Skip to content
RATING
Reviews

2021 Review: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card – Rewards Where You Spend the Most

Updated Jun 28, 2021 | Published Jun 16, 20217 min read

Advertiser Disclosure

Credit Card Insider is an independent, advertising supported website. Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Editor’s Best Card Picks. Credit Card Insider has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace. Content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information, though all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on any ‘Apply Now’ button, the most up-to-date terms and conditions, rates, and fee information will be presented by the issuer. Credit Card Insider has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Credit Card Insider and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. A list of these issuers can be found on our Editorial Guidelines.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Min Credit Level Good
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 13.99%–23.99% Variable
At a glance

The Citi Custom Cash card has an interesting approach: 5% cash back wherever you spend the most each billing cycle, out of a variety of categories.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

Why We Like It

  • Flexible rewards — 5% cash back for the category you spend the most in each billing cycle
  • 0% intro APRs for purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee

Why It Could Be Better

  • Might not earn a lot of cash back if you have variable spending
  • Few benefits
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Most reward cards just give you a set of bonus categories; other cards let you choose a few of your own. But the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (Review) takes a different approach, automatically giving 5% cash back where you spend the most.

The potential categories are quite diverse, covering some common classics like gas and groceries along with rare picks like fitness clubs and home improvement stores.

Does that mean this card is good if you have a wide variety of spending? Not necessarily. It may be difficult to consistently earn a lot of cash back if your top spend category only tends to be $200 or so. And you may need to pay closer attention to what you buy, and when, than with most credit cards.

Aside from the rewards, you’ll also get excellent 0% APR offers for purchases and balance transfers. But that’s about all there is to this card.

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • To categorize, or not to categorize? With most reward cards, you can just spend, earn rewards, and not think too much more about it. But this card demands a bit more thought — will you keep track of your top spend category each billing cycle (which lasts for about a month), or will you just let the chips fall as they may? If this is your only reward card, keeping track doesn’t matter too much; but if you have other reward cards as well, you’ll want to keep track so you can maximize reward earnings.
  • Strategize to make good use of the 5% rate — lump category purchases in the same billing cycle to max out the limit: Got some trips coming up? How about concerts, or just home upgrades? If you plan out your spending ahead of time, you could group similar expenses together in a single billing cycle to make sure they become your top spend category. This should make it easier to max out the $500 limit.
  • Focus on rare categories with the Custom Cash, and use other reward cards elsewhere: Since you’ll get 5% cash back only in your top spend category, it makes sense to pair the Custom Cash with other reward cards. Then you could focus on one rare category with the Custom Cash each billing cycle, and use your other cards for other, more common purchases. If you have a lot of variable spending with the Custom Cash, your top spend category could be fairly low. Find some excellent reward cards to pair with the Custom Cash.
  • Big expense on the horizon? Get a little breathing room: The Custom Cash has a long 0% intro rate for purchases, making it good for large expenses you’d like to pay off over time. That could go well with some of this card’s bonus categories — buy something expensive at a home improvement store, or book a trip, and you may earn 5% back on the big purchase as well.
  • Pay off your existing debts for less money and with less stress: If you’re working to pay off old debts, use this card’s balance transfer offer to move some debt over from other credit cards. You can transfer it here and pay it off over time at 0% interest. Just be sure it’s still a cost-effective move after the balance transfer fee: 5%, $5 minimum. And take note that transfers must be made within the first four months to be eligible for 0% APR; the 0% time period will begin on the date of the first transfer.

The Rewards

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back in your top spend category each billing cycle (up to $500 spent, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $200 cash back for spending $750 in the first 3 months
5% Cash Back Categories
Restaurants Grocery stores Gas stations Select travel
Select transit Select streaming services Drugstores Fitness clubs
Home improvement stores Live entertainment

As mentioned above, you’ll want to focus on a single category each billing cycle with the Custom Cash, and use other cards for other purchases. But if the Custom Cash is your only card, don’t worry about it — you’ll just end up with a great rate on whatever you happen to buy the most.

Some interesting categories are included here, several of which you don’t see often. Streaming services and fitness clubs don’t seem very useful, because monthly spending for each tends to be low. But grocery stores, gas, travel, and home improvement stores are all fair game for a top spend category. And the drugstores category could be more useful than you’d first expect if you spend a lot on prescriptions.

