Citi Forward Credit Card Review

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-03-0421

Citi Forward is both a great balance transfer credit card and a rewards card. We review this card here.

In the past, I’ve talked about how you can increase credit card savings by using debit and credit cards wisely. Well, a credit card company is taking this statement literally by offering a unique rewards card program.

Citi Forward Credit Card Review: Get Rewards For Good Behavior

The rewards card is the Citi Forward credit card, and it’s unique in this way: it encourages good behavior when it comes to managing your debt and spending. With it, you can accumulate reward points over time as you spend, but you’ll also receive additional rewards when you use your credit wisely. Check out the details:

Rewarding Financially Responsible Behavior

  • Receive 10,000 points after $650 is spent and after you go for paperless statements (within 3 months of card receipt). This is equivalent to a $100 gift card value.
  • You can lower the interest rate (APR) on your balance. Reduce your purchase APR by .25% (up to 8 adjustments) if you make purchases, avoid going over your credit line and make payments on time for 3 billing periods. The maximum APR reduction for new purchases is 2%.
  • Get 5 points for every $1 you spend on books, music, movies and at restaurants, and 1 point for all other purchases.
  • Get additional points per dollar you spend.
  • 0% APR for 7 months on purchases and 0% APR if you qualify, on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • No annual fee!
Here’s where to check out the Citi Forward Credit Card.
Citi Forward Credit Card

Your points are redeemable through the Thank You Network. You can even redeem your points for cash, much like what you’d receive from some of the best cash back cards available. There are also these other features I really like:

  • As a card holder, you’ll be able to track your credit card spending and see how it compares to others, through a spend tracker tool (microsite). It reminds me of something that Mint or Wesabe already does.
  • You’ll get custom bill dates and categorized monthly statements.
  • You’ll receive email or text alerts that warn you if you’re approaching your credit line or a payment due date.
  • You can check out, which is a free resource that offers information, educational materials and tools on the subject of credit management.
If you’re interested, you can sign up through these links:

Rewarding Socially Responsible Behavior

In addition, Citi is also offering another version of this rewards card called Citi Forward by MySpace, which provides the same benefits as the regular Citi Forward card, except that you’ll also get the chance to earn additional ThankYou points for participating in socially responsible and relevant activities such as volunteering, using energy efficient light bulbs, donating to food drives and going paperless. You can redeem points for stuff offered at MySpace, such as the ability to attend movie screenings, private concerts, special events and charity galas, and the ability to receive VIP concert tickets and music downloads.

All in all, with this card emphasizing rewards over penalties, I like how it’s positioned. With a card like this, I believe that more people can be steered away from committing credit card mistakes. I’d love to see if other credit card companies follow Citi’s lead.

For other top credit card selections, check out our lists:

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric March 5, 2009 at 2:15 am

I’m one of those interested ones you mentioned. Overall, I think it’s a good effort but falls short of my expectations. I think the thing that nags me is that Citi recently made (unfavorable) changes to their Thank You points system that make it less attractive.

I have a Citi Card that works with TY so I’m all too well-informed on this topic. The fixed points travel redemption (which was one of the best things about the program) has just been terminated March 1 and gift cards to popular places like Amazon have long been taken away. In addition, the required point levels have been generally raised across the board. I recently used up 90% of my points before the changes were made (I consider myself lucky) and am not too keen on accumulating any more points in a system that’s devaluing severely.

I don’t necessarily blame Citi since hard times call for cutbacks, but I hope they can see how Citi Forward doesn’t necessarily come off too attractive for customers like me. But with all of that said, I still think there are items of value still in the TY points system; it’s just a bit harder to find these days. The good news is that a credit card company is willing to reward financially responsible behavior and that’s commendable regardless. It’s much better than others who have gone on a rampage of reducing limits and closing accounts.

(Apologize for the long comment!)

