citi trifecta

How To Maximize Your Rewards Using the Citi Trifecta

In today’s financial landscape, credit card rewards have become a valuable tool for savvy consumers looking to maximize their spending power. By strategically using credit cards that offer cash back, points, or travel rewards, you can significantly enhance the value you get from everyday purchases. Owning a carefully curated set of credit cards, known as a trifecta, can further amplify these benefits.

A trifecta combines the strengths of three complementary credit cards, each excelling in different spending categories, to optimize your rewards. This approach increases your total rewards and provides flexibility in how you redeem them, whether for cash back, travel, or other valuable perks. Understanding how to use a credit card trifecta effectively can transform your spending habits into a powerful tool for financial gain.

The Citi trifecta is one of the best credit card triplicates to own. We’ll explain how much you can save and why these three cards cover your purchases in all rewards categories.

The Citi Credit Card Trifecta

Card #1 – Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash

Our Rating: 4.9

★★★★

Citi® Double Cash Card

Welcome Offer

Earn $200 cash back

Est. Value

$200

Annual Fee

$0

APR

19.24% – 29.24% Variable

Credit Req’d

Good to Excellent 670 – 850

Rewards: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

The Citi® Double Cash Card is the card for you if you want a simple cash back structure you don’t have to think about. You get unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. There’s also 0% APR on balance transfers, so any debt you have from higher-interest cards is that much easier to pay off.

2% cash back
All eligible purchases
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No annual fee
  • Up to 2% cash back

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Requires good credit
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved04/21/2024
635
TransUnion
$3,500
Approved04/21/2024
670
Equifax
$3,500
Approved03/12/2024
726
Equifax
$3,800
Approved03/12/2024
731
Equifax
$3,800
Approved03/12/2024
745
Equifax
$3,800
Approved03/12/2024
765
Equifax
$3,800
Approved03/12/2024
800
Experian
$3,800
Approved03/12/2024
806
TransUnion
$3,800
Approved02/03/2024
780
Experian
$6,900
Approved02/03/2024
794
TransUnion
$6,900
Approved02/03/2024
813
Equifax
$6,900
Approved01/19/2024
840
Not Provided
$11,500
Approved12/12/2023
800
Not Provided
$7,000
Approved01/11/2024
730
Not Provided
---
Approved05/22/2024
805
Experian
$6,800
Approved11/13/2023
760
Not Provided
$3,000
Approved11/28/2023
740
TransUnion
$9,000
Approved11/28/2023
801
Experian
$9,000
Approved11/28/2023
810
Equifax
$9,000
Denied01/03/2024
800
Not Provided
---
Denied05/10/2024
793
Not Provided
---

Card #2 – Citi Strata Premier® Card

Citi Strata Premier

Our Rating: 4.7

★★★★

Citi Strata Premier® Card

Welcome Offer

None

Est. Value

None

Annual Fee

$95

APR

21.24%- 29.24% Variable

Credit Req’d

Good 670 – 739, Excellent 740 – 850

Rewards: 10x points per dollar spent on specific travel purchases through CitiTravel.com; 3x points per dollar spent on airfare, gas, hotels, and restaurants; and 1x points per dollar spent on everything else.

The Citi Strata Premier® Card is the premier travel card of the Citi brand, offering a large up-front welcome offer along with a high-value rewards program for a small annual fee.

