Citi Forward Card Review + Rewards Summary

Citi Forward CardI ended up applying for the Citi Forward® Card mentioned several days ago. It ends up being great card for those who want the best rewards on eating out at restaurant and buying anything at Amazon.com. Here’s why…

This card works off the same ThankYou points system as many other Citibank cards. 10,000 points = $100 gift card at stores like Sears, Macy’s, Staples, Old Navy, Gap, etc. 14,000 points = $100 prepaid Visa credit card. 16,000 points = $100 in straight cash (a check sent directly to you). If you can find a store where you can use a $100 gift card = 10,000 points, that basically a penny per point.

What makes this card unique is that you get 100 points for each month you paid on time and don’t exceed your credit limit, as well as a highly touted 0.25% interest rate reduction after 3 months in a row of making a purchase, staying within limit and paying on time (max reduction 2%).

You also get 5 points for every $1 you spend on restaurants, book stores, video rental stores and movie theaters. On everything else, you get the plain vanilla 1 reward point for every $1 spent. There is no annual fee for the card.

5x Rewards at Restaurants
Again, at 1 penny per point with gift cards, getting 5x points is like getting 5% back when eating out. At that rate, eating out $170 a month will get me a $100 gift card every year. Even if you convert to straight cash, that’s still 3.125% cash back at restaurants (5/1.6). Or 3.57% back if you are okay with prepaid Visa card, which I am since they are usable anywhere that takes credit cards.

5x Rewards on Books = 5% back at Amazon
Here’s an interesting question. Who’s the most popular bookstore? Amazon.com. With the Citi mtvU card for college students, the 5% back on books worked on all purchases at Amazon, even if it wasn’t 100% books, since they really have no way of telling. Update: I have verified 5x points at Amazon.com.

Comments

  1. So for those of us with the mtvU card this isn’t very useful (apart from the sign-up bonus)?

  2. yes. the bonus is the only deal for me (mtvu), but mtvu is only for students, so when it expires I imagine they will not renew it, making this card look pretty sweet. Otherwise the cards seem nearly identical, minus the 2000 point bonus/semester for 4.0 gpa.

    Jonathan,
    You forgot to mention you can use thankyou points for repaying student loans. I can’t wait…

  3. Brian Smith says:

    I wonder, does “movies and music” include iTunes, eMusic, and the like? And, does “restaurants” include fast food? If so, I gotta get me one of these.

  4. Jeremy Olexa says:

    “if you are okay with prepaid Visa card, which I am since they are usable anywhere that takes credit cards.”

    My recommendation is to take the prepaid Visa card and buy gift cards with them at round dollar increments. Once you get below a useable level (10-50 cents, etc) then the card is declined, you cannot get the remaining balance off of it unless you make a purchase for less than or equal to the remaining balance.

  5. I’ve have the card and have read that Amazon purchases for anything have earned the 5x, but have yet to verify it myself.

  6. Dude I was DENIED! My credit isn’t that bad… score is in the low 700′s… their reason was my high level of credit utilization, due solely to taking advantage of some 0% offers last year.

  7. Teeej

    Can you provide more info on how to use Thankyou points to pay student loans?

  8. Just to verify, I received 5x TYP for a purchase I made from Amazon with the Citi Forward card.

    On student loan thingy, I think there is a long thread at fatwallet about it.

  9. Just signed up. Nice online approval system. I plan on canceling my citi diamond preferred once I get this one, now that the diamond rewards no longer offers the fixed flight option on expedia.

  10. The part that I have trouble with is the thank you point network. They 10,000 points = $100 but that was just not true when I went to look last. The only gift cards you could get at that ratio was like paying off a loan or going on a cruise. Has it gotten better recently?

  11. Here is an example to get $10 at footlocker you spend 1500 points. or about 6000 points for a $50 card.

  12. Thanks to taking part in some 0% offers, and signing up for rewards cards over the past several years, I now have maybe 10 cards. I only use one for purchases, and have a balance on 2 other cards (0%).

