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Citi Custom Cash Credit Card Review: Tailored Cash Back Rewards

Our review of the Citi Custom Cash looks at the unique cash back program that offers the most rewards based on where you spend most frequently.
(5 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

Cash back rewards credit cards can pay you back some of what you spend. But which card has the best cash rewards program?

Citi Custom Cash might catch your eye if you're interested in a card that adapts to how you spend.

This card pays you back a competitive rewards rate on the category you spend the most in each month -- automatically.

There are no rotating bonus categories. Instead, you earn one of two rewards rates on purchases: 5% back or 1% back.

You pay no annual fee and enjoy an introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Wondering if the Citi Custom Cash Card is right for you? Keep reading to learn more about how this card works.

Citi Custom Cash Card Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • Earn 5% cash back on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500
  • Earn 1% cash back after the first $500 and on all other purchases
  • Redeem rewards for direct deposit, statement credit, check, travel, gift cards or shop with points at Amazon.com
  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back rewards rate is capped at the first $500 in eligible purchases each month

Main Highlight: Earn 5% Back on Things You Buy the Most

The Citi Custom Cash Card features a unique cash back rewards program.

Rather than earning a flat rewards rate or having to manage rotating categories, it works like this:

  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on purchases above the $500 threshold
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

Cash back is earned as ThankYou Points.

So basically, you're earning 5 points per $1 on purchases in your top eligible spending category per billing cycle.

The categories that can earn 5% back include:

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

Ideal for everyday spending

Overall, this card is designed more for everyday spenders than travelers. But you could still earn 5% back on certain travel purchases.

The upside of this card is that you don't have to pick and choose any categories.

Citi analyzes your spending for you, then applies the 5% or 1% rewards rate accordingly. All you have to do is spend like you normally would to earn rewards.

Once you're ready to use your rewards, you can redeem them for:

  • Direct deposit
  • Statement credit
  • Check
  • Gift cards
  • Travel
  • Shop with Points at Amazon.com

Since these are ThankYou points you're earning, you could combine them with points earned using another Citi rewards credit card.

Your points don't expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

There's also an introductory rewards bonus. You may be eligible if you haven't received a bonus for opening a Citi Custom Cash account in the past 48 months.

You also have to meet the minimum spending requirement. But it's pretty reasonable and may be easy to do if you charge most of your purchases to the card.

Low Introductory APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers

The Citi Custom Cash Card extends an introductory APR offer for both purchases and balance transfers.

The terms are competitive, compared to what you'll find with other cash back rewards cards.

You do have to complete the transfer within four months of opening your account. And there is a balance transfer fee.

The fee is either $5 or 5% of the balance transfer amount, whichever is greater. Again, that's pretty typical of other cash back rewards cards.

You might be interested in a low introductory rate if you're planning to make a large purchase.

And a balance transfer offer could be appealing if you want to consolidate high interest debt from other cards.

Just remember to add in the cost of the balance transfer fee. And check the timing so you can calculate how much you'll need to pay each month.

What Else Do You Get With the Citi Custom Cash Card?

The best feature of the Citi Custom Cash Card is the cash back rewards program.

But if you're wondering whether there's more to it than that, here are a few other benefits you'll enjoy.

  • Exclusive access to music, sports and culinary experiences through Citi Entertainment
  • 24/7 customer service support
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection
  • $0 liability on unauthorized charges
  • Free FICO credit score access
  • Fraud Early Warning
  • Citi Quick Lock
  • Automatic account alerts
  • Contactless pay and digital wallets
  • Choose your payment due date
  • Citi mobile app access

You'll see there aren't many travel benefits on this list.

And that's because this card isn't designed specifically for travel.

But you could still use it to earn 5% back on things like:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Cruise packages
  • Travel agency purchases
  • Car rentals
  • Parking and tolls

Overall, the Citi Custom Cash Card offers flexibility when it comes to earning more rewards on purchases.

Card Fees

The Citi Custom Cash Card has no annual fee. So you don't have to worry about that taking away from your rewards value.

But there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. So if you're planning a trip outside the U.S. you may want to take along a travel rewards card with no foreign transaction fee.

Overall, this card is a good option if you're looking for no annual fee rewards.

Citi Custom Cash Card vs. Other Rewards Cards

If you're interested in cash back rewards, it's important to shop around. This way, you can find the card that's the best fit for your spending style.

Here are three other cash back rewards cards you might consider.

Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash Card allows you to earn 2% cash back. Specifically, you can earn:

  • 1% cash back on purchases as you make them
  • 1% cash back on purchases as you pay them off

You have to pay at least the minimum due on time each month to earn the second 1% cash back.

Cash back rewards are unlimited. You can redeem them for statement credit, direct deposit or a check. And you also have the option to convert them to Citi ThankYou points.

This card has no annual fee, just like the Citi Custom Cash Card. But there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Read the full editor's review of the Citi Double Cash Card.

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex Card offers tiered cash back rewards.

Here's what you can earn with this card:

  • Earn 5% on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Earn 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants
  • Earn 3% at drugstores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases

You can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Walmart and Target are excluded from this offer.

Compared to the Citi Custom Cash Card, the rewards structure is more complex. And you have to activate bonus categories each quarter to earn the 5% rewards rate.

It's possible, however, to earn more cash back with this card overall if you're a heavier spender.

There's no annual fee. But there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Read the full editor's review of the Chase Freedom Flex Card.

Capital One Quicksilver Rewards

The Capital One Quicksilver Rewards Card keeps things simple. This card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

That's less than what you'll get with the Citi Custom Cash Card. But you might not mind if you want an uncomplicated rewards program.

There's no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. So if you're looking for a cash back card for travel, it could be a good fit. .

You can earn an introductory cash back bonus. And there's an introductory APR for purchases as well.

Rewards are redeemable for cash, gift cards, purchases or as a deposit to a PayPal account.

This card also comes with travel accident insurance and emergency travel assistance.

Read the full editor's review of the Capital One Quicksilver Rewards Card.

Final Verdict: Should You Apply for the Citi Custom Cash Card?

The Citi Custom Cash Card has an attractive cash back rewards program, with no annual fee.

You might like this card if:

  • You want to earn a higher cash back rewards rate
  • You mostly spend on everyday purchases
  • You don't want to pay an annual fee

On the other hand, you might learn toward another card if you're interested in travel benefits specifically. And it's possible to earn even more cash rewards with a different card.

The trade-off may be a more complicated rewards structure. So as you compare cards, consider what you value most: ease of use or higher rewards.

Finally, remember to compare the fees and APRs so you understand what different cash back cards may cost.

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