What Is the Citi Trifecta & Is It Still Worth It?

Earn maximum points on all of your purchases with Citi's trio of valuable rewards cards.

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 9/26/2022
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Last Updated: 9/26/2022

Rewards credit cards earn bonus points for card spending. Some cards offer flat-rate earning, while others earn points in specific categories like dining or travel. You could carry several credit cards to try and maximize your earning potential, but often cards earn points in different rewards ecospheres. What if you could maximize card spending in every category while pooling your points in one place, plus have the option to transfer points to travel partners?

The Citi trifecta refers to getting three Citi credit cards to maximize your rewards-earning potential. One of the most popular Citi trios is the Citi Custom Cash, Citi Premier and Citi Double Cash cards. You can earn at least 2% on all purchases and sometimes up to 5% in specific categories through strategic spending. All three cards earn Citi ThankYou Points with a total annual fee of $95.

While earning maximum rewards means more value for card spending, determining the best card to use with each purchase can become a chore. You can redeem Citi ThankYou points for travel, statement credits, cash or gift cards, or use your points to pay for purchases with Amazon and other select retailers.

You can also transfer points to several airline and hotel transfer partners. Unfortunately, the program lacks many domestic airline partners found with other rewards programs. So unless you book international travel or are comfortable using rewards programs for foreign airlines, the Citi trifecta may not be the best option.

On This Page:
Key Takeaways

creditCards

The Citi trifecta involves getting three Citi rewards credit cards.

rewards

Finding Citi cards that complement each other allows you to maximize your rewards-earning potential.

balanceTransfer

You can transfer ThankYou points to several travel transfer partners.

What Is the Citi Trifecta?

The Citi trifecta is a combination of three Citi credit cards used together to maximize rewards-earning in every spending category. Citi offers a bevy of rewards credit cards that work well together. Perhaps the most valuable version of the Citi trifecta is the trio of the Citi Custom Cash, Citi Premier and Citi Double Cash cards.

The Citi Custom Cash Card earns 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category up to $500 spent each billing cycle. The Citi Premier Card earns 3X points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, as well as on airfare and hotels.

Of course, there are other Citi cards you can use together to maximize your rewards-earning potential and take advantage of other card benefits. From cash back cards and balance transfer offers to business cards and co-branded airline cards, there are several ways to pair multiple Citi cards to meet various needs.

MoneyGeek’s Citi Trifecta Recommendations

The goal of a Citi trifecta is to maximize your rewards-earning potential by getting Citi cards that complement each other and match your spending and lifestyle. The best Citi credit cards offer benefits and rewards you're most likely to utilize. The best Citi trifecta for someone else may not be the right fit for you.

One of the most popular Citi cards among consumers is the Citi Double Cash Card. It earns cash back twice — 1% cash back on all purchases, plus an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases. If you have Citi Double Cash already, consider pairing it with the Citi Custom Cash Card and the Citi Premier Credit Card if you want to boost your potential to earn ThankYou Rewards.

Best for Citi Double Cash Card Owners Who Want to Earn More ThankYou Points

Double down to maximize your rewards with two Citi cash back cards. Use the Citi Custom Cash Card to earn cash back in your top spending category while continuing to use the Citi Double Cash Card for everyday spending. You're guaranteed to earn at least 2% cash back on your card spending. Don't forget to add in the Citi Premier Card to earn even more bonus rewards in categories like dining, groceries, fuel and travel. All three cards earn ThankYou Points, allowing you to pool your rewards for bigger redemptions.

  • Credit Card
    Annual Fee
    Rewards + When and Where to Use
  • $0

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases
    in the first six months of account opening.

    1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make. Earn
    an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those
    purchases.

    Use this card to pay for everyday purchases outside of
    spending categories and limits of other cards in the
    trifecta.

  • $95

    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on
    purchases in the first three months of account opening.

    • 3X points per dollar spent at restaurants
    • 3X points per dollar spent at supermarkets
    • 3X points per dollar spent at gas stations
    • 3X points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels
    • 1X points per dollar spent on all other purchases

    Use this card to pay for dining out, groceries, fuel
    and travel purchases.

  • $0

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases
    in the first six months of account opening.

    5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend
    category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
    (1% cash back after that).

    Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

    Use this card to pay for large upcoming purchases or up
    to $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending
    category each month.

