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Citi Custom Cash Card Review 2024

Credit card

Finding a solid no-annual-fee credit card isn’t easy and when looking for valuable rewards, it’s even trickier. But the Citi Custom Cash card has a unique twist by offering 5% cash back on your highest spending category.

What’s the catch? Citi caps your maximum earnings at $500 per billing cycle, then it’s back to a run-of-the-mill 1% cash back on everything. Plus, the card lacks extra perks that could sweeten the deal.

So, let’s weigh up the pros and cons to see which side tips the scale.

This article will include:

  • All the Citi Custom Cash benefits and drawbacks.
  • How the Citi Custom Cash rewards work.
  • If alternative cards are a better option for you.

Read more:

 

Citi Custom Cash® Card: On FIRE Score

 

Annual Fee annual_fees
APR reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro Offer Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.
Maximum Rewards Earn 5% cash back on your top eligible spend category each billing cycle up to $500 spent.
Everyday Rewards Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
On FIRE Score 4.6/5

 

What Is Citi Custom Cash Card?

 

The Citi Custom Cash Card adds a personal touch to your standard cash back rewards. You earn 5% cash back on your top spending category, covering everything from restaurants, grocery stores, fitness clubs, and more.

Note: the maximum 5% rewards are capped at $500 per billing cycle, so big spenders may want to think twice if you’re keen to maximize your cash back.

On the bright side, there’s no annual fee. So, you can build up cash back for your everyday expenses without spending a dime. Sadly, this isn’t the case once you leave the country, as Citi charges 3% in foreign transaction fees.

To get started, the Citi Custom Cash sign up bonus offers $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months. You also get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.

 

How Does the Citi Custom Cash Credit Card Work?

 

The clue is in the name; Citi Custom Cash’s selling point is the customized rewards system. It’s certainly nailed its USP, but how does it work?

 

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Instead of having fixed categories for earning cash back, the Custom Cash Card adapts to your spending habits. Each billing cycle automatically selects your top spending category and rewards you with 5% cash back on purchases in that area.

And there’s no shortage of categories:

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

You don’t need to manually track or activate categories, the card does all the heavy lifting and calculations. And if your spending patterns change, no worries. The card adjusts accordingly to keep maximizing your rewards.

Remember: Once you reach the $500 cap per billing cycle, your 5% rewards drop to 1% cash back.

While you earn a solid 5% cash back in your top category, everything else will earn a flat 1% cash back. It’s not as flashy as the 5%, but for a no-annual-fee card, it’s something.

You get your rewards in the form of Citibank’s signature ThankYou Points. So, for the 5% cash back, you receive 5 ThankYou Points for every $1 you spend. For other purchases, you get 1 ThankYou Point for every $1.

Each point is worth around 1 cent. You can redeem them for statement credits, gift cards, travel rewards, online purchases, charity donations, or a direct deposit into your bank account. You get the best value by redeeming for cash back, and there are no minimum amounts to hold you back.

When it comes to extra perks, the Citi Custom Cash benefits are lacking. You’re limited to the basics, such as ID theft protection, $0 liability on unauthorized charges, fraud monitoring, and account alerts. Then again, it is a no-annual-fee card.

 

Citi Custom Cash Credit Card: Fees

 

Details Metric
Annual fee annual_fees
Regular APR reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Cash advance APR cash_advance_apr
Cash advance fee cash_advance_fee
Foreign transaction fee foreign_transaction_fee
Returned payment fee Up to $41
Late fee late_payment_fee

 

Citi Custom Cash Credit Card: Pros and Cons

 

Pros

  • No annual fee.
  • Personalized 5% cash back.
  • Range of redemption options.
  • Low Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.

 

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fees.
  • Average flat-rate cash back.
  • $500 cap on maximum rewards.
  • Lack of insurance and protection.

 

Why I Like It

As the name suggests, the Citi Custom Cash lets you personalize your rewards and redemption options to match your preferences — free from annual fees.

 

No annual fee

One of the most tempting features of the Citi Custom Cash Card is its lack of an annual fee.

Having no yearly charges means you can easily tuck this away in your wallet and use it to generate cash back whenever you want.

