New ThankYou Rewards Card: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

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Citibank just launched a brand new rewards card called the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. This new card provides solid competition for the popular Chase Freedom Flex℠, but with some key differences that should make it even more attractive for points and miles fans.

In this post, we’ll cover the card’s benefits and welcome bonus to help you decide where it fits into your rewards strategy.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • Sign-up bonus of $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, issued as 20,000 ThankYou® Points
  • 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category on up to $500 of purchses each billing cycle
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for--the top earning category adjusts automatically each month to the eligible category in which you spend the most.
  • Excellent intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
  • 1% cash back thereafter, plus, you'll earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • Eligible spending categories are: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment.

The Citi Custom Cash is marketed as a cashback card, but rewards are delivered as ThankYou Points. ThankYou Rewards can be redeemed directly for travel with no blackout dates via ThankYou.com, or you can redeem them for cash back in the form of a statement or direct deposit at a rate of one cent per point.

Even better, if you have a Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card you can transfer them to 16 ThankYou Rewards airline partners and get far more than face value for your points.

The card charges no annual fee and earns up to 5% cashback (5x ThankYou Rewards) on purchases in select categories. Plus, new card members can pick up an excellent welcome bonus and a generous introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Citi Custom Cash Welcome Offer

The Citi Custom Cash is offering a great bonus of $200 cashback after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. The bonus is awarded as 20,000 ThankYou rewards, giving you the flexibility to redeem for cash back or get even more value by taking advantage of ThankYou partners.

The card also offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After the introductory period, you’ll pay a variable APR of 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

Earning ThankYou Rewards

Like the Freedom Flex the Citi Custom Cash earns 5x points on purchases in select categories. The 5x earning cap of $500 per month matches Freedom Flex’s $1,500 per quarter. But, unlike Chase’s card, this card doesn’t limit you to a handful of categories that change every three months.

Instead, the Citi Custom Cash card earns 5% each month on one of ten different categories.

  • Restaurants
  • Gas Stations
  • Grocery Stores
  • Select Travel
  • Select Transit
  • Select Streaming Services
  • Drugstores
  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Fitness Clubs
  • Live Entertainment

The feature that makes this card so attractive is that you don’t need to jump through any hoops to maximize your earnings. Each month you’ll receive the 5% earning rate on the eligible spend category that results in the most points.

For example, if restaurants are your top spending category in July, you’ll get 5x points on that and 1x on the other nine categories. But if you end up spending more on groceries in August, Citi will automatically adjust your 5x category to groceries.

You can learn more about which merchants are included in each category here.

Who Should Get the Citi Custom Cash?

This card offers a great way to maximize your spending in a category that isn’t covered by your other cards. Maybe you already have a card that earns extra points at restaurants and on travel, but you don’t have a card with a great earning rate on groceries. With the Citi Custom Cash, you can pick up 5x ThankYou points on groceries without having to pay another annual fee.

While we're big fans of the Freedom Flex card, the rotating categories do have some drawbacks. Since Chase picks the categories each quarter, the Freedom Flex isn’t always going to fit in perfectly with your spending patterns.

The Citi Custom Cash card's automatically-adjusting 5x earning is a big win for folks that don’t want to spend energy keeping track of rotating categories.

Application Rules

The application rules for the Citi Custom Cash differ from other ThankYou Rewards cards we've covered in the past.

Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person. You will qualify for the bonus offer only if you have not received a bonus offer for opening a new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card in the past 48 months.

There are no restrictions on holding another ThankYou Rewards earning card. Instead, focusing solely on a 48 month period between applications for the same card. Keep in mind, Citi also enforces an unofficial waiting period of 8 days between applications, with a maximum of two cards per 65 day period.

Final Thoughts

It’s awesome to see a new product with big earning potential and no annual fee. For folks who don’t mind keeping track of a rotating spending category, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is still a great value. But if you like the idea of a card that automatically gives you big a bonus category exactly where you need it, the Citi Custom Cash is a great pick.