Silicon Valley Blogger March 5, 2009 at 3:28 am


Your comments are very helpful. While many people are wary of what credit companies are doing, it’s feedback they want from consumers so that they can tweak their products and improve their offerings (I used to work for a bank so I can see where they’re coming from). So the opinions you provide are pretty useful. I also appreciate the balanced view you’ve taken on this, and for bringing up the issues with the ThankYou network. That’s good for someone like me to know since I typically just go for straight up cash back credit cards and don’t bother with points.

OTOH, the good news is that you can rack up the points pretty easily (at least, to start). Their info page states that you can “get 6,000 bonus points after $50 in purchases made within 3 months and 5,000 bonus points when you sign up for paperless statements within 3 months of opening an account.”

Sounds good, but is it good enough? I’d like to know.

steve March 5, 2009 at 7:42 am

I would surely opt in for a card like that .
Sounds good that I ll earn some thing for good works I do !

Sam March 5, 2009 at 7:43 am

I have already applies for this card. They said its being processed at the moment .
I ll let you know my experience , Once I start using my credit card .

Silicon Valley Blogger March 5, 2009 at 8:13 am

I think this particular product is a step in the right direction for these companies.

Citi brought up this study they took of consumers:

“We recently conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers where 82% of the respondents said they can do a better job of managing their finances. More importantly, 76% of them said they would rather learn by being rewarded for the right things they do, rather than learning from their mistakes.”

And this is the premise under which they developed this rewards program and launched this card.

lulugal11 March 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

I don’t think I will be applying for this card since I already have a rewards card with Citi. As for credit card detractors, I think you have it wrong. The credit card itself is not the enemy. The rules are there and if you don’t manage your card well then you will have fees. If you treat your credit card like a debit card…that is make sure you have the money to pay for your purchases BEFORE you swipe then you will be fine.

I have rewards cards that I put ALL purchases on and send in the payment every week. I never pay any interest to those companies but always get cash back. I budget my money so if I am spending $150 in groceries then all goes on the credit card and I use my ING account to pay the credit card $150.
I don’t get charged interest because the card is fully paid off, I am within my budget and then I get cash back for using the card.

People run into problems when they do not follow the rules. Yes some of the credit card companies have outrageous interest rates and fees but if you pay BEFORE the 20 days are up it does not matter what the interest rate is because you will not be carrying a balance to pay interest on.

EW March 5, 2009 at 11:41 am

Great credit card! I think i’ll check it out!

WendyBird74 March 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

What company that claims to be encouraging responsible financial behavior would reward purchases at restaurants??? Who thinks it is financially responsible to purchase food on credit and then pay interest on that food you have already eaten??

The intelligent discussion you are asking for should bring out the fact that this card is encouraging spending…responsible or not. If Citi really were truly encouraging financial responsibility, it would provide incentive for paying off any charges on a monthly basis, it would discourage purchases that provide no future value to the user, it would provide budget education to it’s users, and it would provide understandable explanations as to how to best use the line of credit to build a healthy credit score.

Expecting a credit card company to help consumers spend responsibly is a paradox. Credit card companies, including Citi, make their money when consumers hold balances for long periods of time thus accruing interest owed. Simply put…the more a consumer owes, over the long run, the more the credit company makes in interest.

Sorry…try to change the image being portrayed all it likes…the leopard cannot change it’s spots.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Great arguments WendyBird. Personally, I don’t dwell on the credit card company’s agenda (although yes, it is in their interest to encourage spending). But I also believe that it’s everyone’s personal responsibility to manage their finances and handle their debts and use the tools at hand to improve their financial situation. And you’re absolutely right — if you don’t trust yourself with a credit card, then stay far, far away from them.

In my case, I view credit cards as a tool that I can use to better my finances (via rewards I earn, to use them as a buffer between me and the merchants I deal with, and to build credit). I’m able to do this by paying off my credit card balance in full every month, and have never had a problem with card companies in this regard. In fact, they’ve been helpful to me in the sense that because I don’t carry a debt at all and pay on time, when I dispute a charge or have the occasional late payment, the companies I deal with are able to resolve these issues to my benefit.

