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Citi never sleeps

  • Sep 8, 2009
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When it comes to American banks, it's NOT at the forefront of invention and innovation. Yes, perhaps the last financial crisis (which then extended to a global level) was created and invented by the American financial institutions (with the help of greed in general), specifically, the most notable investment banks such as Goldman Sach (still acting as one although officially no longer termed as one!), Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers (which on its own practically brought down the entire financial system after its failure, officially bankrupt!), Bear Stearns  (now belongs to JP Morgan Chase) and Citigroup.

Ok, case no. 1. I'm not an expert and even if I'm, I'm not going to write a review about the complexity of the investment institutions as a vehicle of operation. It is so complex one needs perhaps an MBA and a few years of practical training to know what it is all about. Yes, I've the experience but then why write about something so complicated and not get paid for it? This is not a site that's justified for me to do so.

Case no. 2, it's already well established that 99% of people working in the investment banking didn't know what truly happened. Alright, after almost an entire year, we 'appear' to know and the conclusion is we don't want to know but merely want to move on from here. History is history and only the authorities need to know how to deal with history so that it won't happen again in the future. Most people operating in this environment, the way I see it, is still doing what they do best, and trying hard to justify their own existence! Survival is the key notion NOW!

Case no. 3, this is not the reason why I'm doing a review of Citibank. I'm not the type who likes to dig up what others fail in doing but rather I prefer to espoused what others do best. And that's the basis of this review on Citibank.


Alright, before doing so, let's just say Citibank has its own perils and difficulties as with all other financial institutions. Having said that, what I do like about Citibank (I'm NOT a shareholder and have no stake, direct or indirect, in this company, other than being a customer) is its corporate culture. It has a pro-customer corporate policy and I think that's most important for any institution, if not vital part of being a commercial entity. Most said so in their annual reports but most don't act so or choose to do so.

For Citibank though, it filters this corporate belief right down to the bottom level and I think that's most important and has been my experience as a small retail customer of this bank. It goes without saying when you are the top 20% customers of the bank, you are treated like royalties. But what about when you are nobody? Are you still treated as such? Well, my 10 years+ experience told me so. At least where I normally operate, it does. That is within the Asia context and at times, European regions as and when I travel. Surprisingly though, it is not easy for travelers to find Citibank's network in America. I encounter more Bank of America's ATMs than I do Citibank's in the States (most specifically Vegas where travelers are abound). 

Let's discuss about Citibank's network in Asia. In Japan, China, Hongkong and Singapore where I operate most from, I can find its bank branches and ATMs almost everywhere I go to. This is of utmost convenience. In addition, the customer service also provides me with toll free numbers of each area where I can call in to do phone banking and increase my limits should I need to. That's a true blessing especially when one is traveling and in need of excess funds. From my experience with other banks, and I do have a great many like HSBC, Standard Chartered (such a bad experience; never again!), DBS, UOB, China Construction Bank, Bank of China, ICBC (currently the largest bank in the world in terms of market capitalisation) and JP Morgan Chase.

So, we need extra funds. Who to get it from? Your best bet is Citibank. I've no problem getting funding from this bank so far. Even during last October's crisis. In fact, I have had mine increased specifically then, not at my request but was automatically given a bigger line of credit. Mind-boggling, isn't it? I'd say so but I'm happy about it! As for its shareholders, they were surely panicky enough to sell the stocks to $1!!! Nuts! Is the company out of the woods yet? Who knows? or who cares? Ok, I certainly won't want it to close its doors as I find it a most useful bank to have and it'll be a great loss to me (esp. when it comes to convenience) if it should do so! For a avid traveler, Citibank ranks no. 1 and CNN ranks no. 2 in terms of American presence and my needs are concerned. Oh, not forgetting mobile broadband too! So, long live Citibank!!!

Now, a bank is not of any good if it charges more than others. Be a good standing customer and you won't be charged for it. Oops, that's not entirely true. What I mean here though is that when you travel and withdraw local currencies from its ATMs like any other travelers often do (which translated to the death of traveler's checks!), at Citibank, you won't be charged for it like many other banks do. I know at Bank of America and at many Singapore banks, you would be charged a transaction fee per withdrawal which amounts to $2-$5 depending on the bank. So, if you're like me who might live in China and needs to withdraw cash often (China's ATM only dispense RMB100 notes, that means each go, you can withdraw up to a max of RMB3000 at the ATMs, some banks only RMB2500; that also means that for every US$400 or so, you'd be levied a fee of $2 min! and if you need $2000, at least $10 will go to transaction fee, that's hefty!). The savings of having a Citibank card? If you have Citibank Hongkong a/c and withdraw cash in Tokyo, you won't be charged a fee at all. 

Tip: Citibank also allows you to withdraw from HSBC, Standard Chartered and Maybank's ATMs without levying a transaction fee. 

Conclusion: That means you've a whole network of foreign banks' ATMs at your convenience. Isn't that most wonderful?

All in all, imho, as a commercial bank, Citibank is the most versatile and closest in its link with a consumer. Be it in Tokyo, Hongkong, Singapore or Bangkok, if you've a citibank card, you won't go wrong!

Citi never sleeps

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January 11, 2010
nice one. Thanks for sharing these financial related write ups. Can you take a look at my portfolio? ;-)
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
Ranked #3
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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Citibank is a major international bank, founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, later First National City Bank of New York. Citibank is now the consumer banking arm of financial services giant Citigroup, one of the largest companies in the world. As of March 2007, it is the largest bank in the United States by holdings.

Citibank has operations in more than 100 countries and territories around the world. More than half of its 1,400 offices are in the United States, mostly in the New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Washington D.C., and Miami metropolitan areas.

In addition to the standard banking transactions, Citibank offers insurance, credit card and investment products. Their online services division is among the most successful in the field, claiming about 15 million users.

As a result of the Global financial crisis of 2008–2009 and huge losses in the value of its subprime mortgage assets, Citibank was rescued by the U.S. government under plans agreed for Citigroup. On November 23, 2008, in addition to initial aid of $25 billion, a further $25 billion was invested in the corporation together with guarantees for risky assets amounting to $306 billion.
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