From the perspective of rewards, Citibank has been my go-to card for many transactions, given their transfer partners are the best in India as compared to any other bank. Also, the earning rate on the top-end cards is pretty good. While many banks had moved long ago on curtailing various categories for rewards earning, pass-through ones such as utilities and insurance, Citi continued to give points on these categories.
However, Citibank is now moving to remove the issuance of rewards from the following merchant codes from October 12, 2019, onwards. While Citibank has just provided the Merchant Codes with a generic description, I’ve pulled up the official description for you as well from the Visa & MasterCard websites:
- Transportation & Tolls
- 4111: Transportation–Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries (Providers of local and suburban mass passenger transportation over regular routes and on regular schedules, including railway commuter transportation, think Delhi Metro and IRCTC)
- 4121: Taxicabs and Limousines (Passenger automobile transportation services that do not operate on a regular schedule or an established route, think Ola, Uber and Oryx)
- 4131: Bus Lines (Passenger bus transportation services that operate on a regular schedule over predetermined routes)
- 4784: Bridge and Road Fees, Tolls (Merchants that collect fees associated with toll roads, highways, and bridges, think Mumbai’s Bandra Worli Sea Link or the Toll Road to Pune Expressway)
- 4900: Utilities–Electric, Gas, Heating Oil, Sanitary, Water
- 5960: Direct Marketing Insurance Services (Think direct insurance bought from the insurance company)
- 6300: Insurance Sales, Underwriting and Premiums (Think Insurance bought non-direct)
- 8211: Schools, Elementary and Secondary
- 8220: Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools and Junior Colleges
- 8241: Schools, Correspondence
- 8244: Schools, Business and Secretarial
- 8249: Schools, Trade and Vocational
- 8299: Schools And Educational Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
- 9211: Court Costs Including Alimony and Child Support
- 9222: Fines (Think Mumbai Transport Challans, for instance)
- 9311: Tax Payments
- 9399: Government Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
- 9402: Postal Services, Government only
- 9405: Intra-Government Purchases–Government Only
The following cards will be affected:
- Citi Rewards Card
- IndianOil Citi Titanium & Platinum Card
- Citi PremierMiles Card
- Citi Corporate Card
- First Citizen Citi Titanium Golden Glow Credit Card
- Citi Prestige Credit Card
- CitiBusiness Card
While a lot of these look like just a cleanup exercise, given the Indian tax system, for instance, does not allow for payment of taxes via a credit card in the first place, there were some instances of these slipping through the cracks.
But the real effect comes in on the Utilities, Insurance and services such as Ola and Uber which are widely used. Fortunately, Citibank has left behind Wallet recharges and mobile phone bill payments at the moment in the scheme of things which earn rewards.
Of course, the question I’ve been asked all evening is, which card now for all these services? I will make a separate post on that soon. For now, time to deal with the bad news, and make any payments you still want to make on your Citi credit cards before October 10, 2019, so that you always get the points. I’m building a margin of safety for two days here for the settlement as well.
What are your thoughts for the latest move by Citi and which cards will you use here on for the prominent categories of cabs, insurance, utilities and school fees?