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Citi ThankYou® Rewards credit cards don’t get as much coverage as American Express and Chase cards, and there’s absolutely no justification for such poor treatment. In fact, Citi offers enough products to be a strong competitor with both Chase and Amex.

Citi’s unique transfer partners, such as Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles and Qatar Privilege Club, are why it’s worth taking a look at Citi ThankYou Rewards. And now it’s become even easier to earn outsized rewards with the program, thanks to the introduction of the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card.

Once you earn a sign-up bonus from one or more cards from the same issuer, we often talk about maximizing your return on everyday spend by using those multiple (specifically, three) credit cards in combination, which we refer to as  a “trifecta.” Both Chase and American Express offer cardmembers their versions of this strategy, and now Citi isn’t too far behind.

Let’s take a look at the rewards cards that will award you at least 2X ThankYou Points and up to 5X ThankYou Points on every purchase.

Overview of ThankYou Point-Earning Citi Credit Cards

Note from the editor: Citi Premier® Card is no longer available to new applicants 

For starters, let’s take a quick look at each credit card in question and how you can maximize your rewards on every purchase.

  Citi Custom Cash℠ Card Citi® Double Cash Card Citi Premier® Card
Welcome Offer Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.  No current offer Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Earning Rates 5% cash back on purchases in your most popular eligible spending category (on the first $500 per billing cycle), then 1% cash back thereafter1% cash back on all other spending 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill 3X ThankYou Points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, on air travel and hotels1X ThankYou Points per $1 spent everywhere else
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% 3% None
Annual Fee $0 $0 $95

Citi Custom Cash Card

The Citi Custom Cash Card is the most recent addition to Citi’s lineup of rewards credit cards, and it made some waves across the points and miles community with its rather unique earning structure.

The Citi Custom Cash Card earns 5% cash back per dollar spent in the spending category where you spend the most money each month. Categories include gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, select travel and transit, drug stores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, live entertainment and select streaming services (on up to the first $500 spent per month).

Each billing cycle, you will earn 5% back on purchases you made in one of the aforementioned categories. You don’t have to activate the bonus, either—the increased rewards automatically will adjust for one of the eligible categories.

You will earn 1% on all bonus spend beyond the first $500 per month and on all other purchases.

The Citi Custom Cash Card is great for consumers looking to customize their bonus rewards earnings each month. Do you spend close to $500 per month on groceries or on gas? Are you looking to make a large purchase at a home improvement store? Do you purchase expensive concert tickets every now and again or need to pick up a pricey prescription? This credit card is a great option for these random purchases that don’t fall into an ongoing spending category on another card.

Rewards earned with the Citi Custom Cash Card alone can be redeemed for statement credits only, but when used in conjunction with the Citi Premier Card or the Citi Prestige cards, they become valuable ThankYou Points.

Citi Double Cash

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card is a simple, yet lucrative, cashback card on its own. With it, you’ll earn 2% back on every purchase you make: 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay off your card statement.

The beauty of this card is the ease with which you earn rewards. No spending categories to think of, no earning limits and no annual fees to pay.

As is the case with the Citi Custom Cash Card, you can convert cash back earned with the Citi Double Cash Card to ThankYou Points as long as you hold one of Citi’s premium travel cards, such as the Citi Premier or the Citi Prestige.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Card is a worthy competitor of the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It offers a sizable welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou Points (after spending $4,000 in three months) that can be transferred to more than a dozen airline partners.

With the Citi Premier, you’ll earn 3X ThankYou Points per dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airlines and hotels. You’ll earn 1X ThankYou Point per dollar spent in all other categories.

The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but you’ll break even if you earn at least 9,500 points per year or use the $100 hotel credit by booking a $500 stay.

How to Earn Maximum ThankYou Points on Every Purchase

Now that you understand how Citi rewards credit cards work, let’s figure out a strategy for how you can earn maximum rewards on every single purchase (as long as you hold every card on the list).

Select an eligible bonus category from the list available to Citi Custom Cash members and use it on purchases in that one spending category that month. Feel free to rotate categories, but stick with one if you know in advance where you’re going to spend the most money that month and earn 5X points per dollar on the first $500 per billing cycle.

Use the Citi Premier on purchases in the following categories: restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare and hotel rooms. You’ll walk away with 3X points on all this spend with no limits.

Finally, use your Citi Double Cash to cover all other purchases. Because the card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, make sure you swipe your Citi Premier to pay for purchases made outside of the United States instead.

So, for a total of $95 in annual fees, you can earn 2X to 5X points per dollar spent on every single purchase with the Citi card trifecta that includes the Citi Custom Cash, the Citi Double Cash and the Citi Premier.

How to Earn 5X ThankYou Points in More Categories

Although it’s currently not available to new applicants, those who already hold the Citi Prestige Card earn 5X ThankYou Points per dollar spent on airfare and at restaurants. Hotels and cruise lines also fall into bonus categories and award 3X ThankYou Points per dollar spent.

Using the Citi Prestige in its bonus categories will increase your earnings dramatically, but keep in mind that it’s a premium card and its annual fee is high at $495.

This lineup of cards could be a different version of the Citi trifecta with the Citi Prestige instead of the Citi Premier, or it could be a Citi quad-fecta with the Citi Prestige in addition to the Citi Premier.

Mind Bonus Restrictions on Citi Credit Cards

Keep in mind that not everyone has great luck being approved for one Citi credit card, let alone three Citi cards. It helps to have a long-ish credit history and fewer than six inquiries in the last six months on your record. However, it’s worth at least trying to qualify for a card.

Additionally, the Citi Premier and the Citi Prestige cards are limited to one welcome bonus per 24 months since you opened or closed an eligible card, including the Citi Rewards+® Card and the Citi ThankYou Preferred cards.

The Citi Custom Cash follows a different welcome bonus eligibility rule. You can’t receive a welcome bonus on this card if you received one of the same card in the last 48 months. However, because it’s a new product that launched earlier this year, you don’t have to worry about this restriction just yet.

It’s important to remind you that Citi won’t allow you to open more than two personal credit cards within a 65-day period, so plan your card applications carefully.

Final Thoughts

Holding multiple Citi cards as part of the Citi trifecta will net you 2X to 5X ThankYou Points per dollar spent on everything you buy, and it’ll cost you as little as $95 in annual fees across all three cards.

Remember that you have the option to convert cash back to transferable points as long as you hold one card with an annual fee and pool all your ThankYou Points into one account.

Holding the right card combination can help you earn rewards faster, and you can continue earning points at increased rates even after your sign-up bonus has posted.