5 Best Citi® Travel Credit Cards

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Citi® has a name for offering travel-related services, particularly in the credit card arena. While some of its travel credit cards are directly affiliated with American Airlines, others offer a wide range of travel benefits, from enhanced points earning capability to cash back.

Given the broad assortment of cards available, it pays to take the time to filter through and decide which is the best Citi travel credit card for you. Here’s an overview of the features and benefits of the top five Citi travel card options.

Credit Card Best For APR Features
Overall travel rewards APR – 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
– 3x points on air travel and at hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations
– 1x points on all other purchases
– No foreign transaction fees
High spending in one category APR – $200 cash back after spending $1,500 in the first 6 months
– 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category, up to the first $500 spent per month; 1% cash back after that
– Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
– 3% foreign transaction fee
ThankYou Rewards points APR – 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months
– For a limited time, earn 5X ThankYou Points for each $1 spent at restaurants, up to $6,000 in the first 12 months
– 2x ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations, up to the first $6,000 spent per year
– 1x ThankYou Points on all other purchases
– Points on every purchase are rounded up to the nearest 10
– Receive 10% points back for up to the first 100,000 ThankYou Points you redeem per year
– 3% foreign transaction fee
Regular travelers APR – 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
– 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and at restaurants and gas stations
– 1x miles on all other purchases
– No foreign transaction fees
No annual fee APR – 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 in the first 3 months
– 2x miles at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases
– 1x miles on all other purchases
– 3% foreign transaction fee
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Best for: Overall travel rewards

The best card to maximize overall travel rewards within the Citi family is the Citi Premier card. For starters, new cardholders can earn a big sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after opening an account. This provides the equivalent of $800 in gift cards right off the bat. The bonus points can also be redeemed for travel rewards.

However, the true value of the card is in the accruals for daily spending. The Citi Premier Card offers triple points in not just one but a number of popular spending categories, from supermarkets and restaurants to gas stations, air travel and hotels. This alone makes it a contender for one of the most valuable Citi travel cards, as it rewards not just travel costs but also general, everyday spending.

Although the card has no foreign transaction fees, it does have an annual fee of .

Best for: High spending in one category

If you’re looking to earn the maximum points in the areas in which you spend the most, the Citi Custom Cash card could be just the ticket. Rather than simply providing a flat cash back rate or offering quarterly bonus categories, this card actually pays you its maximum cash back rate of 5% on your highest-spending category, up to $500 in purchases each billing cycle.

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For example, if you spend $500 on groceries in one month and $400 on travel, you’ll earn 5% cash back on that $500 grocery spend. If in the following month you spend $500 on travel and only $400 on groceries, you’ll instead earn 5% cash back on your $500 travel spend.

This type of cash back structure ensures that you’ll earn the most cash back you can every single month without having to worry about where you are allocating your spending. The only caveat is that your cash back is limited to the first $500 you spend in your top category every month. However, for a card with no annual fee, this is still a generous cash back rate.

The Citi Custom Cash Card also comes with some other perks, including a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers — followed by an APR of — although there is a 5% balance transfer fee. There’s also a 3% foreign transaction fee.

However, you’ll earn $200 cash back after spending just $1,500 in the first six months of card ownership.

Best for: ThankYou Rewards points

If collecting your benefits in the form of ThankYou Rewards points is your style, you might be well suited for the Citi Rewards+ card.

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This card doesn’t have an annual fee but still provides 2x ThankYou Rewards points at gas stations and supermarkets for the first 6,000 per year. All other purchases net one point per dollar spent. A 20,000-point sign-up bonus is available to new cardholders who spend $1,500 in the first three months of card ownership. Cardholders are also granted a 10% bonus on up to the first 100,000 ThankYou Rewards points they redeem per year.

This card does have a 3% foreign transaction fee. However, for the first 15 months after you open the account, you can also avail of a 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers, after which there will be a APR.

Best for: Regular travelers

Fans of American Airlines who don’t spend their whole lives traveling may enjoy the perks of the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. Some of the card’s most valuable perks include priority boarding and a free checked bag, not just for yourself but also for up to four travel companions on domestic itineraries.

When compared with the card’s modest $99 annual fee, the baggage perk alone typically makes the card worthwhile, as even a couple checking one bag each on a domestic round-trip itinerary would face $120 in fees. The annual fee is waived for the first year, plus the card has no foreign transaction fees.

On top of offering 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and at restaurants and gas stations, the card also offers a lucrative 50,000 American Airlines miles bonus after you spend $2,500 in the first three months after opening an account. And after spending $20,000 with the card in one year, you can earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount.

Best for: No annual fee

Those looking for a simple, no-annual-fee credit card that still offers travel perks may gravitate toward the American Airlines AAdvantage Mileup Card.

The card’s 10,000 mile sign-up bonus is modest, but it requires just $500 in spending in the first three months after account opening to earn it. Those meeting the minimum spend requirement will also earn a $50 statement credit.

Beyond that, the main perk of the card is the 2x miles it pays on grocery purchases and eligible American Airlines purchases. Cardholders also earn a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverages on American Airlines flights. This travel card does carry a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Which Citi Travel Card Is Right for You?

One way to find the right Citi travel card for you is to consider which reward structure that will benefit you the most. Are you strictly interested in earning miles or would you prefer the flexibility of earning other types of rewards?

Also consider any fees involved. If the card has an annual fee, will the benefits and perks it offers allow you to offset the fee each year? And if the card has a foreign transaction fee, is it feasible for the amount of international travel you plan to do?

By considering the rewards, benefits and fees of each Citi travel card, you can better determine which one will work best with your lifestyle.

Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Sept. 12, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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