Citibank's Citi Signature credit card (Visa Signature)

Review: Citibank's Citi Signature credit card (Visa Signature)

What's Hot

  • Convert points to Velocity, KrisFlyer
  • Two Priority Pass lounge visits per year

What's Not

  • High ongoing annual fee paired with low everyday earning rate
  • High international transaction fee

X-Factor

  • Free wine every time you dine at participating restaurants

Introduction

Citibank's Citi Signature credit card has an impressive name, but a less-impressive frequent flyer earning rate, giving you as few as 0.4 frequent flyer points per $1 spent on your everyday charges: or no points at all if you're paying a government body.

As with any Citibank credit card, there's the option of a 'free bottle of wine every time you dine' at participating restaurants, but beyond that, $395/year is a lot to pay for a credit card that's not particularly rewarding, unless you spend big in the few bonus point categories attached to this card.

Citi Signature credit card: fast facts

  • Grade/tier: Above-Platinum (but not quite 'Black')
  • Card type: Visa Signature
  • Loyalty program: Citibank Rewards
  • Citibank Rewards points earned per $1 spent with:
         Major restaurants, hotels and airlines in Australia, plus all international spend:
    2.0
         Major supermarkets, petrol stations and Australian national retailers: 1.5
         Government and government-related transactions: No points
         Everywhere else: 1
  • Citibank Rewards airline partners: Virgin Australia (2:1 conversion), Singapore Airlines (2.5:1 conversion)
  • Converting your Citibank points into frequent flyer points, this gives you (per $1 spent):
         1 Velocity point or 0.8 KrisFlyer miles at restaurants and the like
         0.75 Velocity points or 0.6 KrisFlyer miles spent at supermarkets, etc.
         No points on government payments
         0.5 Velocity points or 0.4 KrisFlyer miles everywhere else

Fees, charges and interest: 2.5/5

  • Annual fee: $199 in the first year, $395 thereafter
  • Supplementary cardholder fee: $0 (up to 4)
  • Interest rate on purchases: 20.99% p.a.
  • Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 55
  • Interest rate on cash advances: 21.74% p.a.
  • International transaction fee: 3.4%
  • Minimum income requirement: $75,000 p.a.
  • Minimum credit limit: $15,000

Earning points for free flights: 2.5/5

New customers who apply before June 30 2018, are approved and spend at least $3,000 on the card within 90 days of card approval can net 120,000 Citibank Rewards points, equal to 60,000 Virgin Australia Velocity points or 48,000 KrisFlyer miles.

Through Velocity, that's enough for a one-way business class flight to Hong Kong from Sydney or Melbourne with Virgin Australia, or from Cairns to Hong Kong with Virgin partner Hong Kong Airlines.

Step aboard Virgin Australia's The Business service to Hong Kong...

With Singapore Airlines, you'd instead be able to book a one-way premium economy flight to Singapore from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Perth residents could fly return to Singapore in economy class or one-way in business class with Singapore Airlines, as fewer KrisFlyer miles are needed to book these flights.

But once that sign-up bonus has come and gone, the card gets much less impressive: on most transactions, you'll be earning as few as 0.4 frequent flyer points per dollar spent, or no points at all on government payments, which is much less rewarding than most Platinum-level cards, let alone those badged under the Visa Signature banner.

Inclusive travel insurance: 4/5

Use your Citi Signature card to pay for a return international flight before leaving Australia and you may automatically be covered by the bank's complimentary travel insurance on trips of six months or less.

International return journeys booked using Velocity points or KrisFlyer miles may also be covered if you've directly converted at least 15,000 frequent flyer points to that program from Citibank during the 12 months immediately prior to booking your ticket.

This is joined by the expected line-up cover with interstate flight inconvenience insurance, transit accident insurance, purchase cover, extended warranty protection and access to the guaranteed pricing scheme all included.

Airport lounge access: 2/5

Having a Citi Signature credit card gets you two complimentary airport lounge visits every year via the Priority Pass program, with further visits charged to your account at US$27 per entry.

In Australia, that allows you to use the Rex Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide; the Plaza Premium lounges in Melbourne and Brisbane; the Reef Lounge in Cairns and the Catalina Lounge in Darwin, along with a host of airport restaurants where one 'lounge visit' can be swapped for $36 of dining credit,

Citi Signature credit card: the verdict

Initially, a reduced annual fee paired with a serving of bonus points makes this card attractive at first, but when it comes time to pay the card's full annual fee of $395 in the second year, the incentive to keep the card alive will be lost for many.

That's because cardholders can only earn the equivalent of 0.5 Velocity points or 0.4 KrisFlyer miles for every dollar spent on everyday purchases, which is far below what can be earned on cards with comparable or better annual fees.

For example, the St. George Amplify Signature Visa includes the same Priority Pass airport lounge entitlements with a higher earn rate of 0.825 frequent flyer points per dollar spent with Velocity, KrisFlyer and also Malaysia Airlines Enrich via the Amplify Rewards program, for a lower annual fee of $279.

Over at ANZ, the bank's higher-tier Rewards Black Visa offers one Velocity point per $1 spent up to $5,000 per month and 0.5 Velocity points thereafter, with a waived annual fee in the first year and a lower-than-Citibank $375 charge every year thereafter.

Virgin Money's Velocity High Flyer Visa instead churns out one Velocity point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $8,000 per month and 0.5 Velocity points per $1 spent thereafter, again with a more competitive annual fee of $289.

To supercharge your Velocity points, the American Express Velocity Platinum credit card also beats Citibank's annual fee, with $375/year getting you a free return domestic flight with Virgin Australia every year alongside an uncapped earning rate of 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

4 Comments

  • Skipp

    Skipp

    28 May, 2018 03:06 pm

    I signed up for this card (Qantas Points version) not long after the card was first introduced, when it had a great sign up bonus (80,000 Qantas Points on offer), plus a decent points earn rate.

    I cancelled the card a few years back when the card went from good to POOR in regards to adjusted earn and burn rates. If anyone still has this card I would strongly suggest to them to ring Citi today (be prepared to be put on hold for a short while) and cancel the card.
    Member who gave thanks

    brettepi

  • AzzaC

    AzzaC

    28 May, 2018 06:48 pm

    I managed to get this card a few years ago with no annual fee for life, however had to forgo the initial sign up bonus points.

    Back then the earn /burn rate was much better and agree it's not the greatest card out there now. But as I've no annual fee, it's worth keeping.
    No member give thanks

  • Yanis

    Yanis

    18 Jun, 2018 01:05 pm

    I also got this card with no annual fee for life. I will probably hang onto this card for life as I think having a long term credit relationship will help my credit score over time.

    Citi are commencing comprehensive credit reporting soon so it will be interesting to see what the effect is.

    As others have mentioned, customer service is awful, and you get unsolicited calls from Citi trying to flog you unsecured lending products. Last time they tried I saw the call from an unknown number. I let it ring out and they rang again immediately. I had thought it must have been someone trying to contact me urgently. Really poor experience.


    No member give thanks

  • David Peach

    DavePlat

    18 Jun, 2018 12:52 pm

    A downside to all Citi cards is the off shored customer service. Bad quality connections, heavy accents and robotic, script driven answers to queries.

    No member give thanks

Guest

19 Jul, 2018 09:54 pm

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