Citi Double Cash vs. Citi Custom Cash: Varying Levels of Flexibility

One offers a solid flat cash-back rate, the other makes it easy to optimize.
Sara Rathner
By Sara Rathner 
Updated
Edited by Kenley Young

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If you want to keep your credit card rewards simple, both the Citi Double Cash® Card and Citi Custom Cash® Card have much to offer.

The Citi Double Cash® Card earns the same amount of cash back wherever you use it, which doesn’t get any simpler. The Citi Custom Cash® Card, however, automatically earns a high cash-back rate on purchases in your highest spending category each billing cycle. That’s a foolproof way to maximize without having to memorize which card will earn the most where you shop.

So it comes down to what you want out of your card: ultimate simplicity, or the potential to earn more on certain purchases without much additional effort.

Of course, the cards pair well together, too. You can use the Citi Custom Cash® Card where you spend the most each month (among its eligible spending categories), and then use the Citi Double Cash® Card everywhere else.

How the cards compare
Citi® Double Cash Card
Citi Double Cash® Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Rates & Fees
Citi Custom Cash® Card
Citi Custom Cash® Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Rates & Fees
Annual fee
$0
$0
Sign-up bonus

Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Rewards

2% cash back on purchases (1% back for every dollar spent, and 1% back for every dollar paid off).

5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your highest spending category per billing cycle in these eligible categories:

  • Grocery stores.

  • Restaurants.

  • Gas stations.

  • Streaming services.

  • Drugstores.

  • Home improvement stores.

  • Fitness clubs.

  • Select travel.

  • Select transit.

  • Live entertainment.

All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.24% Variable APR.

0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.24% Variable APR.

Still not sure?

Why you might prefer the Citi Double Cash® Card

The $0-annual-fee Citi Double Cash® Card offers the same respectable cash-back rate wherever you use it, making it a rewarding card that’s easy to manage.

Simple rewards

The Citi Double Cash® Card earns 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay it off. There are no spending categories to memorize. If you want to carry only one credit card, the Citi Double Cash® Card is a compelling option, because 2% cash back is the rewards rate to beat for flat-rate cards.

The Citi Double Cash® Card doesn’t always offer a sign-up bonus for new cardholders, but this is what’s currently available: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Flexible redemptions

Cash back is earned in the form of Citi ThankYou Points. You can redeem points at a value of 1 cent each for a statement credit, direct deposit to a bank account, or a mailed check. You can also redeem for gift cards or travel, or shop with points on Amazon.com (point values vary for these redemption options).

You can also transfer points to these hotel, airline and shopping partners:

🤓Nerdy Tip

Citi ThankYou Points are transferable. So if you also have a higher-tier Citi credit card like the $95-annual-fee Citi Premier® Card — which has more partners and/or better transfer ratios — you can move ThankYou Points to it from your Citi Double Cash® Card, giving you even more flexibility. For more details about how this works, see our story about the Citi Trifecta.

0% APR for balance transfers

There isn’t a no-interest promotion for new purchases, but there is one for balance transfers: ​​0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.24% Variable APR.

Pairs well with others

Other credit cards that earn higher rewards rates in certain spending categories (groceries, gas, restaurants and travel, for example) often earn only 1%-1.5% back on all other purchases. That makes the Citi Double Cash® Card an ideal companion to pair with other rewards cards. You can use the card that earns 3% back or more in specific categories, and then earn 2% cash back with the Citi Double Cash® Card on everything else (1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay it off).

Why you might want the Citi Custom Cash® Card instead

Ability to earn a higher rewards rate

The $0-annual-fee Citi Custom Cash® Card earns 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category on up to $500 in spending each billing cycle. After that, you’ll earn 1% cash back in that category. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Eligible spending categories include:

  • Restaurants.

  • Gas stations.

  • Grocery stores.

  • Select travel.

  • Select transit.

  • Select streaming services.

  • Drugstores.

  • Home improvement stores.

  • Fitness clubs.

  • Live entertainment.

You don’t have to strategize too much about when to use the card. You’ll automatically earn the higher cash-back rate where you spend the most during each billing cycle. If you know you’ll have a major expense coming up, like a new appliance at a home improvement store or a few plane tickets, you can maximize the card’s benefit. Still, a $500 cap on earning 5% cash back can be on the low side, especially for those really big purchases.

There’s a sign-up bonus for new cardholders. Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Similar redemption options, at least for cash back

Just like with the Citi Double Cash® Card, you’ll earn ThankYou Points you can redeem for cash back at a value of 1 cent per point. You can request a statement credit, a direct deposit into a bank account or a mailed check. You can also redeem at varying point values for gift cards, travel or on Amazon.com.

However, the Citi Custom Cash® Card offers only one transfer partner — Shop Your Way. Each ThankYou Point you transfer is worth 10 Shop Your Way points.

(As with the Citi Double Cash® Card, points are transferable among eligible Citi credit cards.)

0% APR offer

The Citi Custom Cash® Card offers a 0% interest promotion for both balance transfers and new purchases: 0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.24% Variable APR.

Which card should you get?

For easy, decent cash back everywhere you use your card, it’s hard to beat the Citi Double Cash® Card. But if your budget tilts heavily toward one of the eligible 5% cash-back categories for the Citi Custom Cash® Card, using that card will help you earn more where you spend the most.

And, of course, you can pair the cards together to maximize your rewards rate with a low level of effort.

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Miles

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