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Citi launches a new ‘custom’ credit card that earns up to 5% back

June 10, 2021
5 min read
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Citi is a TPG advertising partner.

There’s an all-new card on the market. If you’re tired of keeping track of category bonuses, this new cash-back card makes it as simple as can be.

Citi is no stranger to rewarding cash-back products. For instance, the no-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card offers 2% earnings on all purchases — 1% when you buy and another 1% as you pay.

The issuer’s latest card works differently, with the potential to be even more lucrative. But there’s also a major limitation.

Here are all the details.

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Sign-up bonus

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is currently offering $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The bonus offer is fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou Points.

Related: The ultimate guide to Citi ThankYou rewards

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Earning made easy

The Citi Custom Cash card is a no-annual-fee card that earns 5% back on your top eligible spending category. Conveniently, you don’t have to select, enroll or change categories at any time.

There is a wide array of 10 eligible categories and they include:

*Select travel is defined as airlines, hotels, cruise lines and travel agencies

**Select transit is defined as car rentals, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, bus lines and motor home and recreational vehicle rentals.

***Select streaming services are defined as cable, satellite and streaming providers such as Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, CBS All Access, Disney+, AT&T TV NOW, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV and Tidal

…but there’s a limit to 5% back

The major catch?

There is a limit of up to $500 per billing cycle for the 5% earning rate; all earnings after $500 earn only 1% cash back. Therefore, the maximum earnings are $25 per billing cycle at the 5% rate.

Since several no-annual-fee cards earn more than 1% back, including Citi’s own Double Cash card, I personally wouldn’t recommend spending on this card beyond $500 per billing cycle.

All cash back is earned in the form of ThankYou points. You can redeem those points for cash back as a direct deposit, check or statement credit or on travel and gift cards.

How to maximize earnings

Related: The 5 best new or refreshed credit cards of 2020

However, if you also have a Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card, your redemption opportunities will greatly expand.

You can combine points converted from the Citi Custom Cash card with points earned on a Citi Premier or Citi Prestige — and redeem them as if your Citi Premier or Citi Prestige earned them.

In particular, you can transfer your points to a variety of airline transfer partners. Based on TPG’s valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, this means you can earn an effective 8.5% return when you buy and pay with your Citi Custom Cash (on the first $500 per billing period).

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

The Citi Custom Cash earns a lucrative 5% back on your top spending category — with the caveat that it’s only on the first $500 spent each billing cycle.

Likely the biggest competitor to the Custom Cash card is the Chase Freedom Flex, which also earns 5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 per quarter (which is about three billing cycles) after activation. The Freedom Flex also comes with 5% cash back earnings on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining and 3% cash back on drug store purchases.

However, Chase’s product requires you to activate the 5x bonus each quarter — and those could be specific categories you have no interest in spending in. In this instance, the Custom Cash card comes out ahead since 5x earnings happen automatically (up to $500 per billing cycle) on whatever you decide to spend on.

That makes the Custom Cash card, well, more customizable.

Apply now: Citi Custom Cash Card

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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