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People who love earning cash back with their credit card have a brand-new option to consider. The just released Citi Custom Cash℠ Card lets consumers rack up more rewards in the category they spend the most in each month, and a solid introductory interest rate offer can also help save on interest when you make purchases or use your card for a balance transfer.
If you’re in the market for a cash back credit card with no annual fee, here’s everything you need to know about this brand-new offering from Citi.
Key details of the Citi Custom Cash Card
- Card holders earn 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your top eligible category each billing cycle (then 1% back) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- New card holders can earn $200 in cash back when you spend $1,500 within three months of opening the account.
- No annual fee.
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after opening the account, followed by a variable APR of 16.99% to 26.99%.
How the Citi Custom Cash Card works
At first glance, the Citi Custom Cash Card looks similar to other cash back cards that earn 5% back in quarterly bonus categories, such as the Chase Freedom Flex or the Discover it® Cash Back. However, the Citi Custom Cash Card offers a lot more flexibility when it comes to its 5% back categories and how you use them.
With the Citi Custom Cash Card, card holders earn 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in their top eligible category each billing cycle (then 1% back). Eligible 5% back categories include gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement, fitness clubs and live entertainment.
But unlike other cards with rotating 5% cash back categories, Citi Custom Cash Card holders don’t have to “enroll” in preset categories to maximize their 5% back in rewards. Instead, you’ll automatically earn 5% back in your top eligible spending category every billing cycle, and your category will change with you each cycle as your spending changes.
How much can you earn in bonus rewards? Since the 5% back is capped at $500 in spending per billing cycle, this means you can earn a maximum of $25 back in the 5% bonus categories per month, or a total of $300 in rewards in your top spending categories every 12 months.
The Citi Custom Cash Card earns its rewards in the form of Citi ThankYou points, which can be converted to cash back or redeemed for gift cards, merchandise or travel at a rate of 1 cent per point. So if you make a $100 purchase in a 5% category, you’ll earn 500 points that can be redeemed for $5 in cash back.
But when you combine the Citi Custom Cash Card with a premium Citi ThankYou card, such as the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card, you gain the option to transfer your ThankYou points to any of Citi’s 16 airline partners, making the points worth potentially more than 1 cent each if you use them strategically.
A sign-up bonus and an introductory APR offer
It’s always great to see a no-annual-fee credit card come with a sign-up bonus, and on that front, the Citi Custom Cash Card doesn’t disappoint. New card holders can earn $200 in bonus cash back after spending $1,500 in the first three months after opening the account.
Like the card’s everyday cash back, this bonus is awarded in the form of ThankYou points, so once you’ve met the spending requirement, you’ll earn 20,000 ThankYou points that can be redeemed in the same manner as the card’s other rewards.
And while many credit card issuers rolled back their balance transfer offers throughout the pandemic, the Citi Custom Cash Card arrives with a generous introductory interest rate offer that applies regardless of how you plan to use your card.
New card holders who get the Citi Custom Cash Card can access an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after opening the account. However, it’s important to pay off your debt in full before the introductory period ends, because after that, you’ll pay a variable APR of 16.99% to 26.99% depending on your creditworthiness.
It’s also important to keep in mind that if you’re using the introductory 0% APR for a balance transfer, you must complete the transfer within the first four months after opening the account. Also, a 5% balance transfer fee applies (with a $5 minimum), which makes this option slightly less attractive when compared to other balance transfer credit cards that charge only a 3% fee.
How does the Citi Custom Cash Card compare to other Citi credit cards?
We’ve already talked about how the Citi Custom Cash Card compares to other credit cards with rotating 5% categories, but how does it stack up against other credit cards from Citi?
One of the most direct comparisons is with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which is CNN Underscored’s benchmark credit card. The Citi Double Cash earns 2% back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. The Citi Double Cash also has no annual fee and comes with an introductory 0% APR offer on balance transfers for the first 18 months after you open the account (followed by a variable APR of 16.99% to 26.99%).
While the Citi Double Cash Card’s flat rewards rate makes the card a great everyday choice, it’s worth noting that its introductory APR doesn’t apply to purchases — only balance transfers — so the Citi Custom Cash Card has a leg up on that front. However, the Citi Double Cash only charges a 3% balance transfer fee (with a $5 minimum) when you use it to consolidate debt.
Another Citi credit card worth a look is the Citi Rewards+® Card, which also has no annual fee. New card holders can start by earning 20,000 ThankYou points after spending $1,500 in the first three months after opening the account, which can be redeemed for cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point. Plus, for a limited time, you’ll earn 5 points at restaurants, up to $6,000 in the first 12 months.
From there, card holders earn 2 points for every dollar they spend on the first $6,000 in purchases at supermarkets and gas stations each year (then 1x points) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. But the Citi Rewards+ also rounds up all purchases to the nearest 10 points, so a $1 coffee earns 10 points, while a $22 dinner with friends garners 30 points.
Citi Rewards+ card holders also get 10% of their points back on the first 100,000 Citi ThankYou points they redeem each year. And like the Citi Custom Cash Card, the Citi Rewards+ offers a 0% introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after opening the account, followed by a variable APR of 15.74% to 25.74%.
Who should consider the Citi Custom Cash Card?
Since this is a card that has no annual fee, the Citi Custom Cash Card can work for almost anyone. However, the flexibility of its 5% back categories makes it a superior option for people who don’t typically like the set-in-stone 5% back categories of the Chase Freedom Flex or the Discover it Cash Back.
Meanwhile, consumers looking to save money on interest can also consider the Citi Custom Cash Card for its introductory 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers (though it’s better for purchases than balance transfers due to the 5% balance transfer fee). In either case, keep in mind that the 0% APR lasts for a limited time, and any remaining balance will accrue enormous interest charges if it’s not paid off in full before the introductory rate expires.
In the end, like all credit cards that only earn 1% cash back outside of their bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash Card is best used in conjunction with an everyday card like the Citi Double Cash. Pop both cards in your purse or wallet and reach for the Citi Custom Cash when you’re paying for a purchase that falls into your favorite 5% bonus category, and the Citi Double Cash for everything else. You won’t have to pay an annual fee for either card, and you’ll have the best of both worlds.
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