Citibank commercial cards are some of the best-known traditional spending management cards used by businesses in the U.S. — they’ve been around for ages and currently service over 6 million cardholders. But, with so many options, how can you be sure Citibank’s offer is right for you?
Here, we’ll explore the corporate card offer in full, including details about features, eligibility, benefits, and fees. Then, we’ll find out which businesses might get the most out of an account.
This is what’s in store:
- What is a Commercial Card Account?
- Citi Company Overview
- Types of Citibank Commercial Cards
- Citibank Commercial Card Benefits & Rewards
- Who is Eligible for Commercial Card Accounts?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Takeaway
Let’s do this thing!
What is a Commercial Card Account?
Before we examine Citibank’s commercial card offer, let’s define a commercial card — it is not the same as a business credit card, though in some ways they are the same.
Commercial card accounts are also known as corporate cards. This type of account enables companies to offer cards to staff members and contractors to make purchases on behalf of the business.
A business might want a commercial card account to keep track of internal spending and/or to increase cash flow to maintain or grow operations. Unlike credit cards, corporate cards typically require that the balance is paid in full each billing cycle (with net 30 terms in place of revolving terms).
What is the difference between individual and commercial credit?
In the simplest terms, commercial credit is extended to a business entity while individual or “consumer” credit is extended to a person. With commercial credit, the lender uses the business’ employer identification number (EIN) as an identification number, while consumer credit is extended via the individual’s social security number (SSN) or individual tax identification number (ITIN).
Sidenote: In the U.S., SSNs are dispensed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) whilst EINs and ITINs are assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
This might go without saying, but another difference between the two is that commercial credit should not be used for personal expenses. Meanwhile, individual credit can be used for personal and business or work-related expenses.
Citi Company Overview
Citi, aka Citi Group, the company that funds Citibank commercial cards, is a late-stage, for-profit company based in New York. The company has been around since 1812 under various names and has nearly 180K employees on LinkedIn, so this is a trustworthy financial service provider.
Citi offers traditional banking and wealth management services: Checking and savings accounts, credit cards, term loans, mortgages, and investing.
Types of Citibank Commercial Cards
Citibank offers six different types of commercial cards for businesses: Corporate Cards (T&E), Central Travel Accounts, Purchasing Cards, Meeting Cards, “One” Cards, and Project Cards. Citi also offers virtual cards.
All Citi Commercial accounts are individually billed in full within 25 days of the invoice date and are the liability of the company, not the individual cardholder.
Keep in mind that these cards can be used in tandem. So, you might consider more than one of the options below. Let’s take a look at what each has to offer and who will get the most from each of them.
1. Corporate Card (T&E)
Citibank’s Corporate Card is designed to help businesses capture travel and expense related spending — think airfare, transit, hotels, restaurant, and taxi or rideshare costs. This card helps to streamline administrative costs via the company’s expense management system. Citibank advertises the Corporate Card as a solution with “flexible parameters” meaning the spending is not strictly limited as compared to a Central Travel Account.
This card is a good fit for businesses with employees that spend on business-related travel, dining, and transportation. It is not well-suited for a business that needs to keep track of other types of spending, nor contractor or freelancer spending made on behalf of the company.
2. Central Travel Account
A Central Travel Account with Citibank provides businesses the opportunity to manage and monitor non-employee spending made through travel management companies. The key benefit is centralized account data reporting — essentially, this type of account is great for tracking and controlling travel-related expenses.
The Central Travel Account is best suited for companies with freelancers, contractors, and recruits that will travel on behalf of the company, but don’t have a Corporate Card assigned to them. This card is not a good fit for non-travel expenses or employee T&E spending.
3. Purchasing Card
Purchasing Cards from Citibank are traditional, plastic cards that can be assigned to employees or internal departments for a broad range of business spending. While they can be used to purchase almost any goods or services, the admin panel provides businesses with control over policy compliance to ensure that employees can’t overspend or use their cards for personal expenses. An account like this can help a company eliminate staff purchase orders and invoice processing.