1x points
On all other eligible purchases
Earn 1X points on all other purchases
3x points
U.S. supermarkets
Earn 3X points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets
3x points
Airfare
Earn 3X points per dollar spent on air travel
3x points
Hotels
Earn 3X points per dollar spent on other hotel purchases
3x points
Dining
Earn 3X points per dollar spent at restaurants
3x points
Gas
Earn 3X points per dollar spent at gas stations and at EV charging stations
10x points
Select Categories
Earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked through CitiTravel.com

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • Requires good credit
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved12/29/2023
814
Equifax
$12,000
Approved12/29/2023
829
Experian
$12,000
Approved12/29/2023
830
TransUnion
$12,000
Approved04/07/2023
804
TransUnion
$3,000
Approved04/07/2023
808
Experian
$3,000
Approved04/07/2023
816
Equifax
$3,000
Approved12/07/2023
791
TransUnion
$11,000
Approved12/07/2023
808
Equifax
$11,000
Approved12/07/2023
808
Experian
$11,000
Approved01/10/2023
803
Experian
$11,000
Approved11/04/2023
722
TransUnion
$7,000

Card #3 – Citi Custom Cash® Card

Citi Custom Cash

Our Rating: 4.7

★★★★

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Welcome Offer

Earn $200 in cash back

Est. Value

$200

Annual Fee

$0

APR

19.24% – 29.24% Variable

Credit Req’d

Good 670 – 739, Excellent 740 – 850

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle up to the first $500 spent, then 1%. Unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases.

The Citi Custom Cash® Card automatically figures out what category you spend the most money in every month and then gives you 5% cash back for that category. You don’t have to do anything–no enrollment, no signing up for a rotating category, nothing. You earn 5% cash back on up to $500 spent per billing cycle. There’s no annual fee, and you get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.

1% cash back
On all other eligible purchases
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
5% cash back
Select Categories
Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No annual fee
  • Up to 5% cash back

Cons

  • High APR
  • Foreign transaction fee
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved02/06/2023
748
Experian
$3,800
Approved02/06/2023
759
TransUnion
$3,800
Approved02/06/2023
761
Equifax
$3,800
Approved10/04/2023
784
Experian
$5,300
Approved10/04/2023
801
TransUnion
$5,300
Approved10/04/2023
811
Equifax
$5,300
Approved09/13/2023
800
Not Provided
$11,600
Approved10/24/2023
720
Equifax
$8,000
Approved07/17/2023
790
Equifax
$3,000
Approved01/17/2023
800
TransUnion
$5,300
Denied05/12/2023
800
Not Provided
---
Denied05/19/2024
762
Not Provided
---

How Much Can The Citi Trifecta Earn You in Rewards?

Using your three Citi credit cards for the right purchases is critical to maximizing your rewards potential. Below is a sample budget and a table that outlines the cash back earned using each Citi credit card for the correct reward category.

All three cards in the Citi Trifecta earn ThankYou® points on purchases. These points can be redeemed for cash (through a statement credit) at 1 penny per point.

CategoryMonthly SpendingAnnual Cash Back w/ Double CashAnnual Cash Back w/ StrataAnnual Cash Back w/ Custom Cash
Groceries (5%)$500$300
Gas (3%)$200$72
Travel (3%)$500$180
Dining Out (3%)$250$90
Shopping (2%)$100$24
Other (2%)$1,100$264
ANNUAL CASH BACK (Minus Annual Fee)$288$284$300
  • Citi Trifecta Annual Cash Back – $872
  • Effective Cash Back Rate – 2.74%

What stands out about using the Citi trifecta is that, in a standard budget, each card earns a very similar annual amount of cash back. The Strata and Custom Cash will dominate your everyday spending, and the Double Cash will be your “everything else” card of choice.

The Citi Strata Premier® Card is the only card in the trifecta to charge an annual fee. It has the potential to earn 10x ThankYou points per $1 spent on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked through CitiTravel.com. This can boost the cash back rate to over 3% annually for an avid traveler.

Don’t Forget About the Bonuses!

In addition to an everyday rewards cash back strategy, a big benefit of owning these three Citi credit cards are the initial sign-on bonuses each card provides.

  1. Citi Double Cash – Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of your Citi Double Cash® card account opening.
  2. Citi Strata Premier
  3. Citi Custom Cash – Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Add them all up and you’ll earn $1,150 is cash back after meeting each spending requirement. The two smaller $1,500 hurdles will be met by staying inside the mock budget above but the Strata Premier will require a slightly higher amount of additional spending.