 

Personalized 5% cash back

The card’s 5% cash back feature is a game-changer if you spend a lot in one area.

I’ve recently moved into a new flat, and let me tell you, decking it out doesn’t come cheap. If you’re going through something similar, the card includes home improvement stores as an eligible category.

Here are all the Citi Custom Cash Card categories that can get you the 5% cash rewards:

 

Citi Custom Cash Card: Eligible Categories Category Definitions
Restaurants Cafes, bars, lounges, and fast food restaurants.
Gas stations Merchants with the gas station category code.
Grocery stores Purchases at supermarkets, meat/seafood stores, dairy stores, bakeries, and miscellaneous food/convenience stores.
Travel Airline, hotel, cruise line, and travel agency purchases.
Transit Car rentals, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, bus lines, and motor home and recreational vehicle rentals.
Streaming services Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Paramount+, Disney+, DirectTV Stream, ESPN+, FuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV, and Tidal.
Drugstores Purchases made at pharmacies in grocery stores, general merchandise/discount superstores, and wholesale/warehouse clubs (if they have the drug store and pharmacy merchant category code).
Home improvement stores Purchases at home supply warehouse stores, lumber, and building materials stores, paint and wallpaper stores, hardware stores, nurseries, lawn and garden supply stores, and paints, varnishes, and supplies stores.
Fitness clubs Membership fees and other purchases at athletic, sports, and recreation facilities requiring membership such as health, tennis, and swimming clubs.
Live entertainment Ticket purchases for live entertainment, including concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions, amusement parks, and orchestras.

 

That’s a lot of categories and plenty of fine print. Luckily, Citi does all the work for you; they determine your top spending category by calculating your expenses each billing cycle. Based on this, they’ll deliver your 5% cash back at the end of the billing cycle.

Get the full rundown on the best cash back credit cards.

 

Range of redemption options

Whether you prefer statement credits, gift cards, travel rewards, or even direct deposit into your bank account, you can choose how to use your rewards.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Cash back: Redeem your points for cash via direct deposit, check, or statement credit.
  • Gift cards: Choose from various brands, including Nike, Apple, Home Depot, and (my personal favorite) Taco Bell.
  • Shop with Points: Use your Thankyou Points to shop with online partners, such as Amazon, Walmart, and Walgreens.
  • Citi Travel: Book flights, hotels, and car rentals through the Citi Travel portal.
  • Recent purchases: Redeem points or statement credit to cover recent purchases through the app or your online account.
  • Charity: Donate your choice of eight different charities, with organizations including the American Red Cross, Smile Train, and UNICEF USA (all start at 1,000 points).

You earn cash back in the form of ThankYou Points, with each point worth around 1 cent. However, you may lose value if you don’t redeem for cash back. For example, shopping with points can bring it down to 0.8 cents per point.

 

I recommend sticking with cash back as the best redemption option. It lets you spend without restrictions and you won’t lose any value.

 

Low Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers

Another benefit of the Citi cash back card is its 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. You’ll find this particularly handy if you want to make a large purchase or transfer balances from higher-interest cards to save on extra charges.

 

Why You May Want a Different Card

Personalization comes at a cost (and I’m not just talking about pesky foreign transaction fees). Don’t skip over the drawbacks before signing on the dotted line.

 

Foreign transaction fees

While you don’t have to deal with annual charges, foreign transaction fees are lurking around the corner. If you frequently travel abroad or make purchases in foreign currencies, these fees can add up quickly.

Check out the card_name for a more travel-friendly card. You’ll have to pay the modest $95 price tag, but there are no international fees. Plus, you’ll get 5x points on travel purchases and 25% more points value when redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform.

For business travelers, check out the card_name

 

Average flat-rate cash back

While the personalized 5% cash back is generous, the card’s flat-rate rewards for non-category purchases are lackluster at just 1%. My top category would easily be groceries, but I won’t be getting much value when I venture outside the food aisles.

For more cash back on those routine purchases, check out these flat-rate rewards:

Even cards offering 1% flat-rate rewards offer more bonus categories to maximize spending.