Also, the charges I put on my card are things I already spend for anyway, so there’s nothing I’m doing different here. In my case, I am using a card in lieu of cash, with the firm knowledge that this card balance needs to be strictly paid off by the end of each month. By doing so, it’s possible to have a positive relationship with a company (and a positive experience with a card), though it may be hard to believe for many who have been stung by credit card debt.

Love them or hate them, we all come from different experiences here, so we’re all bound to view credit cards differently.

FWIW, my understanding is that Citi Forward comes with a “microsite” aka a Spending Tracker tool that allows you to monitor your expenses better. They’ve also set up to try to get the word out and educate people on healthy credit use and management.

Manshu March 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm

To me you could think in the following ways:

I do all the right things like paying on time, keeping a low balance etc. and so this is a good deal for me and I will go ahead and apply for this card and benefit from it. (of course Eric makes some excellent points that you need to consider here)

If I don’t have these good habits and still use credit cards, I might still go ahead and apply this card – thinking that the other guys are screwing me in any case, might as well give this a shot.

If I don’t USE a credit card at all and can’t deal with credit, then I’d be better off staying as far away from a credit card (of any stripe) as possible.

WendyBird74 March 6, 2009 at 7:29 am

I totally agree that Credit Cards are a often a necessary evil. It is the easiest way for a person to build good credit if they know how to use it wisely.
And I grant you that the Spending Tracker is an excellent tool for someone who knows how to use the information it can provide.
I’m not against Credit Cards, just the way that the majority of card holders use them without fully understanding the impact they have on thier personal finances.

Ben March 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm

I think it is a great idea. I still think I will research other credit cards before making a decision. All these banks put together these fantastic looking ideas that really amount to nothing in the long run.

All banks have a website that you can track your spending so why is this a big deal.

They are just ways to bring people through the door or to their site and get their card. Basically every bank has there own little “Perks”. My advise pick a bank that is close to home and go with their card. Go to the different banks and see what service is like. Go on a friday after work time and see how they handle the masses.

jim March 6, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Interesting card, it’s a new marketing angle at least, Citi has always been pretty good about this sort of thing (Citi MTVU card rewards good student and credit behavior too) but I wonder how popular it will be. The card name is a little silly though.

Kristy @ Master Your Card March 10, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Since I tend to pay my balances in full at the end of the month, I think this sounds like a great card. I do think it is still encouraging you to spend and I don’t see this making anyone more “responsible” per se, but I see the benefit of their efforts. At the very least, perhaps it will motivate people to pay their bills on time.

But, I do like the rewards system. It’s not bad considering others are slashing their reward systems to virtually nothing. I may have to look into this card a little see if it’s worth it. I don’t know anything about the ThankYou network, so I’ll have to see about that. Either way, I think Citi is at least taking a step in the right direction and I hope others follow suit.

Jennifer March 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Is there an expiration date on the rewards?

Jerry Sullivan April 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm

The Citi Forward credit card in my opinion is leading the way to a whole new generation of credit cards. The Citi Forward card is rewarding the responsible consumers with a lower interest rate, and bonus points for making on time credit card payments. I think this is the way other credit card companies should go.

Annie July 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Sounds like a good credit card. But I’m gonna agree with Ben. These banks are putting together some of these fantastic looking ideas but don’t end up with much in the long run.

Jamie September 28, 2009 at 8:40 am

SV Blogger, do you work for Citi?

Silicon Valley Blogger September 28, 2009 at 9:21 am

Jamie: No I do not.

Lawrence October 11, 2009 at 7:50 am

So many companies have become extremely creative as of late in order to stay competitive while offering the consumer something they can use.

UPP December 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I don’t get charged interest because the card is fully paid off, I am within my budget and then I get cash back for using the card.

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