Citi Credit Cards to stop giving points on some merchant categories

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)
  • Utilities
    • 4900: Utilities–Electric, Gas, Heating Oil, Sanitary, Water
  • Insurance
    • 5960: Direct Marketing Insurance Services (Think direct insurance bought from the insurance company)
    • 6300: Insurance Sales, Underwriting and Premiums (Think Insurance bought non-direct)
  • Education
    • 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
  • Government
    • 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?

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Do we get points for Paytm wallet loads and fuel payments on Citi prestige? Sorry if this has been addressed before but couldn’t find an answer.

  2. You can consider Axis bank flipkart credit card (it will be useful for paying LIC premium , no surcharge + plus rewards) or ICICI amazon pay credit card. M using Amex card for bill payment through adding money in wallet of amazon.

  3. I have my insurance ECS registered with Citi premier miles .

    I have multiple policies that I pay monthly by ECS on my card . I assume no points on these .

    Which is a good card to get max benefit for insurance ecs

  4. This might be bit off topic, does anyone would one earn reward points on Priority world debit card when funding other savings account? There are banks that allow funding the account using netbanking/UPI/Debit card.

    if anyone can shed some light, it would be great.

  5. HDFC caps reward points to on insurance payments to 2000 on some of its high end cards. Probably Citi could have followed suit for Prestige/Ultima.

  6. So they have spared suprisingly citifirst Paytm card .

    And haven’t spared Citi prestige.

    What’s even more is Citi ultima and citifirst Paytm card will continue to get the reward points

    Very strange

  7. What about payments made through Paytm? For e.g. I pay my electricity bill on Paytm (through my Citibank credit card – and not Paytm balance). The charge shows up as One97Communications. Would I still get points?
    Also, if possible, can you list the credit cards where you can still earn points on Insurance payments?

    • The same way in PayTM, use the insurance payment option. I am using Amex cards to pay insurance in PayTM for quite a long time.

        • Yes…that is what I am doing with my Amex. go to the insurance payment page and use the credit card option to pay the premium.

          • Recently Paytm changed some policy. You may notice it while adding money to wallet. It says that utility bills / electricity bills need to be paid directly using cc at the payment gateway and Paytm will send a utility merchant code to bank, so you may or may not get reward points based on the bank policy. Hence, Please double check on the same.

  8. What about payments through Paytm? For e.g. I pay electricity bills through Paytm (but charge it on my Citibank card – not Paytm balance). The charge shows up as One97Communications. Would that still attract points?
    Also, can you list the credit cards where we can still earn points for Insurance payments?

  9. How will Citi determine whether the merchant to whom the payment has been made is falling in 1 of the above mentioned categories?
    XYZ Sales Ltd may be an insurance dealer or a white goods or electronic products dealer. Or it may be a petrol pump also.

    Please advise which items do not get points on Axis Vistara CC and HDFC Jet Diners.

    • @Sid Citi does not determine it, the MCC codes registered on the terminals are selected basis the description of the merchant supplied to the acquiring Bank. Then, they run through the whole system of Visa and MasterCard Network. It is an invisible field to the customer. So if for example, Indian Railways takes a card machine, it goes under the commuter transport network. A machine installed at New Era Public School similarly says Educational institution and so on. Trust this helps.

  10. I called and spoke to a CS exec and they said even mobile payments will not earn points. Fortunately we can pay mobile phone bills via PayTm. So just a simple work around. But hugely disappointing!

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