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- Both the Citi Custom Cash® Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards card offer plenty of cash back — and with no annual fee and a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers and purchases. Your best fit comes down to where you spend the majority of your money.
- The Citi Custom Cash Card can earn you a generous 5 percent cash back on your top spending category — such as groceries or travel — each billing cycle, which is great if you tend to spend a lot in any one area.
- But the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards lives up to its name with the ability to earn 3 percent cash back in a category of your choosing, including gas and EV charging stations. You'll also earn 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, as well as the potential to boost your rewards by up to 75 percent by keeping accounts with Bank of America or Merrill.
Both the Citi Custom Cash® Card and 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 the best fit for you 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.
|Citi Custom Cash Card
|Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card
|20,000 ThankYou points (worth $200 in cash back) after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months
|$200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
|0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months
|0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (made in the first 60 days) for 15 billing cycles
Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
Both the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards and Citi Custom Cash offer a welcome bonus worth $200 in cash back. The catch? The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card requires a lower spending goal at $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
The Citi Custom Cash sets a higher goal of $1,500, though the issuer gives you a longer period of six months to achieve it.
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’ll earn 5 percent cash back in the category you spend the most within each billing cycle. Eligible top categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs or live entertainment. 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. Rather than your bonus cash back automatically chosen by your spending, you can earn 3 percent cash back in the category of your choosing. Choose from gas and EV charging stations, online shopping (including cable, streaming, internet and phone services), 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 spending 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 each card offers.
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 — reliably, and every month — 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 other purchases. At 1 percent cash back, you’ll get $8 in rewards. That’s a total of $33 in cash back earnings for the month.
Depending on how you spend, you could 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 on airfare and hotels in a month. Doing so will earn you $30 cash back.
If you then spend $300 at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, which qualify for 2 percent cash back, 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.
By the same token, with a different spending example, 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 $33 you earned in our example above 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 single category with the Citi Custom Cash (around $500 in a month), it might be more valuable to carry the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card.
Why should you get the Citi Custom Cash Card?
The Citi Custom Cash comes down to its 5 percent category, which can fluctuate every billing cycle and gives you automatic bonus cash back on your top spend category. Though you might need to do a little more planning to receive bonus cash back on the category of your choice, you’ll find that the Citi Custom Cash is worth adding to your wallet due to its long-term value.
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 (19.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable APR thereafter). Though every transfer you perform requires a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5 percent of your transfer amount, whichever is greater.
The card also offers standard benefits such as identity theft protection, fraud alerts and 0 percent liability on unauthorized purchases.
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 and travel.
Recommended credit score
Citi does not recommend a specific credit score for the Custom Cash card, though most credit cards that offer rewards programs require a good to excellent 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?
One of the most valuable benefits of the 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.
Similar to 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 billing cycles (18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable APR thereafter). The balance transfer fee is 3 percent of the transfer amount the first 60 days your account is open, then 4% after, which is in line with fees from most balance transfer credit cards.
Note that 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 membership tiers based on your combined average three-month balance across qualifying Bank of America and Merrill investing accounts.
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 can boost your rewards to 5.25 percent cash back in your choice category and 3.5 percent 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.
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 fund 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 are 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 typically 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 higher amount of cash back each month.
Information about the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card was last updated on February 14, 2024.