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Citi Custom Cash® Card review: Innovation or inconvenience?

Pairing this card with a premium Citi rewards card could be a match made in earning heaven.

 /  16 min
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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for and how we rate our cards. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Snapshot

4.4

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This no-annual-fee card features one of the strongest rewards rates available in key spending categories, although the monthly spending caps are somewhat low.

  • Rewards value
    Rating: 3.7 stars out of 5
    3.7 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

$200

Intro offer

Info

1% - 5%

Rewards rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)

Regular APR

Citi is an advertising partner

Citi Custom Cash® Card Overview

Choosing a cash back card can be a tough call if you want the high-rate rewards of a rotating category card, the flexibility of custom categories and the simplicity of a flat-rate card. Thankfully, the Citi Custom Cash® Card provides all of the above.

Citi’s no-annual-fee credit card automatically earns cash back rewards on purchases in your top spending category each billing cycle from a list of 10 popular everyday categories.

That said, like other no-annual-fee Citi cards, the Custom Cash is light on extra features. You’ll need to pair it with another card, like a Citi premium card, to activate your rewards’ full potential.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 5 percent cash back (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent) on your top eligible spending category each billing cycle
    • 4 percent cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • 20,000 ThankYou Points — worth $200 in cash back — after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first six months

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Apr

    0% APR offer

    • 0 percent on purchases for 15 months
    • 0 percent on balance transfers for 15 months
    • 19.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable ongoing APR

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • No annual fee
    • 3 percent foreign transaction fee

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • World Elite Mastercard benefits

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

Citi Custom Cash Card pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    The earning rate on your top eligible spending category per billing cycle is one of the highest available for a no-annual-fee card.

  • Checkmark

    There’s no need to activate bonuses or keep track of spending, since the top rate is automatically applied each billing cycle to the highest category.

  • Checkmark

    Its poolable rewards make it an excellent partner for the Citi Double Cash® Card.

Cons

  • The elevated bonus category has a relatively low spending ceiling which can reduce your earning potential if you spend heavily in one category or have authorized users sharing the account.

  • You might need to track your spending since you only earn elevated cash back in one category each billing cycle.

  • You won’t maximize this card’s value to the fullest if you don’t pair it with a premium Citi card.

Why you might want the Citi Custom Cash Card

The Citi Custom Cash Card is an excellent choice if you want to concentrate spending in a flexible high-spending category each billing cycle for maximum rewards. Plus, you can earn a welcome bonus with a reasonable return on the amount you're required to spend. It also has a solid intro APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

You can also double your point value on earnings, giving you even more reason to use this card for everyday expenses like groceries or gas.

Welcome offer: Lengthy timeframe to earn bonus

New cardholders can earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 in purchases in the first six months, which comes in the form of 20,000 ThankYou points.

Although the Citi Custom Cash card’s spending requirement may be difficult for some spenders, an offer worth $200 is on par with the sign-up bonuses on the most popular cash back cards and you get quite a bit of time to meet the spend requirement. 

However, the current $1,500 spending requirement is double the card’s previous offer and higher than competing no-annual-fee cash back cards.

Here’s how the Citi Custom Cash card’s bonus stacks up with competing rewards cards based on return on spend:

Card Welcome offer Time period Return on spend
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. First 3 months 40%
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening First 3 months  40%
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. First 90 days 20%
U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. First 120 days 20%
Citi Custom Cash® Card Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back. First 6 months 13.33%

While the return on spend is on the lower end, you do get a considerable period of time to earn the bonus which can deter overspending.

Intro APR: Save on interest for the long run

Like many no-annual-fee cash back cards, the Citi Custom Cash offers a solid intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers — making it a great option if you need to transfer your balance to Citi.

Besides being an effective balance transfer card, the Citi Custom Cash doubles as a somewhat low-interest credit card thanks to its 19.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable ongoing APR. This interest rate is reasonable for a rewards card, with its low-end APR slightly below the current average interest rate.

Rewards: Earn elevated cash back within a wide variety of categories 

The Citi Custom Cash earns 5 percent cash back on up to $500 (then 1 percent back) of purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle, plus unlimited 1 percent on all other purchases. The 10 eligible categories that earn you 5 percent rewards are:

A pro tip to maximize your rewards is to pay for all your subscriptions or big expenses in a given category in a single billing cycle. For example, paying for all of your fitness club memberships in full in January, renewing your annual transit passes in February and booking all of your summer travel in March means you could earn more cash back on a wider variety of purchases across the year’s billing cycles. Additionally, through 6/30/2025 you can earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal.

Redemption options: The unique chance to almost double your point value

The Citi Custom Cash offers well-rounded redemption options. You can redeem ThankYou points for cash back in the form of a direct deposit, check or statement credit, but your points must equal at least $5 in cash back to redeem for a check. Alternatively, you can redeem your points for gift cards, booking travel through Citi or eligible purchases on Amazon via Shop with Points.

Since you earn ThankYou points instead of automatic cash back, your point value varies depending on the redemption choice. The Custom Cash card’s cash back redemption options will get you a value of 1 cent per point. You’ll also get 1 cent per point for gift card redemptions and travel bookings through Citi.

But if you pool points with other Citi cards, Bankrate’s latest point valuation estimates that your points may be worth around 1.6 cents each on average through certain Citi airline or hotel transfer partners. This estimation means transferring your 20,000-point sign-up bonus to the right transfer partner could increase its value to about $320.

Rates and fees: No annual fee means no yearly cost

While the rates and fees on this card are typical, there's no cost to carrying this card since there's no annual fee. With no yearly cost, an annual fee won't eat into any rewards you might earn either. 

