|Card Details and Application Link|
Citi Custom Cash Card
Recent better offer: Expired 9/13/22 - 20,000 points after $750 spend in first 3 months
FM Mini Review: This is a great card to have and hold for a single category where you spend no more than $500 per month as it represents an excellent return without rotating categories to track.
Card Type: Mastercard
Earning rate: 5x on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1x thereafter. Eligible categories: Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs and Live Entertainment. ⚬ 1x on all other purchases
See also: Citi ThankYou Rewards Complete Guide
The Citi Custom Cash card offers the ability to earn 5x rewards on up to $500 in the category you spend in most each billing cycle. In order to maximize rewards, I recommend picking a single eligible category for all spend on this card. Use other cards for other spend. This guide includes everything you need to know about the Custom Cash card, its benefits, and how it fits into the Citi Thank You Rewards ecosystem.
Should you apply?
If you don’t currently have a Custom Cash card and would benefit from a card that earns 5x on up to $500 per billing cycle, then it makes sense to sign up. Once you have a Custom Cash card, you won’t be able to get another except by product changing from other Citi cards. A good strategy for getting a second Custom Cash card is to sign up for another card that offers a good welcome bonus (such as the Citi AA card) and later product change to the Custom Cash card.
Are you eligible?
To get the bonus when signing up for this card, you must not have received a new cardmember bonus for the Custom Cash card in the past 48 months.
How to apply
Click here to jump to the top of this page then click the application link highlighted in yellow.
After you apply, call 1-866-252-0118 to check your application status.
If your application is denied, I recommend calling for reconsideration (800-695-5171). It’s surprising how often denials can be changed to approvals just by asking.
The Custom Cash card doesn’t offer any meaningful perks other than rewards for spend. There does not appear to be any purchase protections or travel protections associated with this card.
This card is advertised as a cash back card, but it actually earns valuable Thank You points. By combining this card with the Citi Premier card, you can make points more valuable because they become transferable to airline and hotel programs.
Here’s the current welcome offer:
The Citi Custom Cash card offers 5x rewards on up to $500 in whichever of these categories you spend the most each billing cycle:
- Restaurants: Includes purchases at cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants. Excludes purchases at bakeries, caterers, restaurants located inside another business (such as hotels, stores, stadiums, grocery stores, or warehouse clubs) and third party dining delivery services.
- Gas Stations: Excludes gasoline purchases at warehouse clubs, discount stores, convenience stores or other merchants that do not use the gas station merchant category code.
- Grocery Stores: Includes purchases at supermarkets, meat/seafood stores, dairy stores, bakeries, and miscellaneous food/convenience stores. Excludes purchases at general merchandise/discount superstores; wholesale/warehouse clubs; candy, nut and confectionery stores. Purchases made at online supermarkets or with grocery delivery services also do not qualify if the merchant does not classify itself as a supermarket by using the supermarket merchant category code.
- Select Travel: Includes airline, hotel, cruise line and travel agency purchases. Excludes timeshares, boat leases and rentals, campgrounds and trailer parks, and real estate agencies.
- Select Transit: Includes car rentals, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, bus lines, and motor home and recreational vehicle rentals. Excludes bike/scooter rentals, auto clubs and insurance companies.
- Select Streaming Services: Includes the following cable, satellite, and streaming providers: Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Paramount+, Disney+, DirectTV Stream, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV, and Tidal.
- Drugstores: Includes purchases made at pharmacies in grocery stores, general merchandise/discount superstores, and wholesale/warehouse clubs if those merchants submit purchases made in their pharmacy with the drug store and pharmacy merchant category code.
- Home Improvement Stores: Includes purchases at home supply warehouse stores, lumber and building materials stores, paint and wallpaper stores, hardware stores, nurseries – lawn and garden supply stores and paints, varnishes and supplies stores. Excludes florists and florists’ supply stores; nursery stock; wholesale construction stores; and glass stores.
- Fitness Clubs: Includes membership fee and other purchases at athletic, sports and recreation facilities requiring membership such as health, tennis, and swimming clubs. Excludes fees associated with virtual services for home exercise equipment, personal monitoring devices, or fitness streaming classes.
