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Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, Chase Freedom Flex, or Discover it®: Read This Before Applying

Last updated on June 28th, 2022

Finding the right credit card can be challenging at the best of times. When comparing three exceptional card offers, such as the Chase Freedom Flex,  Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, and Discover It® Cash Back, however, it gets a whole lot more difficult. Never fear – the BestCards team is here to breakdown these cash back behemoths and help you find your Best Card:

At a Glance

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, Chase Freedom Flex, or Discover it®: Which Is Right for You?

Before deciding which credit card is right for you, here is a detailed breakdown of the three cards, their features, and their suitability:

Pre-Qualification Before Applying

Applying for a credit card requires a credit check. Often, these credit checks (or credit inquiries) are known as “hard inquiries,” meaning the bank pulls your full credit report before approving (or denying) your credit card application. If you apply for a credit card and are declined, your credit score will likely take a minor hit. One way to avoid a negative impact on your credit score before getting a new credit card is by pre-qualifying before you apply.

Pre-qualification for credit cards is safe, fast, and effective. Citi, Chase, and Discover all offer online pre-qualification before applying, so seeing if you qualify for a lucrative cash back card has never been easier. 

Related Article: How to Pre-Qualify for a Credit Card

Credit Score Needed

The Discover It, Chase Freedom Flex, and Citi Custom Cash rewards cards require a “good” or “excellent” credit score, meaning a FICO Score of 670+ is the minimum you should expect to have before applying. For versatile, no annual fee rewards cards, however, a credit score of 700+ is likely needed.

However, keep in mind that your credit score is only one part of the equation. Banks also consider other factors, including how your income compares to your debt obligations and your overall ability to make your monthly credit card payments.

How to Apply

Most credit card applications from major issuers are similar. Here is what you can expect from the application process with all three cards – including what information is needed:

  • Full name (middle name and suffix optional)
  • Social Security Number
  • Birthdate
  • Citizenship
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Income
  • Monthly rent/mortgage expenses

Annual Fee

All three cash back cards feature no annual fee. This lack of a yearly charge is excellent, meaning there is no overhead charge before you can begin earning your accelerated rewards.

Introductory APR

Like the annual fee, all three card options also feature lengthy 0% intro APR periods. New accounts enjoy 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers with the Custom Cash, Freedom Flex, or Discover It, making them all versatile rewards cards that can also handle emergency expenses or pay down existing balances.

Before conducting a balance transfer, consider the additional fees that occur from the process – the balance transfer fee. All three cards feature a fee of 3% of the transfer amount (or $5, whichever is greater).  

Related Article: What is the Longest 0% APR Credit Card?

How to Earn Rewards

Rewards are the main selling point with all three credit cards – and with up to 5% back on select purchases, it is easy to see why. However, the three cards under inspection aren’t entirely similar regarding rewards.

Earning Rewards with the Chase Fredom Flex

Both the Chase Freedom Flex and the Discover It are rotating cash back credit cards. This distinction means the Flex and It earn 5% cash back on purchases in select categories that rotate quarterly.

Here are the Chase Freedom 5% rotating categories for 2022:

5% Cash Back Category
January - March 2022 Groceries (excluding larger stores like Target or Walmart) and eBay
April - June 2022 Amazon.com and select streaming services
July - September 2022 Gas stations, car rentals, movie theatres, and select live entertainment
October - December 2022 TBD

The Freedom Flex card also earns 5% back on travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, including vacation and car rental bookings. Cardholders also receive  3% back on dining and restaurant purchases, which also includes takeout orders and deliveries through eligible services, like Grubhub and Uber Eats. That 3% back also applies to drugstore purchases (think Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, etc.), which is a really nice bonus.

