Citi Custom Cash Card takes cash back to a new high

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As card issuers scramble to adapt to changes in consumer spending, Citi has debuted a new credit card that could take the hassle out of earning rewards. With the ability to earn 5 percent cash back, the newly-launched Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is now one of the highest-earning cash back rewards credit cards.

And despite the high cash back rate, the card actually requires less work than many of its counterparts—no tracking, activation or attention to spending categories required.

With the Citi Custom Cash card, you can earn up to 5 percent cash back on your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to $500, then 1 percent) with all the “work” done for you. There’s no need to activate spending categories or track which category was your top spending category each billing cycle. With the Citi Custom Cash card, your earning automatically adjusts based on whichever category you’ve spent the most in that billing cycle.

What the Citi Custom Cash card offers:

  • Earn a $200 bonus after spending $750 in the first three months (20,000 Citi ThankYou points)
  • Earn 5 percent cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
  • Earn 1 percent unlimited cash back after that
  • No annual fee
  • Get 0 percent intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (13.99 to 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter)

Earning and redeeming rewards

Earning rewards with the Citi Custom Cash card is pretty straightforward. Use your Custom Cash card to pay for purchases, and you’ll earn your cash back each billing cycle in the form of ThankYou points.

You’ll earn 5 points per $1 on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Here are the eligible spending categories to earn the 5 percent back:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Select travel and transit
  • Select streaming services
  • Drugstores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Live entertainment

Remember, there’s no need to track your top spending categories or activate any bonus categories. Just spend like you normally would, and the Citi Custom Cash Card awards your cash back accordingly.

You can redeem ThankYou points for cash back as a direct deposit, check or a statement credit – but you also have the option to redeem points for gift cards, travel and Shop with Points at Amazon.com.

Sign-up bonus

It also helps that the card has a sign-up bonus. You can earn $200 in cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. You’ll get this sign up bonus in the form of 20,000 ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

How to maximize the Citi Custom Cash card

The Citi Custom Cash card sets itself apart from other top-earning cash rewards cards because the 5 percent earnings categories adapt to your spending patterns. You don’t have to wait to hear about bonus category updates from the issuer or activate special offers; you simply spend in the categories where you have the most needs, and the cash back earnings appear.

For that reason, consider pairing this card with other Citi credit cards for more redemption options. For example, you could combine points from the Custom Cash card with one of Citi’s premium travel cards, like the Citi Premier® Card, which could give you additional redemption options with Citi travel partners.

Another way to maximize this card is to plan larger purchases as a way to get the most cash back for an eligible spending category for a billing cycle. An example would be to pay off a gym membership in full or buy materials for a home improvement project within a single month. This way, your large purchase could earn the 5 percent cash back for the designated billing cycle, and you could switch to another eligible category the next.

If you’re not sure if this card is for you, consider checking out how other 5 percent cash back cards compare, then make an informed decision about which might suit your lifestyle the best. The Discover it® Cash Back and  Chase Freedom Flex℠  are comparable cash back cards to start researching.

Should you get the new Citi Custom Cash card?

This card could work well as either an all-around cash back card—your go-to card for all spending—or a card you whip out when your other cash back categories aren’t covered by your other credit cards.

Even if you prefer not to put a lot of thought into your credit card spending strategy, this card works anyway—as most people will have some level of spending at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores regardless. If you’d like to get the most cash back with the least work, the Citi Custom Cash Card could be a great choice.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News
Reviewed by
Credit Card Reviews Editor