Citibank’s Purchasing Cards are appropriate for businesses with employees who need to make a broad range of purchases (replenish inventory, order services or repairs, pay contractors, etc.). For spending in specific categories like travel or event planning, a Corporate Card or Meeting Card might be a better fit.
4. Meeting Card
That brings us to Citibank’s Meeting Cards — these cards are designed to provide businesses with transparency into the total cost for event planning, including in-person, hybrid, and virtual meetings or seminars. This gives companies the opportunity for more control over spending, compliance, and supplier negotiations. Meeting Card accounts are integrated with Cvent, a leading meeting and event (M&E) platform.
A Meeting Card is perfectly suited for businesses with event planners or managers who book meetings on behalf of the company and need to pay for goods and services to organize these meetings. On the other hand, it’s not great for any other type of spending.
5. One Card™
One Card is Citibank’s way of combining the features of their Purchase and Corporate cards into one user account. So, it’s good for employees with travel-related and miscellaneous spending needs. Rather than give a staff member two cards for various spending, you can use One Card. Then, track and manage spending with admin controls.
Citibank’s One Card is great for companies who would like to provide employees with cards that can be used for a broad range of spending: T&E plus general business expenses. Now, this is not a good card for contractors, freelancers, or event managers.
6. Project Card
The Project Card by Citi is a card designed with an expiration date and exact spending limit in mind. These cards provide a more conventional solution to temporary projects than a virtual card. Project Cards are physical, plastic cards that can be given to cardholders discreetly.
As the name suggests, Citi’s Project card is best for North America-based companies that hire consultants, freelancers, and contractors to complete business projects and want a temporary spending solution with total control over limitations on spending (time and money). This card isn’t awesome for long-term projects with flexible budgets.
Citibank Commercial Card Benefits & Rewards
You’re in it to track and manage company spending — This section is where you’ll learn whether Citi’s corporate card offer is right for you or if you should look elsewhere for a solution.
i. Earn points on most spending
For every dollar spent on anything other than excluded spending (transaction fees, etc.), Citibank commercial cardholders earn one point. Points become available within 35 days from the time they are earned and can only be redeemed by the account holder.
The rewards program for Citibank commercial accounts is managed at thankyou.com.
Points can be redeemed toward shopping, gift cards, travel booking, or as cash rewards.
- Shopping: Shop with participating merchants like 1-800Flowers, Best Buy, Amazon, PayPal, Walmart, or CVS to redeem. Points can also be put toward fuel purchases at select gas stations including BP, Amoco, and Shell.
- Gift Cards: With Citibank reward points, you can purchase gift cards from 175+ major retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Fandango.
- Cash Rewards: As with most card reward programs, you can use your Citi points as a statement credit, direct deposit, or request a check by mail.
- Travel: When you plan your next trip, check your Citi points balance, since you may be able to redeem your earnings toward flights, cruises, hotels, cars, or deals. Thank You™ points can also be transferred to select travel rewards programs.
As far as points redemption toward shopping or gift cards, I think some of the newer corporate card offers have an edge — Citi provides deals on consumer offers while the more new-age cards are more business-focused.
For example, Brex offers rewards toward spending with AWS and provides deals on products that will help you grow your business — Discounts on billboard advertising and executive coaching might be more exciting for a lot of business owners than a $10 Amazon gift card.
It’s not that business owners don’t appreciate consumer offers (plus, everyone has someone they need to buy a gift for). I just think it’s worth pointing out that some of the newer corporate account offers have more innovative, and possibly more relevant, benefits and rewards.
ii. Virtual Cards
While virtual cards originally made some of the breakout corporate card offers stand out, it’s now pretty standard with today’s commercial accounts (which doesn’t mean it’s not a great benefit).
Virtual cards offer business owners the chance to instantaneously create throwaway cards for one-time, probationary, or temporary use. With a Citi commercial card account, you can integrate virtual card accounts into your system to create, modify, or cancel payments and set spending limits in real-time.