    My understanding is that I should not cancel any of my old cards–that is, closing those accounts might hurt my credit, whereas keeping their credit available and unused helps my credit?

    Actually a second question…I had a wachovia credit card (managed by FIA) I had had for years. Wachovia gets bought by Wells Fargo, and dumps FIA. I get a new Wachovia card. I also still have my FIA card… I get a letter from FIA in the mail saying they are reducing my credit limit from 12,000 to 6,000 due to a history of late payments. In a panic I check my credit reports–no late payment since 2004 (and that’s correct). Are they just trying to tighten up on available credit?

    Is that correct?

    Thanks!

  13. Jansy -
    You can redeem 2,500 TYP for a $25 check made payable to whoever services your student loan. (This is one of the few rewards you can’t request online. You have to call in and talk to an operator.) They send you the check, and you send it to your student loan servicer. Of course, you can request multiple checks at once.

  14. 5% at restaurants is an awesome deal. Haven’t been able to find a card that would do that in a long time. I’ve been using my chase freedom for 3% back for the last year or so.

  15. Sweet, I am all over 5% back at Amazon then. Thanks for the confirmation!

    Yes, restaurants should definitely cover fast food places as well.

    I totally forgot about the student loan redemption. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. If the amazon thing is true that’s ridiculous. Like 90% of what I buy is from amazon. Bummer I didn’t have this month ago, before I bought a new laptop.

  17. Too bad I’ve boycotted Citi, Chase and Discover for raising my interest rates despite that I always pay minimum plus about 50% and on time.

  18. I didn’t boycott them… I did one better about a year and a half ago. I got the Citi Professional CC and took a 0% (no fee) balance transfer and opened a Citi Online Savings with it. 3.5% at the time.

    So they paid ME interest for their own money. That was added to the 10,000 points ($100 GC to Home Depot) I got (after first purchase) for putting $8 worth of gas in my motorcycle prior to taking the cash advance.

    So I spent $8 that I was going to spend anyway and they gave me just over $400!!! 5000% ROI.

  19. Defo Works at amazon. Tried purchase last month and this and both post correctly(only use card at amazon so i know it )

  20. That’s funny, Ken. I’m guessing the 3.5% probably isn’t the rate anymore though. Too bad, otherwise I’d consider doing the same thing.

  21. I dont know if you have the citi drivers edge card , but for the 1st year you get 6% back on groceries,drugs and gas plus $.01 for every mile you drive on 1 vehichle, I drive about 20000 miles a year which converts to $200 and add in about another $40 in rewards each month for my grocery and gas rewards and the card should net me around $700 for the year

  22. Ken, you made me laugh out loud and then I had to explain the whole 0% balance transfer game to my coworker… Very funny.

  23. Getting CC just to get some 50-100$ bonus, is it worth it comparing to the hit on your credit? If it is your first, second , third CC and you need one anyways it is ok. However if I have 5-7 CCs and just get $100 from applying for new, I think the benefit does not justify the means. Now you have more credit cards to manage especially with latest tendency to close unused credit cards, it reflects on you credit score. In my opinion, better benefit and a reason to apply for CC is 0% APR especially if you need the money or just looking for investment funds into a business or just as the owner of the blog does by investing it into securities or saving accounts with high yields.

    My argument is, how much can you make on initial sign ups before you get yourself in CC mess.

    BTW, anybody knows if number of CC owned effects your credit score? How many is too many?

    Thanks

  24. Dmitry, some of your questions might be answered here:

    http://www.mymoneyblog.com/how-to-make-money-from-0-apr-balance-transfers

    It’s not just the sign-ups, it’s also earning interest on the $ taken out. Jonathan indicates it hasn’t hurt his credit too badly. Personally, I’m not sure it would be worth it with today’s interest rates, though.