Why you might want a different cash back card

The Citi Custom Cash Card offers several fantastic advantages, but if you value a card with a diverse set of benefits, this card's short list of perks will disappoint you. Also, if you value earning high rewards in more than one category at a time, this card isn’t the right choice for you.

Cardholder perks: Doesn’t stand out compared to similar cards

The Citi Custom Cash Card is a World Elite Mastercard Mastercard, meaning you’ll have Mastercard’s highest tier of benefits, which don’t offer extensive purchase protections and travel perks. These features could make a slight difference if you’re deciding between the Custom Cash and a typical no-annual-fee cash back card with minimal benefits, so check with your issuer first to see if your card specifically qualifies for choice features like:

  • 24/7 World Elite Concierge assistance
  • Three free months of DoorDash DashPass, plus $5 off your first two orders per month
  • $5 Lyft credits after three rides each month
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership

Even though its Mastercard benefits and standard Citi benefits like fraud protection and access to presale concert and sporting tickets through Citi Entertainment can slightly set the Custom Cash apart from other no-annual-fee cards with even fewer additional features, the Citi Custom Cash card’s benefits just aren’t remarkable enough to give the card an edge.

Reward value: Higher with other Citi cards

Although marketed as a cash back card, the Custom Cash actually earns basic ThankYou points, which are slightly different from the full-fledged ThankYou points you earn with the other Citi  cards like the Citi Prestige® Card (which is no longer available to new applicants). Basic points can’t be transferred to Citi travel partners for a potentially higher value unless you have a Citi Prestige card to combine with your Custom Cash’s points.

However, unlike the points you’d earn with some other Citi cards, ThankYou points earned with the Custom Cash card retain their value when redeemed toward cash back or statement credits. To maximize value it’s important to be aware of Citi’s rewards program and consider how cards work best together.

Bonus categories: Low rate outside of your top eligible spending category

Here’s a look at how Citi defines some of the card’s bonus categories:

Caret Down
  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Cruises
  • Travel agency purchases
  • Car rentals
  • Buses
  • Taxis and rideshares
  • Ferries
  • Trains
  • Subways
  • Parking garages and tolls
  • Motorhome and RV rentals
  • Other major transit categories
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Amazon Music
  • Apple Music
  • Disney+
  • DirectTV Stream
  • ESPN+
  • fuboTV
  • HBO Max
  • NBA League Pass
  • Netflix
  • Pandora
  • Showtime
  • Sling TV
  • Spotify
  • Starz
  • SiriusXM
  • Tidal
  • Vudu
  • YouTube Red 
  • YouTube TV

If you spent $500 in one of these categories each billing cycle, you’d earn at least $25 cash back, which comes to $75 per quarter or $300 per year (similar to other 5 percent rotating category cards).

Because of the low base rate, this card works better as a second credit card that allows you to maximize your cash back outside of categories that another card already earns bonuses on.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Bankrate editor Robert Thorpe uses the Citi Custom Cash to maximize the money decides to spend, taking advantage of the tiered-rewards rates:

I use my cards for cash back to reduce the amount of money I’m spending each month. I love that I can earn 5% cash back in categories that typically only receive 3% or less with more versatile cards. I use two Custom Cash cards for two of our biggest spend areas that typically would only earn 3%. My wife is the account holder for one, which we use for gas purchases. I’m the account holder for the other, which we use for dining out. When I first started using the card, I couldn’t see if I was eligible for the sign-up bonus. I messaged customer service via the app on a Sunday morning and received a prompt reply that assured me I was eligible.

— Robert Thorpe — Editor, Personal Finance

Nouri Zarrugh, another Bankrate expert, also recommends the Custom Cash for its high, flexible cash back rate in a choice category.

This card is so underrated! You can’t get a rewards rate this high in almost any of its eligible categories without paying an annual fee. If you stick to using it for only one category, I think this card is almost a must-have for building a multi-card strategy. I only use it for groceries — that way I always know which category is going to earn the top cash back rate. I juggle several cards, so having this card dedicated to only one type of purchase makes things a bit easier to manage.

— Nouri Zarrugh— Senior Editor, Credit Cards

 

How the Citi Custom Cash compares to other cash back cards

Deciding on a cash back card can be overwhelming. With the hassles of enrollment and rotating categories, it can be hard to maximize rewards every billing cycle with the Citi Custom card. Considering these factors, credit cards with several ongoing bonus categories can be worth looking into.

Image of Citi Custom Cash® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Citi's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Bankrate Score
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
4.8

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Cash Back
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Citi Custom Cash Card

Hands down, the best cards to pair with the Citi Custom Cash are the Citi Premier and the Citi Prestige (no longer available) since they let you transfer your pooled Custom Cash rewards to Citi’s travel partners for a potentially higher value. But any of the Citi ThankYou trifecta cards would be a great choice.

Who is the Citi Custom Cash right for?

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Citi Custom Cash Card worth it?

The Citi Custom Cash Card earns a high rewards rate on where you shop the most each billing cycle, with a wide variety of categories.

It also delivers the highest available year-round rewards rate for a no-annual-fee card in key spending areas like groceries, gas and dining.

But for all of its strengths, the Citi Custom Cash card’s reward structure is limiting. Instead of a quarterly spending cap, you have a $500 spending cap per billing cycle in your top category, which could make you miss out on cash back if you can’t plan accordingly. 

However, this caveat makes it a great partner credit card. If you’re already a Citi cardholder (or plan on getting another), the Custom Cash is one of the most versatile supporting cards for generating extra cash back or ThankYou points thanks to its flexible redemption options. The Citi Custom Cash is a strong card for everyday spending in its own right, but pairing it with other Citi cards can really help it flex its muscles.

The information about the Citi Prestige Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest).

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Garrett Yarbrough
Writer, Credit Cards

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

Edited by Former Senior Editor, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Former Editor, credit cards

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.