Another 5X bites the dust

Thanks to a tip from CTravlr, I learned yesterday about a new devaluation of sorts…

The Citi Forward card has long been one of the best cards available for use at restaurants, bookstores (including Amazon.com), and entertainment venues (such as movie theaters).  In all of those places, the Citi Forward card used to automatically offer 5 ThankYou points per dollar.  ThankYou points can be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise at a value of 1 cent per point or, when paired with a premium card, the points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents per point towards airfare.  So, earning 5 ThankYou points per dollar is the equivalent of at least a 5% rebate, and up to 6.25% (towards airfare).

Now, it seems, that Citi has discontinued the 5X benefit for new applicants.  The current application for the Citi Forward card has this to say about point earnings (bolding is mine):

Unless you are participating in a promotional offer, you will earn one ThankYou Point for every dollar you spend on purchases (no other transactions qualify to earn ThankYou Points). Promotional offers may allow you to earn more than one ThankYou Point for every dollar you spend on purchases at (1) bookstores, (2) record stores, (3) restaurants, including fast food restaurants, (4) motion picture theaters and (5) video entertainment retail stores (“qualifying merchants”).

It looks like most new applicants will simply earn 1 point per dollar across the board, but Citi has left the door open for promotional offers for bonus points within the original categories.  While I used to recommend the Forward card to just about anyone who could get one, I now don’t see any point in the card at all.

What about existing cardholders?

When Citi made changes recently to other cards, they sent letters to existing cardholders well in advance.  For example, see “Citibank Stork delivers news,” and “Citibank Stork delivers again.”  I have yet to receive such a letter regarding the Forward card so I’m hoping to keep the 5X categories for a while longer, but I’m sure they’ll go away eventually.  If you’re an existing cardholder, have you received any letters about changes to the Forward card?

3X and 2X are the new 5X

When Citi announced that their $125 ThankYou Premier card would earn 3X on dining and entertainment and 2X on airfare and hotels, it occurred to me that the Forward card’s days might be numbered.  It just wasn’t right for the no fee Forward card to have way better earning potential than their near top of line card.  I’m surprised, though, that Citi decided to completely gut this card’s earning potential.  Citi’s no-fee ThankYou Preferred card offers 2X for dining and entertainment.  Why didn’t they at least match that with the Forward card?  And then there’s the CitiBusiness ThankYou card with rotating 3X categories.  It’s not much, but at least its better than 1X everywhere!

No longer a recommended starter card

I used to argue that the Forward card was one of the best no-fee starter cards available.  Obviously I won’t say that again!  The Chase Freedom card now beats it by a mile.  The Freedom card offers rotating 5X categories, an annual 10% point bonus when paired with a Chase checking account, and the ability to transfer points to premium cards like the Sapphire Preferred which then lets you convert points to airline miles, hotel points, and even Amtrak.  The Discover It card is also much better than the new Forward card (but not quite as good as the Freedom card, in my opinion).  Like the Freedom card, the Discover card offers rotating 5% cash back categories.  It also offers the ShopDiscover portal which often offers better bonus cash back rates than any other portal out there.

I’ve removed the Forward card from my Best Signup Offers page, and from my Preparing for Miles page.  And, once I lose the ability to earn 5X at restaurants and bookstores, I’ll remove the card from my wallet as well.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Pingbacks

  1. […] A FRIGHTENING THOUGHT–5X OPTIONS DISAPPEARING: Imagine, if you will, a world in which it was impossible to earn 5X rewards on credit card purchases. I think it’s safe to say that the survivors would envy the dead in such a scenario. But that may be the direction we’re moving in, as the Citi Forward is no longer offering 5X ThankYou Points on restaurants and bookstores. […]

Comments

  1. No word yet on the Forward card, I do love the 5X’s. Did receive letter approx. 2 months ago on the premeier. So I’ll be watching anything I get from Citi.

  2. Greg, I got the Citi Forward card almost 2 years but haven’t used it in many months. What card should I get to replace the Forward card? I already have 2 AA cards, a HH Reserve card, and closed the Citi Premier card earlier this year. Are there any other good Citi cards?

  3. No!!! This is my favorite card, I use it all the time IMO the best no-fee card. In the last 3-4 years I have paid off about 2500-3000 of my student loans with checks from Citi ThankYou Points. This devaluation is a tragedy. I hope Citi keeps us grandfathered in. I will never use this card again if they remove the bonus.

  4. I converted my TY Pref to Forward a couple months ago and just recently received my new Forward. I contacted Citi 1-2 wks ago and they confirmed 5x in those categories. Not sure if this means anything beyond the short term, though.

  5. That sucks, I’ve had this card since before it was a Citi Forward (back when it was the Citi mtvU card for college students) and it’s still my go-to for dining. Got rid of Sapphire Preferred because of it. Can’t cancel it cause it’s my oldest card.

  6. I guess if they pull it I’ll convert it to a dividend card. Mine my oldest line having once been an AA card (to AA bronze for many years to Citi Forward)

  7. Of course this happens the same exact day that I receive the card in the mail (applied earlier this week). Hopefully I’ll have the 5X at least for a little while…

  8. That’s the same wording that they sent with the Forward cards that I converted from all my other old Citi cards and they all got 5x without specifically stating any promotional offers.

    I’m not sure what that means for the future. All my Forward statements closed yesterday with 5x still intact.

  9. This is one of my favorite cards. I use it all the time for any type of dining and purchase on Amazon.com. It has no annual fee and easy to use. Hope they will keep the original terms for old card members for a while.

  10. If Citi decides to get rid of the 5x for us grandfathered in, I must say that I also will never use the Forward card again. I’ll be looking at other ways to get my dining, entertainment, and Amazon points.
    That’s too bad for Citi losing out on some spend if they do end up canceling the rewards.

  11. I thought they got rid of 10% back in annual points for chase freedom. Or is that for people who are grandfathered in?

    • 10% if the card is linked to a Chase checking account…….actually making it better than the Sapphire for everyday spend…….

  12. Still works on AMAZON, I just noticed is on my December 2014 statement and wrote a post about it, check it out. Not sure if it is an error on their end or if I’m grandfathered in but my understanding was that the 5x points on Amazon was going away. Not sure about restaurants, I’ll try that next month.

    HS

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