For example, the card_name has no annual fee and lets you earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars via Capital One Travel, plus 3% on dining, entertainment, streaming, and groceries.

 

$500 cap on maximum rewards

It goes without saying, that your top spending category is where most of your money goes. Despite this, Citi places a cap of $500 on the maximum rewards you can earn in this category each billing cycle.

Any fellow renovators will know you can easily exceed $500 in the home improvement category. And once the holiday season rolls around, the grocery bills can go through the roof.

It’s times like these where I’d expect to really boost my rewards, but once you reach that $500 limit, you drop down to a subpar 1% cash back.

 

Lack of insurance and protection

I’m not expecting the world from a no-annual-fee card. But compared to other budget cash back cards, the lack of extra perks is disappointing, particularly insurance and protection benefits.

Citi Custom Cash offers ID theft protection, $0 liability on unauthorized charges, and Fraud Early Warning, all of which you can find with other credit cards and Mastercards.

Let’s compare that to the card_name Here, you get extended warranty and purchase protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, an auto rental damage waiver, and 24/7 fraud monitoring, all for no annual fee.

Take a look at the best cards for travel insurance and medical coverage.

 

Citi Custom Cash Credit Card: Additional Things to Know

 

How does the Citi Custom Cash stack up against its Double Cash sibling? And do you meet the requirements to get your hands on the card? Here’s the full lowdown.

 

What are the Citi Custom Cash Back Credit Card eligibility requirements?

The main Citi Custom Cash Card requirement is having a good to excellent credit score, between 670 and 850 on the FICO scale.

Citi can also look at your income to decide if you’re eligible. While specific salary thresholds vary, having a steady income showing you can repay any credit card debt is key.

And you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to apply, a standard for most credit cards.

Most issuers have restrictions based on new credit card applications and Citi is no exception. Citibank’s 8/65 rule means you can’t apply for more than one Citi card in eight days and no more than two in 65 days.

 

Citi Custom Cash Card vs. Double Cash: Which Is Better?

The Citi Custom Cash Card offers 5% cash back in your top spending category each billing cycle, with all other purchases earning 1% cash back. But Citi caps the maximum rewards at $500, which is not ideal for big spenders.

On the other hand, the Double Cash Card gives you a flat 2% cash back on all purchases; 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay it off.

So, it’s a toss-up when it comes to simplicity versus flexibility.

With the Double Cash Card, you get that consistent 2% cash back across the board, no need to think about changing categories. But with the Custom Cash Card, you can maximize your rewards based on your spending habits.

Regarding perks, both cards offer no annual fee, which is always a win in my book. However, the Double Cash Card comes out slightly ahead with its low introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months rather than 15 months from the Custom Cash.

Here’s a summary of the Citi Cash cards:

 

card_name card_name
4.6/5 4.4/5
annual_fees annual_fees
reg_apr,reg_apr_type reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back. Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
5% cash back on your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to $500 spent).

1% cash back on all other purchases.

Unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay on every purchase.
See Rates and Fees See Rates and Fees

 

How to Maximize Cash Back With the Citi Custom Cash Card

 

Pairing your Double Cash Card with other Citi credit cards is a smart way to maximize your rewards. If you carry the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige (no longer available for new applicants), you can merge points earned from your Citi Custom Cash card.

Pooling points lets you access the broader ThankYou Points program, unlocking redemption options such as transferring points to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. By consolidating points into a card with more valuable redemption opportunities, you can boost the worth of each point.

To take it further into the Citi ecosystem, consider opening the Citi Rewards+® Card. Here, you can earn 10% points back when you redeem (up to the first 100,000 points redeemed per year).

By linking this account with your Custom Cash, you effectively transform your card into a 5.5% cash back card.

 

Best Cards to Pair With the Citi Custom Cash Card

 

The savviest way to use the Citi Custom Cash Back Card is for the 5% cash back.

I spend a lot on groceries, so I’d use this card exclusively for food purchases to maximize the rewards, then use my other cards to cover different categories (anything to avoid the lousy 1% flat-rate cash back).