Best for Individuals Who Want to Earn Rewards Without Annual Fees

If you like the idea of pooling ThankYou Points but want to avoid annual fees, swap out the Citi Premier Card for the Citi Rewards+ Card. You’ll still earn bonus points on purchases like dining, groceries and fuel, but without the fee. It’s also a great card to use for smaller purchases. For example, a $3 coffee would net you 10 points, thanks to the card’s round-up rules. Combined with the Citi Double Cash and Citi Custom Cash cards, you pay $0 in total annual fees but still maximize your ThankYou Points-earning potential.

  • Credit Card
    Annual Fee
    Rewards + When and Where to Use
  • $0

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases
    in the first six months of account opening.

    1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make. Earn
    an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those
    purchases.

    Use this card to pay for everyday purchases outside of
    spending categories and limits of other cards in the
    trifecta.

  • $0

    Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 within
    the first three months of account opening.

    5X points per dollar spent at restaurants up to $6,000
    for the first 12 months (1X points after that).

    2X points per dollar spent at supermarkets and gas
    stations up to $6,000 annually (1X points after that).

    1X points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

    Round up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase.

    Use this card to pay for dining, grocery and gas
    purchases up to annual limits. Also, use this card for
    small purchases to take advantage of round-up rules.

  • $0

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases
    in the first six months of account opening.

    5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend
    category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
    (1% cash back after that).

    Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

    Use this card to pay for large upcoming purchases or up
    to $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending
    category each month.

Best for Business Travelers

Business owners get rewarded, too, with a Citi trifecta strategy. Start with the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard to earn miles toward American Airlines flights. Then, use the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard Credit Card to earn more miles for spending at restaurants and gas stations. There’s some overlap in travel benefits, but each card also offers unique travel perks. Round out the trifecta with the Citi Double Cash Card to take advantage of bonus cash back on everyday spending. You only pay $198 total in annual fees (waived the first 12 months) with this Citi trifecta.

  • Credit Card
    Annual Fee
    Rewards + When and Where to Use
  • $99 (waived
    the first year)

    Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles
    after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first
    four months of account opening.

    2X miles per dollar spent at telecommunications
    merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental
    merchants and at gas stations.

    2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines
    purchases.

    1X miles per dollar spent on all other purchases.

    Use this card to pay for select business expenses and
    American Airlines purchases.

  • $99 (waived
    the first year)

    Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles
    after you spend $2,500 on purchases within the first
    three months of account opening.

    2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants and gas
    stations.

    2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines
    purchases.

    1X miles on all other purchases.

    Use this card to pay for dining and fuel purchases.

  • $0

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases
    in the first six months of account opening.

    1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make. Earn
    an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those
    purchases.

    Use this card to pay for everyday purchases.


  • Citi Premier® Card

    An excellent travel rewards card for international use


    • ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $95Annual Fee
    • 1–3 Points per $1Rewards Rate
    • 3xRewards Rate at Hotels
    • 3xRewards Rate on Groceries

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

    A great no annual fee cash back card with a unique bonus category system


    • Good-ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1% - 5% Cash BackRewards Rate
    • 15 monthsAPR Offer Duration
    • 15 monthsBalance Transfer Duration

  • Citi® Double Cash Card

    A great no-annual-fee card that offers up to 2% cash back


    • ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 2% Cash Back*Rewards Rate
    • 2xRewards Rate on Gas
    • 2xRewards Rate on Groceries

  • Citi Rewards+® Card

    An excellent no-annual-fee rewards card with a 0% intro APR offer


    • ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 1–2 Points per $1*Rewards Rate
    • 2xRewards Rate on Gas
    • 2xRewards Rate on Groceries

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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

Building a trifecta is easier if you already have one or two of the Citi cards listed. If you're starting from scratch, go slow. There's no guarantee that you'll get approved, even with good credit, if you apply for multiple cards within a short time span.

How to Use the Citi Trifecta

Using multiple Citi cards lets you take advantage of the unique rewards structures of each card. Use each card strategically to earn elevated points for every dollar you spend. Generally, you should have good or excellent credit to qualify for Citi rewards credit cards.

1

Select cards based on your spending habits

Analyze your spending habits to determine how to best use each card in your trifecta. Pay attention to where you spend the most money and any rewards-specific spending limits on each card to formulate the best strategy for your needs.

