Citi Dividend Platinum Select: Never Has 5% Cash Back Been Such a Snooze
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The Citi Dividend Platinum Select sounds okay on paper: 5% cash back in rotating categories that change quarterly, 12 months of 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers, and no annual fee. But when you consider the competition, the Platinum Select doesn’t have too much going for it.
Paying down debt
If you’re already swimming in debt, the Dividend Platinum Select offers a chance to get rid of your balance interest-free. There’s no purchase or transfer APR for the first 12 months. In addition, you earn 5% cash back in bonus categories that change quarterly and 1% elsewhere – but only up to $300 in rewards earned annually. That’s $6,000 of bonus spending total, or $1,500 in bonus spending per quarter. Finally, you’ll get a Earn $100 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. signup bonus for your trouble. Here are the Citi Dividend Platinum Select’s 2013 bonus categories:
- January – March (Q1): Drugstores, fitness clubs, Zappos.com
- April – June (Q2): Home furnishing stores, home and garden, and Home Depot
- July – September (Q3): TBA
- October – December (Q4): TBA
Not the only fish in the 5% sea
There are a lot of 5% cash back cards out there, enough to make the American Idol auditions look like a ghost town. And we’d argue that, in its own way, each card is able to beat out Citi. At first glance, they’re all the same: 5% on rotating categories that change every quarter. But…
Discover It: Longer 0% period, better bonus malls
The Discover It offers a full 14 months of 0% interest on purchases and transfers, or if you prefer, 18 months on transfers and 6 on purchases. It doesn’t cap rewards overall, but does limit bonus rewards to $1,500 spent a quarter. If you maxed out on bonus rewards with the It, you’d still get more than you would with the Dividend Platinum Select – remember that the $300 annual rewards cap is equal to $1,500 in bonus spending per quarter. Moreover, the Discover It has no foreign transaction fee, no penalty APR, and no late fee on your first late payment. Finally, it offers access to ShopDiscover, which roundly beats out Citi’s Bonus Cash Center in offering extra rewards with certain merchants.
Chase Freedom: Longer 0% period, better rewards
The Chase Freedom also offers a longer zero-APR period, this time 15 months of no interest on both purchases and transfers. Unlike the Discover It, the Freedom has a generous sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. It too has a cap of $1,500 per quarter in bonus spending. Again, that’ll net you more rewards than will the Citi Dividend Platinum Select. The Select rolls out its bonus categories as they come, but here’s the Freedom’s schedule for 2013:
- Q1 (January – March): Gas, drugstores and Starbucks
- Q2 (April – June): Restaurants and movie theaters
- Q3 (July – September): Gas, theme parks and Kohl’s
- Q4 (October – December): Amazon.com and “select department stores”
That’s 5% back for half the year on gas, and during the holiday season, you’ll get a bonus in key shopping categories.
US Bank Cash+: Better rewards, greater choice
The US Bank Cash+ offers much better ongoing rewards than does the Citi Dividend Platinum Select. It gives an unlimited 5% back on two bonus categories that you choose from a slate that changes every quarter. You also get 2% back on gas, groceries or drugstores (your choice) and 1% elsewhere. Best of all, if you redeem $100 worth of rewards, you’ll get a $25 bonus. That effectively raises your rewards rate to 6.25% on bonus categories, 2.5% on gas/groceries/drugstores and 1.25% elsewhere. No caps, more choice – Citi, the gauntlet’s been thrown.