Check out these similar cards to earn big on particular spending categories:

  • card_name: For all food lovers, this card lets you earn 6% cash back on groceries, as well as 6% on streaming, and 3% on transit and gas. Just watch out for the $95 annual fee after the first year.
  • card_name: This is a great all-rounder card, as you get 5% cash back on hotels and car rentals via Capital One Travel, and 3% on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores.

For a more premium option, find out more about the Capital One Venture X Card.

 

Alternatives to the Citi Custom Cash Credit Card

 

If the Citi Custom Cash rewards card isn’t for you, check out these budget-friendly alternatives:

 

card_name card_name card_name
4.6/5 4.4/5 4.4/5
annual_fees annual_fees annual_fees
reg_apr,reg_apr_type reg_apr,reg_apr_type reg_apr,reg_apr_type
One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back. Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

Unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay on every purchase. 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

3% cash back on restaurant dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

3% cash back on drugstore purchases.

1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

See Rates and Fees See Rates and Fees See Rates and Fees

 

Citi Custom Cash Credit Card: Useful Links

 

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website.

 

Citi Custom Cash Credit Card Customer Reviews

 

I’m no stranger to scrolling through credit card customer reviews, and the Citi Custom Cash fares pretty poorly compared to others I’ve seen.

But for the sake of balance, here’s the good, the bad, and the average Custom Cash reviews:

“Got this card solely for the 5% back on fuel. I couldn’t find any other card that offered this much cash back with no annual fee. If you do want to leverage the other spending categories, request to change your billing date to the 1st day of the month to align the billing cycle to the months. The app also does a good job tracking the spend category per billing cycle.”

“Worst customer service I’ve ever experienced from a financial institution. Wait times are excessive. They tell you they will do or fix something, but it never happens. I closed the account and will never do business with them again.”

“There are predefined categories and a $500 per month limit. Those things make it a great card, but not overpowered. My preference is to spend more on groceries than dining, so I use the Custom Cash for restaurants, and the $500 limit serves as a guide to ensure I am not eating out too much.”

 

Is the Citi Custom Cash Card Good for Me?

 

If you enjoy simplicity and want to earn cash back without an annual fee, this card may be right up your alley. With its straightforward rewards structure, earning 5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle can be a handy boost.

But the $500 cap on bonus cash back each billing cycle is a major drawback if you spend more than that in your chosen category. Once you hit that limit, you’re stuck with earning just 1% cash back for the rest of the cycle.

And unlike other cards, the Citibank Custom Cash Credit Card doesn’t offer many extras beyond its cash back rewards. If you prefer perks like travel insurance or purchase protection, you can explore other options like card_name

 

Apply for Citi Custom Cash here.

 

FAQ

 

What are the Citi Custom Cash categories?

You can earn a maximum of 5% cash back in your top spending category. These categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, travel, transit, streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment.

However, once you reach $500 in your top spending category per billing cycle, your rewards will drop to 1% cash back.

 

Does Citi Custom Cash offer pre-approval?

The Citibank website currently states you can’t check to see if you prequalify for any of their cards online. To boost your chances of getting a Citibank cash back card, aim for a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher on the FICO scale.

 

What is the Citi Custom Cash Card credit limit?

The average credit limit for Custom Cash cardholders is around $5,502, according to Credit Karma. However, others have reported a minimum credit limit of only $500, while some claim Citi gave them a $13,500 limit.

 

Our Methodology

 

Our credit card reviews aim to provide a comprehensive assessment of both quantitative and qualitative factors.

 

The quantitative analysis focuses on the financial costs and benefits associated with each card, including interest rates, fees, rewards programs, cash back offers, and other monetary perks. However, we also consider qualitative aspects that impact the everyday use and value of the card.

 

These include the simplicity of the application process, the structure of the rewards program, the likelihood of utilizing certain card features, and the suitability of the card for frequent or infrequent use.

 

Our On FIRE rating system allows for quick comparisons between cards within a particular category. When choosing a new credit card, consumers should weigh the quantitative dollar amounts along with qualitative ease-of-use factors to select the best overall option for their needs.

 



 

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