Update: This card was discontinued in 2014. We now recommend Discover it® for Students.
Verdict: The Citi Forward® Card for College Students offers unique perks and benefits, and rewards for paying your bill on time, as well as purchases college students make frequently. One of the more interesting things about the rewards program is the flexibility in the ways you can spend the rewards, including something called “Your Wish Fulfilled.” Earn at least 10,000 rewards points, and you can “choose your own” reward — including once in a lifetime experiences, products not typically offered through the Citi store, and more. We’d strongly recommend this card for college students building their credit who want to earn rewards points, too.
Overview: The Citi Forward Card for College Students is unique in many ways. It’s not often we can say that about a credit card, but the benefits and rewards programs really makes people take notice. This may be a college card, but it’s not a stripped-down card. It offers all the benefits of many of Citi’s top offerings and generous rewards, too.
How this card works: This is a Visa card issued by Citi, which gives cardholders all the standard benefits and conveniences of a Citi credit card, including easy online bill pay and Virtual Account Numbers for online shopping, plus optional services like the Citi IdentityMonitor program.
This card is available to college students, who may not have a strong established credit history yet. You may qualify for any one of four APRs, depending on your creditworthiness.
Rewards: The rewards program, using ThankYou points, is where this card really shines. Here are all the ways you can earn ThankYou points.
- No Cosigner required
- 5 ThankYou® Points for every $1 you spend at restaurants and on entertainment; 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
- APR reduction on purchases when using credit wisely
- 100 ThankYou Points each billing period that you pay on time and stay under your credit line.
Once you’ve accrued 1,000 points, you can start cashing them in for things college students buy, including:
- gift cards
If you’d rather have cash, you can get statement credits to your card or rebates on your student loans. You can also cash in your ThankYou points for charitable donations to some of your favorite charities.
But the best of all? If you have earned 10,000 ThankYou points or more and can’t find a reward you like, you can contact Citi to cash in your points for their program called “Your Wish Fulfilled.” Restrictions apply, but Citi will work with you to design a reward that you want. With a potential to earn 8,500 ThankYou points within the first three months of getting your Citi Forward Card for College Students, and 5X ThankYou points on common purchases, it won’t take long to earn 10,000 points to get the reward of your dreams.
Most of the benefits on this card are standard to credit cards for people with good to excellent credit.
Citi also lets you choose when you want to receive your statements — at the beginning, middle or end of the month, and has a few unusual perks that are especially desirable to college students. The Citi Forward Card for College Students offers credit tips and tools to help college students manage their credit, and a cell phone protection plan. You can skip the $3.95/month coverage on your cell phone if you have this card. Citi will pay up to $250 for a replacement phone, minus a $50 deductible, if your phone is lost, broken or damaged.
Fees: There is no annual fee for this card. Late payment fees range from $15 to $39, depending on your balance. The fee for a returned payment is $39.
There is a fee for balance transfers, too. That is either $5 or 4% of the amount of the transfer. Cash advance fees seem exceptionally high, at $10 or 5% of the amount of the advance, whichever is higher.
- Generous rewards program that rewards students for everyday purchases while promoting good credit management
- Lots of choices in how you can redeem your rewards, including statement credits or unique experiences
- Low APR for students with good credit
- No annual fee
- Free tools to help you manage your credit
- A wide variety of benefits, including cell phone insurance
- Choose your billing cycle for better money management
- Accounts with no minimum payment due cannot earn bonus points for that billing period.
- Restrictions apply to the “Your Wish Fulfilled” program, but are not specified on the website.
- High fees for cash advances