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Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card Review: Is It the Best Starter Card?

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card Review: Is It the Best Starter Card?

Great card for students who spend on gas and groceries.
Editor's Rating: 4.0/5.0
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Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

4.0/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is a decent credit card for college students who own a car, cook at home and make a lot of small purchases. However, if you eat in the school dining hall and you don't drive to campus, this Citibank student credit card might not be the best choice for you. Read more to learn about where the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card shines, as well as other options that might earn you more in the long run.

Key take-aways

  • Great for purchases under $10
  • Good for purchases at gas stations and supermarkets
  • Below-average sign-up bonus
  • Conclusion: The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a better student credit card.

A Good Student Credit Card for Gas, Supermarkets and Small Purchases

On Citi's Secure Website

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

On Citi's Secure Website
Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap
  • Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 7 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
  • No annual fee
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap
  • Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 7 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
  • No annual fee
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.49% - 26.49% (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

One of the major benefits of the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is the double points you'll earn for purchases made at gas stations and supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases each year. That's not the highest rewards rate you could find, but it's not bad for a no-fee card, especially if you have little to no credit history and you're trying to build your credit score. On all purchases outside of these categories, you'll earn 1 point per dollar spent with your Citi student credit card. But that brings us to the next benefit of the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card: point rounding.

Point Rounding

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is excellent for students who make a lot of small purchases, thanks to the card's unique point-rounding benefit. Regardless of the category you're spending in, Citi will round up your points to the nearest 10. For example, if you purchase a $3 coffee, you'll get 10 Citi ThankYou® Points. If you pay for a $21 Uber ride, you'll earn 30 points. As you can see, point rounding can nearly double your reward for some purchases, but its value diminishes as the spending amount increases. This makes the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card most effective for small purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus

In addition to the ongoing rewards rates, Citi will award you 2,500 points after you spend $500 with the card within three months of opening your account—enough for a $25 gift card on thankyou.com. That's not an impressive sign-up bonus compared to other no-fee cards, but it is an added bonus to the points you're already earning on other small purchases.

For comparison, the Discover it® Student Cash Back earns between 1% and 5% cash back, and all of your rewards are doubled at the end of your first year, meaning you can earn a lot more than $25 for opening an account. Read more about it below.

10% Point Reimbursement

The final perk of the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is the annual point reimbursement policy. Citi will return 10% of your points back to you on the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem each year.

Is the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card the best credit card for students?

Although the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card does create the opportunity for decent rewards on small purchases, we don't think it's the best student card out there. Here are some other options you should consider if you're a student looking for your first credit card.

Our Favorite Student Credit Card

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Student Cash Back

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 15.24% - 24.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Fair
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is our favorite credit card for students. Not only does it offer the same benefits provided by the standard Discover it® Cash Back, but it also includes some special perks just for those who are in school. Here's a brief overview of the card's best benefits. Read our review for a full rundown of the ways the Discover it® Student Cash Back stands out.

Earn Up to 5% Back

Every three months, Discover offers a new category of purchases that will earn 5% cash back on purchases up to $1,500 (activation is required). For 2019, the categories are:

January-MarchApril-JuneJuly-SeptemberOctober-December
Grocery storesGas stations, Uber & LyftRestaurants and PayPalAmazon.com, Target & Walmart.com

All other purchases that fall outside of these categories will earn a standard 1% cash back.

If you're going to college in a big city and you don't own a vehicle, the Discover it® Student Cash Back will probably be a better fit for you, since you can earn rewards from ride-sharing services and restaurants instead of filling up your car at the pump.

Double Your Reward

In addition to offering an attractive 5% back on certain purchases, Discover will double your cash back at the end of your first year. This makes it relatively easy to earn more than you'd get with the 2,500 ThankYou® Points from the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card.

Good Grades Rewards

Finally, Discover will reward you for doing well in school. You can earn a $20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher.

The Runner Up

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
$200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • 0% APR for first 12 months
  • 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • 0% APR for first 12 months
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
Regular APR
16.24% - 26.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Fair
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students offers some similar benefits to the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card, but at a slightly better rate for some purchases.

Cash-Back Rewards

With the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students, you'll earn 3% back on gas and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 in purchases each quarter. Not only does this give you a higher reward than the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card when refueling your car, but it also gives you a higher overall spending limit for the year.

Sign-Up Bonus

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students also has one of the highest sign-up bonuses of all student credit cards. After you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your credit card account, Bank of America will give you $200 in online cash rewards.

In our opinion, the only area where the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card beats the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is in its point-rounding feature for small purchases. But for students who drive a lot and who expect to spend more than $6,000 a year at gas stations and supermarkets, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is the better card.

Compare How the Cards Perform for You

Our credit card comparison tool allows you to see how each card performs for your unique spending habits. Enter the amounts you typically spend each month to see your potential earnings over a two-year period.

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Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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