    I went to a community ed class recently where the guy had a free travel game he played with mileage credit cards. He took advantage of the various airlines sign-up bonuses, cancelled the cards after a year, waited two more and then re-signed up. He had several in rotation. Sounded like alot of work, but he had a ton of miles on various airlines and said it didn’t hurt his score that badly either.

  25. I have this card, and yes you do get money back at fast food.

    The best use for ThankYou points seems to be to book travel. They use Expedia and basically 1point = 1c when you book travel.

  26. Dmitry,

    I have about 40 to 50 credit cards and a credit score that hovers around 740

  27. Are they allowed / have they ever changed the reward points on these cards or is it a permanent thing getting 5 points for every dollar spent?

  28. Polaris, if they can change your interest rate, they can definitely change your award level. Your only recourse is to not use the card or cancel it.

  29. Everyone and their brother is offering some kind of reward points these days, which is good. The thing about is that now we really expect to receive these benefits as opposed to few years ago. That is another mark on the comparison shopping as to which card to get and which one can save us more money as the old adage says “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

  30. Yeah, I’ve had every card that gave 5% back on gas changed to 3%. I can definitely see the 5% back at amazon and restaurants getting reduced.

  31. The rewards can certainly change somewhere down the line, but I would expect to at least get a year out of it, if not a few years. The Citi mtvU card has offered 5% back on restaurants and books/Amazon for about 4-5 years now.

  32. So, can the 0.25% reduction in purchase APR reduce the initial rate to -0.25%? :)

  33. I got turned down. Never turned down on anything until this year. It says, “Your credit report shows a derogatory public record or
    collection filed.” I had tax lien in 1996. Only thing I can think of. My credit score is 750. I’m not sure who they are giving these cards to, but it must be a pretty select group.

    • DCnTn , Sorry you were turned down. My score is lower then yours and I was approved for a 1500 dollar limit. Student version

  34. Frankie says:

    When I apply, should I choose paperless statements, or should I decline and get them within 3 months? I want to make sure I get that extra 5000 points but don’t know if I will if I choose when I do the application.

  35. Just checked my statement and am getting the extra points for Amazon as well. I did buy books but mostly electronics.

    I don’t think it matters when you do paperless. I bet they just check after 3 months, and if you are paperless at that time, they give you the 5000 points. Same with the $50 purchase.

  36. Richard says:

    If Amazon is counted as bookstore, and the fact that it also sells Target gift card. So you can get 5% back at Target as well.

  37. Bostonconor says:

    Footnote 2 of the terms and conditions would seem to exclude AMAZON.

    “Online and catalog purchases are not eligible to receive five ThankYou Points unless the merchants appropriately identify the transactions.”

    Alos I have an Amazon credit card through Chase that gives 3% back so I would very very suprised if Amazon or Chase would allow Citi to give 5% back.

  38. As long as Amazon identifies itself as a bookstore, then it would still satisfy the conditions. Buying from Barnes and Noble.com would be the same category. However, buying a book from say Walmart.com would probably not work as they don’t identify themselves as primarily a bookstore. In the end, it all boils down to actual experiences.

    I don’t see why Amazon or Chase would have to “allow” anything. Amazon.com doesn’t pay this rebate, and Chase and Citi are competitors for customers.

  39. Frankie says:

    Application process worked smoothly, then I could right away go to setup an account. That is when it wouldn’t take any username I entered. I tried a million different usernames, even bizarre ones nobody has ever typed in the history of the world. It never worked. Now I have to wait for the physical card to get the number to setup the online account.

  40. This might be a stupid question, but do bars typically count as restaurants? I know in the end it depends on how the bar “identifies” itself to the credit card companies, but does anyone know if most bars identify themselves as restaurants? (And I’m not referring to bar/restaurants like Old Chicago or Applebees; I’m really wondering about stand-alone bars. Because hey…I’m a college kid, and that’s where I spend a large amount of discretionary income.)

  41. Help me out here. I keep seeing everyone state it is 1 point per penny but the Citi site says it is 5 points or 1 point per dollar spent. Doing the math indicates to me that this is not a very good rewards card at 5 or 1 point per dollar.

