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Citibank has a new no annual fee cash back card that’s really interesting. It offers 5% return in specific categories that change each month based on what you’re spending the most on. And since the cash comes in the form of ThankYou points, if you have Citibank cards where points transfer to miles you can pool your points – and earn 5x transferrable points which is amazing.
The Citi Custom CashSM Card has an initial bonus $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. That’s 20,000 ThankYou points.
How To Earn 5x With Citibank
Here’s how you really benefit from the card: on an ongoing basis you’ll earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (1% cash back thereafter). Here are the categories:
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Select travel and transit
- Select streaming services
- Home improvement stores
- Fitness clubs
- Live entertainment
What’s great is that you can focus on one area of spending for 5x earning that’s different from the categories where you earn bonuses from other cards in your wallet. And the 5% categories are automatic, you don’t need to signup each billing cycle or quarter – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
Turning These Into Transferrable Points
Now, 5% cash back is great but I think the real value is with this card as part of Citi’s broader ecosystem. Because if you have a Citi Prestige or a Citi Premier® Card you can pool the points and transfer them to airline mileage partners. The Citi Premier® Card has an initial bonus of 80,000 ThankYou® points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening, and earns 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants and supermarkets as well as gas stations, air travel and hotels.
What’s more the Citi® Double Cash Card also has no fee and earns 2% on every purchase (unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you you pay for those purchases) and that comes in the form of ThankYou points that can be pooled if you have Citi Prestige or Premier as well.
If you only have the no annual fee cards you can’t turn those points into airline miles, but if you have the Prestige or Premier you transfer the points from a Citi Custom CashSM Card into the Premier account, and then have the option to move them to airline miles or points:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air France KLM Flying Blue
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
While Virgin Atlantic miles are often less valuable than other currencies they have incredible sweet spots.
Turkish Airlines offers 48 hour award holds so you can lock in an award prior to transferring points. Cancel and redposit fee is just $25. First class to the Caribbean or Hawaii is just 12,500 miles one-way on United. Europe is just 45,000 miles in business class, and India 52,500 miles (plus fuel surcharges).
Qatar Airways actually recently reduced the prices of their best awards and now is a really useful program.
QSuites Business Class, Credit: Qatar Airways
Singapore Airlines is great for booking awards on Singapore flights themselves in long haul premium cabins.
EVA Airways has a really underappreciated program as well.
EVA Airways Business Class
Getting Approved For This Card
Citibank doesn’t generally have a rule about the number of cards you can have with them, but they will only issue one Citi Custom CashSM Card account per person. That’s going to limit how much you can benefit from this card each billing cycle, but I think the ‘per person’ here is what you should focus on. If you’ve got a spouse, why not both get this card?
The standard Citibank bonus rule applies that you can only qualify for a bonus on this specific product once every 48 months, but since the card is new that should serve as a barrier for most at this point.