Citi Custom Cash: 5% Back in Your Top Category

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The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers 5% cash back in your top spending category for up to $500 each billing cycle for no annual fee. 

This allows you to pick whether you want to earn 5% cash back in categories such as restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and home improvement stores up to $500 per month.

Card Rating:
4/5

Table of Contents

5% Cash Back in Top Category
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
  • Earn $200 Cash Back After Spending $1,500 in the First Six Months
  • 5% Cash Back on Purchases in Your Top Eligible Spend Category Each Billing Cycle up to $500 (1% after that)
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 Months on Purchases and Balance Transfers ($5 or 5% fee). After that, a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24% applies.
  • No Annual Fee
Learn More

$200 Welcome Bonus

The Citi Custom Cash card offers a $200 cash bonus after spending $1,500 in the first six months.

The welcome bonus comes in the form of 20,000 ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

But if you also have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, you can unlock the ability to transfer ThankYou Points to airline partners.

0% Intro APR for 15 months

This card also offers 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.

After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance Transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening, and fee of $5 or 5% applies.

Earning Points with the Custom Cash

The Citi Custom Cash earns 5% cash back in your top category up to $500 each billing cycle, with any spending over the $500 cap earning 1% cash back.

The categories eligible for 5% cash back are: 

Excludes gasoline purchases at warehouse clubs, discount stores, convenience stores or other merchants that do not use the gas station merchant category code.

Includes purchases at cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants. Excludes purchases at bakeries, caterers, restaurants located inside another business (such as hotels, stores, stadiums, grocery stores, or warehouse clubs) and third party dining delivery services.

Includes purchases at supermarkets, meat/seafood stores, dairy stores, bakeries, and miscellaneous food/convenience stores. Excludes purchases at general merchandise/discount superstores; wholesale/warehouse clubs; candy, nut and confectionery stores. Purchases made at online supermarkets or with grocery delivery services also do not qualify if the merchant does not classify itself as a supermarket by using the supermarket merchant category code.

Includes airline, hotel, cruise line and travel agency purchases. Excludes timeshares, boat leases and rentals, campgrounds and trailer parks, and real estate agencies.

Includes 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. Excludes bike/scooter rentals, auto clubs and insurance companies

Includes the following cable, satellite, and streaming providers: Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, CBS All Access, Disney+, AT&T TV NOW, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV, and Tidal.

Includes purchases made at pharmacies in grocery stores, general merchandise/discount superstores, and wholesale/warehouse clubs if those merchants submit purchases made in their pharmacy with the drug store and pharmacy merchant category code.

Includes 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. Excludes florists and florists’ supply stores; nursery stock; wholesale construction stores; and glass stores.

Includes membership fee and other purchases at athletic, sports and recreation facilities requiring membership such as health, tennis, and swimming clubs. Excludes fees associated with virtual services for home exercise equipment, personal monitoring devices, or fitness streaming classes.

Includes ticket purchases for live entertainment, including: concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions, amusement parks, and orchestras. Excludes: charitable organizations that provide live entertainment (benefits), sporting camps, sports complexes where you participate in the sport, public and private golf courses, country clubs (including membership fees), bowling alleys, movie theaters, tourist attractions, museums and art galleries.

My recommendation with the Custom Cash is to pick one 5% cash back category and use the card exclusively for that category. 

Good options would be gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores, and home improvement stores since you can most likely spend close to $500 per month in at least one of those categories. 

For all of your other eligible spending, cardmembers earn 1% cash back.

For example, with this card if you spent $500 on gas, $300 at grocery stores, and $100 at drug stores in a month, you would earn:

  • $25 cash back for gas ($500 * 5% = $25)
  • $3 cash back at grocery stores ($300 * 1% = $3)
  • $1 cash back at drug stores ($100 * 1% = $1)

Benefits of the Citi Custom Cash

The Citi Custom Cash lacks any major benefits, which is why it is best to use the card at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores since you would not need benefits such as travel insurance or purchase protection. 

The minor benefits of the Custom Cash are:

  • Access to Citi Entertainment, which gets cardholders exclusive access to music, sports, and culinary experiences
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection
  • Free Access to your FICO Score
  • Contactless Payment

The Custom Cash also gets access to cash back discounts via Citi Merchant Offers, which you can access by visiting this Citi page and signing in.

