The Citi Custom Cash offers 5% cash back on up to $500 spent each billing cycle in the category that you spend the most in. The Citi Double Cash offers up to 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limits. Let’s see how these two cards compare.
The value of reward points and miles will always vary based on what airlines and hotels will let you redeem them for, but cash back rewards will steadily remain uniquely valuable.
Citi is one of the leading issuers of reward credit cards, and it has recently added its Citi Custom Cash℠ Card to its lineup, which offers you as much as 5% cash back on some purchases every month. Let’s see how this new card compares to an older favorite, the Citi® Double Cash Card.
Citi Custom Cash vs. Citi Double Cash
Here’s how these two Citi credit cards stack up:
|Rewards rate||5% cash back on up to $500 spent each billing cycle in your top spending category, then 1%, plus 1% on other purchases||Up to 2% cash back (1% cash back at the time of purchase, and 1% when you pay your statement balance)|
|Introductory bonus||$200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases within 3 months of account opening||None|
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend, $15,900 annually, including intro bonus)||$503, based on an estimated $300 a month of spending in your top category||$318|
With the Citi Custom Cash, new customers will earn $200 cash back by spending $750 on new purchases within three months of account opening. You’ll also earn 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in the eligible category that you spent the most on during the billing period (then 1% on any more purchases in that category for the rest of the billing cycle). The eligible bonus categories are restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on other purchases.
The Custom Cash is an easy-to-use, flexible earning card that automatically selects your 5% category according to the category you spent the most on during that billing cycle.
For example, if you purchase plane tickets one month, making travel your top spending category, then you’ll receive 5% cash back on that purchase (up to $500 spend, then 1%). And if the next month you spend a lot dining at restaurants, you’ll never miss out on earning 5% cash back from your top spending category because your 5% will automatically shift to reward your restaurant category if that’s where you spent the most. There’s no need to register your spending categories in advance, as you’ll always earn bonus cash back for up to $500 spent each billing cycle within your top spending category.
The Citi Double Cash has a different way of earning rewards. You earn 1% cash back on everything at the time of purchase, and another 1% back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back, with no limits. You must pay your balances on time to get that second percent back, but otherwise this card is just as easy to reap your cash back rewards.
Redeeming rewardsThe Citi Custom Cash offers ThankYou rewards points that you can redeem for cash back or for points in Citi’s ThankYou rewards program. If you choose cash back, you can receive it as a statement credit, direct deposit or as a check. And if you choose ThankYou points, you have other redemption options including gift cards, travel reservations and Amazon purchases. Additionally, if you also hold a card like the Citi® Premier Card or Citi® Prestige Card*, you can combine your reward points with those cards and open up the ability to transfer your points to airline miles.
With Citi Double Cash, you can receive your cash back as a statement credit, direct deposit or check. And just as with the Custom Cash card, you have the option of converting your rewards to ThankYou points.
The Citi Custom Cash Card and the Citi Double Cash Card have no annual fees.
Other perks and benefits
While no-annual-fee credit cards typically don’t come with a large suite of extras, these two cash back cards do offer some basic account features, such as automatic alerts, a mobile app and the ability to choose your payment date. Other benefits include Mastercard ID theft protection, fraud early warning and free access to your FICO score. Both cards also offer damage and theft protection, which can be a great perk should you have a qualifying incident.
Additionally, both cards also offer access to the Citi Entertainment program. This benefit offers you exclusive access to music, sports, culinary experiences and more.
Citi Custom Cash Card: Best for modest spenders
Because the Custom Cash card limits your 5% bonus to $500 of spending per billing period, you can earn only $25 in bonus cash back each month, and just 1% after that in your top category plus on all other purchases. So, even if you maximize your 5% category, if you charge more than $4,000 per month overall, you’ll do better with the Citi Double Cash. That’s why the Citi Custom Cash card is best for modest spenders who will maximize the 5% offer without averaging down their rewards by earning just 1% on a large number of other purchases.
Citi Double Cash Card: Best for bigger spenders who need 2% back everywhere
The Citi Double Cash works well for those who have higher spending requirements and want the ease of earning unlimited 2% cash back across all categories. It also makes sense for those who spend heavily outside of the Custom Cash spending categories that are eligible for the 5%.
The one big disadvantage of the Double Cash card compared to the Custom Cash is its lack of a welcome bonus. The Custom Cash currently offers new applicants $200 in cash back after spending $750 within three months of account opening. This is excellent and can do a lot to overcome any disadvantage compared to the Double Cash, particularly in your first year of opening the card.
The Citi Custom Cash Card and Double Cash cards are both high-value cash back cards that are better than many of their competitors. Each has a different formula that rewards cardholders with predictable cash back on everyday spending.
*Information about the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.