Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express
vs. Citi Custom Cash® Card

Updated: June 18, 2024

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

Shield Insurance

MoneyGeek partners with leading industry experts and advertisers to help you get to your financial happy place. Our content is accurate when posted but offers may change over time. We may receive compensation for partner advertisements, but our editorial team independently reviews and ranks products. Learn more about our editorial policies.

Both the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express and the Citi Custom Cash Card offer compelling cash back rewards. The Citi Custom Cash Card has a flexible 5% cash back on your top spending category.

However, the Blue Cash Preferred Card should not be overlooked, especially for those who spend heavily on supermarkets and streaming services; Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back in these areas. While both cards cater to the same credit range, your personal spending patterns will be the deciding factor.

Credit Card logo for Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express
Credit Card logo for Citi Custom Cash® Card
Citi Custom Cash® Card
MoneyGeek Rating
4.2/ of 5
MoneyGeek Rating
4.2/ of 5

  • Regular APR
    19.24–29.99% variable
    19.24% - 29.24% variable
    0% APR Offer
    0% on purchases for 12 months
    0% for 15 months on purchases
    Intro Offer
    Earn $250
    Earn $200 Cash Back
    Rewards Summary
    Earn 1–6% cash back
    Earn 1%–5% cash back
    Balance Transfer Offer
    0% on balance transfers for 12 months
    0% for 15 months on balance transfers
    Balance Transfer Fee
    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
    Annual Fee
    $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
    $0
    Recommended Credit
    670–850 (Good to Excellent)
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
    Penalty APR
    29.99% variable
    Up to 29.99% (variable)
    Not sure?

Which Card Is Better for You?

You might prefer the Blue Cash Preferred if you enjoy streaming services and spend a lot on groceries. With high cash back rates in these categories, significant savings can be made, especially if these are your primary expenses. However, consider the annual fee after the first year when calculating potential rewards.

You might prefer the Citi Custom Cash if your spending varies or is concentrated in one category that changes over time. The card's flexibility to give you 5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle, up to $500, can be valuable. Plus, there's no annual fee to worry about.

Head-to-Head Comparison: Card Details and Features

Evaluating APRs, fees, credit requirements, rewards, introductory offers, and other features will illuminate which card aligns with your financial habits. For instance, if you spend heavily on groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred may offer more value despite its annual fee, whereas the Citi Custom Cash could be more rewarding if your spending is varied and you prefer no annual fee.

    discount icon

    Regular APR: Citi Custom Cash

    The Citi Custom Cash Card offers a slightly lower APR range with a maximum of 29.24% compared to the Blue Cash Preferred's 29.99%. This could mean slightly lower interest costs under certain conditions.

    annualFee icon

    Annual Fee: Citi Custom Cash

    The Citi Custom Cash no annual fees compared to the Blue Cash Preferred's $0 intro fee for the first year, then $95.

    lowInterestAPR icon

    Introductory 0% APRs: Citi Custom Cash

    The Citi Custom Cash offers a longer introductory 0% APR period of 15 months for both purchases and balance transfers, compared to the 12 months offered by the Blue Cash Preferred. However, the Citi Custom Cash has a higher balance transfer fee of 5% ($5 minimum) versus the Blue Cash Preferred's 3% ($5 minimum).

    coins icon

    Rewards: Blue Cash Preferred

    The Blue Cash Preferred is better for rewards, offering 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% on other purchases. The Citi Custom Cash offers 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, and an additional 4% cash back on certain travel bookings through 6/30/2025. While the Citi Custom Cash provides flexibility, the Blue Cash Preferred offers higher cash back in key categories.

    rewards icon

    Welcome Offers: Citi Custom Cash

    The Citi Custom Cash Card offers a better welcome bonus, providing a higher return on investment (ROI) for its welcome offer. With a requirement to spend $1,500 in the first six months to earn $200 cash back, its ROI of 13% outperforms the Blue Cash Preferred's $250 offer after spending $3,000 in the same period.