- Live Entertainment: Includes ticket purchases for live entertainment, including: concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions, amusement parks, and orchestras. Excludes: charitable organizations that provide live entertainment (benefits), sporting camps, sports complexes where you participate in the sport, public and private golf courses, country clubs (including membership fees), bowling alleys, movie theaters, tourist attractions, museums and art galleries.
Cash BackCardholders can redeem points for 1 cent each either as statement credits or as cash back.
Redeem points to pay for travel (no, don't)While it's possible to redeem points for travel through Citi's ThankYou Rewards travel portal, I do not recommend it. You'll only get 1 cent per point that way, you'll be limited to the prices found in the travel portal, and you won't earn rewards from that spend. Unless you are taking advantage of the card's annual $100 hotel benefit, you're better off booking travel through other sites or direct from the travel provider. That way you can earn points on that booking while at the same time booking with whatever source offers the best price. If you want to then use your points to cover that travel purchase, simply redeem points for cash back.
If you're interested in taking advantage of the Premier card's $100 hotel benefit or the Prestige card's 4th Night Free benefit, you do have to book through Citi's travel portal, but you do not have to redeem points. It is better to pay for this travel with your card (so as to earn points) and then you can optionally redeem points for cash back to cover those charges.
Transfer points to airline and hotel programsThe best use of ThankYou points is to strategically transfer points to airline and hotel partners in order to book high value awards. Your best bet is usually to wait until you find a great hotel or flight award before transferring points. If you have at least one premium card such as the Citi Premier or Prestige card, most points transfer at a ratio of 1:1, but Citi regularly runs promotions where they offer a transfer bonus to a specific program. For example, we've frequently seen 25% bonuses for transfers to Avianca LifeMiles and to Air France / KLM Flying Blue. More about transferring points can be found in the Transfer Points section of this post.
Other ways to redeem points (not recommended)Through the ThankYou portal you can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, or experiences. With this approach you'll usually get 1 cent per point value. And just as with paid travel, I don't recommend using points in this way. Instead, pay for what you want elsewhere and optionally redeem points for cash back in order to cover those charges. One exception is that Citi occasionally offers gift cards at a discount so you may be able to get better than 1 cent per point value during a gift card sale.
You can also use points to pay some merchants directly (Amazon.com for example). Don't do this. These options offer very poor value. Further, they may compromise the security of your account (i.e. if someone hacks into your Amazon account, they might spend your ThankYou points - causing you a headache in getting your points reinstated). The only time it is worth using points this way is when Amazon runs a promotion to save when using points: you can sometimes use 1 point to save $15 off of $50 (for example) and in those cases it makes sense to use only 1 point and to pay the rest with your credit card.
In order for points earned with the Custom Cash card to become transferable, you must pool the points with a Citi Premier or Prestige card.
The best use of ThankYou points is to strategically transfer points to airline and hotel partners in order to book high value awards. Your best bet is usually to wait until you find a great hotel or flight award before transferring points. If you have at least one premium card such as the Citi Premier or Prestige card, most points transfer at a ratio of 1:1, but Citi regularly runs promotions where they offer a transfer bonus to a specific program. For example, we’ve frequently seen 25% bonuses for transfers to Avianca LifeMiles and to Air France / KLM Flying Blue.
- Wait to transfer points: Don’t transfer points until high value awards are available and you are ready to book them. Transfers are one-way only. Citi ThankYou points are valuable for their flexibility. Once you transfer, you are locked into a single program that may or may not have awards available.
- Watch for transfer bonuses: Citi sometimes offers improved transfer ratios through limited time transfer bonuses.
- Move points from one account to another (even to friends’ accounts): You can freely move up to 100,000 points per year to any other Citi ThankYou Rewards account. The catch is that once points are moved, they expire within 90 days. Make sure you have immediate plans for those points before moving them. Exception: The Custom Cash card does not allow moving points.
