Citigroup Inc. (Fortune 500: C) Retail Services has signed a multi-year deal to renew its credit card partnership agreement with Citgo Petroleum, the oil giant best known for their 60 foot high billboard sign in Boston`s Kenmore Square.
Citi Retail Services, which also partners with ExxonMobil for their joint Mastercard, renewed this partnership with hopes that rising gas prices and Citgo’s near-monopoly of over 6000 nationwide retail locations will lead to a surge of gas credit. Citgo VP of Supply and Marketing Gustavo Velasquez describes a “steady increase in consumer preference for paying with credit and debit cards” which led to the reformation of this partnership.
Citgo`s partnership with Citgo, which dates back to 1995, currently has three main lines of products:
- The Citgo Plus Card (& Citi Platinum Select Business Mastercard)
- Citgo Gift Cards (prepaid cards, regularly used for gas)
- Citgo Business Cards (Citgo Business, Citgo Business Select, Business Select Mastercard)
On Credit-land, we have a Gasoline Credit Cards section, in which we list our top overall gas reward picks. The soaring national gas prices of the first quarter of 2012, peaking in New York City, Chicago, and northern California, have led to a number of speculations on gas credit and its ability to provide relief to paying maximum fare at the pump.
In fact, there is a Citgo branch in southern Chicago (S Vincennes Ave & 99th St) which charges $4.29 a gallon, one of the highest rates in the nation. Can the renewed Citi-Citgo brand help? Let`s take a look at their marquee card to find out.
Citgo Plus Card:
- Fixed APR rate of 24.99%, with no introductory 0% offer. Very high rate for any card, much less one designed to help you SAVE at the pump.
- APR for Cash Advances is a staggering 29.95% (one of the highest in the industry), and to add onto that there is a cash advance FEE of $10, or 5% of the total cash advance, whichever is greater. This means that whatever ATM withdrawals you make, Citi & Citgo take
- 0% liability on unauthorized charges, which is fairly standard-issue practice for the industry, is one of the major selling points for the card on Citgo’s website. This is required by law under provisions of the CARD Act.
- No gas station purchase benefits! For a card created by this joint partnership, you would think the least they could offer is an industry-leading 7% cashback on all Citgo purchases (Discover More, our top choice, offers up to 5% on gas). Nowhere in the terms and conditions of Citgo Plus is there any indication of gas station benefits, or any way to save at the pump.
Apparently, Citi has a habit to give its own brand cards a winning edge, when compared to those they launch with a private label. In a recent Credit-Land study we compared Gas Rebates for the First Year of Card Ownership from major gas credit cards including those partnered with Citi, such as ExxonMobil Mastercard, to cash-back credit cards from major banks including Citi itself. A result of that study was that Citi`s own Citi Thank You Preferred Card beats all Citi supported gas credit cards at their own stations. Let`s give that study a quick recall:
An automobile that averages 20 miles per gallon, driven by an average American driver about 1400 miles a month, or almost – 17,000 miles a year will cost on an average $3000 in gas and will equal to approximately 850 gallons of gas.
With that in mind let`s consider:
|ExxonMobil Mastercard (by Citi)||Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card|
|Earn 15 cents per gallon rebates on gasoline purchases at over 10,000 Exxon and Mobil stations nationwide.||First Year: 5 Thank You reward points for every dollar spent at gas stations, supermarkets, or drugstores for the first 12 months of activation.|
|850 Gallons x $0.15 = $127.50||$3000 x 5 =15,000 Thank You Points|
|15,000 Thank You Points = $100|
|Additionally: Get 15,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months – good for $150 in gift cards.|
Total Cash Back = $127. 50
Total Cash Back = $250
Additional info about the card:
|Additional info about the card:|
The standard variable APR for purchases is 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
|The standard variable APR for purchases is 12.99%, 16.99% or 22.99% based on creditworthiness.|
As evident in this study, Citi`s Thank You Preferred Card offers better gas rewards, lending to the argument that Citi gives its own branded cards greater gas benefits than its joint efforts with gas providers. The new deal with Citgo raises hopes that renewed partnership will result in a surge of upgraded card benefits and league-leading gas savings. However, the ExxonMobil Mastercard by Citi is an unfortunate reminder that it might not be the case.