If you’re able to apply and own the Citi Trifecta, meet the spending requirements and use all cards to maximize rewards, your first year cash back earnings can easily top $2,000.

Can Other Citi Cards Can Be Used in a Citi Trifecta?

After reviewing all other Citi credit card products, I found that no other credit card can replace one of the three above to earn a higher reward rate. Citi is an issuer that offers many products tailored to introductory rates, balance transfers, and long-term 0% APR opportunities. The credit cards they provide focused on rewards are terrific but limited.

If you fill up at the pump more than once a week, you may consider adding a fourth card. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi can boost your rate to 4% cash back on gas (the first $7,000 spent annually), including additional elevated reward opportunities.

(Possible) Card #4 – Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Citi-costco-anywhere-visa-credit-card

Our Rating: 4.4

★★★★

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Welcome Offer

N/A

Est. Value

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

APR

20.49% Variable

Credit Req’d

Rewards: 4% cash back on gas purchases (up to $7,000 spent annually). 3% cash back at restaurants and on eligible travel, 2% cash back at Costco and on Costco.com, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is perfect for frequent Costco goers and includes excellent cash back rates for everyday purchases.

1% cash back
On all other eligible purchases
1% cash back on all other purchases.
2% cash back
All eligible purchases
2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com.
3% cash back
Travel
3% cash back on eligible travel purchases.
3% cash back
Dining
3% cash back on restaurants.
4% cash back
Gas
4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter.

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Up to 4% cash back
  • No annual fee with paid Costco membership
  • Doubles as Costco membership card

Cons

  • No welcome bonus
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved12/13/2023
680
TransUnion
$7,100
Approved12/13/2023
700
Equifax
$7,100
Approved12/13/2023
722
Experian
$7,100
Approved01/14/2023
670
Not Provided
$6,800
Approved04/06/2023
704
TransUnion
$4,000
Denied02/04/2024
684
TransUnion
---
Denied02/04/2024
701
Equifax
---
Denied02/04/2024
705
Experian
---

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can the Citi Strata Premier® Card maximize my rewards in the trifecta?

The Citi Strata Premier® Card is the wild card of the Citi trifecta; its value comes from everyday travel, entertainment, and dining purchases. The more you spend in these categories, the more valuable the card becomes. The reverse is also true, and with an annual fee, this card needs to generate more than it costs.

Remember that the big up-front welcome offer makes the Citi Strata Premier® Card an easy choice for your wallet from the start.

How does the Citi® Double Cash Card card fit into the trifecta?

Everyone should own a credit card that offers an everyday cash back rate of 2% or more on all purchases because you’ll find that many (and sometimes most) of your spending doesn’t fit into a high cash back category.

The 2% cash back card is your “base” card, and the Citi® Double Cash Card fits perfectly because it doesn’t include an annual fee.

What makes the Citi Custom Cash® Card card unique within the trifecta strategy?

I’ve owned this credit card for a while, and it fits perfectly in my wallet for monthly grocery purchases. With two children, I spend about $500 monthly on groceries, which means $300 in annual cash-back savings.

The beauty of the Citi Custom Cash® Card is that it automatically applies your largest monthly spend category to the 5x ThankYou point return, so you can casually change your spending to maximize cash back without extra work.

Final Thought on Using the Citi Trifecta

The Citi credit card trifecta strategy presents a powerful method for maximizing your rewards across various spending categories. You can earn significant cash back and points on everyday purchases, travel, dining, and entertainment by effectively utilizing the Citi Double Cash, Citi Custom Cash, and Citi Strata Premier cards.

This strategic approach enhances earning potential and provides flexible redemption options, including travel transfers and cash back. By aligning your spending with each card’s strengths, you can unlock many rewards, turning your everyday expenses into valuable benefits and experiences.