  42. Iam a regular reader of your blog. Your blog is very informative and saves lot of money. I came to know about Citi forward credit card only through your blog and i am using it right now. Thank you so much for updating all aspects of how to save money. Appreciate your work. keep going.

  43. hey there guys, i have a quick question for those who got approved for this card…

    I just got approved for this card instantly over their website and did all the confirmation stuff. I double checked everything (e-mail, name, address, etc.) and selected the features i wanted (all the free 1′s)…

    its been 24hrs since i’ve applied/been approved and i have yet to receive a confirmation e-mail. Did you guys get a confirmation e-mail after sign up?

    thanks

  44. I never got a confirmation e-mail either, the card just showed up in the mail a few days later.

  45. oh ok, well that makes me feel a whole hell of a lot better haha didn’t want the e-mail to be sent to some1 with all my info…

    1 more quick question…

    when you were approved, when were you able to access your account online? once the card got to you or instantly? because i tried accessing it about 20 min after being approved and it keeps saying i’m not in their system, call them at blah blah blah

    thanks a lot again!

  46. Whats the deal with the 100 point bonus for paying on time and staying under the minimum? Will you still get that each month if you do not use the card or do you have to spend some money on it to get the 100 points?

  47. Kais Mustafa says:

    OK, i figured out my logging in issue…now i have 2 questions for the reviewer:

    1) when did you get your 11,000 points? Right after you signed up or 3 months after?

    2) (this goes to every1 else as well) Have you ever made a purchase in stores and still got the 1 pt. for $1 deal? Because i want to shop AT Best Buy, NOT at BestBuy.com, but i want to get points from the purchases.

    Thanks a lot to whoever answers!

  48. Frankie says:

    Just got my first statement and I’ve got my 11,000 points, just about one month after opening my account and buying a few things. Very sweet. Only bummer is Home Depot takes 12,000 points for $100 card, where other places like Gap only take 10,000 points.

  49. James Norvell says:

    Windows 7 is 50% half off for a couple weeks. This would be a great thing to buy from Amazon with this card, I wonder if you could resell it after the release and the discount expires?
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/buy/offers/pre-order.aspx

  50. I just logged onto the Thankyou point network and the points to redeem a giftcard increased from 10000 to 14000 points within the last month. Did they increase it in July? Can anyone tell me what happened?

  51. It really depends on what giftcard you want. Some are still 10,000.

  52. Bummer, you can’t actually get 10200 points for spending $170 a month at restaurants when there’s an annual limit of 75000 points per year, can you?

  53. oh nevermind, stupid math :-)

  54. For all of you who were approved, were you approved instantly? I put sent an application and it says “We have received your application and further processing is required at this time. We will contact you within a week via email regarding our decision.”

    Which I’m sure means I’ve been denied but figured I would ask… I’m trying to apply for my first credit card and am having loads of trouble.

  55. I was not approved instantly. Citi always says “we’ll e-mail you in a week” but in something like 7 applications, they have never e-mailed me. If you are approved, you just get your brand new card in the mail one day. That’s what happened this time with the Citi Forward card as well. Otherwise, they usually ask for more ID verifivation information like a phone bill.

  56. there was no confirmation e-mail or anything. when i applied, there was just a message saying that i would hear back from them within 7-10 business days by mail with the answer. one week later, i got the card in the mail.

  57. Can anyone tell me what gift cards available as far as rewards go? I really want to know if there is an Amazon.com gift card availalbe. I use those all of the time.

  58. For those wondering about rejection/those that let the bank close cards for inactivity–
    It seems that when Citi automatically closed my Professional Card due to inactivity (I’d signed up when it was featured on an old credit card round-up on this site), the closure went on my credit reports as
    “closed by credit granter.” I’ve never had any late payments and have an above-average credit score.

