Citi Custom Cash Card Review

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Remembering to sign up for bonus categories each quarter is a major hassle with rewards cards that feature rotating categories. If you forget to sign up, you could miss out on a lot of cash back. The Citi Custom Cash Card fixes that by automatically adjusting to your spending each month, so you'll never worry about missing out on the highest rewards-earning rate.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Overall Rating
4.9
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5 points per $1 on purchases in your top eligible spend category up to the first $500 spent, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
3.7
for Fees
3.1
for Rewards
4.8
for Credit
2.2
Current Offer

Earn $200 in cash back after spending $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.

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

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    Savvy Saver

One way to maximize your credit card rewards is to sign up for a rotating-category rewards card. These cards offer high cash-back earnings (typically 5%) in select spending categories, such as groceries or dining out, that change every few months. But there’s a catch: You need to activate the bonus categories each quarter or risk losing out on those higher earnings.

Some people simply can't remember this chore, and if that's you, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a good choice. There's no need to sign up for the highest earnings rate because this card does that for you automatically, based on your spending. If in August you spend the most on groceries, that becomes your 5% earning category. But, say, in September, dining out is tops, then that becomes your 5% category.

Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Good introductory 0% interest offer

  • Competitive sign-up bonus

Cons
  • Foreign transaction fee

Pros Explained

  • No annual fee: You have the potential to earn a lot of rewards with this card, especially considering there's no annual fee to cut into your return.
  • Good introductory 0% interest offer: This card comes with 15 months of 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers. Only a handful of cards in our database offer longer interest-free periods.
  • Competitive sign-up bonus: For a no-annual-fee card, the sign-up bonus is respectable: $200. And you only need to spend at least $750 in the first three months to earn it.

Cons Explained

  • Foreign transaction fee: This isn't a card to bring with you if you travel abroad, as it charges a 3% fee for foreign transactions.

Citi Custom Cash Card's Bonus for New Cardholders

The Citi Custom Cash Card offers a sign-up bonus that's competitive with what other comparable cards are offering. If you spend at least $750 within the first three months after you get the card, you'll earn $200 in cash-back rewards. This isn't deposited into your account as straight-up cash back, though. Instead, you'll get a deposit of 20,000 Citi ThankYou points—worth $200—but you can use them for other rewards besides cash, too (see below).

Earning Points & Rewards

Like most cash-back rewards cards, this one lets you earn at least 1% cash back on all your purchases. Also like other rotating-category cards, you'll earn 5% cash back in certain categories. The Citi Custom Cash Card differs in two major ways from its competitors: You don't need to activate the bonus categories to earn the higher rate, and it resets on a monthly, rather than quarterly, basis.

The Citi Custom Cash Card offers 5% cash back on the first $500 you spend each month in one of the following categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Drugstores
  • Lives entertainment
  • Home improvement stores
  • Fitness clubs and gyms (not including digital services or streaming classes)
  • Certain travel (cruise, hotel, airline, and travel agency purchases)
  • Certain transit (most transit except for auto clubs, insurance companies, and bike or scooter rentals)
  • Certain streaming services (many services such as Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime Video)

Other rotating-category cards switch categories on a quarterly basis, and offer 5% cash back on the first $1,500 worth of purchases in that category. The Citi Custom Cash Card offers an equivalent amount of cash back ($500 a month is $1,500 per quarter), but switches up the categories every month according to where you're spending the most money. This gives you more flexibility in earning rewards because you're not potentially boxed into a category you don't often use for 25% of the year.

Redeeming Rewards

You don't technically earn cash back with the Citi Custom Cash Card—at least, not right away. You'll earn Citi ThankYou Points, with each point being worth 1 cent toward a cash-back redemption. So while your points can be redeemed for the equivalent of either 1% or 5% cash back, you'll need to specify you want to redeem them in this way. You can choose to redeem your cash as a statement credit, a check, or a deposit into your bank account.

You have other options for redeeming your points, although they may be worth less than 1 cent each:

  • Travel
  • Gift cards
  • Charity donations
  • Pay with points at certain retailers
  • Payments toward a mortgage or student loan
  • Online bill pay (if you have a Citibank account)

We consider a rewards point value of 1 cent per point to be a decent  value. Avoid redemptions worth less than that and look for redemptions that offer more, if you can.

Transferring Points

You also have the option to transfer your ThankYou Points to an airline mileage rewards program at a 1:1 ratio in 1,000-point increments. A transfer will allow your rewards value to soar. That’s because instead of being worth 1 cent each as cash back, your rewards could be worth as much as 2.04 cents apiece on average with American Airlines, one of Citi's transfer partners.

How To Get the Most Out of This Card

Aside from making sure you meet the spending requirements to earn the sign-up bonus, there are a few ways you can maximize the value you get from this card. You have many options when it comes to redeeming your rewards and we recommend sticking with two. If you don't travel much, stick with redeeming your points for cash to get the most value.

Hitting the category maximum in a month translates to $25 cash back. And while $500 may seem like a low bar to reach, for many spenders, it may be a challenge. According to the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spends $387 per month on groceries and $294 per month on meals away from home (including takeout and delivery). Outside of housing and health care, these are two of the three biggest spending categories in the survey (vehicle purchases is the third).

If you travel, transferring your points to an airline partner is another way to maximize value. Remember that some airlines belong to alliances that let you book with other airlines. For example, transferring your ThankYou points to American Airlines potentially gives you the biggest return. It’s worth noting that American Airlines is a member of the oneworld airline alliance, so you can use your AAadvantage miles to book flights with Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, and several others.

Citi Custom Cash Card's Other Features

The card offers a meager array of perks compared to other cash-back cards.

  • Sports, music, and event ticket presales, plus VIP access at some events

Customer Experience

Citi ranked slightly below average in a 2021 J.D. Power survey of customer satisfaction among credit card users. Citi does offer 24/7 customer support, however, and a free FICO score update every month. You can also choose your own payment due date to help you manage your cash flow better.

Security Features

Citi offers some nice security features, such as the ability to lock your card against new purchases if you lose it or it's stolen. You can also sign up for Mastercard ID Theft Protection with your card, which will provide free monitoring for signs of ID theft.

Citi Custom Cash Card's Fees

The Citi Custom Cash Card comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee, so leave this card at home if you travel over the border. In addition, there's a fee for balance transfers and cash advances.

For Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
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CURRENT CARD
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
overall rating
4.9
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5 points per $1 on purchases in your top eligible spend category up to the first $500 spent, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Citi. "More Ways To Redeem." Accessed Aug. 27, 2021.

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey." Accessed Aug. 27, 2021.

  3. oneworld. "Members." Accessed Aug. 27, 2021.

  4. J.D. Power. "While Many U.S. Credit Card Issuers Struggle To Meet Evolving Customer Expectations, Some Bright Spots Exist, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Aug. 27, 2021.