Citi Cash Back Credit Card Review 2019: Minor Tweak, Major Impact

by Pang Tun Yau

Cash Back Credit Cards

Editor's note (3 Jan 2019): Due to a revision to the card's minimum spend amount, our Citi Cash Back Card review has been revised.

Citi’s most rewarding credit cards are usually reserved for the higher tiers, but the Citi Cash Back Card – and its Platinum variant – are surprisingly decent choices. These cards offer respectable cashback, and are straightforward with no frills, making them interesting choices for those who want an uncomplicated credit card. The smarter choice, as we'll explain below, would be to go for the Gold variant.

With no points rewards systems or other bells and whistles, the Citi Cash Back credit card is a pure cashback play that offers a generous 10% cashback for four categories – but at low monthly caps. The categories do cover the essentials though, so you can generally hit the maximum cashback every month.

Cashback In Essential Areas

The 10% cashback is applicable for four categories: petrol, groceries, dining, and Grab rides (including topping up GrabPay wallet!) While that sounds generous, the monthly cap for each category is RM10, which means the maximum cashback you can get from these four categories each month is RM40. For use of the card in other categories, you get 0.2% cashback that’s uncapped.

Since the cap for each category is capped at RM10, you will only earn cashback for the first RM100 you spend on each category. On 8 December 2018, Citibank revised the minimum monthly spend for the Gold variant from RM1,000 to just RM500 to unlock the 10% cashback tier. It may sound like a trivial change, but in reality it is a game changer. It means cardholders will earn an effective cashback rate of 8% for just RM500 of monthly spending, which is fantastic

Only the UOB YOLO credit card has a similar effective cashback rate (with a slightly higher cap of RM50/month), but requires you to swipe a minimum of 16 times a month. Even the popular Maybank 2 Gold's 5% weekend cashback is trumped considering you'd need to spend RM1,000 to hit the RM50 cap.

For the Citi Cash Back Platinum, the 10% cashback is the same, but with a higher RM15 monthly cap for all four categories. This means you get a slightly higher maximum cashback from the four categories at RM60 a month. However, this 10% cashback will only unlock once you spend a minimum of RM1,500 on the card - arguably too high for meaningful cashback. Meanwhile, the 0.2% cashback for other expenditure remains.

Minor Caveats

To be fair, there is just one requirement in order to get the 10% cashback, which is the minimum RM500 (Gold) or RM1,500 (Platinum) spending on the card. If you don’t, all expenses on the card will only yield a tiny 0.2% cashback. Hence, this card is really only beneficial when your monthly expenses are above these two figures to unlock the cashback.

Besides that, you should also take note of the annual fees of the Citi Cash Back credit card. The Gold card has an annual fee of RM120, while the Platinum charges RM195. You could contact customer service to see if this fee can be waived, but it is highly dependent on both the customer service officer you are speaking to and, perhaps more importantly, your credit history with the bank.

Standard Requirements

The Citi Cash Back credit cards have a standard minimum income requirement, set at RM36,000 a year (or RM3,000 a month) for the Gold, and RM60,000 a year (or RM5,000 a month) for the Platinum.

Verdict: Go For Gold

With the 8 December change, the Citi Cash Back Gold has become one of the best cashback credit card in Malaysia. With RM40 in cashback for just RM500 in monthly spend, you'll be getting a lot of mileage from this card, especially considering the four cashback categories which covers most of our monthly expenses.Just be sure to hit that minimum RM500 spend (better if spread across the four categories), and once you've hit the low RM10 cashback cap for each category, use another cashback credit card and stack the benefits like a pro. 

Moreover, the low minimum RM500 spend makes this an excellent card for fresh grads and first-time credit card owners. However, unless CItibank does the same for the Platinum card, its 4% effective cashback (RM60 cashback for RM1,500 spend) is half that of the Gold variant. It's decent, but there are better options.

Finally, if you apply for the Citi Cash Back credit card via RinggitPlus, you’ll be in for a treat as well. All successful and approved applications for this card will be eligible for an exclusive sign up gift!