- Always have at least one transferable account: With a few exceptions, ThankYou Rewards are transferable only from Citi Premier and Citi Prestige accounts. If you or a friend has such an account, you can move points to that account from any other account before transferring to an airline or hotel program, but you are limited to moving 100,000 points per year this way. Another option is to pool points among your own accounts. For example, if you have the Citi Rewards+ card and the Citi Premier card, you can pool points between them in order to make all of the points transferable.
Current transfer bonuses
If there are any current transfer bonuses from Citi ThankYou Rewards, details will appear here:
|Transfer Bonus Details||End Date|
Transfer points to airlines
For flight awards, our post “Citi ThankYou points sweet spots for high value redemptions” details the best value uses of Citi ThankYou points.
Best overall airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Best Uses||Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards. Air France often offers very good business class award pricing between the US and Europe & Israel.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Avianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Cathay Pacific has a decent distance based award chart, but they no longer allow stopovers longer than 24 hours. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available. For long distance flights, it is possible to reduce the cost of first class by adding on a business class flight. See this post for details.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
Useful airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Best Uses||Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|British Airways Avios||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Excellent value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.||1 to 1 via Qatar (1 to 2 days)|
|Emirates Skywards||The best use of Emirates miles has been to fly Emirates itself. Unfortunately fuel surcharges can be steep. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Etihad Guest||Etihad has a very competitive award chart for American Airlines flights, among others. For example, they charge only 50,000 miles one-way for business class flights from North America to Europe. Partner awards must be booked over the phone.||1 to 1 (~1 hour)|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||If you want to fly one of the best business class products in the sky, the best way to snag EVA flights is with their own miles since they release more award space to their own members. One-way business class flights from the US to Taipei cost 75K to 80K miles. Fuel surcharges are very low on these routes.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Iberia Avios||Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.||1 to 1 via Qatar, BA (1 to 2 days)|
|JetBlue||JetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one of these cards.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||Best use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Also useful for short AA flights. Qantas offers distance based award charts similar to Cathay Pacific. Both are OneWorld Alliance members. I recommend comparing award prices across both programs before transferring to either. Qantas offers round the world business class awards for only 280,000 points (but with many restrictions)||1 to 1 (~1 day)|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members), Alaska Airlines economy awards, or for Star Alliance awards (including United Airlines).||1 to 1 (~1 day)|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||Miles & Smiles offers a number of awesome sweet-spot awards including 7.5K one-way anywhere within the US, even to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online but can be booked via phone or email. See: Turkish Miles & Smiles Complete Guide and Turkish business class sweet spots from the US.||1 to 1 (~1 day)|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Virgin Atlantic offers a few great sweet spot awards including ANA first class between the US and Japan for as low as 55K points one-way; and US to Europe on Delta One business class for 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).||1 to 1 (Instant)|
Other airline transfer partners
|Rewards Program||Best Uses||Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|Aer Lingus Avios||Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.||1 to 1 via Qatar, BA (1 to 2 days)|
|AeroMexico ClubPremier||AeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. Club Premier points can be used to book flights on AeroMexico, SkyTeam alliance members (such as Delta or Korean Air), or on select partner airlines. Unfortunately many have reported that awards are extremely difficult to book through AeroMexico so we do not recommend transferring points to this program. If you want to fly AeroMexico, look to transfer points to another SkyTeam partner (such as Air France) and then book AeroMexico with that program.||1 to 1 (~6 days)|
|Jet Airways Inter Miles||JetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.||1 to 1 (Instant)|
|Malaysia Enrich||Given Malaysia's award chart devaluation in June 2017, I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles.||1 to 1 (1 to 2 days)|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles||1 to 1 (3 to 7 days)|
Transfer points to hotel programs
One fantastic option is to transfer points 1 to 2 to Choice Privileges in order to get great value when booking Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Ascend Hotel Collection hotels, Cambria Hotels, and Nordic Choice Hotels. Another great option is to transfer 1 to 1 to Wyndham to book Vacasa Vacation rentals for 15,000 points per bedroom per night. See: Wyndham Vacasa – Great Value is Real!
