Background of AT&T and Citi - The relationship between AT&T and Citi dates back to 1997, when Citi agreed to be the issuer of AT&T's credit card.1. This relationship was last renewed again in 20071. AT&T always had two types of cards issued at the same time. They normally have a cash back card as well as a rewards card. The AT&T Universal Platinum Savings Card was introduced in 20072 and it replaced the old AT&T Universal cash rewards cards, which was discontined some time in July of 2006.
How did the old AT&T Universal Cash Rewards Card Look Like? - The old AT&T Universal Cash Rebate Card allowed you to earn 5% cash rebates on purchases at standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores and AT&T products. You earn 1% rebate on "other purchases". Cardholders can earn up to $300 in annual rebates. Rebates are given once you have earned $50.00.
For those of you who are familiar with the credit card scene in the mid 2000s, you will recognize that the reward formula is eerily similar to the then Citi Dividend Card. In fact, this card (together with the Citi Dividend) was on our Editor's Choice List back then. Why would Citi issued a card that is almost similar to their flagship cash back card is a question I cannot answer.
New AT&T Universal Platinum Savings - While the old AT&T cash rewards card resembled the old Citi Dividned card, the new Platinum Savings version does not resemble the present Dividend card at all. While the new Dividend card is a cash back card that comes with a 5% quarterly rotating category and an online shopping portal in Citi Bonus Cash Center, the new AT&T has a tiered rebates system that caps out at 1.5%.
Here is how it works. For annual purchase below $250, you earn 0.5% cash back. For annual spending between $250 and $750, you earn 1% cash back. Once your annual spend exceeds $750, you will earn 1.5% cash back. If you are a high spender, th percentage of rebates you will earn a year will be more than 1%, but perhaps slightly less than 1.5%.
But the thing that puzzles me is that you do not earn any extra rebates for purchasing any AT&T products!
Why Have a Tiered Rebate System? - Back in the 2005 and 2006 era, there were many cash back cards with tiered rebate formula. I remember Chase having a couple of them, Wells Fargo, and even the Amex Blue Cash and today's Discover More is a tiered system. But most issuers have got rid of the tiered system(even the Blue Cash has got rid of them). While the Discover More still has a tiered system, it compensates by having a 5% rotating category feature and a great online shopping mall in shopdiscover.
Another issue I have with this card is that it does not allow you to earn extra rebates when you make any AT&T purchases. The old version allowed you to earn 5% rebates when you bought AT&T products (even when you paid your AT&T bills). You get none of this benefit with this card!
Here's what I think about this card - At the end of the day, this simply looks like a basic cash back credit card but with a tiered formula. To compensate for the tier formula, AT&T upped the maximum rebates you can earn to 1.5% from a relatively low tier.
If you use AT&T and are looking to earn extra cash back from any purchase you make or from your monthly bill payments, then you are out of luck. While this is an "AT&T credit card", you don't actually earn extra cash back from buying stuff or paying your AT&T bills. If this is what you are looking for, then the AT&T Savings and Rewards card is better because you can save up to 5% on your AT&T purchases (capped at $350 a year).
If all you are looking for is a cash back card, then Capital One's Cash Back Card is better because you get 1.5% cash back with no tiers. Alternatively, Citi's own Dividend Card is much better for earning cash back.
1. AT&T and Citi Extend Agreement For Consumer Credit Cards
2. Citi & AT&T Introduces Two New Innovative No Annual Fee Credit Cards