Citi Custom Cash® Card Review: Earn 5% cash back where you spend the most
Citi Custom Cash® Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- 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) - there are no category enrollments to worry about or no need to juggle reward tiers. On everything else you purchase, you’ll get 1% cash back.
- Spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months of opening an account and you’ll receive 20,000 ThankYou® Points, worth $200.
- Enjoy 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases (then RegAPR).
- If you're willing to keep up with rotating bonus categories or you're okay managing a tiered-rewards structure, you may stand to earn more rewards with another card.
Why you should trust CardRatings.com
At CardRatings.com we discuss the most up-to-date news and trends within the credit card space. Since we first pioneered the concept of online credit card reviews in 1998, our team of financial experts has provided comprehensive and unbiased credit card reviews for more than 175 cards, plus hundreds of additional resource articles to help educate everyday cardholders so they can feel more confident about their card choices. All our content is written and reviewed by industry experts. Though our content may occasionally contain references to products from our partners, we maintain strict editorial integrity and advertiser relationships and compensation never influences ratings, reviews or featured products. The difference between editorial content and advertising must always be clearly stated. Learn more.
Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.
The CardName is Citi's newest credit card, one with a cash-back option and no annual fee. So what's it like? Is it something you'll want to immediately apply for and put in your wallet? Or would it be better to pass it on by? Let's take a look.
There's a lot to like about the CardName. For starters:
It has a solid welcome bonus.If you spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months, you'll receive 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which you can then redeem for $200 in cash back.
It has an excellent cash back system. You'll earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent and 1% cash back thereafter. On everything else you purchase, you'll get 1% cash back. So you're always getting some cash back. We cover in further details below why this is such a great system.
There is no annual fee. That means this credit card doesn’t come with as many perks as some of the cards that do have annual fees, but when you can find a generous cash-back card that has no annual fee, it’s worth your attention and consideration.
There is a some breathing room for the first 15 months. You’ll get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be RegAPR, based on your creditworthiness.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
- Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
- Member FDIC
As noted, the CardName has a generous welcome bonus. Sure, one could take issue with that. The welcome bonus is $200, and you can find plenty of credit cards that will give you a bigger bonus, but at least you can get that $200 pretty easily. You just need to spend $1,500 within the first six months.
There’s also a wonderful cash-back mechanism in place. You’ll 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.
So you’re always earning at least 1% with this credit card but on certain items, 5%.
WHICH CardName CATEGORIES EARN 5% CASH BACK?
Typically, with many rotating cash back categories that come with credit cards, you have to remember to enroll in the category that you want to get a reward in. If you forget, you're out of luck until the next enrollment period.
With this credit card, however, you have 10 categories of spending (see below), and whatever month you happen to spend the most in, that’s where you receive your 5% cash back. If you’re somebody who has trouble remembering what’s the latest deal in a cash-back bonus category, this could be the card for you. You’ll just earn money in whatever category you spend the most money in, automatically.
Even better, the bonus categories are pretty broad too, so unless you pretty much purchase nothing, most people should have more than enough here to be able to maximize the rewards if they are regularly using the card.
Here are the categories of spending the CardName offers bonus rewards:
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
- Select travel
- Select transit
- Select streaming services
- Fitness clubs
- Live entertainment
- Home improvement stores
So as noted above, the CardName has a welcome bonus. It’s $200. Sure, it’d be nice to get more, but that often entails spending more. All you need to do is spend $1,500 on items you need to buy regardless, within the first six months of opening your credit card account, and you're suddenly $200 richer.
You’ll receive that $200 in the form of 20,000 ThankYou® Points. ThankYou® Points are worth a penny per point, and while that might not sound like much, they add up to a lot when you get 20,000 of them. What’s really nice, too, is that if you have another Citi credit card that earns ThankYou® Points, you can pool your rewards into one account.
It’s also worth nothing that while it may not be an official welcome offer, you do get that 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. (After that, the variable APR will be RegAPR, based on your creditworthiness.)
You’ll have 15 glorious months of being able to buy stuff, or do a balance transfer, and you can pay it back at your leisure and have no interest charges (just make sure that you do pay it all off before the 15-month period is over; otherwise, you’re sitting on an interest bomb that you don’t want to detonate).
There aren’t a lot of downsides, but you know how it is – we all look at things differently. Here’s what you may or may not feel is problematic.
That APR. Once that 15-month introductory offer is over, you might recoil at the variable APR, which is RegAPR, based on your creditworthiness. But while the upper end of that range would be a high APR, obviously, the hope is, you’ll never pay it, because you’ll pay everything in full every month.
Maybe you can do better with a different cash back card? Some people may feel that you get more cash back with some other cards that do have rotating categories, or where one category is getting 5% cash back, and another is giving 3% and another is 2% and so on.
There’s a foreign transaction fee. This is an actual true downside (the other two were kind of weak). There’s a foreign_fee foreign transaction fee with the CardName. On the other hand, if you don’t travel internationally much or have other credit cards that don’t have a foreign transaction fee, this may not bother you in the least.
CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results:
|Likelihood of Continuing to Use
|Recommend to a Friend/Colleague
*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.
CardName vs. CardName
The CardName offers you 2% cash back on everything you buy – unlimited 1% when you buy, and then you get 1% cash back after you pay for the purchases (as long as you at least make the minimum payment on time). The CardName, as you know by now, offers 1% for just about everything, but the category you spend the most in, you’ll get 5% cash back.
Another feature to consider: The CardName 0% interest offer goes a little further with its balance transfers – 18 months (and then RegAPR, depending on your credit worthiness), but it doesn’t offer that 0% interest deal on new purchases. The CardName has a 0% APR offer on both balance transfers and purchases. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.
CardName vs. CardName
CardName has a potentially stronger special offer – an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back(CardName offers $200 after you spend $1,500 in six months). It also has a more extensive cash back rewards program: 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and at restaurants including takeout and delivery, and 3% cash back on all other purchases. After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining; and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
But plenty of cardholders, especially those who don’t travel a lot, might prefer the CardName's more simple approach – get 5% on the categories you spend the most on, and 1% on everything else.
CardName vs. CardName
CardName offers new cardholders $200 after spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account. This card also has a much more robust and complex cash giving system: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in rotating quarterly bonus categories; 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases; and 1% unlimited cash back on other purchases.
But as noted, CardName makes it easier to just spend and collect (5% on the category you wind up spending the most in; 1% on everything else) without thinking about rotating categories or purchasing travel through a portal.
Similar to CardName, the Chase card offers an intro 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then RegAPR.
And also similar to CardName, the CardName has no annual fee.
Information related to Chase Freedom FlexSM has been collected independently by CardRatings and was neither reviewed nor provided by the card issuer
Anybody can apply and feel pretty good about getting the CardName, but it’s really meant for somebody who wants cash back without having to do much thinking about how to earn it.
And if you think about it, the way the categories are set up, it’s a pretty nice deal. If one month you just go crazy and are eating at restaurants for almost every meal, and your spending outpaces everything else, you’ll get 5% back. If another month, your entire family has head colds, and you’re constantly going to the drugstore, and that’s where you’ve become a big spender, maybe you’ll get 5% on all of that cold medicine. It’s a simple way to earn rewards.
Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September 2023 to conduct surveys among 1,869 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2023 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted. “Current Scores” reflect scores from the most recent survey (2023); "Past Scores" reflect scores from the 2022 survey.
Citi Custom Cash® Card Compared to Other Travel rewards Cards
Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.