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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Citibank Launches Travel Reward Credit Card

Citibank has teamed up with online travel agency Kuda.ru to offer a new co-branded credit card with a travel reward program, the lender's vice president, Michael Berner, said at a news conference Wednesday.

"The card will earn holders bonus points with every purchase ... which can later be redeemed for travel vouchers and flights at Kuda.ru travel agencies," Berner said.

But as with most credit cards in Russia, Citibank card users can expect substantial interest charges.

The standard and gold cards will be charged 36 percent and 40 percent interest, respectively. The service rate is similarly high -- 950 rubles ($37) for the Gold card and 2,950 rubles for the Standard card.

Despite the rates, Alexander Komarnitsky, chairman of Turalyans, owner of Kuda.ru, said Thursday that he was confident uptake for the cards would be brisk.

Alfa Bank and Aeroflot in January last year began a similar air miles initiative, which provided special bonuses to frequent flyers.

Since being introduced, "the Aeroflot-Alfa Bank project has been hugely successful and very popular with our clients," Yevgenia Kurbatova, head of Alfa Bank's international media division, said in e-mailed comments.

"So far, 91,500 clients have registered for the program, 34 percent more than expected."

Citibank said its program would not be in direct competition with Alfa Bank's, which is primarily a mileage point scheme.

"Those who gained mile shares from the Alfa Bank's program can only use their bonuses on Aeroflot, while Citibank and Kuda.ru's offering is generic and applicable to all airlines," Citibank's Berner said.

Travel industry experts were doubtful the program would have much effect on traveling habits, however.

Irina Tyurina, a Russian Union of Travel Industry spokeswoman, said the Citibank and Kuda.ru program was aimed at clients who wanted some spare spending money while on vacation.

"It will have no practical effect for ordinary Russians, who traditionally haggle for every penny when shopping for tours," she said.