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 CodeMerchant CategoryDetailsThese websites/merchants wont get reward points
4111Transportation & TollsTransportation–Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including FerriesUTS app, Indian Railways counters
4121Transportation & TollsTaxicabs and LimousinesUber, Ola, Meru etc
4131Transportation & TollsBus LinesState Bus Transport websites, BEST
4784Transportation & TollsBridge and Road Fees, TollsAll toll nakas
4900UtilitiesUtilities–Electric, Gas, Heating Oil, Sanitary, WaterAll utilities such as Adani Power, Tata Power, BSES, Mahanagar gas. Even mobile phone payments wont earn reward points
5960InsuranceDirect Marketing Insurance ServicesAll Life and Medicial insurance providers
6300InsuranceInsurance Sales, Underwriting and Premiums
8211Educational InstitutionsSchools, Elementary and SecondarySeems like anything and everything to do with education, be it school, college, exam fees, professional institute etc
8220Government InstitutionsColleges, Universities, Professional Schools and Junior Colleges
8241Educational InstitutionsSchools, Correspondence
8244Educational InstitutionsSchools, Business and Secretarial
8249Educational InstitutionsSchools, Trade and Vocational
8299Educational InstitutionsSchools And Educational Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
9211Government InstitutionsCourt Costs Including Alimony and Child SupporAll sorts of payment/fines paid Central or State government via websites/offices are likely covered
9222Government InstitutionsFines
9311Government InstitutionsTax Payments
9399Government InstitutionsGovernment Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
9402Government InstitutionsPostal Services–Government Only
9405Government InstitutionsIntra-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 Nobroker.in 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.

2 Responses to Citibank – Changes in reward program

  1. AC says:

    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.

    • Harshvardhan Agrawal says:

      Hi,

      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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