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Bank, Citibank, Misc

Citibank – Changes in reward program

Citibank has announced changes to its reward program and excluded many major categories from it, effective from 12th October 2019. Personally, Citibank is my primary card (till now that is) because of its simplicity. One gets reward points for all the transactions (no exceptions) and no expiry of reward points. However, this has now changed.

Citibank changes to Reward Program

Below are the details on changes made to the Citibank credit card reward program:

What are the changes in Citibank reward program?

If one reads the official update about changes to Citibank reward program (link here), it’s not very clear as to which merchants are excluded from reward points and which are not. Thus I dug up on what these MCC codes meant and found the details here.

Thus, combining information from these sources, I made a ready reckoner for reference, below.

Merchant Category Code Merchant Category Details These websites/merchants wont get reward points
4111 Transportation & Tolls Transportation–Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries UTS app, Indian Railways counters
4121 Transportation & Tolls Taxicabs and Limousines Uber, Ola, Meru etc
4131 Transportation & Tolls Bus Lines State Bus Transport websites, BEST
4784 Transportation & Tolls Bridge and Road Fees, Tolls All toll nakas
4900 Utilities Utilities–Electric, Gas, Heating Oil, Sanitary, Water All utilities such as Adani Power, Tata Power, BSES, Mahanagar gas. Even mobile phone payments wont earn reward points
5960 Insurance Direct Marketing Insurance Services All Life and Medicial insurance providers
6300 Insurance Insurance Sales, Underwriting and Premiums
8211 Educational Institutions Schools, Elementary and Secondary Seems like anything and everything to do with education, be it school, college, exam fees, professional institute etc
8220 Government Institutions Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools and Junior Colleges
8241 Educational Institutions Schools, Correspondence
8244 Educational Institutions Schools, Business and Secretarial
8249 Educational Institutions Schools, Trade and Vocational
8299 Educational Institutions Schools And Educational Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
9211 Government Institutions Court Costs Including Alimony and Child Suppor All sorts of payment/fines paid Central or State government via websites/offices are likely covered
9222 Government Institutions Fines
9311 Government Institutions Tax Payments
9399 Government Institutions Government Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
9402 Government Institutions Postal Services–Government Only
9405 Government Institutions Intra-Government Purchases–Government Only

I made some inquiry with Citibank customer care and came to know about the following things:

  • Purchase made on IRCTC website continues to earn reward points, which is a positive thing
  • Purchase made on MMT, Yatra and such websites continues to earn reward points.
  • Big negative! Mobile phone payments (both prepaid and postpaid) wont earn any reward points.
  • Update [Dec-19]: Rent payments done on or other similar websites wont earn reward points. Another bummer from Citibank 🙁

Which cards are affected?

The reward program change impacts nearly all the Citibank credit cards namely Citi Rewards Card, IndianOil Citi Titanium & Platinum Card, Citi PremierMiles Card, Citi Corporate Card, First Citizen Citi Titanium Golden Glow Credit Card, Citi Prestige Credit Card & CitiBusiness Card.

The only ones excluded are Citibank Paytm credit card, Citibank Cashback credit card. Both Paytm credit card and Cashback card are either which way, are a cashback cards and not a reward card, so doesn’t matter much.

How the reward program changes affects us?

Well, frankly the categories mentioned above are the ones where one ends up spending a substantial amount. Thus changes in the reward program reduces the annual earn rates on Citibank credit cards substantially. As mentioned earlier, my primary card is Citibank Premiermiles, as it gives reward points on every swipe (no exceptions), which makes life very easy. However, now I have to keep the above categories in mind while using Citibank cards.

However, one should also bear in mind that Citibank is not the first one to do so.  Amex and some other banks also do not provide reward points on utilities, government payment, insurance etc.

Any Workarounds?

Yes! Luckily, Citibank has not taken away reward points on wallet load (A big thumbs up to Citibank for this). So one now needs to load money in wallets such as Paytm, Freecharge, Payzapp etc and use them for making purchases.

Any substitute cards?

Well, the good thing is wallet load continues to earn reward points for now. I anyways route my payments of utilities and insurance through them, so no immediate impact. But seriously thinking on changing my primary credit card away from Citibank; as frankly after this move, next logical step would be stop reward points on wallet load. Will get back to you on that soon. In the mean time do read on Deal Stacking using wallets to improve earn rates

Eager to know your views on Citibank’s move and are you also planning to move away from Citibank cards due to this change? Do let me know.


  1. AC

    Even mobile phone payments wont earn reward points – I don’t think that is true. I did receive reward points for my prepaid phone recharges done on Airtel and Vodafone’s own website. However BSNL’s landline did not accrue any points.

    • Comment by post author

      Harshvardhan Agrawal


      Mobile payments wont earn reward points, was mentioned by the customer care personnel when I checked with them. Will need to recheck, if they have revised some conditions.

      Also, just guessing that you made prepaid recharge before 11th October and thus you were able to accrue the points.

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