5 Quick Thoughts On Citi’s Newest Card, It Is Better Than I Expected

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Citi Custom Cash Details

Citi Custom Cash Details, It Is Better Than I Expected

I have to admit when we got the email saying Citi was launching a new 5% back product I didn’t think much of it.  I (wrongly) figured I wouldn’t be able to get it because of the ThankYou family rule and because I just grabbed the Citi Premier card. Another assumption of mine was that it would be a Chase Freedom clone, but that isn’t entirely accurate either.  After looking at the Citi Custom Cash details I have 5 quick thoughts to share.

The Welcome Offer Is Available To Anyone

I talked about this already but it is worth driving home.  The Citi Custom Cash has a $200, or 20,000 ThankYou point, welcome offer after spending $750 within the first 3 months. Usually cards that earn ThankYou points, like the Citi Premier, fall into the ThankYou point family rule. Which means that if you open or close one of the ThankYou cards you are ineligible for the rest of them for 24 months.  The Custom Cash does not have this verbiage, at least yet.  So now may be the time to grab it in case that changes.  (Check out the application rules for each bank here)

This is of course assuming that you are not under Chase 5/24 or trying to get under Chase 5/24 etc. It also assumes that you weren’t planning on getting another ThankYou point product because…

Citi Custom Cash Details

Will The Citi Custom Cash Negatively Impact Future Applications?

My thoughts on if you are planning on getting another ThankYou point product in the near future is to hold off on grabbing the Citi Custom Cash.  Currently the terms of other ThankYou point cards don’t include the Custom Cash in the exclusion list.  Here are the family rule terms for the Premier:

Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+®, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier® or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.

Having said that it doesn’t mean that those couldn’t change in the near future. If Citi adds the Custom Cash to the ThankYou card family list a little down the line, and you just grabbed it, then you wouldn’t be eligible for one of the other products for 24 months. Even if it isn’t in the terms when you signed up it could still be a problem in the near future.  So if you planned on grabbing the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige in the near future I would do that first and then grab the Citi Custom Cash.

The 5% Custom Choice Is Killer

I have to admit that I love being able to pick your category each month. And you do it with your spend, no need to activate anything which is another plus. With the traditional 5% back cards there are usually some categories I don’t max out because it doesn’t really fit into my spending pattern.  But with gas and grocery as two of the options that will never be a problem for me with the Citi Custom Cash.

Citi Custom Cash Details

Monthly Spend Instead Of Quarterly Spend

I even kind of like that it is capped at $500 a month instead of $1500 a quarter because it is a repetitive motion.  Instead of trying to remember what quarter it is and if you already completed the spend earlier in the quarter or not etc. I know to throw the Custom Cash in my wallet the first of the month, hit my spending and then wait again till the next month.  That is muscle memory at its finest.

Custom Cash > Rewards+

There will be a lot of people that want the Citi Custom Cash but won’t want to burn an inquiry on it or are trying to stay under Chase 5/24 etc.  That means that they will need to do a product change to the card.  The Custom Cash isn’t a product change option yet, but it should be soon.  And the cool thing about Citi is they allow you to product change from any personal card to any personal card for the most part. Have an American Airlines card? That could be changed to a ThankYou points earning card no problem!  Usually banks limit you to the same family or currency etc. for product changes.

Having said that you may not have that many options for product changes if you only have a few Citi cards.  And your decision could come down to the Custom Cash or Rewards+.  The ideal situation is to have both for the increased earning of the Custom Cash and the 10% rebate on 100,000 points with the Rewards+ card.

But if you have to choose between the two I would pick the Custom Cash. If you max out the $500 a month at 5X earning that is 30,000 points a year.  Those points are worth at least $300.  The Rewards+ could net you 10,000 points worth at least $100.  This is assuming you can max out the Custom Cash every month of course but it comes out quite a bit ahead between the two. And it may be more difficult for people to earn and burn 100,000 ThankYou points every year to max out the Rewards+ versus spending the $500 a month with the Custom Cash. Although there is something to be said about the Rewards+ taking no effort to earn besides redemptions.

Final Thoughts

After seeing the Citi Custom Cash details I have to admit I came away impressed.  I applied for the card and so did my wife. She was instantly approved but I was sadly denied.  I was sitting at 5 hard inquiries over the last month, more than Citi’s new 3 hard inquiries in the last 6 months rule, so that is likely why I was denied.  It was worth a try though because you just never know with new cards. Hopefully these 5 quick thoughts on the Citi Custom Cash gave you some more clarity on the card and some information on if it makes sense for you or not.

Let me know if you are grabbing one or not in the comments!

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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8 COMMENTS

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I went to the bank to get the higher offer, where I was told you don’t need to choose a category ahead of time. They look at your spend and figure it out. That’s a plus.

  2. I find it interesting that even though the rewards are in Thank You points, this is billed as a cash back card, even NAMED that way. I don’t like TY points much and have completely abandoned them since they stopped giving a 25% bonus on airfares, so I admit that the cash card designation is more attractive to me. I just don’t understand what their strategy is. They seem to be trying to obliterate the difference between cash back and points, but why?

    • I think they are trying to muddy the waters on it for sure. The Double Cash earnings can now be turned into TY points and the Premier can cash out points at 1 cent a piece etc. I think they want to make it fluid one way or the other so it works for everyone.

  3. I recall that getting value from Thank you points –as compared to cash rewards –is very hard unless you have one of the cards that allows airline transfers. I eventually used up most of my TYP balance on mortgage payment, but that takes an enormous amount of effort just to get 1 for 1 value.

    • They have made it easier adding a straight cash out option at 1 cent a point on a few cards now. That stacks with the Rewards+ 10% back. I know it makes the program a lot more attractive for me now since I agree that the mortgage thing was a PIA

  4. Thinking about it. Not sure what my chances are. Last card was in Jan this year. But 3 cards in the past 12 months. So that’s probably a lot of inquiries.

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