    Fast forward a year, and I was rejected when trying to sign up for this and the Chase Sapphire card. Upon calling Citi’s account approval dept (1-888-201-4523), I was told that it’s because “closed by credit granter” can mean anything from closed by the bank due to anything as dangerous as bankruptcy to harmless as inactivity. Citi has since recommended sending a letter to their Credit Bureau Dispute to ask them to change how the closure is reported to the agencies because it is effectively a derogatory note.

    Lesson learned: always close credit cards yourself. For those that got rejected, it may be worth looking at your free annual credit report and check the “comment” section of the closed cards.

  59. I’m not sure that this card is much better than the Chase Amazon. I checked out the thank you notes site and a lot of the rewards are not in the 2500 points = $25….its more 3500 points = $25, or 6000 points = $50.

    You definitely get more points with Citi, but the points are weaker in $. I currently get 3% back with my amazon chase visa, and every time I get 2500 points, they immediately send me a $25 amazon gift card.

    (Amazon also gives $30 off a purchase when you sign up for the card.).

    So, with Amazon Chase, I spend $833.33 on Amazon, I can get $25 gift card.

    With this Citi card, I’d have to spend $700 on Amazon to get a $25 gift card to somewhere else like Barnes&Noble (which has higher prices than Amazon) With, Citi I would spend about $133 less for each $25 card, but i can’t get an Amazon gift card. I guess I could get a Citi Debit card to buy an Amazon gift card?

    For my fast food and dining purchases, I currently use Chase Freedom card, which in combination with my Chase Free Checking account- it gives me 1 points for each $1 spent for each purchase (everyone gets this), + bonus 10% points for having the checking account, and also 10 bonus points for each transaction for having the checking account. You also can get bonus points from shopping in their online “mall”. So, a $7 McDonalds purchase gives me 18 points. And I can get a $50 check for 5000 points. Statement credit is the same ratio. With the Citi, it’s 8000 points for a $50 check.

    I have to spend $1600 (or around 228 meals @ $7) eating out with Citi to get a $50 check, With my Chase, I’d have to spend around 278 meals @ $7 each.) Citi has a much beter ratio here.

    It seems for both types of purchase, Citi is a better option. For everything else though, my Chase Freedom has the edge, because on all the purchases where Citi only gives one point, Chase Freedom gives me sthe 1.1% + 10 bonus points/transaction. Perhaps I should lose the Amazon and apply for the Citi?

    I’m not sure that I spend enough for it to make THAT much of a difference…but I guess it all does add up.

  60. Christine says:

    So, I’m looking at my statement and it doesn’t look like i’m getting 5 points per dollar spent on restaurants (i only use the card at restaurants). It says points may take 1-2 billing cycles to appear on my statement. So my question is… how do I check that i’m really getting all my points?

  61. Hey Jonathan, have you used the CITI Forward with iDine or any of the other rewardsnetwork programs?

  62. I signed up for Citi Dividend Platinum Select, received that card, then learned about Citi Forward, in that order. I figured Forward a better deal and signed up for that as well.

    For the Citi DPS, I did not receive an e-mail verification of approval as I had requested, but trying out the online name I’d chosen displayed that I had in fact been approved without hesitation.

    For the Citi Forward, I applied and received the notice that further processing would be necessary to reach a decision about approving me for the card. After that, not only did I receive an e-mail telling me that I had been approved, but I received actual mail through the postal service from Citi congratulating my approval and declaring my APR and credit line, as well as my card agreement and other info. I haven’t even received the card yet.

  63. i have a question, after you sign up, is it 6000 points for EVERY $250 you spent? or just after ever $250 you spent or more you only get 6000???

  64. Its just the first, not every $250.

  65. I make 50k a year and got instantly approved for 7k limit. I like the free cell phone insurance, that’s like $7 a month with sprint. And free rental car insurance. All looks good.

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  1. [...] gift cards at select retailers, or a 3.45% pure cashback return. Really, I’ve done it. See my Citi Forward review and rewards follow-up for more [...]

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