While the software and subscription companies probably frown on this practice, I’ve seen people use virtual cards as a way to get into a free trial without a lot of risks. Once the card expires, so does the trial. So, they can be used to eliminate the need to monitor trial sign-ups, which is especially helpful for startups and fast-growing companies that are changing up their operations frequently.
iii. Worldwide Payment Acceptance
The ability to spend across the globe is super important for many businesses, especially when considering which travel management solutions to go with. Citibank’s corporate cards are accepted by over 54 million merchants in 66 currency markets across more than 100 countries.
Citibank corporate cards are accepted by most airlines, car rental agencies, restaurants, and major lodging establishments. So, with this card, you won’t have to worry a lot about whether or not usual travel expenses can be paid with your card.
While I haven’t had this problem yet, getting turned down when using a newer corporate card like Brex or Divvy is a potential issue. This is not a typical problem with conventional competitors like Bank of America or Chase.
iv. CitiManager™ App Overview
You can access CitiManager as an admin or a cardholder, to take advantage of card features, track and report on spending, and manage preferences.
Here’s the gist of what the app provides:
- Cardholders: Access your account from anywhere at any time of day. Check your card or account balance and spending limit. View statements from the past six months. And, see recent transactions.
- Administrators: View card pins, activate new cards, and pay bills. Post and view comments to communicate with other admins. See transaction and invoice details and display dual currencies.
I have not used the app myself, so I can’t speak to the validity of these claims, but I feel like they’re worth a mention:
The CitiManager app may not have some basic, expected features like travel notifications, and some users complain that it’s glitchy — in fact, some app users on the iOS platform recommend accountholders stick with the basic Citibank app, which has been around longer. Still, it maintains a 4.8/5-star rating, which isn’t bad.
Who is Eligible for Commercial Card Accounts?
Citi only offers commercial card products to existing Institutional Clients Group (ICG) or Commercial Bank (CCB) clients. If you are not an existing ICG or CCB client, Citi won’t pursue an inquiry for any of the above commercial cards.
CCB and ICG provide commercial banking solutions for companies with $10 million annual revenue and up. Their solutions include capital markets advising, commercial banking, securities services, and card and loan issuer platforms.
If you aren’t eligible for either of the above, another corporate card offer is probably a better fit. If you are eligible, and you like this offer, you should reach out to a Citi sales representative to find out which options are best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a commercial credit account?
A commercial credit account is a “pay-as-you-go” business spend management account with a credit limit. In most cases, these accounts are paid in full each billing cycle — they don’t typically offer revolving terms like business credit cards.
Does Citi verify income?
Yes. If you apply for a loan, line of credit, or corporate account with Citibank, they will verify your income. This goes for personal and business accounts.
What FICO score does Citibank use?
Citi uses Experian to inquire into consumer credit applications. For business accounts, they use Experian Business.
Does Citi business check personal credit?
Yes, when you apply for a business credit card with Citibank, they will check your personal credit. In most cases, this does not apply to standalone corporate card accounts.
What credit score do you need for a Citibank business credit card?
You will need a personal FICO score of 700 or higher to qualify for a Citi business credit card. This does not apply to standalone corporate card accounts.
Is a Citi business credit card easy to get?
No, qualifying for a Citibank business credit card requires both excellent personal and business credit.
Above, you have a summary of Citi’s commercial card account offer. In a nutshell, the offer may help you monitor and control organization-wide spending within your business. If you like what you see, reach out to a Citi sales rep today, and open an account.
As for those who don’t yet meet the revenue requirements for this offer, there might be hope for you yet. You may qualify for a Citi business credit card. Plus, plenty of other lenders offer spend management accounts for mid-sized companies — Bank of America is one direct competitor worth looking into.
If you want to learn how to obtain up to $100K in business credit in as few as 30 days, join Business Credit Workshop today.