Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card

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Both the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card can earn you plenty of cash back, especially in select spending categories. And neither card charges an annual fee.

But which card is better for you? That comes down to how you spend. If you spend a lot of money in one particular category—such as dining out or at supermarkets—the Citi Custom Cash might be the smart choice. But if you spend widely on a variety of different purchase types, the Customized Cash Rewards card might make more financial sense.

Main details

Cards Citi Custom Cash Card Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Welcome bonus $200 if you spend $750 or more within first three months of opening account $200 if you spend $1,000 or more within first three months of opening account
Rewards Rate 5% cash back in category of your choice (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1%); 1% cash back on all other purchases 3% cash back in category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs; 1% cash back on all other purchases
Intro APR 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months.
Annual fee $0 $0

Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Citi Custom Cash

Both the Customized Cash Rewards and Citi Custom Cash cards offer a welcome bonus of $200 cash back. The catch? With the Citi Custom Cash card, you’ll get this bonus after spending $750 with your card within the first three months of opening your account. With the Customized Cash Rewards card, you must spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening your account to get that $200 cash back bonus.

Rewards rate winner: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards

If you spend a lot in one category, the Citi Custom Cash card might make sense. You can pick one category of spending—your choices are restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home-improvement stores, fitness clubs or live entertainment—in which you’ll earn 5 percent cash back. In all other categories, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back.

Be careful, though: You’ll only earn 5 percent cash back on the first $500 of purchases you make in your chosen category during a billing cycle. If you spend past that limit, you’ll earn just 1 percent cash back even on purchases in your select category.

The Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers a more flexible rewards program. You can choose one category to earn 3 percent cash back. You can choose from gas, online shopping, drugstores, home-improvement or furnishings stores, dining or travel for your 3 percent category.

You’ll also earn 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

There are limits, though. You’ll earn 3 percent and 2 percent back on the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter in your chosen top spending category and at wholesale clubs and grocery stores. After you hit this limit, these purchases will earn unlimited 1 percent cash back.

The flexibility and the ability to earn a higher cash back bonus in more than one spending category make the Customized Cash Rewards cash back program the stronger choice.

Annual Fee winner: Tie

Neither the Customized Cash Rewards nor the Citi Custom Cash card charge an annual fee. That’s an attractive feature considering the solid rewards programs offered by each card.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

The Customized Cash Rewards card charges a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent of the U.S. dollar amount of each transaction made in a foreign currency or made in U.S. dollars if the transaction is made or processed outside the U.S. The Citi Custom Cash card also charges a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent of each purchase transaction in U.S. dollars.

Which card earns the most?

How much can you earn with each of these cards? That depends on how you spend during the month. If you tend to spend heavily on just one category, you might earn more with the Citi Custom Cash card. If your spending is spread out over several types of purchases, the Customized Cash Rewards card might be the better choice.

Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards spending example

Say you choose grocery stores as your 5 percent category with the Citi Custom Cash card and you spend $500 on groceries during your billing cycle. You’ll earn 5 percent cash back on that spend, giving you $25.

Say you also charge $800 during the rest of the month on non-grocery store purchases. You’ll earn 1 percent cash back on those buys, which comes out to $8. For the month and the $1,300 you charge, you’ll earn a total of $33 in cash back.

Depending on how you spend, you can earn more with the Customized Cash Rewards card by spending the same amount during your billing cycle. Say you choose travel as your 3 percent spending category with this card and you spend $1,000 during the month in this category. You’ll get $30 cash back.

If you then spend $300 at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, which are your 2 percent spending categories, you’ll earn $6 more cash back. That gives you a total of $36 cash back while spending the same $1,300 for the billing cycle, or $3 more than you’d get with the Citi Custom Cash card.

However, if you spend a different way with each of these cards, you might earn more cash back with the Citi Custom Cash card.

Say your 3 percent category with the Customized Cash Card is online shopping and you spend $500 during the month in this category. You’ll earn 3 percent cash back on those purchases, or $15. If you then spend $400 at grocery stores and wholesale clubs during your billing cycle, you’ll earn an additional $8 in cash back.

If you spend an additional $400 in all other purchases with your Customized Cash Card, you’ll earn an additional $4 in cash back. That would give you a total of $27 for the month, less than the example above in which you earned $33 with the Custom Cash card.

Again, choosing the card that earns the most cash back each month depends on your spending habits. If you don’t spend enough in your 3 percent category with the Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you might not earn as much cash back as you would with the Citi Custom Cash Card. At the same time, if you don’t spend enough in a 5 percent category with the Citi Custom Cash card, it might be more valuable to carry the Customized Cash Rewards card.

Why should you get the Citi Custom Cash Card?

Additional benefits

The Citi Custom Cash Card doesn’t come with a lot of benefits besides its cash back program and long introductory 0 percent offer on purchases and balance transfers. You can choose your own due date to make it easier to make your payments each month. The card also offers identity theft protection, fraud alerts and zero percent liability on unauthorized purchases.

Redemption options

You’ll receive your cash back in the form of Citi ThankYou points. You can redeem these points for cash back as a statement credit, direct deposit or check. You can also redeem your ThankYou points for rewards such as gift cards, Amazon shopping, airline miles and hotels.

Recommended credit score

Citi does not recommend a specific credit score for the Custom Cash card. Most credit cards that offer rewards programs, though, require a higher credit score. If your FICO score is 700 or higher, you’ll boost your odds of qualifying for this card.

Why should you get the Bank of America Customized Cash card?

Additional benefits

The Customized Cash Rewards card is part of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. This program can greatly increase the amount of cash back you earn with the card. The value of this program depends on how much money you have invested in a Bank of America bank account or Merrill Investment Account.

At the highest level, meaning you have at least $100,000 deposited with a Bank of America bank account or a Merrill Investment account, you’ll earn a 75 percent bonus on all the cash back you earn with the Customized Cash Rewards card.

This means that you’ll earn 5.25 percent cash back in your 3 percent spending category and 3.5 percent when spending at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You’ll also earn 1.75 percent cash back on all other purchases.

The card also offers a $0 liability guarantee, protecting you from fraudulent card transactions and access to Bank of America’s online and mobile banking service.

Redemption options

You can redeem your cash back bonus as a statement credit, direct deposit to your bank account or check.

Recommended credit score

Bank of America doesn’t publish the credit scores you’ll need to qualify for the Customized Cash Rewards card. But, as with the Citi Custom Cash card, your chances of approval will be higher if your FICO credit score is at least 700.

The bottom line

Which of these two cards is better? Again, it depends on your monthly spending habits. If you’re a relatively low spender who usually buys a lot in one specific category, the Citi Custom Cash card might make sense. But if you spend across several categories and you are part of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, the Customized Cash Rewards card could provide you with a greater amount of cash back each month.