The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card Review: Bonus rewards for frequent small purchases

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In a Nutshell

There aren’t many cards that are designed just for students. But the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card stands out as a decent option for college students who spend most of their money on gas and groceries or who make a lot of small purchases.

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Pros Cons
Points round-up offer Bonus points are capped
No annual fee OK rewards rate
0% intro APR on purchases

 

From our partner

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

From cardholders in the last year

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What you need to know about the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Depending on your spending habits, the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card could be a reasonably good option for you if you’re a college or graduate student. But it has some unique features you should know about before you make your decision.

Two points on gas and groceries, with a limit

Spend a lot on gas and groceries? You’re in luck. The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card offers two Citi ThankYou points for every $1 spent on eligible gas station and supermarket purchases. But this bonus rate only applies to the first $6,000 that you spend on these categories each year. After that, you’ll earn the standard one point for each $1 spent, and you’ll earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Take note: Citi doesn’t have a standard point-to-dollar conversion like some other cards. Instead, the value of your points will depend on what you’re redeeming them for.

Sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus on the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is relatively easy to reach: Spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening and you’ll receive 2,500 points. This is a decent offer for student credit cards — some don’t come with sign-up bonuses. But compared to other cards that don’t charge an annual fee, this bonus is on the low end.

Round-up feature

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card offers a unique feature that benefits people who frequently make small purchases: The rewards points round-up. Your rewards points will be rounded up to the nearest 10 points for each purchase that you make. If you spend $2 on coffee, you’ll earn 10 rewards points. If you spend $15 on lunch, you’ll earn 20 rewards points, all thanks to the round-up feature.

Depending on what type of charges you usually make on your credit card, the round-up feature could help make up for the low base rewards rate this card offers. But with larger purchases, the round-up feature is less valuable. For example, if you buy a coffee for $2 and earn 10 points, that’s five points for each dollar you’ve spent. But if you purchase textbooks for $142 and earn 150 points, you’re getting only 1.06 points for each dollar you’ve spent.

Flexible redemption options

Once you earn your rewards points, you can spend them in a number of different ways. Here are some of your redemption options.

  • Purchases on Amazon.com or Bestbuy.com
  • Gift cards
  • Travel rewards
  • Cash rewards of $50 or $100
  • Statement credit to pay for eligible purchases
  • Charitable contributions
  • Student loan or mortgage payments (redeem for checks to make payments)

Introductory APR for purchases

Do you have a large purchase coming up that will take you some time to pay off? With the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card, you’ll get an intro 0% APR on purchases for 7 months. This means that you won’t be charged interest on purchases that you make during this introductory period, as long as you make the scheduled minimum payments on time. But make sure you have a plan to pay off the charges by the end of the intro period — once it’s up, you’ll be charged the standard purchase APR, which is a variable 16.24% - 26.24%.

Other features worth considering

Interested? There are a few more things you should know before you make your decision.

  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card doesn’t have an annual fee.
  • When you redeem your first 100,000 rewards points each year, you’ll get 10% of those points back as a bonus. So if you redeem 20,000 points, you’ll get a 2,000-point bonus.
  • If you plan to travel abroad, leave this card at home. It comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee on all foreign purchases.
  • You must be a student or graduate student to qualify for this card.

Who this card is good for

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card could be a good choice if most of your monthly spending goes to gas and groceries, and you frequently make small purchases. With the two-point bonus you earn at gas stations and supermarkets, as well as the round-up bonus, you could accrue points quickly.

But before racking up all those points, check to see if your spending on gas and groceries is usually over $6,000 per year. If it is, know that you’ll only earn one point for each $1 that you spend over that limit. If you can qualify for a card other than a student card, you may be able to find one without annual fees that offers a higher rewards rate. If that’s the case, it may make sense to find a card that offers bonus points on more categories or that doesn’t have an earning limit.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you’re not sure whether the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is for you, compare it with some alternatives.