5% Cash-Back Categories
The obvious way to rack up your rewards with the Citi Custom Cash card is through earning 5% back on your top spend category each month.
Fortunately, the Citi Custom Cash card gives you plenty of categories you can maximize.
- Fitness clubs
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Home improvement stores
- Live entertainment
- Select streaming services
- Select transit
- Select travel
You have a couple of strategies here.
You could designate your card to one of these categories, say grocery stores, and use it exclusively for those purchases until you hit the $500 cap.
Alternatively, you could take things on a month-by-month basis depending on where you’re planning to spend your money for the month. Need to do some home repairs? Go with home improvement stores that month then. Planning a road trip? Then perhaps gas stations would be best for that month.
Just keep in mind that you can only earn 5% back on up to $500 in spend on a single category. So if you spend $500 in January on dining and $479 at gas stations, you’ll earn 1% back on all of your gas station spend. So you’ll want to plan ahead to avoid this.
If you are able to hit the $500 threshold each month on one of the eligible categories then you will be able to earn $25 each month — amounting to $300 over the year!
All Other Purchases
Of course, you could use the card for all of your other purchases outside of your top spend category, but you’ll earn just 1% back when doing so.
So you’d be better using another card for these purchases, like the Citi® Double Cash Card that earns 2% back on all purchases — 1% when you buy and another 1% when you pay.
Citi Shopping Portal
Like most point programs, Citi offers its own shopping portal where cardholders can shop online with popular merchants like Nike or Microsoft and earn additional points or cash-back when doing so.
This is available to all Citi cardholders, so be sure to check the portal for extra rewards opportunities before you online shop.
Adding Additional ThankYou Point-Earning Cards
Since you’ll mostly only want to limit the spend on your Citi Custom Cash card to purchases that will fall within your top spend category, adding a second Citi ThankYou Rewards card can be the perfect solution.
Consider the Citi Premier card, which earns an uncapped 3x points per $1 at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel, and hotels. You could select a category to use your Citi Custom Cash card for, and then use the Citi Premier card for your other purchases given its large number of bonus categories.
Better yet, you could pool all the points you earn together and use the Citi Premier card to transfer those points out to one of the travel transfer partners — which is where you can get huge value for your points!
Hot Tip: If you’d like to learn more about Citi ThankYou Points and how to get huge value with transfer partners, check out our guide on how to redeem Citi ThankYou Points.
When it comes to flexible rewards like Citi ThankYou Rewards, the main benefit is all of the options you have when you are ready to redeem your points. So let’s take a look at what options you have and which provide the best value.
The most straightforward option, seeing as the card is a cash-back card, is to redeem the points you earn for cash-back at a rate of 1 cent per point.
You can do this by redeeming your points as a statement credit to offset recent purchases you’ve made with the card, in the form of a direct deposit to your linked bank account or a physical check delivered in the mail.
Remember there are no redemption minimums, so you can redeem your points for cash-back as often as you’d like.
Citi also gives you the option to redeem your points for gift cards with select merchants, usually at a rate of 1 cent per point. However, it doesn’t make much sense to redeem your points this way when you could redeem them for cash-back at the same rate.
Points With Partners
If your Citi card is linked as a payment method with select Citi partners, you can use your points at checkout instead of charging the purchase you’re making towards your card.
But again, you’d likely be better off just opting to use your points as a statement credit to offset the purchase given its greater flexibility.
Citi Travel Portal
Through the ThankYou portal, you can redeem your points towards virtually any travel purchase you want, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, etc. But again, most people would rather redeem their points towards $100 in cash than $100 off a hotel stay.
Pair With a Premium ThankYou Card To Transfer to Travel Partners
If you hold a premium ThankYou credit card in addition to your Citi Custom Cash card, like the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige® Card (no longer open to new applicants), combining your points and then transferring them to one of Citi’s travel transfer partners allows you to get a lot of value for your points.
This is our favorite way to redeem Citi ThankYou Points because you can use these points for luxurious business and first class flights, which usually costs thousands of dollars, for just the cost of the taxes and fees of the ticket!
Bottom Line: When it comes to getting the maximum value for your Citi ThankYou Points, we highly recommend using transfer partners if you have a premium ThankYou Rewards card. Otherwise, your best bet will almost always be redeeming your points for cash-back.