Cash back credit cards: Citi vs. American Express

By Jeffrey Steele

Cash back credit cards: Citi vs. American Express

World Series of Credit Cards - Game 2

Editor's Note: Thank you for your interest, these offers expired and are no longer available.

In the wake of the excitement and action that was Game 1, we welcome you back to the Money Blue Book World Series of Credit Cards.

This time, taking the field are two of the giants in the cash-back card league, and we have every reason to believe we're about to see a hard-fought battle. So stay tuned as we bring you perennial favorite Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card taking on a formidable challenger in the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express in this battle of the cash back credit cards.

In this type of climactic battle, any number of key match-ups will be pivotal in deciding today's outcome. Let's lay out a few of those important match-ups, identifying where we can pick the possible victor in these head-to-head competitions for best cash back credit card.

  • Annual fee. Many rewards cards charge an annual membership fee. The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card steps up to the plate with an annual fee of…zero! Next up is Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. This card has a zero annual fee as well, and we have a tie game at the bottom of the first.

  • New purchase interest rate. The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card charges a zero percent introductory APR for 12 months on purchases, after which the rate will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate and currently is in the range from 12.99 to 22.99 percent variable APR based on your creditworthiness.

    The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers a zero percent introductory APR on new purchases for the first 15 months, after which the rate will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate and currently is 12.99 to 21.99 percent variable APR.

  • Balance transfers. As with new purchases, the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card charges a zero percent introductory APR for the first 12 months for balance transfers, after which the rate will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate and currently is 12.99 to 22.99 percent variable APR depending on your credit profile. The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers a zero percent introductory APR for the first 15 months for balance transfers, after which the rate will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate and currently is 12.99 to 21.99 percent variable APR depending on your credit worthiness and other factors.

    For the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card the balance transfer fee will be 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express carries a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Cash advances. With both cards, you'll pay a variable APR of 25.24 percent for cash advances. The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card charges a fee 5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum. The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express charges a fee of either $5 or 3 percent of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

  • The penalty APR varies with the prime rate. Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card bumps your APR up to as much as up to 29.99 percent whether you pay late or make a payment that is returned. For you fans of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, your penalty APR varies with the market and is currently 27.24 percent, and will apply to your account if you make one or more late payments or make a payment that is returned.

    Late payment fees for both cards are up to $35.

  • Fees on foreign purchases. The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card charges foreign transaction fees at 3 percent of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase made outside the United States. The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is a bit more forgiving to American spenders on foreign soil, charging only 2.7 percent of each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars.

  • Cash back rewards. Now for the clincher, and the reason you tuned into this game in the first place.

    The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card offers you $100 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You'll enjoy 5 percent cash back from Citi on eligible purchases in rotating quarterly categories like home improvement, travel and more, enroll at no additional cost each quarter. All other purchases earn you 1 percent cash back.

    The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express pays cash back rewards all year long, no enrollment and no rotating categories, on eligible purchases of 3 percent at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2 percent cash back on gasoline at US gas stations & select US department stores, and 1 percent on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. In addition you can earn 50 Reward Dollars after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Terms and Restrictions Apply.

Now that these two terrific cards have battled it out, and the dust has settled a bit, let's check the scoreboard. If you like the idea of zero percent APR on new purchases and are looking for a steady flow of generous cash rewards throughout the year, and a 50 Reward Dollars after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express might be your best choice. However, you may be swayed by the limited-time offer of $100 cash back with $500 in eligible purchases in the first three months of account opening with the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card, on top of its bonus rewards categories.

Which cash back rewards credit card beats the competition? Show your loyalty in the comment area.

Jeffrey Steele is a Chicago-based writer who frequently writes on personal finance topics.

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