Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card Review: Score Extra Points on Every Purchase

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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If you've been looking at student credit cards, then you've probably realized that they aren't what you would call "feature-rich." They're intended for students who don't spend much and haven't built credit yet, so it makes sense that these cards don't offer big rewards or fancy perks.

Citi, an advertising partner with The Ascent, offers the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card, which falls into this category of credit cards, but it also has an above-average rewards rate and an innovative feature that rounds your points up. Thanks to those benefits, this card could help students save some money every year while they improve their credit scores.

Ratings Methodology
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

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On Citi's Secure Website.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Apply Now

On Citi's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Citi's Secure Website.

Rewards

2x points on groceries and gas, 1 point on all else. Points rounded up to the nearest 10 on every purchase

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 7 months
Balance Transfers: N/A

Ongoing APR

14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within three months

Highlights
  • The Citi Rewards+SM 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 14.49% - 24.49%, 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.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.49% - 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • No annual fee 

Top perks

2 points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations: This rate applies to the first $6,000 you spend per year at supermarkets and/or gas stations. After you've hit that spending cap, any additional spending in these categories earns the card's standard rate of 1 point per $1.

For students who commute to school by car and make most of their meals at home (even if those meals usually come out of a box), the bonus rewards could earn you as much as three figures per year as you use this card to build your credit.

Every purchase rounds up to the nearest 10 points: The most unique feature on this card is that it rounds every purchase up to the nearest 10 points. On purchases that earn 2 points per $1, the round-up feature kicks in after your rewards are doubled. For example, Citi would round a $23 supermarket purchase up from 46 to 50 points.

If you're the type of college student who makes many small purchases, then you'll probably love this perk. A $3 slice of pizza, a $2 coffee, and even a $0.50 pack of gum would each earn you 10 points.

2,500-point sign-up bonus: You earn this bonus after spending $500 within the first three months. Because rewards points can be worth $0.01 apiece, this bonus is effectively worth $25. Although this is far smaller than the biggest sign-up bonuses, it's not bad for a student credit card.

On the subject of sign-up bonuses, here's a word of warning: Citi lets you earn only one sign-up bonus on any of the cards in its ThankYou® Rewards program every 24 months. For most students, this won't be a big deal. But if you have the income and credit to qualify for Citi's other rewards cards, you may want to consider one with a more valuable sign-up bonus. Otherwise, if you sign up for the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card, which has a comparatively small bonus, you’d be ineligible to receive another sign-up bonus for two years.

10% back when you redeem your points: You get 10% of your points back on the first 100,000 that you redeem per year. For example, on a 10,000-point redemption, Citi would give you 1,000 points back.

0% intro APR: You won't pay any interest on purchases for the first seven months that you have this card. Keep in mind that even when you're not being charged interest, you still need to make at least your minimum payment every month. Otherwise, Citi can charge you a late payment fee.

This intro offer can be useful if you have any big expenses that you can't quite pay for up front, such as textbooks, course fees, or moving costs. But with 0% APR offers like this one, it's important that you pay off the balance in full before the intro period ends. Don't use the intro offer as an excuse to spend more, because that's one way that consumers end up deep in credit card debt.

No annual fee: When you're a student on a limited income, keeping costs down is a must. The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card helps with that, because it doesn't charge an annual fee.

What could be improved

Points are transferable only to JetBlue: Although the ThankYou® Rewards program has many airline partners, the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card lets you transfer your points only to JetBlue at a 5:4 ratio. It doesn't allow you to transfer points to any of the other airline partners in the ThankYou® Rewards program, as some of Citi's other cards do. This lack of transfer options limits how much value you can get from your points.

The other redemption options with this card are:

  • Gift cards
  • Travel purchases
  • Shopping with points at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com

You get a rate of $0.01 per point on gift cards and travel purchases, so those are the only two smart ways to use your points. When you shop with points, the standard rate is $0.008 per point, so you should avoid redeeming your rewards this way.

Foreign transaction fee: You'll pay a 3% fee on every foreign transaction, so this card isn't a good choice if you plan to study abroad or take vacations outside the United States.

An alternative card to consider

With its round-up feature and bonus rewards on supermarket and gas station purchases, the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is a great way to earn points on all your expenses. But it also has some stiff competition in the Discover it® Student Cash Back, which is another student card that's known for its high rewards rate. Here's how the two cards match up:

As of Mar. 18, 2020
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card Discover it® Student Cash Back
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Apply Now

On Citi's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

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Rates & Fees

Credit Rating Requirement: Good Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Fair/New to Credit: Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within three months Bonus: Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back
Rewards Program: 2x points on groceries and gas, 1 point on all else. Points rounded up to the nearest 10 on every purchase Rewards Program: Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else
Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 7 months Balance Transfers: N/A Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 6 months Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months
Regular APR: 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable) Regular APR: 12.99% - 21.99% Variable
Annual Fee: $0 Annual Fee: $0

Highlights:

  • The Citi Rewards+SM 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 14.49% - 24.49%, 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.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.49% - 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • No annual fee 

Highlights:

  • 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 on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when 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 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

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Apply Now

On Citi's Secure Website.

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Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

This card is right for you if:

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is a solid student credit card without any glaring flaws. Although it could work out well for just about any student, it's a particularly good option if either of the following is true:

  • Most of your spending consists of purchases of under $20. Because of the card's round-up feature, it's extra valuable when you use it for many small transactions.
  • You drive to school and typically eat at home, which means you can take advantage of the bonus points this card earns on gas and groceries.

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