About Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Sep 13, 2018

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard is a cash rewards credit card whose 1.8x cash rewards bonus makes it a more profitable choice than the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver.

While Citizens Bank operates in only 11 states and is more well known for the private student loans they offer, you shouldn’t discount their cash back card, especially since applicants aren’t limited to the 11 states where there are branches.

However, our golden rule for choosing the right credit card is to see how the card’s bonuses, rates and fees fit with your personal spending habits.

In this review, we’re going to help you decide if this card is right for you by analyzing its rewards, talking a little bit about its benefits, analyzing the card’s rewards, covering its fees and then comparing it to other cash back cards.

At the end of our review, we’ll do a quick overview of the card’s pros and cons, then tell you who we think the card is good for.

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard’s Rewards

Most of the cash back credit cards we review have two main ways that you can earn rewards: sign-up bonuses and spending bonuses. These two bonuses provide you with rewards points that are worth $1 for every 100 points.

Popular cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited have a 1.5% rewards rate a and a $150 bonus if you can spend $500 on the card in the first three months.

The Cash Back Plus, unfortunately, doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. We say “unfortunately” because sign-up bonuses are some of the easiest rewards to earn. Take the Quicksilver from Capital One, for example.

If you spend $500 in the first three months of having the card, you get a $150 bonus. Normally, it would take $15,000 in spending to earn $150. By our calculations, it would take the average American household about six months to spend $15,000.

As you can see, sign-up bonuses save a lot of time by giving you a chunk of cash with a spending requirement that might take a family two weeks to hit.

While the Cash Back Plus doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, it does have a really interesting rewards rate of 1.8%.

What this means is that you get 1.8 rewards points for every dollar you spend, with the exception of cash- or fee-based transactions like buying traveler’s checks, depositing money into a gambling account or paying credit card interest or late fees.

So, if you use your card to spend $1,000 on your monthly health insurance premium, you’ll 1,800 points, which have a cash value of $18.

In our opinion, this is a great perk no matter which cash back card you use. The credit card company is paying you $18 to use your card to make a purchase you already would’ve made. That’s the magic of cash-back cards.

Earlier we mentioned that we’ve done some research on how much the average American family can spend in a year. By our calculations, you can probably spend at least $25,000 year. If you can hit that mark, then you’ll earn $450 a year in rewards.

Here’s a quick list to show you your yearly rewards for various spending tiers:

  • $15,000: $270
  • $20,000: $360
  • $25,000: $450
  • $30,000: $540
  • $35,000: $630

What makes this card’s rewards excellent for families is that families tend to spend more than individuals and partners. Also, the rewards rate of 1.8% finds a middle ground between the card with the best rewards rate – the Citi Double Cash – and other cards like the Freedom Unlimited and the Quicksilver (more on that later).

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard’s Benefits

Nearly every credit card you own is going to have some benefits that aren’t related to rewards. This includes car rental insurance, trip cancellation insurance and, as is the case with travel credit cards, lost or delayed baggage insurance.

The three main benefits you get with the Cash Back Plus are car rental insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and trip interruption insurance.

Car Rental Insurance

Anytime you use your Cash Back Plus to book a car rental and you bypass the rental agency’s insurance, you get something called MasterRental coverage.

This is a complimentary accident coverage that Mastercard gives you whenever you use your card to make your rental car purchase.

According to Mastercard’s benefits guide, the key aspects of this coverage include:

  • Covers rentals of 15 days or less
  • Doesn’t cover injuries you sustain from an accident
  • Doesn’t cover damages to other vehicles
  • Doesn't cover injuries to other people
  • Truck and van rentals aren’t covered
  • Not valid in Jamaica, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Israel

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

The two coverages will protect you in the event that you have to cancel a trip or a trip is interrupted due to an unforeseen medical emergency or death. In both cases, only travel that you purchased with your cash back plus is eligible for these benefits.

Also, there are limitations, restrictions and various requirements related to these two coverages. You can learn more about those specifics via the benefits guide you get with your Cash Back Plus card.

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard’s Rates and Fees

Based on our research of dozens of cash rewards credit cards, we’ve found that the most important aspect of a card’s rates and fees is the interest rate.

This is the percentage that you’ll be charged for carrying a balance on your card. If you have a balance of $1,000 when it comes time to pay your bill and you only pay $500 of that bill, then you’ll have to pay interest on the other $500.

The Cash Back Plus’ interest rates are 14.99%, 18.99% and 22.99%. These interest rates are average compared to other credit cards. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s lowest APR is 15.99%, whereas the Discover it cash rewards card’s lowest APR is 13.74%.

If you carry an average daily balance of $1,000 and your interest rate is 14.99%, then you’ll end up paying $149 in interest payments at the end of the year.

Now, remember that the Cash Back Plus’ lowest interest rate is reserved for those with excellent credit scores, which means about 720 and above. If you have low scores – 650 and below –- there’s a good chance you’ll pay the highest interest rate of 22.99%, which equals to $229 in yearly interest payments on a $1,000 daily balance.

The other fees you should be aware of are:

  • Cash advance APR/fee: 24.24%/ 5%
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • Late fee: $38
  • Returned payment/over-limit fee: None

The good side of the card’s rates and fees is that it offers 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers for 15 months. What that means is that you can transfer a balance to this card, carry that balance for the first 15 months you have the card and not pay any interest.

Once that 15 months is over, then the regular APR will apply to the remaining balance or balances you transferred.

How the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard Compares to Other Cash Back Cards

The following chart shows you how the Cash Back Plus compares to the leading cash back cards in the areas of sign-up bonus, yearly rewards on $25K spending, 0% offer and APR:

Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus Chase Freedom Unlimited Citi Double Cash Discover it
Sign-Up Bonus $0 $150 $150 $375
Yearly Rewards $450 $375 $500 $375
0% offer 15 mths. on balance transfers 15 mths. on balance transfers and purchases 18 mths. on balance transfers and purchases 14 mths. on balance transfers and purchases
APR 14.99% - 22.99% 16.74% - 25.49% 15.24% - 24.24% 13.74% - 24.74%

The data in this table reveals a few things about the Cash Back Plus card. First, it’s not a good card if you just want to use a cash rewards card for one year and dump it.

Because there’s no sign-up bonus, you’d have to use it for two years to equal the two-year rewards value of the Freedom Unlimited and five years to match the rewards value of the Discover it.

As for APR, it’s the second-best choice if you carry balances and you have excellent credit. However, if you have bad credit and often get a card’s highest APR, then this card is a good choice because its highest APR is 1.25% - 2.5% better than the other cards in the table.

Another thing you should think about is that the card’s 0% APR is only good on balance transfers. The other cards give you 0% on balance transfers and purchases. This is a helpful feature if you need to buy something expensive and want to spread out your payments over 15 months without paying interest.

Is The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard Good For You?

Based on our research of this card, we believe it has some clear strengths. First, the card’s 1.8% rewards rate is second only to the Citi Double Cash, a card we felt was the best cash rewards card for someone who doesn’t carry balances or play late.

This good cash back rate means the average family will earn about $75 more per year in cash rewards.

However, the card’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. Because other cards like the Freedom Unlimited and Quicksilver have $150 sign-up bonuses, their lower cash back rate isn’t as much as a disadvantage.

In general, we think the Cash Back Plus is a good card for someone who wants cash rewards, has bad credit and carries a balance.

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