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5 Things to Know About the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus Credit Card

Aug. 27, 2018
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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Power to the people! If you’re carrying the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard®, that is. This card’s flat cash-back rate of 1.8% on all purchases puts it ahead of a slew of cards from bigger banks offering 1.5%. But the lack of a sign-up bonus or the opportunity to earn bonus rewards might cast a bit of a pall over some in the crowd.

This card is best for someone who wants straight cash back. No points, no intricate rewards program, no transferring to travel partners, etc. If that kind of stuff makes your head spin and you like the idea of simple straightforward rewards, this might be the right card for you.

Before you join the cash-back crowd, though, here are five things to know about the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard®:

1. It earns 1.8% back

At one time, this card offered 1.5% cash back, which could rise to 1.8% depending on how you deposited your rewards and how often you used the card. But in August 2018, Citizens Bank streamlined things, and the rewards went to a base rate of 1.8% on every purchase, all the time. There are no rotating categories or spending caps to keep track of. The amount of cash back you can earn is unlimited, so using the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard® is like getting a 1.8% discount every time you shop.

2. It costs nothing to carry

The annual fee is $0. With no annual cost of ownership, it’s worth trying this card if you’re looking for a simple and rewarding cash-back card. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees, making it a winner for overseas travelers.

You also get an introductory APR of 0% for 15 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 22.99% Variable. Keep in mind there is a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of transfer or $10, whichever is greater, so it pays to do the math before transferring a balance to this card.

3. There’s no sign-up bonus

If earning a sign-up bonus is important to you, look elsewhere, since this card doesn’t offer one. Cards with similar profiles that offer 1.5% cash back but have welcome offers include:

Longer-term, at a rate of 1.8% back, you’ll come out ahead of a 1.5% card with a $150 bonus after $50,000 in spending. At that amount, 1.8% cash back comes out to $900, compared with $750 in rewards plus a $150 bonus with the 1.5% card. So you can get the equivalent of that bonus — it’ll just take a while.

3. Late or missed payments won’t change your APR

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard® offers a little relief for those who might not get their payment in on time. You’ll get hit with a late fee, but you won’t be subject to a penalty APR. Of course, you should always pay your on time, but if you do make a mistake, you won’t have to suffer in the form of a higher interest rate.

5. Your cash might be tied up

Earning the rewards is easy, redeeming them less so. Earnings must be cashed out in multiples of $25. For example, if you’ve earned $80 in rewards you’ll have to wait until you’ve earned another $20 to cash out at $100, or cash out $75 and then wait to build up enough to cash out again. The point is, you can’t access all of those rewards whenever you want.

Here’s where this minimum redemption rule is perplexing. Your rewards can be deposited into your personal checking, savings or money market account, or as a statement credit on your card.  It’s one thing to have a minimum if you’re withdrawing at an ATM, but when it’s a straight bank deposit or a statement credit, it’s hard to see the point of a minimum redemption. Might not be a deal-breaker, as many cards have minimum redemptions, but the 1.5% cards listed above allow you to redeem any amount at any time.

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