The Citi Custom Cash Card offers a slew of perks and incentives. As gas prices climb, consumers may be concerned about how to best budget for fueling up their cars. Read our take on how to make this flexible category card work as a gas credit card.
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High gas prices have been plaguing consumers as of late, and it’s easy to see why. The national average price for a gallon of unleaded fuel is $3.90 according to AAA, as of Aug. 22, 2022. A year ago, the national average was $3.16, which makes this steep rise a real budget buster for a lot of Americans — especially those with long commutes.
Credit card rewards can be a useful way to offset some of these costs. If you spend a lot on gas, you may be wondering what’s the best card to capitalize on that spending for you? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers and how this card can help consumers save some money after hitting the gas pump.
How much can you earn with the Citi Custom Cash?
The Citi Custom Cash Card is a flexible category card, giving cardholders 5 percent cash back on their top spending category each billing cycle, for up to $500 in purchases. After that, and on all other buys, cardholders earn 1 percent cash back. The categories eligible to be your top spend category include gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.
How can consumers make the most out of this rewards structure? If you were trying to max out your rewards on the Citi Custom Cash, you’d have to spend $500 on gas alone every month, giving you $300 cash back in a year. However, even when gas prices were at their highest in May 2022 — CNBC reported that U.S. households were spending around $5,000 a year on gas — it did not reach the maximum spend of the Citi Custom Cash.
However, now that gas prices are no longer breaking records, let’s look at a more realistic spend example, assuming you’re aiming to make your top spending category each billing cycle gas.
If you spend $350 per billing cycle on gas, you would get 5 percent cash back on that amount — which would come out to $17.50 cash back in a month. To maximize these rewards, it may make sense to use this card to purchase gas for everyone in your household such as your spouse or teenage driver to try to max out the 5 percent bonus category.
You should note — one of the card’s biggest benefits is that the top spending category can automatically change each billing cycle, so it’s important to your personal top spend category each and plan accordingly. While it may be gas one month, another month it could be travel or dining.
Other gas cards to consider
Not sure if the Citi Custom Cash card is right for you? Here’s some other great options for earning rewards when you purchase gas.
- Sam’s Club Mastercard: This card offers 5 percent cash back on gas (for up to $6,000 in annual purchases, and these can be made anywhere, not just at Sam’s Club gas pumps) — following that, 1 percent cash back. It also gives 3 percent cash back on dining and 1 percent cash back on other purchases. Your total rewards are capped at $5,000 in cash back each year.
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: You get 4 percent cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (again, made anywhere, not only at Costco gas) for up to $7,000 per year. After that, you’ll get 1 percent cash back. Other bonus categories are restaurant and eligible travel purchases at 3 percent and Costco purchases at 2 percent.
- Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card: The card delivers 5X points on gas (or electric vehicle charging stations) and 3X points on supermarket purchases (including most Target and Walmart locations), dining, TV, radio, cable and streaming services. All other purchases earn 1X point. Note: Eligible gas purchases must be paid at the pump, so you can’t extend your rewards to snacks and gift cards purchased at the gas station’s convenience store.
How does it compare with other gas cards?
As previously mentioned, gas prices have been climbing along with demand. In 2020, the national average spend on gas and motor oil was $1,568 per household, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That comes out to around $130 per month, which likely isn’t the largest category American households spend on, but still a significant one.
This comes into play on the Citi Custom Cash. For those of you aiming to use your card as a gas card every month, you must use the card mainly on gas, and not much else.
Let’s say you spend several hundred dollars on gas most months — or you even hit that $500 cap. Then the Citi Custom Cash might make a lot of sense for gas purchases, particularly if you’re already maximizing some of its other potential top categories with your other cards.
Similarly, the $6,000 annual cap on the Sam’s Club Mastercard’s 5 percent gas category equates to $500 per month. As for the Costco Visa, it has a $7,000 annual spending limit on its 4 percent gas/EV charging rewards. That equates to about $583 per month on average. Depending on your spending habits, you may prefer these cards’ fixed bonus categories over the Citi Custom Cash Card’s flexible category.
However, if you’re considering the Sam’s Club Mastercard or the Costco Visa, you should also take into account the total cost of ownership. All the four cards mentioned above have no annual fees, but the Sam’s Club and Costco cards are available only to club members, with memberships starting at $45 and $60 per year, respectively). If you already shop at these warehouse clubs regularly, it could make a lot of sense. But we wouldn’t recommend joining just for the gas rewards.
For most people, gas isn’t a huge spending category. In fact, many gas credit cards give 1.5 or 2 percent cash back on every purchase — you may even have one in your wallet. If you don’t spend very much on gas, you’re probably better off using one of those.
However, if you drive often and spend hundreds of dollars on gas each month, whether for work or running your small business or visiting family frequently, then maximizing on that expense using the Citi Custom Cash Card may be a good idea. Make sure to do the math on your monthly budget so that you don’t leave rewards on the table by using the cards for gas, versus its other potential bonus categories.