Citi Custom Cash® Card Review
Automatically earn 5% on your top qualifying spend category.
By Mandy H.|Updated on 8/15/2023Back
The Citi Custom Cash® Card is one of the best no annual fee cash back cards available. One key advantage of the Citi Custom Cash Card is that it can scale with you and have upside beyond cash back. The main value prop of the card is 5% back on up to $500 in spend per billing cycle on your top spending category (of Citi’s categories).
Unlike other cards that have set categories, this one acts as a utility player on your team. If you’re spending more on restaurants this month, the 5% will kick in for your meals. If it’s gas stations next month, it will treat that as the 5%. All of this is done automatically and doesn't require any additional work on your end.
The Citi Custom Cash has a pretty wide range of categories that include:
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Select travel
- Select transit
- Select streaming services
- Home improvement stores
- Fitness clubs
- Live entertainment
Any spend beyond $500 for that category in the billing cycle, and for the lower spend categories, you only earn 1%.
Citi Custom Cash Calculator
Cardonomics calculates the expected value of the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card based on the information you provide. The expected value is calculated based on the dollar value you input into the calculator.
The default figures in the calculator are just an example, so you should enter your own information for more accurate results. The methodology for this calculator is explained at the bottom of the post.
Citi Custom Cash Welcome Offer
Are you eligible for the welcome offer? You are not eligible if you have or have had the card within 48 months (even without getting a bonus).
Are you able to complete $1,500 of spend in the first 6 months?
cash back earned from intro offer:$0
Monthly category spend
Yearly cash back breakdown:
Expected Cash Back Value
(Welcome offer + spend)
The calculator's results are determined by several factors, including your ability to meet the minimum spending requirement to earn the welcome offer, spending habits in different categories, point redemption strategy, and how much relative value you place on other benefits.
The "Years" in the calculator refer to the cardmember year, which begins when you are approved for the card. The first year of membership is the first 12 months after approval, and the second year is the 12 months following that.
The results from the above calculator are based on your ability to reach the minimum spend requirement to earn the welcome offer, and your amount of spend on different categories.
I would pick one of the categories above and treat this card as your primary option. For this reason, it works great as a “utility player” for any holes in your primary setup.
Many other cards “cover” categories like restaurants, grocery stores, select travel, and select transit. I would recommend using the Citi Custom Cash Card to cover weak spots.
With the card, you technically earn ThankYou points. At a minimum, you’re getting 1 cent per point (1 CPP) meaning that 5x = 5% and 1x = 1%.
If you end up pairing this with a Citi Premier, this allows you to transfer the ThankYou points out to airline and hotel partners, which can provide a ton of value if you want to take an aspirational trip.
If Citi isn’t your jam, I would consider other 5x or 5% cards. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is my go-to option that operates similarly, with the key difference being that Chase defines the categories every quarter.
With the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you get 5% (5x Ultimate Reward points) on up to $1,500 in spend per quarter (which roughly equates to $500 / month). Similarly, if you pair the Flex with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer out to partners for elevated value.
The Citi Custom Cash Card is one of our favorite cards that scale with you. It can complement most other setups and be a great earner if used strategically.