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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 Bank of America 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 20,000 ThankYou points (worth $200 in cash back) after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months $200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
Rewards rate 5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle (then 1%); 1% cash back on all other purchases 3% cash back on category purchases of your choice; 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined 3% and 2% category purchases each quarter, then 1%); 1% on all other purchases
Intro APR 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.74% – 24.74% 0% introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After that, 14.24% – 24.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
Annual fee $0 $0

Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Citi Custom Cash

Both the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards and Citi Custom Cash offer a welcome bonus worth $200 in cash back. The catch? With the Citi Custom Cash card, you’ll get this bonus (20,000 ThankYou points) after spending $750 within the first three months of account opening. With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, you must spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening to get that $200 online cash rewards 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 in 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 on purchases in your select category.

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers a more flexible rewards program. You can choose one category to earn 3 percent cash back in. You can choose from gas, online shopping, drugstores, home improvement, 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. There’s a sending cap of up to $2,500 in combined 3 percent and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1 percent cash back on those purchases.

The flexibility and ability to earn a higher cash back bonus in more than one spending category makes the Bank of America credit card’s rewards structure the stronger choice.

Annual fee winner: Tie

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

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

Both the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card and Citi Custom Cash charge a 3 percent foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside of the United States.

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 in 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 and spend $500 on groceries over the course of your billing cycle. You’ll earn 5 percent cash back on that spend, equal to $25 in cash back rewards.

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 in rewards. That’s a total of $33 in cash back earnings for the month.

Depending on how you spend, you can earn more with the Bank of America 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 spend $1,000 during the month. Doing so will earn you $30 cash back.

If you then spend $300 at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, which are your 2 percent spending categories, you’ll earn an additional $6 in rewards. That gives you a total of $36 in 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.

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 in cash back. 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 then spend $400 on non-category 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, which is 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 Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, you might not earn as much cash back as you would with the Citi Custom Cash. 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 Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card.

Why should you get the Citi Custom Cash Card?

Additional benefits

The Citi Custom Cash doesn’t come with a lot of benefits besides its cash back program and 0 percent intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR thereafter). You can, though, 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

Like other Citi credit cards, 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

Like the Citi Custom Cash card, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers a 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (made within the first 60 days) for a lengthy 15 months. After that, the rate converts to a variable APR ranging from 14.24 percent to 24.24 percent. The balance transfer fee is 3 percent (with a $10 minimum), which is in line with fees from most balance transfer credit cards.

One of the most valuable benefits of the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card is the ability to customize your cash back bonus categories each month. So, if you’re about to embark on an expensive vacation, you may wish to make travel your choice category for that month. Or, you might make home renovations your choice category if you need to purchase an expensive home appliance like a washing machine or refrigerator.

Note, the Bank of America 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 Platinum Honors tier, for example—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 Bank of America 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 or direct deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account or an eligible Merrill account. You can also redeem your rewards for a check starting at $25 or as a contribution to a qualifying 529 plan with Merrill.

Recommended credit score

Bank of America doesn’t publish the credit scores you’ll need to qualify for the Bank of America 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 are part of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card could provide you with a greater amount of cash back each month.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card information was last updated on April 5th, 2022

Written by
Dan Rafter
Personal Finance Expert Contributor
Dan Rafter has been writing about personal finance for more than two decades, covering everything from credit scores, mortgage loans and debt to credit cards, insurance, real estate and student loans. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Fox Business, The Motley Fool, The Christian Science Monitor, LendingTree, Business Insider and Mental Floss Magazine. He's also the editor of Midwest Real Estate News, a trade magazine serving real estate professionals throughout the Midwest.
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