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VS

Compare the Features and Benefits of Citi Custom Cash℠ Card and
United℠ Explorer Card

Detailed Comparison Overview

Key Facts
Annual Fee
Avg. Min. Credit Score
APR on purchases
APR on balance transfers
Ongoing APR
Balance transfers fees
Best Multiplier
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
Bonus Offer
Rating
Review
Key features
Unique Card Benefits
0% Intro APR on Purchases
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers
No Fees for Authorized Users
Free Checked Bags
Airport Lounge Access
Priority Boarding
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
Trip Protections
Purchase Protection
Extended Warranty
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Concierge Services
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Free Access to Credit Score
Annual Fee
$0
Avg. Min. Credit Score
580-850 *
APR on purchases
0% Intro APR (on purchases for 15 months, 19.24%-29.24% thereafter)
APR on balance transfers
0% Intro APR (on balance transfers for 15 months, 19.24%-29.24% thereafter)
Ongoing APR
19.24%-29.24% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Best Multiplier
5x Airfare
5x Transit
5x Car Rentals
5x Gas Stations
5x Dining Out / Food Delivery
5x Hotels
5x Gym Memberships
5x Streaming Services
5x Drugstores
5x Entertainment (Concerts / Shows / Movies)
5x Groceries
1x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.01 - $0.016
Bonus Offer

$200 in the form of 20,000 bonus ThankYou® points when you spend $1,500 within 6 months

Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(3.93) Our Review

Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.

Review

You will earn 5% cash back (as ThankYou® Points) on eligible purchases in your top spending category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, with 1% cash back thereafter on all of your other eligible purchases made with your Citi Custom Cash card. You do not have to select anything at any time. It’s automatic. And these are not rotating bonus categories – it’s the same choice each month.
The eligible bonus spend categories are:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas Stations
  • Grocery Stores
  • Select Travel
  • Select Transit
  • Select Streaming Services
  • Drugstores
  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Fitness Clubs
  • Live Entertainment

restaurants-citi-custom-cash

You’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The 5X applies to your top category each month. So it’s kind of like a rotating bonus category except you choose – and you don’t even have to technically choose or register, the 5% is automatically applied to your highest spend category each billing cycle.

As a comparison, the Chase Freedom Flex offers a 5X rotating quarterly bonus category, but with a limit of $1,500 per quarter and on whatever categories they choose. This works out to the same $1,500 per quarter, but divided evenly each month such that you can utilize different categories each month.

This is the first and only card that I can think of that offers 5% at home improvement stores and at drugstores.

While a heavy spender may not be super impressed with the $500 a month cap, I think many spenders would be very happy to earn 5% on restaurants, grocery stores, gas, etc. on a card with no annual fee.

And heck, you could buy $500 worth of show or concert tickets one month and get 5% on that!

The Citi Custom Cash card is a perfect companion card to a Citi Premier® and a Citi® Double Cash card, creating a Citi Trifecta. If you have all three cards, you would use the Citi Premier for 3X Citi ThankYou points® on air travel & hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, the Double Cash card for everything else at 2X, except for one category out of the Custom Cash’s options for 5X up to $500 a month. Personally, I think that most people would want to make this their go-to card for gas stations, as that is an easy one to spend roughly $500 a month on. But, of course, what category you pick will depend on your own spending patterns.

You might be thinking about getting multiple Citi Custom Cash cards – a Custom Cash card for each category, but you cannot. Acknowledging that someone might want to hold many of these to get everything at 5X, they have capped this card at one per person.

Bonus Eligibility Rules for the Citi Custom Cash card

The bonus offer is not available if you received one for opening a new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account in the past 48 months.

However, this is GOOD news! You see, with all of the other Citi credit cards that earn ThankYou points you can only get one bonus, in total, every 24 months. Meaning that getting a Citi Premier precludes you from, for example, a Citi Rewards+.

But the Custom Cash card is not subject to that rule. So, you can get another Citi ThankYou® card bonus and a Custom Cash card bonus within the same 24 month period.

Bonus Category Definitions

It’s important to know what counts and what doesn’t, especially for bonus categories that start with the word “Select.”

The following definitions apply to the Citi Custom Cash card categories:

Restaurants

Includes purchases at cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants. Excludes purchases at bakeries, caterers, restaurants located inside another business (such as hotels, stores, stadiums, grocery stores, or warehouse clubs) and third party dining delivery services.

Gas Stations

Excludes gasoline purchases at warehouse clubs, discount stores, convenience stores or other merchants that do not use the gas station merchant category code.

Grocery Stores

Includes purchases at supermarkets, meat/seafood stores, dairy stores, bakeries, and miscellaneous food/convenience stores. Excludes purchases at general merchandise/discount superstores; wholesale/warehouse clubs; candy, nut and confectionery stores. Purchases made at online supermarkets or with grocery delivery services also do not qualify if the merchant does not classify itself as a supermarket by using the supermarket merchant category code.

Select Travel

Includes airline, hotel, cruise line and travel agency purchases. Excludes timeshares, boat leases and rentals, campgrounds and trailer parks, and real estate agencies.

