Citi Custom Cash℠ Card – Review

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Citi Custom Cash℠ Card – Review

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"Earn more cash-back on what you spend most on!"

Earn big on purchases in your top eligible spend category, up to the first $500 each billing cycle. Eligible categories are: restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment.

Learn More (at Citi's secure site)

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is inventive when it comes to cash-back credit cards. Instead of earning a set amount of cash-back on predetermined bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash card earns 5% cash-back on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle, without an annual fee.

Thanks to that unique perk, you’ll never need to worry about whether you’re using the right card for the right purchase, as your Citi Custom Cash card will always pay you 5% back on whichever category you end up spending the most on each month.

Pros

Cons

  • Your 5% category is limited to $500 in spend ($25 in cash-back) each month
  • Not particularly rewarding for any purchases outside of your top 5% cash-back category

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

  • Welcome Bonus & Info (Partner Content)
    • Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
    • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
    • No Annual Fee
    • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person.
  • Card Categories:
  • Customer Service Number
    800-950-5114
  • Login Link
  • Related Articles

The Ideal Cardholder

men sitting in coffee bar
Earn 5% cash-back on your top purchase category each month! Image Credit: Helena Lopez via Pexels

The Citi Custom Cash card is perfectly suited for anyone who is looking for a cash-back credit card that rewards the categories they spend the most on each month, or as a supplemental card for those who are already in the Citi ThankYou Points ecosystem with a premium card like the Citi Premier® Card.

Great Card If

  • You want a cash-back credit card that offers a capped 5% back on the category you spend the most on each month
  • You want to pool the points you earn with your premium Citi ThankYou Rewards card like the Citi Premier card
  • You want a card with no annual fee

Don't Get If

  • You want a card that earns travel rewards
  • You want a card that offers set bonus categories

Citi Custom Cash - Fees

  • Annual Fee
    • $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fees
    3%
  • Interest Rates
    • 0% for 15 months. After that, 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
  • Late fees
    • Up to $40
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable
  • Balance Transfers
    • 0% for 15 months. After that, 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
  • Cash Advance APR
    • 25.24% variable
    • Fee: 5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum

How To Earn More Citi ThankYou Points

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.

  • Drugstores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Live entertainment
  • Restaurants
  • 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.

How To Use ThankYou Points for Max Value

Person Counting Money
Earn cash-back with the Citi Custom Cash card. Image Credit: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

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.

Cash-Back

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.

Gift Cards

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. 

Alternative Cards to the Citi Custom Cash Card

Citi Premier Card

If you want a travel-focused credit card then you should consider the Citi Premier card. The card offers 3x points per $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel, and hotels.

It also offers perks like an annual hotel savings benefit, no foreign transaction fees, and access to all of Citi’s transfer partners. With an annual fee of just $95, the Citi Premier card is an excellent option for people starting their points journey.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card

If you’re mainly interested in earning cash-back, but like the rewards setup of the Citi Custom Cash card, then you’ll also like the Chase Freedom Flex card.

The Freedom Flex card earns 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on rotating quarterly bonus categories like gas, grocery stores, and dining. Plus, it earns 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases.

There is no annual fee, and cardholders get benefits like cell phone protection, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection.


The information regarding the Citi Prestige® Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 


Frequently asked questions

Is the Citi Custom Cash card worth it?

If you’re looking for a cash-back card without an annual fee that offers a capped 5% cash-back on the category that you spend the most money on each month (there are 10 different categories), then, yes, the Citi Custom Cash card would be worth it to you.

Those who can meet the $500 category threshold for 5% cash-back can earn up to $300 in cash-back each year — which is pretty exceptional for a card with no annual fee.

Does the Citi Custom Cash card have an annual fee?

No, the Citi Custom Cash card does not charge an annual fee.

Does the Citi Custom Cash card charge foreign transaction fees?

Yes, the Citi Custom Cash card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you should choose another card to use when you travel outside of the U.S.

What are the categories on the Citi Custom Cash card?

You’ll earn 5% back, on up to $500 in spend per month, on one of the following categories:

  • Drugstores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Live entertainment
  • Restaurants
  • Select streaming services
  • Select transit
  • Select travel

What credit score do you need to be approved for the Citi Custom Cash card?

There is no set credit score that will guarantee an approval for the Citi Custom Cash card, as multiple factors are taken into consideration when you apply for a new card.

But assuming you have a credit score that is 700 or better, you should have a high chance of being approved for the Citi Custom Cash card.

Jarrod West

About Jarrod West

Jarrod first became fascinated with the world of points and miles as the perfect way to visit dream destinations without breaking the bank. On his first major award trip, he spent 3 months traveling through Europe, financed nearly entirely with points; while flying in premium cabins and staying in 5-star hotels along the way. Now, he is on a mission to help others realize their travel goals and upgrade their travel experiences. Jarrod has been writing about credit cards and travel loyalty programs for 4 years, and his work has been featured by Travel and Leisure, Matador Network, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.

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