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- Both the Citi Custom Cash® Card and the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card include no annual fee and intro APR offers on purchases and balance transfers.
- If you need as much time as possible to pay down debt, the Citi Diamond Preferred Card would be the better choice since it comes with one of the longest intro APR offers for balance transfers on the market.
- If you don't need a long period of time to pay down debt, and if you're looking for a card with more long-term value, the Citi Custom Cash would be the better choice given its ongoing rewards structure.
Citi is an advertising partner.
For a lot of us, paying down a credit card balance is hard, so we need all the help we can get. Enter the Citi Custom Cash® Card and the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, both of which come with intro APR offers on purchases and balance transfers and no annual fee.
These two credit cards provide some of the longest intro APR offers on the market for paying down debt. For many of us, this feature would be great on its own. However, one of these cards has above and beyond rewards and benefits in comparison to the other.
|Card||Citi Custom Cash Card||Citi Diamond Preferred Card|
|Welcome bonus||Earn 20,000 ThankYou Points (worth $200 in cash back) after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first six months||None|
|Intro APR||0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable APR of 19.24% to 29.24%; transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening; 5% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies||0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months and on balance transfers for 21 months, then a variable APR of 18.24% to 28.99%; transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening; 5% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies|
Citi Diamond Preferred vs. Citi Custom Cash highlights
Let’s take a look at what these cards offer and see which one comes out on top.
Welcome bonus winner: Citi Custom Cash
While not the easiest to attain in the allotted time frame, the Citi Custom Cash offers a nice welcome bonus. Spend $1,500 in the first six months of account opening and you’ll get 20,000 basic Citi ThankYou points, which is worth $200 in cash back.
The Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t include a welcome offer.
Rewards rate winner: Citi Custom Cash
The Citi Custom Cash is also the definitive winner here since it’s a rewards card and the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t offer rewards (it’s a balance transfer card).
A lot of credit cards on the market require you to pick the categories (such as grocery store or gas station purchases) that you spend the most money in, usually referred to as a rotating category credit card. For example, you may get one spending category per quarter that will provide you with a higher cash back rate. If you forget to change your chosen category to another category for the next quarter, the spending category from the previous quarter instantly reverts to the least amount of cash back (usually 1 percent).
For many people, having to regularly change rewards categories can be complicated and confusing. The Citi Custom Cash takes the thinking and manual labor out of it. It automatically provides you with the highest cash back rate — that’s 5 percent cash back on your top eligible spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent back. So, if you spend at least $500 in one of the eligible spending categories, you’ll earn at least $25 in cash back each billing cycle ($300 per year).
The eligible 5 percent cash back spending categories are numerous. They include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, live entertainment, select travel and transit expenses and fitness clubs.
Annual fee winner: Tie
Both the Citi Custom Cash and the Citi Diamond Preferred offer all their benefits with no annual fee.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie
Both cards come with a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, making neither card a good choice for international travel.
Intro APR winner: It depends
The competition for the winner here is less clear-cut. The intro APR offer winner depends on whether you’re looking for a better intro APR offer for purchases or balance transfers. Both cards include intro APR offers for purchases and balance transfers, but for different lengths of time.
The Citi Diamond Preferred provides you with a 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months, while the Citi Custom Cash gives you a 0 percent intro APR offer on purchases for 15 months. So, if you’re looking for a better intro APR offer for purchases, the winner here is the Citi Custom Cash.
However, the Citi Diamond Preferred has a longer intro APR offer for balance transfers — you’ll get a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months, while the Citi Custom Cash offers a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months. For both cards, note that balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening and that a 5 percent balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies.
After the intro APR offers expire for both cards, the Citi Diamond Preferred comes with a slightly-lower variable APR of 18.24 percent to 28.99 percent, whereas the Citi Custom Cash comes with a 19.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable APR.
Which card earns the most?
The Citi Custom Cash is in a class by itself here, as the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t provide you with an opportunity to earn rewards. With the Citi Custom Cash, your top eligible spending category will earn you 5 percent cash back on up to $500 worth of purchases each billing cycle (1 percent back after that limit is met), plus 1 percent cash back on everything else.
So, let’s say you spend $600 at restaurants in a month, $500 at grocery stores and $100 at gas stations. This means you’d get:
- $26 back on restaurant spending ($25 for the first $500, $1 for the remaining $100)
- $5 back on grocery store spending
- $1 back on gas station spending
That comes to a total of $32 in cash back for that billing cycle. What you earn the next month could be different and come from a different eligible spending category, but it’s all great when the Citi Diamond Preferred earns you nothing in comparison.
Why should you get Citi Diamond Preferred?
If you want to transfer a balance and get the longest possible intro APR offer available, then the Citi Diamond Preferred is certainly worth it.
Besides the fantastic intro APR offer on balance transfers and no annual fee, the other Citi Diamond Preferred benefits are pretty common and nothing you haven’t seen before. You’ll get perks like 24/7 customer service, contactless payments, account alerts, digital wallet capabilities and access to Citi Entertainment — most of which are all so standard across the credit card industry now, they barely deserve to be singled out as “additional benefits.”
There are no redemption offers here since the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t offer rewards.
Recommended credit score
Why should you get Citi Custom Cash?
The Citi Custom Cash is worth it if you don’t want to have to remember which spending category earns you 5 percent cash back, and you simply want a card that adapts to your spending month to month. You should also get this card if you want to earn a welcome bonus, receive intro APR offers and not pay an annual fee.
The additional Citi Custom Cash benefits are identical to those found on the Citi Diamond Preferred. But because the Citi Custom Cash also has the above-mentioned rewards rate that the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t have, it feels like you’re getting even more with these benefits.
The redemption options for the Citi Custom Cash are numerous because the cash back technically comes in the form of Citi ThankYou points, albeit the basic version (simply meaning you can’t transfer your rewards to Citi travel partners). You can redeem your rewards for cash back in the form of a direct deposit, check or statement credit, or else for gift cards, travel booked through Citi or shopping with points at eligible merchants.
Recommended credit score
The recommended credit score for the Citi Custom Cash is also good to excellent.
The bottom line
Sure, the Citi Diamond Preferred has one of the longest intro APR offers available for balance transfers, along with no annual fee, but that’s pretty much all it has. The Citi Custom Cash offers 5 percent cash back on one eligible top category each billing cycle (on up to $500 per billing cycle, then 1 percent back). As a result, the Citi Custom Cash beats the Citi Diamond Preferred, and it isn’t all that close.