2

Wait between applications

As mentioned, applying for multiple cards in a short time span could lead to having card applications rejected. Each time you apply for a card, Citi will perform a hard credit inquiry. Multiple hard inquiries could have a negative effect on your credit score.

3

Start using your trifecta

Once you've received your trifecta of cards, start using them to maximize your rewards-earning potential. For example, if you have an upcoming home improvement project, use the Citi Custom Cash Card to earn 5% back on up to $500 each billing cycle at home improvement stores. Use the Citi Premier Card for dining out, groceries, gas and travel expenses. And use the Citi Double Cash Card for everything else.

4

Take advantage of travel partners

The ThankYou Rewards program offers many great redemption options, but you can also use your points outside the program by transferring them to one of Citi's transfer partners. Foreign airlines make up the bulk of Citi's partners, so it's not ideal for domestic travelers unless you're comfortable booking domestic flights through airline alliance partners. Citi also partners with the Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges loyalty programs for hotel accommodations.

Is the Citi Trifecta Worth It?

The Citi trifecta is still worth it if you choose cards that match your spending habits. How you use them also determines the effectiveness of a Citi trifecta. Consider each card's annual fee to ensure you can offset the cost through card rewards and benefits.

The Citi Trifecta

plusSign
Pros
  • Pool ThankYou Points from multiple cards
  • Take advantage of your highest spending categories
  • Earn bonus points in popular spending categories
  • Earn a minimum of 2% cash back on all spending
minusSign
Cons
  • Tracking your spending on multiple cards could be difficult
  • Approval not guaranteed
  • Limited travel transfer partners
  • Need to earn enough rewards to offset annual fees

When the Citi Trifecta May Not Be Worth It

The Citi trifecta is not for everyone, and it might not be worth it in some scenarios.

  • You don’t want to keep track of multiple cards.
  • You prefer domestic travel partners.
  • Your spending habits don’t line up with the available bonus rewards categories.

When the Citi Trifecta May Be Worth It

The Citi trifecta might be worth it if used in a way that maximizes your rewards-earning potential.

  • You want to pool all the points you earn together.
  • You travel internationally or are comfortable booking flights through airline alliance partners.
  • Your spending habits line up with the available bonus rewards categories.
tip icon
EXPERT TIP:

If your credit limit is lower than you'd like, you can contact the card issuers and request a limit increase. Develop a habit of on-time payments and pay down your credit balances before calling to improve your chances of approval. — Kevin Payne, contributing expert for MoneyGeek

Is Citi Quadfecta Worth It?

Having multiple Citi cards is often beneficial, as is the case with the Citi trifecta. Individuals looking for even more rewards-earning potential could add Citi Rewards+ to the other three cards recommended to create a Citi quadfecta:

While doing so gives you access to another decent welcome bonus, its ongoing rewards structure overlaps with Citi Premier. Individuals who already own the Citi Prestige card could create a Citi quinfecta, but the card is no longer available for new applicants.

How to Redeem Citi ThankYou Points

The Citi ThankYou Rewards Program offers several ways to redeem points based on your needs. Redemptions include travel, cash back, statement credits, gift cards and other selections. Generally, Citi ThankYou points are worth one cent, but the value can vary depending on the redemption.

As mentioned, you can also transfer ThankYou points to any of Citi's transfer partners. The minimum number of points you can transfer is 1,000 points, and all transfers must be made in 1,000 increments. Popular transfer partners include Avianca, Emirates, JetBlue and Wyndham.

>> More: Citi ThankYou Rewards Transfer Partners

Other Questions You May Have About Citi’s Rewards Cards

Next Steps

Analyze your needs and spending habits to determine if you could benefit from getting three or more Citi rewards credit cards. Compare welcome offers, rewards rates, bonus categories, annual fees and other card benefits to determine the best cards for you. Compare Citi cards to rewards cards from other issuers to see if there's a better match for earning rewards.

Compare & Review Credit Cards

More About Credit Card Trifectas and Reward Programs

About the Author


Kevin Payne is a personal finance writer specializing in credit cards, banking, and student loans. He is a regular contributor to Forbes Advisor, The Ascent, Investing Answers, and Student Loan Planner. Kevin is the budget and family travel expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com.


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