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Citi has a brand new tiered cash rewards credit card. 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 $200 bonus offer that can be earned (after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months). Here’s a closer look at this cash back credit card.

Learn more: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

The Citi Custom Cash Card. Credit: Citi

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 cardmembers can earn a $200 signup bonus after making $750 on purchases during the first 3 months.

This introductory offer distributes as 20,000 ThankYou points with a $200 cash redemption value.

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.

Eligible Categories

You can effortlessly earn up to 5% back on 1 of the following categories each month:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Travel (select brands only)
  • Transit (select brands only)
  • Streaming services (select brands only)
  • Drugstores
  • 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 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 pros and cons. Here are some of the positives and negatives of the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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. While the card has rotationg 5% bonus categories, you can always earn 5% on travel purchases on Chase Ultimate Rewards and also 3% for dining and drugstore 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 puchases. There is no limit to how much cash back can be earned.

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.

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 qualfiy 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.

However, you won’t earn ThankYou points and the redemption minimum is $25.

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

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

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