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Get 5% cash back on your top spending category and a $200 welcome bonus with the Citi Custom Cash Card

Select reviews the Citi Custom Cash Card, a 5% cash-back credit card.

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Cash-back credit cards are a great addition to just about anyone's wallet. By earning money back on your purchases, you can collect hundreds of dollars in the course of a year — and even more over time.

These cards are the most straightforward type of rewards credit card. They don't require a ton of effort to collect and to redeem your rewards that help you offset your spending.

With a cash-back card, the percentage of your spending that you get back in cash varies. You can earn anything from 1% cash back on the lower end, to 5% cash back on the higher end.

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is the latest addition to the 5% cash-back card club. While its competition, like the Discover it® Cash Back and Chase Freedom Flex℠, have rotating bonus categories (chosen by the bank) that cardholders have to enroll in each quarter to earn cash back, the Citi Custom Cash gives cardholders much more flexibility.

Cardholders can choose their bonus categories (from a wide selection) and as their spending changes each billing cycle, they'll automatically earn 5% back on whatever category they spend the most on.

Below, Select breaks down everything you need to know about the Citi Custom Cash Card, from its welcome bonus and rewards, to its additional benefits and fees, so you can decide if this card is right for you.

Citi Custom Cash Card review

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on purchases in top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (then 1%); unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. The bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for first 15 months

  • Regular APR

    15.49% - 25.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent, Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back in eligible spend categories like restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment
  • $200 cash back welcome bonus if meet spending threshold

Cons

  • 5% cash back is limited to top spend category, up to the first $500 spent
  • 3% foreign transaction fee when traveling outside the U.S.

Citi Custom Cash Card welcome bonus

Citi offers a welcome bonus for new Citi Custom Cash Card users with a low spending requirement: Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Spread out over three months, that's a $250 per month in spend that you can likely meet by just using your Custom Cash Card on everyday purchases.

The bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Rewards

Cardholders of the Citi Custom Cash Card earn 5% cash back on purchases in their top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (then 1%). They also earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.

Eligible spending categories include everything from restaurants and grocery stores, to gas stations, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment. If you were to maximize the 5% back on up to $500 in spending each billing cycle, you could end up with $25 in cash back per month, or $300 a year.

Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Citi Custom Cash Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).

Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: $259 (as your top eligible spend category earning 5%)
  • Gas: $22
  • Dining out: $37
  • Travel: $22
  • Utilities: $49
  • General purchases: $40
  • Total: $428

Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated $628 in the first year of card membership, assuming you earn the $200 welcome bonus, and $2,340 over five years. This assumes that cardholders are redeeming ThankYou Points for cash back at a typical value of 1 cent each.

Spending optimizers might be able to achieve more value, and you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits. It's not as hard to maximize every dollar you spend with the Citi Custom Cash since you automatically earn 5% back on your top eligible spending category. If you can maximize the $500 in spending on one of the 5% categories every month, you'd earn $300 in cash back (over the course of a year) from that category alone.

Cash back is earned in the form of ThankYou Points. Each billing cycle, cardholders will earn 5 points per $1 on purchases in their top eligible spend category, up to the first $500 spent, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Additional benefits

The Citi Custom Cash Card stands out most for its customized cash-back rewards program and easily attainable welcome bonus. Its big perk is that cardholders never have to activate bonus categories each quarter in order to earn the 5% cash back, which other cards in this 5% category often require. Plus, similar cards only offer a few choices that you can earn 5% back on and the eligible 5% categories change every quarter.

You can redeem your points for cash back as a direct deposit or as a statement credit applied to your credit card bill. There are no minimums when you redeem this way. For more options, redeem your points for gift cards, travel and Shop with Points at Amazon.com or PayPal.

If you have a family member or partner who needs help building credit, you can add authorized users to your credit card account at no cost. You earn points on the purchases they make, and their spending makes it even easier to reach the $750 threshold to earn that welcome bonus. Just keep in mind that authorized users won't also receive the cash-back bonus.

The Citi Custom Cash Card is a contactless-chip enabled card so you can count on a safer and quicker way to pay in store.

Fees

The Citi Custom Cash Card has no annual fee and an introductory 0% APR period to give you more time to pay off any large expenses. The interest-free period is for your first 15 months on balance transfers and new purchases (after, 15.49% to 25.49% variable APR).

There is a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made overseas and a balance transfer fee of 5% of each balance transfer ($5 minimum). All transfers must be completed in the first four months of account opening.

Bottom line

For a 5% cash-back card that gives you more say in your bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a great option. You can take advantage of the welcome bonus to earn even more cash back, plus you won't ever have to worry about paying an annual fee.

The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card is a good alternative that also offers 5% cash back with customization, plus no annual fee. Cardholders can choose two categories each quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to their first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases, then 1%.

Unlike with the Citi Custom Cash Card, however, activation is required to earn 5% cash back on the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. Cardholders also get 2% cash back on one everyday category and 1% cash back on everything else.

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

On U.S. Bank's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose; 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel, and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center; 2% cash back on one everyday category; 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.99% - 25.99% (Variable)

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2% to 3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

For rates and fees for the Discover it® Cash Back, click here

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.