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The number of frequent flyer points earned per dollar spent on Citibank credit cards is about to change as the world’s largest credit card issuer readies itself for the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cuts to credit card ‘interchange fees’ in July.
Also being overhauled are Bank of Queensland, Card Services and Virgin Money credit cards, plus Diners Club charge cards – all of which are issued by Citibank – with changes across all cards taking effect from June 15 2017, just ahead of the RBA deadline.
They're a real mixed bag with both upsides and downsides for spenders: so whichever card you have, here’s what you need to know.
No points awarded on government-related spend
Using your Bank of Queensland, Card Services, Citibank, Diners Club or Virgin Money card to pay a government body or a government-related entity won’t attract points come June 15, and while most Citibank cards already award no points on payments to the Tax Office, this is broadened to include charges at Australia Post and payments for council rates and vehicle registration.
Council-operated parking metres and stations, road tolling accounts, public transport fares, fines and court-related costs will also earn no points, although you’ll still earn points on the GST component of ‘everyday’ transactions where the business you’re paying isn’t a government entity.
For instance, spend $200 at a restaurant including $18.18 in GST and you’d earn points on the full $200 spend, or top-up your public transport card at retailers like 7-Eleven to earn full points also. It’s only payments direct to the government and to government-related entities that attract no points.
New frequent flyer conversion rates from Citi, Diners Club
Converting your hard-earned credit card points into airline frequent flyer points and hotel loyalty points will follow new transfer rates from June 15 as below, so savvy spenders would be wise to convert any existing points prior to this date at the current, more favourable rates.
Citi Rewards Platinum: 3 Citibank Rewards will equal one Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer mile for Platinum cardholders, compared to the 2.5:1 conversion rate currently in place.
Citi Signature: Converting points to KrisFlyer sees the current 2:1 exchange rate increased to 2.5:1 (rather than 3:1 as with Citi Platinum), as Citibank offers more favourable conversion rates to its higher-tier credit card customers.
CitiBusiness Rewards: Converting Citibank points into KrisFlyer miles also moves from a 2:1 to a 2.5:1 ratio, while manual points transfers to Qantas Frequent Flyer switch from a 2:1 to a 3:1 conversion rate.
Citi Prestige: Transfers to KrisFlyer also switch from a 2:1 to a 2.5:1 conversion rate, as do transfers to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Conversions to Air France Flying Blue, Etihad Guest, GarudaMiles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Thai Airways Royal Orchid instead move from a 2:1 to a 3:1 conversion rate.
Similarly, transfers from Citibank Rewards to the Club Carlson and Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programs change from a 1:1 to a 2:1 rate for Citi Prestige cardholders, while shipping your Citibank Rewards points over to IHG Rewards Club points is amended from a 1.5:1 to a 2.5:1 rate.
Diners Club Rewards: You’ll need 2.5 Diners Club Rewards points per 1 American Airlines AAdvantage mile or Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoint, compared to the 2:1 conversion used at present.
There’s no change to the conversion rates from Citibank Rewards or Diners Club Rewards beyond those listed above, such as from both programs to Virgin Australia Velocity, or from Diners Club Rewards to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
Changes to points earned per dollar spent
The number of Citibank Rewards and Diners Club Rewards points earned per dollar spent is changing across most cards, as is the number of Qantas Frequent Flyer points awarded on direct-earning cards from Citi and Diners, and the number of Velocity points delivered by Virgin Money.
Here’s how many points you’ll earn per dollar spent from June 15, and how that compares to the current earn rate on a card-by-card basis:
Citi Signature with Citibank Rewards: Points will no longer be capped at $20,000/month on spends within Australia – now, points are uncapped and the earn rate on spends at restaurants, hotels and airlines will pleasingly increase from 1.5 Citi points per dollar to 2 Citi points per dollar.
The same is true on international transactions which also climb from 1.5/$1 to 2/$1, while transactions at petrol stations, supermarkets and national retailers continue to earn 1.5 Citibank Rewards points per dollar spent. Elsewhere, however, the earn rate lowers from 1.5/$1 to 1/$1.