Redeeming

The cash back you earn with the Custom Cash is actually given in the form of Citi ThankYou points. You have several redemption options:

  • Bank account direct deposit (best option)
  • Statement credits (second-best option)
  • Travel
  • Gift cards
  • Shop with Points at Amazon

The best redemption options are bank direct deposits and statement credits, which both provide 1 cent per point. So 10,000 ThankYou points is equal to a $100 deposit or statement credit. Those methods are both easy, but we like bank deposits more because they give you access to your money more quickly. With statement credit redemptions you end up saving money in the future, when your next bill comes due.

The other methods may provide less than 1 cent per point, so we recommend avoiding them.

The Benefits

There aren’t many benefits with the Custom Cash card; the main event is the 5% reward rate.

  • Free FICO credit score: Check your FICO Bankcard Score 8 online or in the app, anytime.
  • Citi Entertainment: Provides access to music, sports, and culinary events
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection: Get ID theft monitoring and alerts if any suspicious activity is found.
  • Contactless payments: Tap to pay at eligible terminals.

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 3%
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
5%, $5 minimum 5%, $10 minimum
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Up to 29.99% Variable Up to $40 Up to $40

Balance transfers must be made within the first four months to get the 0% rate. Your 0% period will begin on the date of your first transfer.

Your 0% purchase APR period will begin as soon as your account is opened.

Read more Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of August 2021

The Bottom Line

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card could be attractive, especially if you tend to spend a lot in its rare categories, like drugstores or home improvement stores.

But otherwise, this card seems like a bit of a grab bag — what will you happen to spend the most on this billing cycle? Is it groceries (probably common for many people), did you do a lot of driving, or did you have any big random expenses?

The Custom Cash’s flexibility can be a huge plus if it’s your only reward card. Automatically getting 5% back wherever you spend the most is a great perk, even with the $500 limit.

But if you have other reward cards, it may be tough to find a good spot for the Custom Cash — unless you’ll focus on those rare categories. Then you could use your other cards as usual, and reserve the Custom Cash for those odd expenses. That could lead to quite a lot of cash back in your pocket.

Find some great cards to pair with the Custom Cash here:

How Do I Apply for the Citi Custom Cash Card?

Just follow the link below to apply. You’ll be taken to Citi’s website to input your information.

What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the Citi Custom Cash Card?

The Citi Custom Cash is made for good credit; that indicates a FICO credit score of 670 or better, or a VantageScore 3.0 of 700 or more.

But, keep in mind this is just a guideline. It’s possible to be approved with lower scores, or denied with higher scores, depending on the contents of your credit reports and your current finances.

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the Citi Custom Cash Card’s 5% bonus categories?

You’ll earn 5% cash back in your top spend category each billing cycle, up to $500 spent, out of the following categories:

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

Find more 5% cash back cards here.

What is the Citi Custom Cash Card’s 5% cash back spending limit?

The 5% cash back rate is limited to $500 spent per billing cycle. That means you can earn up to $25 back at the 5% rate each billing cycle.

All other purchases will earn 1% cash back, with no limit. Learn more about the Citi Custom Cash’s rewards.

What is the Citi Custom Cash Card’s APR offer?

The Custom Cash offers no interest for both purchases and balance transfers:

  • Purchase APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable
  • Balance transfer APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 5%, $5 minimum

Not sure how to transfer a balance? See our guide to credit card balance transfers.

Was this helpful?

Alternatives to the Citi Custom Cash Card

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0*
  • Regular APR13.99% - 23.99%* Variable

Rates & Fees

  • Earn up to $550 cash back in the first year.
  • $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 13.99% – 23.99%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2020 World’s Most Ethical Company® – Ethisphere Institute, February 2020
Why We Picked It

Here’s something a little different — the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card (Review) lets you pick your own 5% cash back categories each quarter, rather than leaving it up to the winds of fate each month.

There’s a rich selection of categories to choose from, with just a bit of overlap with the Custom Cash (like gyms/fitness centers). The Cash+ has rare and valuable options like utilities, cell phone providers, furniture stores, electronics stores, and more.

This card is great for things you might spend a lot on in one month (like furniture or electronics), but wouldn’t consistently buy. When you have some big expenses coming up, you may be able to switch your bonus categories to get that 5% rate.

