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Citi has a tiered cash rewards credit card that might be just what you are looking for. The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card earns up to 5% back on select purchase categories, 1% back on everything else, and has no annual fee. Plus, there’s a nice bonus offer. New Citi Custom Cash℠ Card cardholders can earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back).
Learn more: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
The Citi Custom Cash Card Review
Let’s begin this Citi Custom Cash Card review with the exciting signup bonus offer.
New Citi Custom Cash℠ Card cardholders can earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back).
You can qualify for this bonus if you haven’t received another Custom Cash Card signup bonus in the past 48 months.
$0 Annual Fee
There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Earn Up to 5% Cash Back
Your Citi Custom Cash purchases will either earn 5% or 1% back. As the card name applies, the cardholder can earn 5% back, up to the first $500 spent, in the qualifying category with the highest spending for the monthly statement period. After hitting the $500 spending threshold, cardholders will earn 1% cash back thereafter. Cardholders can also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Additionally, unlike other cards that earn 5% cash back, there are no rotating bonus categories that cardholders need to sign up for. So, as your spending changes each billing cycle, the category you will earn 5% back on will adjust automatically, so long as it is in one of the eligible categories.
Instead of having to choose a bonus category or hoping the card’s cashback calendar aligns with your spending habits, this card offers 10 possibilities. This can be one of the best credit cards for everyday spending.
You can effortlessly earn up to 5% back on 1 of the following categories each month:
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Travel (select brands only)
- Transit (select brands only)
- Streaming services (select brands only)
- Home improvement stores
- Fitness clubs
- Live entertainment
The category you spend the most in earns 5% back on the first $500 in monthly purchases. Any excess balance earns 1% back.
While a monthly $500 spending cap seems low to other tiered rewards cards, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, these cards only award up to 5% back on the first $1,500 per quarterly spend. That spending limit amounts to $500 per month, just like the Citi Custom Cash Card offers.
All non-bonus purchases earn an unlimited 1% back.
However, as this card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, this card is best for purchases in the United States. So, if you prefer the simplicity of preassigned categories, other cash back credit cards might be a better fit.
Redeeming Cash Rewards
All purchase rewards credit as Citi ThankYou points.
The cash redemption options include:
- Direct deposit
- Statement credit
- Paper check
- Gift cards
You can also redeem your points to Shop with Points at Amazon.com or PayPal. Booking award travel is another possibility. There isn’t a redemption minimum for direct deposit or statement credits.
Additional Card Benefits
Like other cash back credit cards, the card doesn’t offer dazzling card features like travel rewards credit cards do. But this card offers some perks that other cash back cards may not.
Earn ThankYou Points
This card earns Citi ThankYou points that can be redeemed for cash, travel, and shopping credits. Most cash back cards only offer cash redemptions.
There’s nothing wrong with getting cash statement credits or bank account deposits, but sometimes the flexibility of having non-cash redemptions comes in handy. One example is if you have other Citi credit cards that earn ThankYou points. You can earn 5% on bonus purchases to get more mileage from your spending.
Mastercard World Elite Benefits
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card can be a Mastercard World Elite product that offers these built-in benefits:
- Free 2-day ShopRunner shipping
- 5% back on HelloFresh purchases
- $5 Lyft ride credit once per month after first 3 monthly rides
- Up to $1,000 in yearly cell phone protection
- $0 fraud liability
Choose Payment Due Date
Cardholders can decide if they want their payment due date to be at the beginning, middle, or end of the month.
No Annual Fee
Not having an annual fee lets you keep all purchase rewards.
Citi Custom Cash Card Pros and Cons
This Citi Custom Cash Card review wouldn’t be complete without a breakdown of the pros and cons. Here are some of the positives and negatives of the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card.
- Earn up 5% back on qualifying category with the highest monthly spend
- No redemption minimum for statement credits or direct deposits
- Earn Citi ThankYou points
- No annual fee
- Cannot choose 5% bonus category
- Only 1 category per month earns 5% back
- 3% foreign transaction fee
With some of the other cash back cards that have rotating categories, having to guess each month which category will earn 5% back can be confusing, unless you only use the card for specific expenses like groceries, gas stations, and travel.
If you like the simplicity of preassigned categories, the Chase Freedom Flex can be a good alternative. The Chase Freedom Flex earns:
- 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1% back)
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 1% on all other purchases
Citi Custom Cash vs Citi Double Cash
The Custom Cash Card isn’t Citi’s only cash back card. A worthy competitor is the Citi® Double Cash Card that earns up to 2% back on all purchases. Cardholders earn unlimited 1% cash back when they buy, plus unlimited 1% cash back when they pay for their purchases. There is no limit to how much cash back can be earned. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
You may decide to carry both cards. You can use the Custom Cash Card to earn 5% back on your highest spend category and use the Double Cash to earn 2% back on other purchases.
This purchase maximizer strategy can be more difficult than with other cards as the Custom Cash Card’s 5% bonus can vary as your spending habits fluctuate each month. It can be difficult to spend $500 on one category and use the Double Cash for your other purchases. One possibility is using this card to earn 5% back on groceries and the Double Cash to earn 2% back on the other categories that only earn 1% with the Custom Cash.
Check out our Citi Double Cash Card review if you want to learn more about the card.
When to Choose the Citi Custom Cash
Consider the Citi Custom Cash Card if you want to get 5% back on one of the 10 participating bonus categories. As these categories are pretty broad, there’s a good chance you already spend money each month in some of these categories.
Also choose the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card if you want to earn ThankYou points for the multiple redemption options or to combine your points with your other ThankYou credit cards.
A third reason to choose this card is for the $200 signup bonus. New Citi Custom Cash℠ Card cardholders can earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back).
Related: Best Credit Card Offers
When to Choose the Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash is the winner of this card matchup when you want the simplicity of earning up to 2% back on all purchases.
You might also consider this card if your largest purchase category doesn’t qualify for 5% back or your monthly spending greatly exceeds the $500 limit. While you only earn up to 2% back on the entire amount, it can be more than 5% on the first $500 and then 1% back on the remaining balance.
There is an option to convert your cash rewards to ThankYou points with a $1 account minimum.
This card doesn’t have an annual fee but has a 3% foreign transaction fee like the Citi Custom Cash. Consider one of the best credit cards for international travel if you want to avoid a foreign transaction fee.
Summary on Citi Custom Card
In conclusion, this Citi Custom Cash Card review shows how this card offers more flexibility than most cash back credit cards that award up to 5% back. The 10 bonus categories are common expenses for most families. Plus, not having an annual fee makes this a good fit for current Citi customers and new Citi members.
Learn more: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card