Combine Points Across CardsIf you are the primary account holder with multiple cards, you can combine ThankYou Rewards accounts. When your points are combined, they can then automatically be redeemed at the same value as your best card. For example, if one of your cards is the Premier card, you will be able to transfer points to airline partners even if the points were earned on a card other than the Premier card. Similarly, if you combine other cards with the Rewards+ card, you’ll get a 10% rebate on all award redemptions (up to 10,000 rebated points per year) even if the points originated from a different card. If you have both the Premier and the Rewards+ card combined together and you transfer 100K points to a partner program, you'll get 10,000 points back.
There are some disadvantages to combining points:
- You lose the ability to pick and choose which points are used when you redeem awards.
- You lose visibility into how many points remain with each card.
Share Points Across CardholdersCiti generously allows people to transfer ThankYou points to anyone else, for free. There are a couple of “catches” to this and an exception:
- Shared points expire after 90 days. Make sure you have a specific near-term use in mind before transferring points.
- 100K limit: Each member may share up to 100,000 points per calendar year. Each member may receive up to 100,000 points per calendar year.
- Exception: The Custom Cash card does not have the capability to share points (but you can combine points with other cards that you have). Yes, it's extremely weird that all other Citi ThankYou Rewards cards allow sharing points, but not Custom Cash. I have no idea why this is.
- If you don't have the Premier or Prestige card (the two cards in Citi's lineup that allow full value transfers to partners), you can move your points to a friend who has one of those cards and then they can transfer the points to an airline or hotel program in order to book high value awards.
- If a friend has airline elite status with one of Citi’s transfer partners with which you want to book an award, you may be better off transferring points to your friend who can then transfer the points to the airline partner and book the award for you (to get free award changes, for example).
How to Keep Points AliveThere are several situations in which you may have Citi ThankYou Rewards points that will expire:
- Points earned by a credit card account expire 60 days after cancelling that account.
- Points transferred to your account expire after 90 days.
- Points earned from some older and no longer available credit cards expire in a set amount of time after points were earned (e.g. 3 or 5 years after December 31 of the year in which the points were earned).
- Points earned from some credit cards expire if your credit card account has no purchase activity in 18 months.
- Points earned from Citibank banking products expire 3 years after December 31 of the year in which the points were earned.
Credit card points: how to keep points aliveWith most credit card points (except with some older credit cards which are no longer available), points remain alive until you cancel the card from which they were earned. Once you cancel the card, points expire after 60 days.
Combining accounts does not solve the problem. When you combine multiple ThankYou accounts, it’s natural to assume that as long as you keep any ThankYou Rewards credit card open, your points will be safe. That’s simply not the case. Citi keeps track of where each ThankYou point came from. If you cancel a card, the points earned on that card expire after 60 days. Period. They are not known to reinstate points.
The best way to preserve your ThankYou points is to keep your credit card account alive. If you don’t want an annual fee, then call to downgrade to a no-fee ThankYou card. There is a side benefit to this approach too: Your no fee card may be eligible for occasional lucrative retention offers. See: How one call led to a points bonanza and rethought plans.
Bank product points: how to keep points alivePoints earned from banking products (such as checking accounts) expire 3 years after December 31 of the year in which the points were earned. Fortunately, when redeeming points combined across multiple accounts, Citi automatically uses first whichever points have the most recent expiration date. So, in general, your banking product points (which eventually expire) will be used first if you have combined accounts.
How to meet minimum spend requirements
Once you are approved for a Citi card, you generally have three months to meet the required spend in order to get the welcome bonus. If your usual spend isn’t enough, consider using the Plastiq bill pay service to use your card to pay bills that can’t usually be paid by credit card (rent, mortgage, contractors, etc.). Note that Mastercards like the Premier card can be used to pay a greater range of payees than Visa or Amex cards. Click here to find many more options for increasing credit card spend.
Keep, cancel, or product change?
Is this card worth keeping in the long run? The main reason to keep this card around long term is as a way to transfer points to airline and programs. If you want to transfer Thank You points to partners, you’ll need the Premier. If you don’t need that capability for a while, consider downgrading to a no-fee ThankYou card.
All cards that earn Citi ThankYou Rewards points
|Card Offer and Details|