Cash-back credit cards are among the simplest types of rewards credit cards. Rather than having to deal with points or miles, which can have varying payback rates, cash-back cards are relatively straightforward. When you spend on a cash-back credit card, you’ll end up with a rebate on everything you buy.
But the devil is in the details. Some cash-back cards pay varying amounts depending on where you’re spending your money, although all of them will pay a flat cash-back rate on everything else.
Citi® offers two primary cash-back cards, and the specific details of how customers can earn that cash back are quite different. Here’s a look at these two cards, with details on how customers can maximize the amount they’ll earn back on their spending.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Best for: High spending in one category
Enjoy no annual fee and 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers with the Citi Custom Cash Card. After the first 15 months, there will be an APR. New cardholders can also earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 in the first six months.
The Citi Custom Cash Card offers bonus cash back in rotating categories, but it goes about processing this reward in a very different way than most competitor cards. Rather than providing a set bonus category, such as gasoline or groceries, the Citi Custom Cash Card pays a very high 5% cash back on the category in which you’ve spent the most money in a billing cycle.
This is a fantastic bonus as it rewards you for your biggest expenditures, without you having to adjust your spending. Other cards require you to focus spending in certain categories, and that can lead to overspending. But the Citi Custom Cash Card simply rewards you for using the card for your normal, everyday spending.
The one caveat with the card is that bonuses are limited to the first $500 you spend in your top category every billing cycle, limiting your maximum cash-back bonus to $25 per month. However, you’ll still earn an unlimited 1% cash-back bonus on everything else you spend on the card.
Citi® Double Cash Card
Best for: Overall cash back
A major difference between the two cards is that the Citi Double Cash card’s 0% APR offer only extends to balance transfers, not purchases. However, it does last a bit longer at 18 months, after which there is an APR.
Also, although the Citi Custom Cash Card provides a high 5% bonus every billing cycle, many customers will actually end up earning more cash back with the Citi Double Cash Card.
The structure of the Citi Double Cash Card is simple, as you’ll earn a flat 1% on everything you charge on the card. However, whenever you pay your bill, you’ll earn an additional 1% on what you’ve spent.
For most responsible credit card owners, this means that the Citi Double Cash Card effectively pays 2% cash back on all purchases on the card, without any limits. This means that your cash back can really add up if you put the bulk of your spending on the card.
Best of all, you won’t have to worry about figuring out which bonus category is available in any given month. No matter what or when you spend on the card, you’ll end up with 2% cash back on all of your purchases.
Which Citi Cash-Back Card Is Best for You?
The high 5% bonus cash-back payout with the Citi Custom Cash Card is appealing to many customers, as it’s a very high cash-back rate and it doesn’t involve calculating any bonus categories — the payout comes automatically on your highest-spend category. However, the bonus is limited to just $25 per month since it’s up to your first $500 spent.
The Citi Custom Cash also offers an intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers, instead of only on balance transfers, like the Citi Double Cash Card.
If you’re a big credit card spender, you’ll likely end up earning more cash back with the Citi Double Cash Card, which essentially pays out 2% on any and all purchases as long as you pay your bill on time.
Both cards are winners in the cash-back category, so which one is better for you will ultimately come down to how much you spend on your cards. Remember to take into account the APRs if you intend to carry a balance, however.
Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information is accurate as of Jan. 12, 2023.
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