Citi Qantas Signature: Citibank is ditching its tiered earn rates based on spending volume in favour of new earning categories, with one Qantas Point awarded per $1 at hotels, restaurants, airlines and on all overseas spend (uncapped), and 0.75 Qantas Points given per $1 at petrol stations, supermarkets and national retailers, also uncapped.
Using your card anywhere else within Australia will instead reel in 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar up to $20,000 per month, and no points thereafter. This threshold only applies to transactions not covered by the categories above, so if you use your card at a hotel, for instance, you’ll always earn points.
CitiBusiness Rewards: The card’s annual cap of 250,000 points is replaced by a monthly cap, with no points awarded on spends exceeding $10,000 per statement period. Spends of $1-$10,000 per month will attract 0.75 Citibank points per dollar spent, down from 1.25/$1 at present.
Citi Prestige with Citibank Rewards: There’s still no limit to the number of points you can earn via this card. Charges at restaurants, hotels and airlines are climbing from 2 to 3 Citibank Rewards points per $1, while international charges lower from 5 to 3 Citibank Rewards points per Aussie dollar.
Cardholders will continue to earn 2 Citibank Rewards points per dollar at supermarkets, petrol stations and major national retailers, although all other spend in Australia drops from 2 to 1 Citibank Rewards point per dollar.
Citi Prestige with Qantas Points: International travellers will pocket a solid 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent abroad – a 50% boost to the current 1/$1 earning rate – and will continue earning 1 Qantas Point per dollar at major retailers, supermarkets and petrol outlets.
Using your card anywhere else within Australia will attract a lower 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent (down from 1/$1), although no points capping or tiering applies, either at home or abroad.
Diners Club personal charge card with World MasterCard: Everyday spend lowers from 3 to 2 Diners Club Rewards points per dollar when whipping out your Diners Club card and from 1.25 to 0.75 Diners Club Rewards points per dollar when using the companion MasterCard.
Qantas Frequent Flyer Diners Club with World MasterCard: The current spending threshold of $60,000/year will be removed in favour of an uncapped earn rate of 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 via the Diners Club card and 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 when using the MasterCard.
Virgin Money Velocity Flyer Card: There's no change to the number of points earned per dollar on everyday spend, although bonus points will no longer be earned when using the card to book flights with Virgin Australia.
Virgin Money Velocity High Flyer: Cardholders can continue earning one Velocity point per dollar spent, but on charges of up to $8,000 per month rather than $10,000 as now. Once that $8,000 threshold has been reached, the earn rate reduces to 0.5/$1 until the next statement period begins. Bonus points will no longer be earned on spend with Virgin Australia.
Bank of Queensland (all cards): Any annual points caps which currently apply to these cards will be removed in favour of uncapped points, while the number of points earned per dollar spent won't change – resulting in an increase in total points for high spenders who may have previously exceeded the caps.
Card Services (Qantas Platinum credit cards): Customers will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent up to $8,000 per statement period and no points thereafter. This replaces the current annual cap of 100,000 Qantas Points, delivered at the rate of one Qantas Point per dollar up to $1,500 per statement period and 0.5 Qantas Points thereafter.
Card Services Rewards (all cards): As with Bank of Queensland cards, existing points capping arrangements will be retired in favour of uncapped points at the same rates.
There’s no change to the per-dollar-spent earning rates on other Citibank-issued cards such as the Emirates Citi World MasterCard or on standalone Diners Club products sans the companion MasterCard, other than the blanket changes to earning points on government payments which apply across Citi’s entire portfolio.
Reduction in Diners Club annual fees
Have a Diners Club personal charge card with a World MasterCard attached?
You'll be pleased to learn that your annual fee will fall from $389 to $299 when next billed after June 15, while the supplementary cardholder fee will also decrease from $69 to $50 per person.
That one supplementary fee covers both a supplementary Diners Club and a supplementary World MasterCard for your additional cardholder: it’s not billed per card, nor is the $299 annual fee.