    creditApproved icon

    Recommended Credit Score: Tie

    Both the Blue Cash Preferred and the Citi Custom Cash card require a credit score range of 670 to 850, indicating a need for good to excellent credit.

    autopay icon

    Penalties and Fees: Blue Cash Preferred

    The Blue Cash Preferred is slightly better for penalties and fees, offering a lower foreign transaction fee of 2.7% compared to the Citi Custom Cash card's 3%, and a potentially lower cash advance fee. Both cards have similar late fees and penalty APRs.

    points icon

    Issuer Satisfaction: Blue Cash Preferred

    American Express leads in issuer satisfaction with a rating of 5.0, compared to Citibank's rating of 4.1.

    airplane icon

    Other Features & Perks: Tie

    Blue Cash Preferred provides a $250 statement credit, a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, and an $84 Disney Bundle Credit annually. Citi Custom Cash offers a $200 cash back welcome bonus, no annual fee, and a special travel offer through the Citi Travel portal until 6/30/2025.

Rewards Comparison

The Blue Cash Preferred card leads with an impressive 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, appealing to those who prioritize groceries and digital entertainment. While it does have an annual fee after the first year, the high reward rates in these categories can offset that cost for frequent shoppers and streamers.

The Citi Custom Cash card shines with its 5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle, up to $500 spent. This flexible rewards structure can be particularly beneficial if your spending varies or is focused on one of the eligible categories each month. However, the Blue Cash Preferred may still come out ahead for consistent high spenders in its bonus categories, despite the Citi Custom Cash's adaptability.

For the Citi Custom Cash card, the eligible spending categories for the 5% cash back include:

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

These categories offer a tailored rewards experience, automatically adjusting to your highest spending area each billing cycle.

Please refer to the following table for a detailed comparison of the bonus categories for both cards.

Category
Blue Cash Preferred
Citi Custom Cash

U.S. Supermarkets

6% for the first $6,000 annually/1% thereafter

5% on top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% thereafter)

U.S. Streaming Subscriptions

6%

5% on top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% thereafter)

U.S. Gas Stations

3%

5% on top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% thereafter)

Transit

3%

5% on top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% thereafter)

Travel

1%

5%/1% if purchased through Citi Travel℠ portal

Redeeming Rewards

With the Blue Cash Preferred, you can redeem your cash back as a statement credit or use it directly at Amazon.com checkout, providing a straightforward way to offset purchases. These rewards do not expire, allowing you to accumulate and use them at your leisure.

The Citi Custom Cash also offers diverse redemption choices, including statement credits, gift cards and travel, with the added option of direct deposits. Unlike the Blue Cash Preferred, there's no minimum redemption threshold for most options, giving you immediate access to your cash back. Points remain valid indefinitely, ensuring that your rewards are available whenever you need them.

Methodology

MoneyGeek evaluates credit cards like the Blue Cash Preferred and Citi Custom Cash based on their performance in various uses. For this comparison, each card is assessed in the category where it scores highest, which for both is cash back.

The most important factors in determining these scores are the effective reward rate, which accounts for the actual cash back value from card usage, and the return on investment for any offers. These factors, along with other considerations such as fees and APRs, contribute to a comprehensive score. For a detailed understanding of our scoring process, you're welcome to review our ranking methodology.

FAQ: Blue Cash Preferred vs. Citi Custom Cash Card

What are the annual fees for each card?
How do the cash back rewards work for each card?
What is the introductory APR offer for both cards?
Are there foreign transaction fees for either card?
Which card is better for grocery shopping?

About Doug Milnes, CFA


Doug Milnes, CFA headshot

Doug Milnes is a CFA charter holder with over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and the Head of Credit Cards at MoneyGeek. Formerly, he performed valuations for Duff and Phelps and financial planning and analysis for various companies. His analysis has been cited by U.S. News and World Report, The Hill, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and many other outlets.

Milnes holds a master’s degree in data science from Northwestern University. He geeks out on helping people feel on top of their credit card use, from managing debt to optimizing rewards.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. Learn more about our editorial policies and expert editorial team.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings.com and CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek, CardRatings and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.