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Citi Dividend Platinum Select: Never Has 5% Cash Back Been Such a Snooze

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The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back sounds okay on paper: 5% cash back in rotating categories that change quarterly, $200 Cash Bonus after spending $500 - in first 3 months, and a $0* annual fee. But when you consider the competition, the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back doesn’t have too much going for it.

Paying down debt

With the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back, 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 earn $200 Cash Bonus after spending $500 - in first 3 months signup bonus for your trouble. Here are the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back’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…

The Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer: Long 0% period, better bonus malls

The Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer offers 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. It  doesn’t cap rewards overall, but does limit bonus rewards to $1,500 spent a quarter. If you maxed out on bonus rewards, you’d still get more than you would with the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back – remember that the $300 annual rewards cap is equal to $1,500 in bonus spending per quarter. Moreover, the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer 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 long zero-APR period of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. It also 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® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back. The Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back rolls out its bonus categories as they come, but here’s the Chase 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.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: Better rewards, greater choice

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card offers much better ongoing rewards than does the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $200 Cash Back. 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. No caps, more choice – Citi, the gauntlet’s been thrown.