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • Sign-up bonus of $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, issued as 20,000 ThankYou® Points
  • 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category on up to $500 of purchses each billing cycle
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for--the top earning category adjusts automatically each month to the eligible category in which you spend the most.
  • Excellent intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
  • 1% cash back thereafter, plus, you'll earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
  • Eligible spending categories are: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment.

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Comments

  • For the Citi Double Cash Rewards card I never converted over to thank you points. (It started as a cash back card counted in dollars and then at some point they offered the option to convert to points. Can still get cash back but technically it’s points-converted-into-cash vs. straight cash). I never opted in because I just want the straight cash back without the funny business of, for instance, 20K points equaling $200 as technically they can always devalue points in future. Perhaps my worries are unfounded as I suppose they could kill the cash program at any time too, but – bottom line – I wonder if I get this card if it will result in me having to opt in on points for both the card I have (double cash) and this one too. Especially since this one is points only…. And both cards would be managed through one online portal.

  • Is this card better than double cash one which I have used for years.

    • I love the Double Cash. It’s hard to beat 2% cashback on all purchases. That said, you can get the Citi Custom Cash as well and just use it for the category where you want to earn 5% cashback.

  • While I know Citi does not count Walmart as a grocery store, what about Walmart Grocery, the pick up service? Will that count as 5%? I don’t have any Citi cards, so honest question.

  • I currently have Citi Prestige & Premier cards. Can I receive sign-up bonus of this card even if I got sign-up bonus from Prestige card last year?

    • Yes! Thankfully the bonus restrictions are only: “You will qualify for the bonus offer only if you have not received a bonus offer for opening a new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card in the past 48 months.”

  • When I first heard about this new card I was excited. Then I read that it’s kinda like the Chase card I have and Citi just doesn’t have the best partners for me. For those who like Citi it’s a good card. I think I’ll stay with Chase.

  • Citi seems to be a little behind their competition in product offerings and rewards.

  • It’s a shame they charge you around 3% outside the US.

  • Scott Rosenberg says:

    Seems good, just a shame that Cit has a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it’s useless for travelers.

    • It’s certainly not ideal, but since the bonus category rotates you should still be able to take advantage unless you’re on an extremely long international trip.

  • I was initially very interested in this card until I realized that it was topped out at 500 per month for the 5% category. I see how it is a direct competitor for the Freedom cards but I don’t think this is generous enough for me to dilute my spending from the Chase UR environment.

  • Adam Garrett says:

    This card looks fantastic. I am hoping that it will be possible to convert from other cards to have more than 1 as was the case with Chase Freedom.

  • Critical omission — what do they charge on transactions outside the US?

  • Would this be eligible for a product transfer?

    • Good question! I haven’t seen any data points, but I have a few old Citi accounts that I’m considering product changing to this card.

  • Oh, this looks interesting! I have 2 citi cards already and like the TY points – this would make a great trifecta for me!

  • David Mays says:

    You don’t say what you earn each month on everything outside of the single highest category for the month. You should analyze and comment on this.

    You don’t say I’d there is a foreign transaction fee.

  • Wonder if you can combine points from the Citi Sears card to this one…

  • I’ve had Citi cards that offer much better bonuses than $200, this is a bit disappointing to me personally

  • Fenspinbi says:

    I can only hope that Chase and Discover are paying attention. Adding the automatic categorization feature to the Freedom/Freedom Flex/Discover it® cards would dramatically improve their value. I don’t care for the $500 cap, but perhaps Citi’s competitors will take notice. This is a potential must-have card for people running a ThankYou setup.

  • I think people are still sleeping on Citi points, there’s a lot of decent uses and earning potential IMO

  • Christopher says:

    Interesting…trying to get my SO into the points and miles game. Do you think this would be a good card to start with for someone that only has average credit at the moment?