The Citi Diamond Preferred and Citi Custom Cash cards can both be valuable cards, but one is better for customers who need to pay off high-interest debt and the other is better for customers who want to earn cash back.
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Both cards offer long introductory 0% interest rate on balance transfer offers and new purchases. You can transfer your existing debt to these cards and pay it off without worrying about making interest payments, as long as you pay enough each month to erase all your transferred debt before the 0% introductory offer ends. This could save you hundreds of dollars in interest, depending on how much you transfer.
But which Citi card is right for you, the Diamond Preferred or the Custom Cash? That largely depends on how much existing credit card debt you want to pay off and how many months you might need to do it.
The Diamond Preferred is a basic card that doesn’t have a rewards structure, but it does come with a longer 0% interest period on balance transfers than the Custom Cash. The Custom Cash, though, offers a longer 0% interest rate period on new purchases, along with a cash back rewards program.
Comparing card features: Citi Diamond Preferred vs. Citi Custom Cash
The Citi Diamond Preferred and the Citi Custom Cash are excellent cards to help you pay off credit card debt you’ve amassed from other high-interest cards, but after a closer look, the two have some big differences that set them apart.
Below is a comparison table that quickly summarizes the characteristics of each card:
No welcome bonus
$200 cash back if you spend $750 in 3 months
|Balance transfer offer|
0% interest on balance transfers for 21 months and on purchases for 12 months
|Balance transfer offer|
0% interest on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months
14.49% to 24.49% variable
14.74% to 24.74% variable
No rewards program
Earn 5% cash back in the spending category of your choice (on up to the first $500 spent), then 1%. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Balance transfer offer
The Citi Diamond Preferred card comes with one of the longer intro periods in the industry – 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers – which is why it ranks as one of the best 0% APR cards. After this period, your rate will adjust to a variable APR of 14.49% to 24.49%, depending on your credit. The card also offers a solid 12 months intro 0% APR on purchases, followed by the regular APR of 14.49% to 24.49% variable.
You will have to pay a balance transfer fee, though, of either $5 or 5% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. Balance transfers must be completed within four months of opening your account to qualify for the 0% offer.
The Citi Custom Cash comes with its own 0% introductory offer on purchases and balance transfers. It lasts for 15 months, though, claiming the middle ground between the Diamond Preferred’s longer balance transfer offer but shorter purchase offer. The balance transfer fee for this card is also $5 or 5% of the amount you transfer, whichever is greater.
The Citi Custom Cash comes with a solid cash back rewards program. You’ll earn 5% cash back in the category you spend most in each billing cycle, including restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, travel, transit, streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs or live entertainment.
Note: You’ll earn 5% cash back in your top category on up to $500 you charge in each billing cycle, then 1% after that. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Cash back comes in the form of ThankYou points, meaning that you’ll earn 5 points for every $1 you spend on purchases in your top spending category and 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases.
You can redeem your points for cash back as a direct deposit or a statement credit or for travel at the ThankYou rewards center. If you have a qualifying Citi card, like the Citi Premier® Card, you can also transfer your ThankYou points to Citi’s 16 travel partners.
The Citi Diamond Preferred card does not offer a rewards program.
The Citi Custom Cash also has welcome bonus, though the spending goal is a bit higher. Spend $750 in the first three months and you’ll receive $200 cash back (given as 20,000 ThankYou points). This card’s introductory offer is a nice cherry on top of its rewards structure.
The Citi Diamond Preferred card does not offer a welcome bonus.
The Citi Diamond Preferred’s biggest perk is its long 0% introductory interest rate offer. But it also comes with other valuable features.
You can set up automatic account alerts to remind you if your credit card balance is getting too high, payment is due or if you’ve gone over your credit limit. You can also choose your own payment due date each month that works with your monthly paydays. And with Citi Entertainment, you can get special access to tickets to events across the country.
As for the Citi Custom Cash, you can add authorized users at no cost and earn points on the purchases that they make with their cards. You can also earn an unlimited amount of cash back (at a rate of 1%) once you’ve reached the $500 maximum on your top spending category. Similar to the Citi Diamond Preferred, you can receive account alerts, add your card to your digital wallet and pay even faster with a contactless-chip enabled card.
Citi Diamond Preferred Card: Best for paying off credit card debt
The main selling point of the Diamond Preferred card is its 21-month 0% interest offer on balance transfers. This offer is especially valuable for consumers who have racked up plenty of high-interest debt on other credit cards.
If you transfer that debt to the Citi Diamond Preferred card, you’ll have 21 months to pay it off without having to pay any interest. Just be careful: Once the introductory interest rate period ends, the interest rate on this card will rise to 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR. If you haven’t paid off the debt you transferred by then, you’ll have to pay this higher interest rate on your remaining balance.
Citi Custom Cash Card: Best for category spending
The Citi Custom Cash Card benefits cardholders who charge a lot each month at certain types of stores. Love dining with friends after work? You can plan your purchases so that you earn 5% cash back on restaurants. A movie buff? You can earn 5% cash back on streaming subscriptions. Renovating your home? You can earn this cash back when buying a new saw and plywood at home-improvement stores.
Remember: You automatically earn 5% cash back in your top category, so you must plan accordingly. If you want to use the Custom Cash to get 5% cash back on streaming services, you should avoid using it for any other categories you spend a lot in, such as groceries or gas.
The Citi Custom Cash is a good choice for everyone who spends big at one particular type of retailer each month. If you’re more interested in earning cash back than you are in a longer 0% interest offer, the Custom Cash card is a better choice.
Although both the Citi Diamond Preferred and Citi Custom Cash cards offer long 0% interest offers, that’s where their similarities end. The Diamond Preferred focuses more on its long balance transfer intro APR offer. The Citi Custom Cash card, on the other hand, gives cardholders the opportunity to earn plenty of cash back depending on how they spend each month.
Both are good choices if you need to pay off high-interest debt on other cards. The long 0% interest offer on balance transfers – 21 months for the Diamond Preferred and 15 for the Custom Cash – gives you plenty of time to pay off other credit card debt without worrying about interest payments (before the regular APRs kick in at the end of the intro periods).
If you can pay off your high-interest credit card debt in 15 months, the Custom Cash card would be a solid addition to your wallet. If you think you’ll need the extra six months that come with the Citi Diamond Preferred, you might consider applying for that one instead.