Both Citi Personalized Cash℠ Card and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offer generous cash back programs and exciting welcome bonuses. So what sets these cards apart and which option is right for you?
As usual, it depends on your monthly expenses. Do you spend a lot in a particular category, like groceries, gym memberships, or streaming services? Or do you spend a lot in several categories? Also, how willing are you to pay an annual fee?
Your answers to these questions can help you decide which of these two cash back credit cards deserves a place in your wallet. To get started, let’s take a look at the main features of each card:
|welcome bonus||$300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases with your new card in the first six months||20,000 Thank You Points (worth $200 in cash back) after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months|
|Reward rate||6% cash back at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%); 6% back on select US streaming services; 3% back on US gas station and transit purchases; 1% cashback on all other purchases||5% cash back (up to $500 per billing cycle, then 1%) on your main spend category every billing cycle|
|Introduction AVR||0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months (variable from 14.24% to 24.24%
|0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (14.24% to 24.24% variable APR thereafter)|
|Annual subscription||$0 annual introductory fee for the first year, then $95||No annual fee|
Highlights of Amex Blue Cash Preferred vs. Citi Custom Cash
Welcome Bonus Winner: Blue Cash Preferred
While Citi Custom Cash and Blue Cash Preferred offer decent welcome bonuses, the Blue Cash Preferred bonus takes the cake.
With Blue Cash Preferred, you can earn a $300 credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first six months. Citi Custom Cash, meanwhile, offers 20,000 ThankYou points, worth $200 in cash back, after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months.
You will need to spend $500 for six months to earn the Blue Cash Preferred bonus and $250 for three months to achieve the Citi Custom Cash bonus.
Reward Rate Winner: Blue Cash Preferred
You can make a lot of money with either of these cards, but Blue Cash Preferred’s rewards structure offers more flexibility.
With Citi Custom Cash, you go earn 5% cash back on your main expense category from the following list: restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, some travel, some public transportation, some streaming services, pharmacies, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment.
This 5% cash back rate applies to the first $500 you spend in your top category during each monthly billing period. If you go over this limit, you’ll earn 1% cash back on those purchases until your billing cycle starts again. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on out-of-category purchases.
Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back on all purchases you charge at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 in spend per year). If you go over that limit, you’ll earn 1% cash back on those purchases for the rest of the year. You’ll also earn unlimited 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at US gas stations and on public transportation (such as carpooling, parking, tolls, trains and buses) and 1% discount on everything else.
Both cards’ rewards programs are valuable, but Blue Cash Preferred’s 6% offer in two categories and various 3% categories gives it the edge.
Annual Fee Winner: Citi Custom Cash
The Citi Personalized Cash Card charges no annual fee, while the American Express Blue Cash Preferred charges an annual fee of $95. Blue Cash Preferred offers an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, but Citi Custom Cash’s lack of annual fees in general is hard to beat.
Foreign Transaction Fee Winner: Blue Cash Preferred
Blue Cash Preferred charges a foreign transaction fee of 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars. Citi Custom Cash’s foreign transaction fee is higher at 3% of each US dollar purchase transaction.
Which card pays the most?
Expense example Citi Custom Cash vs. Blue Cash Preferred
How much you can earn with either card depends on your monthly spending habits. If you tend to spend regularly in a particular category, you might do well with Citi Custom Cash.
Suppose your top spending category during a particular billing cycle is groceries and you spend $500 on these purchases—fully maximizing the 5% Citi Custom Cash category. Doing so will earn you $25 in cash back. If you spend an additional $1,000 during this billing cycle on out-of-category purchases (for example, $500 for gas and an additional $500 for online purchases), you’ll earn an additional $10 in cash back.
That brings you to $35 cash back for that billing cycle. The downside here is that you can only spend up to $500 per billing cycle in your top category before the cashback bonus drops from 5% to 1%.
Say you spend the same $500 on purchases in US supermarkets over the course of a month with Blue Cash Preferred. This would earn you $30 cash back. To perfectly match the example above, let’s say you spend an extra $1,000 that month ($500 on gas and $500 on online shopping). Since purchases at US gas stations earn 3% cash back with this card, that’s an additional $15 cash back. Online purchases would be categorized as out-of-category spending, earning you an additional $5 cash back.
In total, that’s $50 cash back for the month with Blue Cash Preferred versus $35 cash back earned with Citi Custom Cash.
Why should you get Citi Custom Cash?
The Citi Custom Cash is a pretty basic card, which means it doesn’t offer a whole host of benefits. You can set up automatic alerts if you get too close to your spending limit, and the card offers access to the Citi mobile app. It also allows you to choose your own payment date. Other benefits include identity theft protection, fraud warnings and free access to your FICO credit score.
The Citi Custom Cash Card technically rewards you with Thank you points which you can then redeem in different ways. You can turn your points into cash back by redeeming them for statement credit, direct deposit, or check, or you can redeem them for gift cards, Amazon.com purchases, and travel reservations.
Recommended credit score
Citi does not list a minimum credit score for Citi Custom Cash. However, your chances of qualifying for this card are better if you have a strong FICO credit score of 700 or higher.
Why should you get Amex Blue Cash Preferred?
Blue Cash Preferred offers a wider range of benefits you will get with Citi Custom Cash. You’ll have access to American Express’ Global Assist hotline, which can help you if you lose your passport while travelling, need a lawyer while abroad, or suffer a serious illness while traveling. travel. You can use the hotline as long as you are at least 100 miles from your home.
The card also comes with Rental Car Loss Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection, which provides coverage if you accidentally damage or lose covered purchases, and Return Protection, which provides a refund. if you try to return a newly purchased product and the merchant won’t. take it back.
American Express also offers dispute resolution services. If you discover a fraudulent or incorrect debit on your billing statement, American Express will work with you to resolve the issue.
Purchases made with your Blue Cash Preferred card will earn you reward dollars, called “Blue Cash Reward Dollars”. You can receive these rewards in the form of a credit statement.
Recommended credit score
American Express doesn’t list a specific FICO credit score you’ll need to qualify for Blue Cash Preferred, although it does state that this card is restricted to consumers with good to excellent credit. As with Citi Custom Cash, you should aim for a FICO score of 700 or higher if you want to apply for Blue Cash Preferred.
The bottom line
Which card is the best? Again, it depends on how you spend. If you spend a lot on groceries, streaming services, gas, and public transportation, the The Blue Cash Preferred card could be worth it— especially since this card lets you earn unlimited rewards on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, in transit, and at U.S. gas stations, specifically.
If you tend to spend a fair amount on niche categories like live entertainment, fitness clubs, and home improvement stores, the Citi Custom Cash card might be the best fit.
Your own spending habits will determine which of these cards is best for you, but both have the potential to earn you significant cash back each month.