Citibank offers several credit cards designed to streamline your spending and simplify rewards. These options include two credit cards that avoid complicated rewards programs and quarterly categories requiring activation: the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card and Citi® Double Cash Card. But which card is right for you?
At a Glance
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card or Citi® Double Cash Card: Which Is Right for You?
Before deciding which Citi credit card is right for you, here is a detailed breakdown of both cards, their features, and their suitability:
Pre-Qualification Before Applying
Applying for a credit card requires a credit check. Often, these credit checks (or credit inquiries) are known as “hard inquiries,” meaning the bank pulls your full credit report before approving (or denying) your credit card application. If you apply for a credit card and are declined, your credit score will likely take a minor hit. One way to avoid a negative impact on your credit score before getting a new credit card is by pre-qualifying before you apply.
Does Citi Offer Online Pre-Qualification Before Applying?
Yes. Citibank provides an online pre-screening for several of its proprietary credit cards. Currently, only four cards apply for this pre-screening process: the Citi Simplicity® Card, Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, and the Citi® Double Cash Card.
To get started with the Citi “pre-approval” process, follow the “Apply Now” button on the relevant Citi credit card review. Hover over the “Credit Cards” tab on the top of the credit card landing page and select “See if You Are Pre-Selected.”
Here is the information you will need to get pre-qualified offers from Citibank:
- Full name
- Email address
- Last four digits of your SSN
- Current address
Related Article: How to Pre-Qualify for a Credit Card
Credit Score Needed
Citi provides credit cards to fit a huge number of credit profiles. Both Citi rewards cards require a “good” or “excellent” credit score, meaning a FICO Score of 670+ is the minimum you should expect to have before applying. For versatile, no annual fee rewards cards like the Double Cash and Custom Cash; however, a credit score of 700+ is likely needed.
However, keep in mind that your credit score is only one part of the equation. Citi also considers other factors, including how your income compares to your debt obligations and your overall ability to make your monthly credit card payments.
How to Apply
Here is the information you’ll need to have handy before you apply for either the Citi Double Cash or the Custom Cash Mastercard:
- Full name (middle name and suffix optional)
- Social Security Number
- Phone number
- Email address
- Monthly rent/mortgage expenses
Citi will also ask you for a security word and hint during the initial application process. This information helps reference the application should you need to exit and return later. Additionally, this code can help you access your application if there is a pending decision.
Both cards feature no annual fee. This lack of a yearly charge is excellent, meaning there is no overhead charge before you can begin earning your accelerated rewards.
How to Earn Rewards
Here is a breakdown of how each Citi credit card earns rewards:
Earning Rewards with the Custom Cash
The Citi Custom Cash isn’t like most other 5% back cards. Unlike the Discover It or Chase Freedom Flex, which earns 5% back on rotating categories each quarter, the Custom Cash earns 5% back on your highest spending category each billing period.
What are the 5% back categories? Cardholders can earn the maximum rewards with purchases in the following 5% eligible categories:
|Dining||Fitness clubs||Grocery stores|
|Drugstores||Gas stations||Home improvement stores|
|Travel & transit (select)||Live entertainment||Streaming service (select)|
Remember that the 5% bonus categories are limited to $500 spent every billing period, and any rewards earned after that threshold will be 1% back. All other card purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back, with no caps on that earning.
Earning Rewards with the Double Cash
Unlike the Custom Cash, every Citi Double Cash Card purchase earns 2% back. This 2% back works out as follows: 1% back when you make an eligible purchase with the card and an additional 1% back when you pay off the corresponding balance. There is no limit to the amount of cash back earned.
The 2% back with the Double Cash is on par with the TD Double Up and Wells Fargo Active Cash – but provides a substantially longer intro APR period for new accounts – 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers.
Do Rewards Expire?
Citi cash back rewards and ThankYou Points do not expire as long as the cardholder’s account is open, active, and in good standing. Should the account close, the former accountholder will have three years to use their rewards before they expire.
How to Redeem Rewards
While the Custom Cash and Double Cash cards are theoretically cash back rewards credit cards, there is a great deal of versatility in redeeming rewards. These options include statement credits, direct deposits, or a check.
Cardholders can also automatically convert their cash back towards Citi ThankYou® points. Citi ThankYou® points are the currency of the Citi ThankYou® Rewards Program, with an estimated value of one cent per point. ThankYou® points are applicable towards a wide variety of redemptions, including:
Gift cards, including 15% more value when redeeming ThankYou points for gift cards from Wayfair®, Sephora®, and Grubhub.
- Merchandise through participating retailers
- Citi loan payments (mortgages, student loans, etc.)
Citibank offers point transfers to 17 airline and hotel partners. Many of these point transfer partners are at a 1:1 ratio, making them a great value for those who are also a member of the frequent flyer program of an associate carrier. The following are Citi ThankYou transfer partners:
|Wyndham Rewards||Aeromexico||ALL – Accor Live Limitless||Flying Blue||JetBlue TrueBlue||Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Cathay Pacific||Choice Privileges||Qatar Privilege Club||Shop Your Way||Singapore Airlines|
|Emirates Skywards||Etihad Guest||EVA Air||Thai Royal Orchid Plus||Turkish Airlines Miles&Miles||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
Here is a quick recap of all the features of both cards:
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
|Cash back rewards||5% on top eligible spend category per billing cycle (up to $500) and 1% on all other purchases||2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay your bill)|
|Introductory APR offer||0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months||0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months|
|Sign-up bonus||$200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening||N/A|
|Foreign transaction fee||3%|
|Annual fee||No annual fee|
Related Article: The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
The information related to Citi Double Cash Card, Citi Custom Cash Card, Citi Simplicity Card, and Citi Diamond Preferred Card has been collected by BestCards.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
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