Earning Rewards with Discover It

Like the Flex, the Discover It Cash Back Card earns 5% cash back on purchases in select categories that rotate quarterly, and 1% back on all other purchases. Unlike the Flex, there are no additional bonus categories – just the 5% back categories, which include the following for 2022:

5% Cash Back Category
January - March 2022 Grocery stores plus gym and fitness club memberships
April - June 2022 Gas stations and Target
July - September 2022 Restaurants and PayPal
October - December 2022 Amazon.com and digital wallets

Discover matches the rewards earned for the first year with their Cashback Match, meaning they’ll double the total cash back – earn $500 back during the year, and Discover will make it $1,000 automatically.

Related Article: Chase, Discover, & Citi 2022 5% Cash Back Calendars

Earning Rewards with the Custom Cash

In contrast to the two rotating cash back cards, the Citi Custom Cash provides up to 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, and 1% cash back thereafter. Plus, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.

Here are the 5% back categories in which Custom Cash cardmembers can earn 5% back on the first $500 spent every billing period:

Dining Fitness clubs Grocery stores
Drugstores Gas stations Home improvement stores
Travel & transit (select) Live entertainment Streaming services (select)

How to Redeem Rewards

Earning up to 5% cash back is great, but how can you convert those rewards into awards?

How to Redeem Rewards with Citi

While the Custom Cash is theoretically cash back rewards credit cards, there is a great deal of versatility in redeeming rewards. These options include statement credits, direct deposits, or a check.

Cardholders can also automatically convert their cash back towards Citi ThankYou® points. Citi ThankYou® points are the currency of the Citi ThankYou® Rewards Program, with an estimated value of one cent per point. ThankYou® points are applicable towards a wide variety of redemptions, including:

  • Gift cards, including 15% more value when redeeming ThankYou points for gift cards from Wayfair®, Sephora®, and Grubhub.
  • Merchandise through participating retailers
  • Travel
  • Charity
  • Citi loan payments (mortgages, student loans, etc.)

Citibank offers point transfers to 17 airline and hotel partners.

How to Redeem Rewards with Chase

Chase Freedom Flex cardmembers can opt to redeem their rewards through Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1% cash back to one Ultimate Rewards point. Cardmembers that choose to earn points instead of cash back can enjoy even more rewards when pairing their Chase Freedom Flex with a Sapphire Reserve or Preferred Card – both of which enjoy enhanced redemption rates through Ultimate Rewards.

Redeeming Rewards with Discover

As with other Discover It credit cards, the Discover it Cash Back offers an easy and straightforward way to redeem the cash back you earn. Cardholders can claim their cash back through statement credits to help pay down balances on their Discover credit cards, or as a deposit into a checking or savings account that they link to their Discover account. There are also other redemption options, including gift cards from major brands, using points to pay for purchases with PayPal or Amazon, and more.

Other Features

Both the Citi Custom Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Flex are Mastercard products. This means cardholders can expect the following basic Mastercard protections:

Zero Liability Protection Mastercard Global Services ID Theft Protection

In addition to these basic protections, cardholders may also have access to World Elite Mastercard features, including Luxury Hotels Collection access, Mastercard’s Hotel Stay Guarantee, Priceless Experiences, and more. 

The Discover It also provides comprehensive security and fraud protection for cardholders:

Fraud Protection Freeze It credit lock Cardmember Inquiry Services

Recap

Rotating categories are equally frustrating and exciting. They offer the chance to earn enhanced cash back on purchases in categories you love, but for only one quarter each year and up to the quarterly maximum of $2,500). For the rest of the year, you’ll only earn 1% cash back on everyday purchases.

Cards like the Custom Cash make sense as a solution to these types of rotating cards – providing the same versatility of rewards, but with the ability to alter where you earn each billing period. 

Here is a quick recap of all the features of all three card offers:

Citi Custom Cash℠ Chase Freedom Flex Discover It
No annual fee No annual fee No annual fee
Earn 5% on purchases on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle up to $500 spent Earn 5% on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate Earn 5% on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

Related Article: Fight Inflation with Cash Back Credit Cards

Featured image by Gam-Ol  / PixaBay

The information related to Citi Custom Cash Card has been collected by BestCards.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. Cory holds academic degrees in both the U.S. and U.K. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.

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