Courtesy of Citi & American Express; Illustration by CreditCards.com

Citi Custom Cash Card vs. American Express Blue Cash Preferred

The right cash back card for you depends on your spending patterns

Summary

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is ideal for those who spend the most at U.S. supermarkets and on streaming services, while the Citi Custom Cash is best suited for those who make a wide variety of purchases.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Citi is an Advertising Partner

Few businesses are more competitive than credit card issuers. And among all the different kinds of cards offered, the competition may be fiercest among cash back credit cards. Citi offers the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, which breaks new ground in this field. Let’s see how it compares to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, an older favorite that’s been updated for contemporary cardholders.

Card details

CardCiti Custom Cash CardBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Rewards
  • 5% cash back on up to $500 spent each billing cycle in your top spending category, then 1%
  • 1% back on other purchases
  • 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets, then 1% back
  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases
  • 1% back on other purchases
  • Terms apply
Annual fee$0$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)
Welcome bonus$200 cash back after you spend $1,500 in the first 6 months (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points)$250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
Introductory APR0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR17.74% to 27.74% variable17.74% to 28.74% variable

Citi Custom Cash Card vs. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Welcome offer

Citi Custom CashBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
$200 cash back after you spend $1,500 in the first 6 months (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points)$250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months

The winner: Blue Cash Preferred

With the Citi Custom Cash, you’ll start off by earning $200 cash back by spending just $1,500 on new purchases within six months of account opening. Note, the Citi Custom Cash technically earns basic ThankYou points, so your welcome bonus will be rewarded in the form of points (redeemable for $200 in cash back). With the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of account opening.

As you can see, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a higher welcome bonus but also requires more spending to earn it. But given spending $500 per month for six months is a fairly attainable goal, the Blue Cash Preferred wins this category.

Rewards rates

Citi Custom CashBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
  • 5% cash back on up to $500 spent each billing cycle in your top spending category, then 1% back
  • 1% back on other purchases
  • 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets, then 1%
  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% back on transit and U.S. gas stations
  • 1% back on other purchases

The winner: Blue Cash Preferred

The Citi Custom Cash earns 5 percent cash back on up to $500 spent in the eligible category that you spent the most on during the billing period. The eligible categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred, on the other hand, earns 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets (1 percent after that) and an unlimited 6 percent back on purchases from select U.S. streaming services. You’ll also receive 3 percent back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent back on everything else.

Both cards offer competitive cash back rates, and if you evenly split up $6,000 in grocery spending over a year with the Blue Cash Preferred, that breaks down to $500 in spending per month. Given the Blue Cash Preferred offers a variety of additional categories in which you can earn unlimited rewards, it wins in this category, too.

Card benefits

Citi Custom CashBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits
  • Fraud protection
  • Citi Entertainment access
  • Up to $84 back on eligible streaming subscriptions
  • Free ShopRunner membership
  • Extended warranty, purchase protection and return protection
  • Access to Pay It Plan It
  • Car rental insurance
  • Global Assist Hotline

The winner: Blue Cash Preferred

The Citi Custom Cash benefits don’t include any purchase protection or travel insurance perks that were once common on Citi credit cards. However, it does offer some benefits like Mastercard ID theft protection, fraud protection and access to Citi Entertainment.

In contrast, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers more prominent benefits, most notably up to $84 back on eligible streaming subscriptions — meaning you can earn $7 back every month when you use your Blue Cash Preferred to purchase $13.99 or more on an eligible subscription via The Disney Bundle (such as Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+). Further, cardholders get access to a variety of protections, including extended warranty, purchase protection, return protection and secondary car rental loss and damage insurance (among other benefits).

Intro APR offer

Citi Custom CashBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (followed by a 17.74% to 27.74% variable APR)0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (followed by 17.74% to 28.74% variable APR)

The winner: Citi Custom Cash

Intro APR offers are a great way to finance large purchases or pay down existing credit card debt without accruing interest for a specific period of time. Both cards offer introductory periods that extend to purchases and balance transfers, but the Citi Custom Cash wins, thanks to those additional three months.

Note, the Citi Custom Cash does charge a greater balance transfer fee (5 percent, minimum $5) compared to the Blue Cash Preferred (3 percent, minimum $5), and this fee will be added to your overall balance.

Foreign transaction fees

Citi Custom CashBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
3%2.7%

The winner: Blue Cash Preferred

Both cards charge a fee for purchases made outside of the United States, also known as foreign transaction fees. The Blue Cash Preferred, though, only charges a 2.7 percent fee compared to the Citi Custom Cash’s 3 percent foreign transaction fee.

Annual fee

Citi Custom CashBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
$0$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)

The winner: Citi Custom Cash Card

While the Citi Custom Cash has no yearly fee, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred charges a $95 annual fee after the first year. Granted, the Blue Cash Preferred does offer a handful of benefits (including its solid rewards structure) that can make up for this fee. But if avoiding this charge is important to you, or you don’t anticipate spending enough to offset the Blue Cash Preferred’s fee, the Custom Cash may be right for you.

Which card should you get?

The better card between Citi Custom Cash and Amex Blue Cash Preferred depends primarily on your spending habits and what you hope to get from a cash back credit card. Both cards offer unique cash back structures that can benefit individuals with specific needs or preferences.

  • If your spending habits vary from month to month: One month, you may spend heavily on home improvements, while another month, you’re booking flights and hotels for your next vacation. With the Citi Custom Cash, you’ll have more flexibility in earning cash back rewards.
  • If you commute to work every day: The Blue Cash Preferred works well for commuters by offering a generous 3 percent cash back on both U.S. gas station and transit purchases, such as parking, tolls, buses, trains, taxis and rideshares.
  • If you like to cook or relax at home: American Express Blue Cash Preferred cardholders earn an impressive 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent each year, then 1 percent) and on unlimited purchases from select U.S. streaming services, making it the perfect card for stay-at-home foodies and entertainment lovers.
  • If you’re a frequent traveler: The Citi Custom Cash is also great for those who are fans of the Citi ThankYou rewards program and enjoy taking advantage of the ability to transfer points to travel partners, so long as you also have the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card*.

Bottom line

The Citi Custom Cash and American Express Blue Cash Preferred are both among the best cash back credit cards offered. By examining the strengths and weaknesses of each product, you can narrow things down and choose the option that best fits your spending style.

*Information about the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Credit Card Rate Report
Reward
18.76%
Student
19.53%
Airline
18.58%
Business
17.05%
Cash Back
18.68%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more