Citi Merchant Offers

How to Redeem Points with the Citi Custom Cash

This card earns Citi ThankYou points, which can be redeemed in several different ways:

  • Statement Credit = 1 cent per point
  • Direct Deposit = 1 cent per point
  • Check by mail = 1 cent per point with a minimum of $5
  • Travel = 1 cent per point when you book travel through Citi.
  • Gift Cards = 1 cent per point or above with minimum of 2,500 points
  • Charitable Contributions = 1 cent per point
  • Shop with Points: Amazon, PayPal, CVS, Best Buy, 1-800 Flowers, BP, Amoco, and Shell

Pros and Cons

Here’s a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the Custom Cash.

Pros:

  • 5% cash back in a category of your choice
  • Ability to transfer cash back to airline partners with Citi Premier
  • No Annual Fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months (see terms above)

Cons:

  • 1% cash back in other categories (except top category)
  • No major card benefits such as purchase protection or extended warranty
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Is the Custom Cash Worth It?

The Custom Cash card is worth it if you use it exclusively for a single category, such as at gas stations or grocery stores, since you would earn 5% cash back in that single category.

Plus, if you combine it with the Citi Premier, you can convert the 5% cash back to 5 airline miles per dollar, which boosts the value of your spending on this card.

Alternatives to the Citi Custom Cash

Now that you know about the pros and cons of this card and its benefits, it’s time to review the alternatives.

Or, if you are like me, who loves to maximize my rewards, here are other cards you should add to your wallet: 

Citi Double Cash

$200 Welcome Bonus
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 Month BT Offer
  • Earn $200 Cash Back After Spending $1,500 in the First 6 Months
  • 2% Cash Back (1% on Purchases, 1% When You Pay)
  • No Annual Fee
Learn More Our Review

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer boasts a strong 2% rewards rate on purchases, where you get 1% back when you buy and 1% when you pay. 

Plus, for a limited time, you can earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 in purchases in the first 6 months.

This zero-annual-fee card offers a solid earning potential as long as you pay your balance on time, and it provides a simple way to rack up points with no bonus categories to track. 

Chase Freedom Flex

5% Back in Quarterly Categories
Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • Earn $200 Bonus Cash Back After Spending $500 in the First 3 Months + 5% Cash Back on Gas Station Purchases in the First Year (up to $6,000)
  • 5% Cash Back in Quarterly Bonus Categories (up to $1,500 in combined spending after activation)
  • 5% Cash Back on Travel Purchased Via Chase
  • 3% Cash Back at Restaurants, Eligible Food Delivery, and Drug Stores
  • Cell Phone Insurance and Purchase Protection
  • No Annual Fee

Click Here to Learn How to Apply

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a great no-annual fee card that earns 5% cash back in quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in combined spending) and on travel purchased via Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The Freedom Flex also earns 3% cash back at restaurants, eligible food delivery, and drug stores.

The card also comes with nice benefits such as cell phone insurance, extended warranty, purchase protection, secondary rental car insurance, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Citi Premier Card

80,000 Points
Citi Premier® Card
  • Earn 80,000 Points After Spending $4,000 in the First 3 Months
  • 3x Points at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Flights, and Hotels
  • $100 Off a Single $500 Hotel Stay Per Year
  • Extended Warranty and Purchase Protections
  • $95 Annual Fee
Learn More Our Review

The Citi Premier® Card currently offers a large 80,000 points welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Plus, you can earn a lot of points by earning 3x points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airlines, and hotels. 

The Premier card also comes with no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, and an extended warranty for items purchased with the card that adds an additional 24 months to the manufacturer’s warranty.

The Verdict

The Citi Custom Cash is a good option if you want to choose your 5% cash back category while paying no annual fee.

For example, the Custom Cash could be your go-to card to earn 5% cash back at the gas station, or the grocery store, or the drug store. 

5% Cash Back in Top Category
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
  • Earn $200 Cash Back After Spending $1,500 in the First Six Months
  • 5% Cash Back on Purchases in Your Top Eligible Spend Category Each Billing Cycle up to $500 (1% after that)
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 Months on Purchases and Balance Transfers ($5 or 5% fee). After that, a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24% applies.
  • No Annual Fee
Learn More