You can even select your own 2% category as well, out of grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on your choice of two bonus categories (up to $2,000 in combined net purchases per quarter)
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category:
    • Gas
    • Groceries
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on everything else
Introductory Bonus
  • $150 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 90 days after account opening
Key Features
  • Free credit score: See your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Visa Signature Concierge: Call for personal assistance with travel bookings, dining reservations, business services, and more.
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: Get perks at select hotels like a $25 food and beverage credit and room upgrades when available.
  • Shopping and travel protections: Purchase Security, Extended Warranty, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Roadside Dispatch
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0%* intro on BTs for 12 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*, then 13.99% - 23.99%* Variable
  • Annual fee: $0*
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 – 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
Why We Picked It

5% cash back is an excellent rate, and you’ll only find that on a few cards. One of the best is the Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review).

In this case you earn 5% back in a selection of categories that changes every quarter; past categories have included useful picks like gas, groceries, wholesale clubs, and Amazon. The spending limit is similar to the Custom Cash, at $1,500 per quarter rather than $500 per month. This gives you more time to hit the limit.

Take note that you’ll need to activate your Freedom Flex 5% cash back categories each quarter.

But that’s not all — you’ll get yet another 5% category, plus 3% back at restaurants and drugstores. This combination of valuable cash back categories, some of which change every few months, make the Freedom Flex a great choice for any wallet.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on:
    • Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • Lyft rides (through March 2022)
    • Grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) up to $12,000 spent in the first year
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories, up to $1,500 in spending each quarter, then 1%
  • 3% cash back at:
    • Restaurants
    • Drugstores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
Key Features
  • DoorDash membership: A free membership (DashPass) for three months, and a 50% discount for the next nine months; a DashPass provides free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.
  • Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn extra cash back or find discounts with the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers programs.
  • ShopRunner membership: Get free two-day shipping at a wide selection of retailers.
  • Lyft credits: Once per month you can earn a $10 Lyft credit for every five rides you take.
  • Boxed rewards: 5% cash back rewards on Boxed Wholesale orders to be used for future purchases
  • Fandango discount: $5 off every two tickets you buy
  • Shopping and travel protections: Cell Phone Protection, Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty Protection, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Purchase APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APRSee Terms
Why We Picked It

The Discover it® Cash Back (Review) is one of the iconic 5% cash back cards.

You’ll earn 5% back in a selection of quarterly rotating categories, which always include common expenses that everyone deals with. You can learn all about Discover’s 5% categories here.

Purchase and balance transfer APRs are low, giving you a chance to pay off some big buys or some old debt. If you didn’t know, balance transfers can help you save a lot of money and get out of debt faster; see other great balance transfer cards here.

With the Discover it Cash Back, like the Freedom Flex, your 5% rate is limited to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and then you’ll earn 1%. You must activate your 5% categories each quarter.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories (up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%; activation required):
    • January – March: Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
    • April – June: Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Select Streaming Services
    • July – September: Restaurants, PayPal
    • October – December: Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • Cashback Match: Get double cash back for the first year, provided at the end of the first year
Key Features
  • Free credit score: Track your FICO Score 8 over time, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Social Security number alerts: Get notified if your SSN is found on any thousands of risky websites.
  • Inquiry and new account alerts: Alerts if any new credit inquiries or accounts show up on your Experian credit report
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Why We Picked It

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) makes for an interesting foil to the Custom Cash.

Rather than a mystery 5% category each month, the Double Cash provides a simple 2% cash back for everything you buy.

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back for every purchase (must pay at least the minimum due on time):
    • 1% back when you make a purchase
    • 1% back when you pay for that purchase

The situation here is similar to that of the Custom Cash. If you just have the Custom Cash, you’ll get a great rate on your top spend category, without much thought required; if you just have the Double Cash, you’ll get a solid rate on everything, without much thought required.

But these cards could be used quite well together. Just focus your Custom Cash spending on a single category each billing cycle to get the 5% rate, and use the Double Cash for everything else. This simple strategy could yield quite a bit of cash back.

Key Features
  • Citi Concierge: Call for non-emergency help whenever you need it, like assistance making travel reservations.
  • ShopRunner membership: Use ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping and returns at participating retailers.
  • Free credit score: Check your FICO Bankcard Score 8 for free, based on your Equifax credit report.
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer fee: Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum
  • Annual fee: $0

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Regular APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Do you have the new Citi Custom Cash Card? What do you usually earn 5% cash back for? How do you strategize with other cards? Let us know below.

See more cash back cards of every size and shape. Best Cash Back Credit Cards of August 2021
Written by

Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.

Do you have a correction, tip, or suggestion for a new post? Contact us here.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts are accurate and/or questions are answered.

Scroll to top