Select Transit

Includes 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. Excludes bike/scooter rentals, auto clubs and insurance companies.

Select Streaming Services

Includes the following cable, satellite, and streaming providers: 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.

Drugstores

Includes purchases made at pharmacies in grocery stores, general merchandise/discount superstores, and wholesale/warehouse clubs if those merchants submit purchases made in their pharmacy with the drug store and pharmacy merchant category code.

Home Improvement Stores

Includes purchases at home supply warehouse stores, lumber and building materials stores, paint and wallpaper stores, hardware stores, nurseries – lawn and garden supply stores and paints, varnishes and supplies stores. Excludes florists and florists’ supply stores; nursery stock; wholesale construction stores; and glass stores.

Fitness Clubs

Includes membership fee and other purchases at athletic, sports and recreation facilities requiring membership such as health, tennis, and swimming clubs. Excludes fees associated with virtual services for home exercise equipment, personal monitoring devices, or fitness streaming classes.

Live Entertainment

Includes ticket purchases for live entertainment, including: concerts, live sporting events, live theatrical productions, amusement parks, and orchestras. Excludes: charitable organizations that provide live entertainment (benefits), sporting camps, sports complexes where you participate in the sport, public and private golf courses, country clubs (including membership fees), bowling alleys, movie theaters, tourist attractions, museums and art galleries.

concerts-citi-custom-cash-credit-card

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
0% Intro APR on Purchases
yes
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers
yes
No Fees for Authorized Users
yes
Free Checked Bags
no
Airport Lounge Access
no
Priority Boarding
no
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
no
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
no
Trip Protections
no
Purchase Protection
no
Extended Warranty
no
No Foreign Transaction Fees
no
Concierge Services
no
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
no
Free Access to Credit Score
no
Annual Fee
$0 Introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $95
Avg. Min. Credit Score
670-850 *
APR on purchases
-
APR on balance transfers
-
Ongoing APR
21.99%-28.99% (Variable)
Balance transfers fees
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Best Multiplier
2x Airfare

On United flights only; otherwise earn 1X

2x Dining Out / Food Delivery
2x Hotels
1x Everything Else
Avg. Point Value
(Learn More)
$0.012
Bonus Offer

Earn 60,000 United MileagePlus Miles after spending $3,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of opening an account, plus Annual Fee waived for the first year. Offer ends March 13, 2024.  

Rating
YBCC Card Rate Stars Filled
YBCC Card Rate Stars Empty
(4.05) Our Review

Our ratings are determined by the authors and editors on our team. Each individual card feature is compared against all other cards we offer and the total score is an average of those 4 ratings.

Review

The United Explorer is one of the best credit cards out there for occasional United flyers. That’s because you’ll get useful perks, such as free first checked bags, priority boarding privileges, a 25% food and beverage discount on board United operated flights, and even get a taste of airport lounge access with two anniversary United Club passes. Plus. the annual fee is waived the first year, then just $95 thereafter.

Consider this scenario: Even if you only fly United a couple of times per year, the Explorer Card is worth it for the free checked bag benefit alone. Keep in mind, this applies to the primary card holder and one companion on the same reservation, as long as you use the card to pay for your ticket. At $35 for one checked bag, and $140 for a round-trip flight for two people, it’s easy to get value that exceeds the card’s annual fee.

In addition to the sign-up bonus earned after account opening, the United Explorer card earns a decent 2X miles on United Airlines purchases, 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services, 2X miles on hotel stays when booked with the hotel and 1x miles on all other purchases. Also, the card helps to fast track your United elite status goals with 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $12,000 you spend on purchases (up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year). These PQPs can be applied toward your Premier status qualification — up to the Premier 1K level.

And don’t forget the ability to earn PQPs towards elite status from spend. You’ll earn 25 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for every $500 you spend on purchases – up to 1,000 PQPs per year.

If you’re in need of extra miles besides flying on United flights, keep in mind that Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the United Mileage Plus program at a 1:1 ratio to help you top up your miles balance.

While the United Explorer card is a fantastic option for the occasional United flyer, those that travel more often with the airline might want to consider other options, including United’s other, more premium, credit cards.

In more simple terms, the Explorer card fits the “occasional United flyer” once or twice per year mold, while the $250-per-year United Quest fits the “semi-frequent United flyer.” Then, there’s the United Club Infinite Card for the “frequent United flyer.” If you’re looking for a United Club membership and need more than just two one-time passes, you’ll probably be better off with the United Club Infinite Card, which comes with a full United Club membership but also charges the highest annual fee of the United cards at $525.

Read more
Unique Card Benefits
yes
0% Intro APR on Purchases
no
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers
no
No Fees for Authorized Users
no
Free Checked Bags
yes
Airport Lounge Access
yes
Priority Boarding
yes
Global Entry / TSA PreCheck Reimbursement
yes
Primary Car Rental CDW Waiver
yes
Trip Protections
yes
Purchase Protection
yes
Extended Warranty
yes
No Foreign Transaction Fees
yes
Concierge Services
yes
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
yes
Free Access to Credit Score
yes

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