Summary - When you are 18 years old and are going to college, getting a student credit card to help you establish a credit history is a great move (provided you use it wisely). Getting a card that gives you cash rebates is even better. In this regard, the Citi® Dividend® Card for College Students is one of the best cards we would recommend. There is actually a Visa and a MasterCard version. In this review, we will look at the Visa version.
Screen Shots of Merchant Partners in Citi Bonus Cash Center
Citi also has a regular consumer version of this card. And it closely resembles it except in a couple of areas.
Rotating Categories - Like the regular consumer version, this card has a quarterly rotating category where you can earn 5% rebates on different types of expenses that change every quarter. You can check this page for the latest category. Unlike other cards that also have quarterly rotating categories, Citi does not advertise their expense in the categories for the whole year on their website. I certainly hope that they will do that in the future.
Rebate Formula Cash - For other regular purchases, you to earn 1% rebate. Unlike most other cash rebate credit cards, you can also earn cash rebates on any cash advance that you make (at 1%). Off course, you will be charged the cash advance apr for doing so. You can also earn 5 Dividend Dollars when you make a balance transfer of $1,500 or more to the card. You are allowed to earn up to $300 in annual cash rebates. However, any purchase that you make from merchants belonging to the Citi Dividend Merchant Network will not count towards the $300 cap.
Citi Dividend Merchant Network (or rather Citi Bonus Cash Center) - The Citi Dividend Merchant Network is now called the Citi Bonus Cash Center. It is an online shopping portal where they have over 400 merchant partners. You can earn extra rebates (on top of the 1% that you earn) when you shop online with their merchant partners from the Citi Bonus Cash Center site. You can also get coupons and catalog discounts and also discounts on gift cards from this portal. From our recent study where we compared all major credit card issuers online shopping portal, we found out that the Citi Bonus Cash Center had the most number of merchant partners. (see screenshot of merchant partners at the end of the review)
Other benefits - As with all other Citibank credit cards, you will be able to make payments and manage your accounts online, enroll in automatic payments, get 24/7 customer support and get zero liability protection for any unauthorized purchases.
Peer Comparison: With Discover More Student Card - Before we come to a verdict on this card, it is worth comparing it to it's peers. There are actually very few cards that are similar to this one, except for the Discover it® Student Card.
Like this card, the Discover More Student Card also has a quarterly rotating category where you can earn 5% rebates. Hence, it appears that Discover's rotating category pays more than Citi. Discover also an online shopping portal called shopdiscover.com, which is very similar to the Citi Bonus Cash Center. ShopDiscover has fewer merchants than Citi Bonus Cash Center. It also does not have off line or catalog partners. But for the majority of merchants on their network, you will earn more rebates than other networks (for merchants that appear in other portals).
Is the Citi® Dividend® Card For College Students A Good Card? - In our opinion, this card (along with the Discover More Student Card) is one of the best student credit card to get. Being a college student is the only time where you can get a no annual fee credit card even if you have no credit history. And since this card pays cash rebates, it is even better. It's closest competitor is from Discover and if you are really picky, then perhaps you can make a case for Discover rather than Citi.
In the area of rotating categories, Discover is clearly better. But in terms of online shopping portal, Citi has got many more merchant partners than Discover. Furthermore, each time you use Citi to shop online, you can get a "virtual credit number" for added security (Discover also used to have this feature but has discontinued it). Citi also has the advantage of being a Visa, which is slightly more widely accepted than Discover.
You will not go wrong if you decide to get this card to start building your credit history in college.