000 in grocery and gas purchases you make in a calendar year, and then it drops to 1 point per $1. 

But, there’s a kicker. Citi will round up your rewards to the nearest 10 points on each purchase you make, so you will usually earn rewards at a higher rate, and it all depends on the transaction amount. 

For example, your $3 daily coffee will earn 10 points (rounding up from 3 to 10) just like a $10 meal will. Or, a $23 trip to the movies will earn 30 points (rounding up to 30 from 23). Even better, a $51 purchase at the supermarket will earn 110 points (rounding up to 110 from 102.) There are no limits to the rewards you can earn this way. 

Redeeming Rewards

When it comes time to redeem points, cardholders can phone in or use Citi’s online rewards portal for any number of options. These include airfare or other travel bookings, gift cards, statement credits, online shopping, and online bill pay. You can even make payments toward a mortgage or student loan or transfer points to an eligible airline or hotel loyalty program.

Many of these redemptions require a minimum threshold for redemption, including $10 for statement credits and $50 for cash rewards received via check. 

The tricky part is knowing what value you’ll get for specific redemption options. Points used in many ways, including to book travel or buy gift cards, are worth 1 cent each. But if you use them at the Amazon or Expedia checkout, they’re only worth 0.8 cent each, and if you get a statement credit or cash, the value is unclear. 

In fact, Citibank’s website has a warning to online account users that redemption values vary by card and may wind up being different from those shown before they sign in.  

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Besides using your card for all your supermarket and gas purchases, always pay your monthly bills on time and in full to establish the best habits right from the start. The 0% APR offer, despite its relatively short term, can still be worthwhile for any irregular purchases you may have planned, but only if you know you can pay off the entire balance before the promotion expires.

As with any introductory offer, don’t let the short term “interest-free loan” tempt you into making purchases you can’t afford. And definitely don’t run a balance month-to-month or interest costs will quickly erase the benefit of any rewards.

Other Features

  • Sports, music, and event ticket presales, plus VIP access at some events

Customer Experience

While Citibank does offer 24/7 customer service options, it got an “about average” rating in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. The bank’s mobile app fared worse, scoring below average in a separate J.D. Power survey of card apps. One plus? Citi provides free FICO scores, updated monthly, in the app and online. 

Security Features

This credit card app offers “Citi Quick Lock,” so you can prevent your card from being used if it’s been lost or stolen. You’ll also get access to Citi Identity Theft Solutions—a program that can help you protect or restore your identity in the event of fraud, even if the fraud involved another bank’s card or service. 

Fees

Most fees charged by this credit card are standard, but be aware you’ll have to pay a 3% foreign transaction fee if you use it outside the U.S. 

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CURRENT CARD
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
overall rating
4.0
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 7 Months
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Citi. "Citi Rewards+ Student Card." Accessed May 18, 2020.

  2. Citi. "Additional Information - Citi Rewards+ Student Card." Accessed May 18, 2020.

  3. Citi. "Citi ThankYou Rewards Terms & Conditions." Accessed May 18, 2020.

  4. J.D. Power. "Credit Card Rewards Battle Continues as Customers Seek Better Programs, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed May 18, 2020.

  5. J.D. Power. "Feature Overload Strains Customer Satisfaction with Online Banking and Mobile Apps, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed May 18, 2020.