New card alert: Citi Custom Cash available to new applicants (and it’s actually pretty good)

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It’s always good news when credit card issuers concoct new products to help us all earn more miles and points.

Citi has announced their newest addition to the Citi ThankYou points-earning family of cards: The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. And while the name sounds pretty dull, the card actually provides a very, very easy path to earning two round-trip tickets to Hawaii every year (I’ll explain near the end of the post). Pretty great for a no-annual-fee credit card!

I’ll show you how this card can fit into your free travel strategy.

Head to Hawaii every year with nearly zero effort thanks to the Citi Custom Cash. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

What you need to know about the Citi Custom Cash

Before we talk about the Citi Custom Cash benefits, there’s one majorly important detail you need to know: Citi markets this card as a “cash back” card, but it’s not. It earns Citi ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for cash at a value of 1 cent each.

You’re very welcome to redeem your points for cash, but if you know the best ways to use Citi ThankYou points, you can get exponentially more value per point that just 1 cent. I’ll show you below.

Key benefits

Welcome bonus

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers a modest $200 in cash back (20,000 Citi ThankYou points) after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Again, if you strategically transfer your points to airlines, this bonus could be worth much more than $200. We estimate you’ll get an average Citi ThankYou points value of 1.7 cents when you convert your points into airline miles, meaning you can expect a value of $340 in flights from this bonus.

Earning rate

The card’s biggest selling point is its ongoing earning potential. You’ll earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent. After that, you’ll get 1% cash back. You’ll also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. The eligible bonus categories are:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Select travel*
  • Select transit**
  • Select streaming services***
  • Drugstores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Live entertainment

*Select travel is defined as airlines, hotels, cruise lines and travel agencies

**Select transit is defined as 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.

***Select streaming services are defined as cable, satellite and streaming providers such as Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, CBS All Access, Disney+, AT&T TV NOW, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV and Tidal

That is a HEALTHY list of bonus categories. And it’s very cool that the card identifies your category with the highest spend and gives you a bonus for it. 5% back is very good for a no annual fee card (similar to the Chase Freedom Flex℠). However, there are two less-than perfect aspects to this card’s earning rate:

  • You’re capped at 2,500 bonus points each billing cycle
  • All other spending yields a 1% return, which is pitiful — so you’ll want to only use this card for $500 in spending each billing cycle (in one of the above categories)

Citi specifically states that they will only issue one Citi Custom Cash account per person — so you can’t hold more than one to artificially increase your bonus cap. However, your partner or travel buddy can certainly open one, too, which will help the both of you travel more.

Note: You qualify for the bonus only if you have not received a bonus offer for opening a new Citi Custom Cash Card in the past 48 months. That’s not a relevant detail now, since the card is spanking new, but it’s something to keep in mind for the future.

Use your points for travel — not cash back!

If you have either a Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card, you can convert your points into airline miles instead of cash back! I’ve personally got both of these cards, as they serve different purposes in my free travel strategy.

While there are several great Citi ThankYou transfer partners (Avianca, Flying Blue, Singapore Airlines), the biggest win is Turkish Airlines. For 7,500 miles one-way, you can fly from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere in the U.S. on United Airlines, a partner of Turkish. Whether you want to hop a couple states over for a visit to Grandma’s or you want to fly transcontinental from Miami to Seattle, it can all be done for 7,500 Turkish miles.

You can even fly to Hawaii from United hubs like Newark, Chicago, Washington, DC, Houston, San Francisco, etc. — all for 7,500 miles each way, or business class flights for 12,500 miles each way (including lie-flat seats!).

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

I booked this seat to Maui by transferring 12,500 Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Airlines. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

If you successfully max out your $500 bonus spending with this card each billing cycle (which will be super easy to do), you’ll accrue at least 30,000 Citi ThankYou points each year. That’s enough for two round-trip coach flights — or one round-trip business class flight — to Hawaii every year! Name another no annual fee card that can achieve that.

Bottom line

The Citi Custom Cash is the newest contributor to the line of Citi ThankYou points-earning cards. With no annual fee, it’s a great card to begin with — though its real potential is unleashed if you have either the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card, as they allow you to transfer your rewards to valuable airlines.

Let me know what you think of this new card! And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card info and reviews delivered to your inbox once per day.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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