Comparison of Citi Custom Cash and Double Cash Credit Cards


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When your credit card bill arrives each month, are you spending a lot more in some categories or are you spending evenly across all categories? Depending on your spending habits, you can opt for a credit card that offers a fixed cash back rate or a card with rotating spending categories that change each billing cycle or quarter.

Citi offers consumers two options that don’t require you to understand a complicated rewards program or activate and track new bonus categories each quarter: the Citi Custom Cashâ„  card and the Citi® Double Cash card.

Welcome bonus

The Citi Custom Cash Card wins in terms of the welcome bonus offer because the Double Cash Card does not have a welcome bonus.

With the personalized payment card, you’ll get $ 200 cash back if you spend $ 750 on purchases within three months of opening the card. While the Citi Double Cash card has been popular since its launch in 2014 due to its simple reward system and fixed cash back rate, Wells Fargo plans to launch a competing card with a welcome bonus. The ActiveCash card will offer 2% cash back on purchases, with no annual fee, and a $ 200 welcome bonus (if you spend $ 1,000 in the first 3 months from the date you opened your account. ).


The Citi Custom Cash card is different from most 5% cash back cards because it does not require you to activate bonus categories every quarter. Cardholders will automatically earn 5% cash back, up to $ 500, on their highest spending category each billing cycle.

This means you don’t have to worry about maximizing your spend based on category rotation each quarter or billing cycle – Citi does the work for you by determining which category your spend is highest in each billing cycle. . There are many expense categories where you can earn 5% cash back including, but not limited to: grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, some transit services, and some streaming services.

After spending $ 500 in your top category, you will get 1% cash back on all other purchases in that category. You will also only earn 1% cashback on all other purchases that are not in your highest spending category. Cash Back Rewards are earned in the form of Thank You Points, which can then be redeemed for Cash Back Rewards in the form of direct deposit, check, or credit on a statement. Every point of thanks is worth a dime. You can also redeem points for gift cards, travel, and purchases on

The Double Cash card offers cardholders 2% cash back on all qualifying purchases (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay). While neither card requires you to activate categories each quarter, the personalized payment card spending limit limits your cash back to $ 25 per month in your highest spending category, in addition to 1 % cash back per bill cycle. For the Double Cash Card, there is no spending limit for 2% cash back.

CNBC Select has calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Citi Double Cash card and Citi Custom Cash card. We worked with location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual expense budget of $ 22,126. We have found that in the first year of card membership, the Citi Custom Cash Card made more money than the Citi Double Cash Card. The Double Cash Card grossed $ 443 and the Custom Cash Card grossed $ 628 including the welcome bonus. By subtracting the welcome bonus, the two cards earn nearly equal rewards based on Esri’s budget sample.

Annual fees, APR and foreign transaction fees

The Citi Custom Cash Card and Citi Double Cash Card have no annual fee and offer introductory periods of 0% APR. The Citi Double Cash card is the best card for balance transfers because it has a longer introductory period. The Double Cash Card has a 0% introductory period of 18 months on balance transfers (after that, APR varies from 13.99% to 23.99%). The Citi Custom Cash Card has an introductory period of 15 months at 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (after that, APR varies from 13.99% to 23.99%).

If you are a frequent overseas traveler, neither card is a great option as both have a 3% overseas transaction fee. If you’re looking for a card with no overseas transaction fees, you can check out the Select list of the best credit cards for international travel.

Citi Custom Cash Custom Card

  • Awards

    5% cash back on purchases in the best eligible expense categories each billing cycle, up to the first $ 500 (then 1%); 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $ 200 cash back after spending $ 750 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening the account. The bonus offer will be filled as 20,000 Thanks® Points, which can be redeemed for $ 200 cash back.

  • Annual subscription

  • Intro APR

    0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer ($ 5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed


  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back in qualifying spending categories like restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, some travel, some transit, some streaming services, drug stores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live shows
  • Welcome bonus of $ 200 in cash if you reach the spend threshold
  • Introductory offer 0% APR for the first 15 months

The inconvenients

  • 5% cash back is limited to the higher spending category, up to $ 500 spent
  • 3% overseas transaction fee when traveling outside of the United States

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Awards

    2% Cash Back: 1% on all qualifying purchases and an additional 1% after paying your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual subscription

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N / A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% – 23.99% Variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $ 5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

At the end of the line

The Citi Double Cash Card and Custom Cash Card vary by the amount of cash back they offer on purchases, the length of their 0% APR introductory periods (and what they offer 0% APR on) and whether or not they offer a welcome bonus. If you are more interested in a welcome bonus, 5% cash back on your highest spending category (up to $ 500 per month) and no annual fee, then the personalized payment card is the right choice. for you. However, if you are okay with a card that allows you to enjoy a flat 2% cash back rate everywhere, with no annual fees and no welcome bonus, then the Double Cash Card is for you.

You can also consider getting both Citi Cards to maximize your cash back, using the Citi Custom Cash Card on all purchases in your top spending category, and then using the Double Cash Card on all your other purchases to get 2% cash back (which is one percent more than the Custom Cash card offers). Whether you choose one card or both, these two products offer different advantages and disadvantages depending on your spending habits.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value for money, Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the United States. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fees, and overseas transaction fees, as well as such factors as as credit required and customer reviews when available. We also took into account the additional benefits, the application process and the ease with which the consumer can redeem points.

Select has partnered with location intelligence firm Esri. The company’s data development team has provided the most recent and comprehensive data on consumer spending based on the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Spending Surveys. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri’s data team created a sample annual budget of roughly $ 22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($ 5,174), gasoline ($ 2,218), restaurants ($ 3,675), travel ($ 2,244), utilities ($ 4,862) and general purchases ($ 3,953) . General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, as well as other vehicle expenses.

Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of one, two, and five years, assuming they were trying to maximize their rewards potential by earning all of the welcome bonuses offered and using the card. for all applicable purchases. All total reward estimates are net of annual fees.

While the five-year estimates we’ve included are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you can earn higher or lower returns depending on your buying habits.

Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.


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