Citi Cash Back Card Review: All-Rounder
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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 card 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 your 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. In 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.

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 rate 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.

In March 2021, Citi introduced a short-term perk for Citi Cash Back Card holders: 10% cashback on food delivery orders (on FoodPanda and Dlivereat only), capped at RM10 for Gold and RM15 for Platinum cards – effectively offering a new cashback category. That said, this offer is only unlocked with a minimum monthly spend of RM800 for the Gold and RM1,500 for the Platinum, and will end on 31 August 2021.

Minor Caveats

Citi Cash Back Visa

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.

That said, Citi cards usually come with a 3-year annual fee waiver for new-to-bank customers.

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.

Few competitors

The Citi Cash Back Card has a unique position within the credit cards space in Malaysia, as it is rewarding for those who do not spend much on essentials every month – which is great for young working adults. Given the Citi Cash Back Card’s 8% effective cashback rate, there are few alternatives that can match its offering.

The popular Public Bank Quantum Mastercard and Visa combo is great for online and offline spending respectively, but the Quantum Visa has a minimum spending requirement of RM30 to be eligible for the 5% cashback rate, and includes some category restrictions such as petrol transactions.

One alternative that is worth exploring is the Hong Leong Wise Gold credit card. It offers cashback on three categories: Petrol, Groceries, and Dining, and has two tiers of cashback: 1% for weekdays and 8% on weekends – subject to a minimum monthly spend of RM500. It is quite similar to the Citi Cash Back Card, and is probably better suited to those who spend a little bit more on essentials each month.

That’s because its 8% cashback cap is RM18, which will be met with RM225 spending (more than the maximum RM100 that’ll earn cashback on the Citi Cash Back Card. In total, Hong Leong Wise cardholders can earn up to RM54 with RM675 spending in the three categories. In addition, there’s also an unlimited 0.25% cashback for other retail spend. Whether this card is better than the Citi depends on your individual spending habits.

Verdict: Go For Gold

The Citi Cash Back Gold is one of the best cashback credit cards 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!

Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in 2019, and has been updated to include the latest features of the card.

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