(UPDATE: The Citi Forward® for Students card is no longer available.)

The popular Citi Forward credit card for college students may not be as popular in the future, given that Citi decided to downgrade its lucrative rewards program. New applicants of the Citi Forward card for college students will earn 1 ThankYou point per dollar spent on all purchases, which is a rather lackluster earnings rate compared to other student credit cards on the market.

Citibank branch

Previously, the Citi Forward card offered 5 ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants, book stores, music stores, video rental stores and movie theaters. All other purchases earned 1 point per $1 spent. New Citi Forward cardmembers are going to earn much less in rewards compared to the earlier version.

Updated terms and conditions for the new Citi Forward card

“Promotional offers may allow you to earn more than one ThankYou Point for every dollar you spend on purchases at (1) bookstore, (2) record stores, (3) restaurants, including fast food restaurants, (4) motion picture theaters and (5) video entertainment retail stores.”

The language may indicate that Citi may hold promotions that allow cardmembers to earn extra points.

It is unclear whether or not the 5 ThankYou points categories have been discontinued for existing Citi Forward cardmembers.

A Citi spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment as to why the change was made and how current cardmembers are affected.

Other perks of the Citi Forward card for college students appear unchanged. New cardmembers will continue to earn 100 ThankYou points for each billing cycle in which they pay on time and stay under the credit limit. Additionally, for every three billing periods that they make a purchase, stay under the credit limit and pay on time, they get a 0.25% APR reduction per quarter, up to eight times total.

Shift in competition

With the downgrade to Citi Forward’s rewards program, the card struggles to compete with other student credit cards.

The Sallie Mae MasterCard offers 5% cash back on gas, groceries and books. Capital One’s Journey Student Rewards card offers 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 25% bonus on cash back earned per month that the bill is paid on time.

College students may begin favoring these other student credit cards instead of the Citi Forward card.


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  • WhatToDo

    Does anyone have a confirmation on existing card holders regarding the 5X points for restaurants? Even if their is grandfathering, how long? I called Citi at various departments and can’t get a straight answer.

    • Lisa

      I know this is a bit late, but I can confirm that I have been downgraded to 1x from 5x thankyou points. I have been a Forward card holder since the card was called the citi mtvU. So almost 4 years? I am very saddened by this, since this was my favorite card to use as a college student.

      • Have you been noticing any pushes from Citi to switch your card to the Citi ThankYou Preferred card? I’m guessing that is what they’re trying to do by downgrading the Citi Forward card.

  • Jessica

    I have still been getting my 5x points. I have had the card for over 3 years now, and I am no longer a college student. I was considering opting for a different card with a little bit lower interest rate (I’m at the lowest 13.99% that they offer), however, after reading this I think I will hold onto it for a little while longer. I can not find another card that even compares to the rewards that this one (used to).

    • Chris

      Are you sure? I ask citi, they do not sure whether 5 points works

    • Harish

      My Citi Forward offered me 10.3% APR. I have had this from 5 years and no longer a student though.

  • guest

    are people still getting the 5x rewards? i checked my statement and really can’t make heads or tails of it.

    • Guest2

      I’m still getting rewards, but I cant really make much sense of it ether.

      Last bill I had ~$900 in purchases, and got 900 points for that. Then I got 2500 ish “bonus category” points, leading to 3400 total. That gives something like 3.8 total reward points per dollar, so some sort of bonus is till going on.

    • Harish

      I still get 5x rewards.. I guess it depends on how long you have had this card and the relation with CITI. My Current CITI forward APR stands at 10.3%

  • Rocky

    I still get 5x rewards too… This article is vastly misleading. I almost took my Citi Forward out of my wallet too…