It’s not difficult to find a premium rewards credit card with equally premium benefits, though you’ll likely pay a hefty annual fee for most top travel rewards cards. Many travelers do find sufficient value in these benefits and are happy to pay that fee to reap the rewards.However, if you’re just looking for a simple everyday spending card — without any annual fee — and premium benefits are not important to you, you’ll want to take a look at these 2 cards. Today we’re going to be reviewing the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, both of which are solid contenders for a card that may never leave your wallet.Stay with us as we look at the earning potential, redemption options, and additional benefits of each of these everyday spending cards.Table of ContentsFreedom Unlimited Card vs. Citi Custom Cash Card — OverviewThe Value of a Welcome OfferEarning PotentialRedemption OptionsTravel Protections and BenefitsFreedom Unlimited CardCiti Custom Cash CardShopping Protections and BenefitsFreedom Unlimited CardCiti Custom Cash CardAnnual Fees and Authorized UsersAdditional Benefits and InformationQualificationIntroductory 0% APR on Balance TransfersForeign Transaction FeesFinal ThoughtsFreedom Unlimited Card vs. Citi Custom Cash Card — OverviewBefore we expand on the details of both the Freedom Unlimited card and the Citi Custom Cash card, it can be helpful to look at a brief overview of comparable benefits.Feature or BenefitChase Freedom Unlimited®Citi Custom Cash℠ CardWelcome OfferINTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!Earn $200 cash-back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.Earning5% cash-back on travel purchased via Chase travel portal5% cash-back on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025)3% cash-back at drugstores and on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services1.5% cash-back on all other purchases5% cash-back, up to $500 in purchases each statement period, in your top qualifying spending category1% cash-back on all other purchasesRedemption OptionsTransfer points to premium Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to then transfer to airline and hotel partners for greater redemption valueTransfer points to premium Chase cards to redeem for travel via the Chase travel portal for up to 1.5 cents per point, otherwise redeem at 1 cent per pointStatement credits, direct deposit, or a check for 1 cent per pointGift cards, shopping at select retailers, charitable contributionsTransfer points to premium Citi ThankYou Rewards cards to then transfer to airline and hotel partners for greater redemption valueRedeem for travel via the Citi travel portal for 1 cent per pointStatement credits, direct deposit, or a check for 1 cent per pointGift cards, shopping at select retailers, charitable contributionsTravel Protections and BenefitsSecondary car rental insuranceTrip cancellation, trip interruption insuranceRoadside dispatchTravel emergency assistanceWorld Elite Mastercard Luxury Hotels & Resorts Portfolio benefitsShopping Protections and BenefitsPurchase protection, extended warrantyChase OffersShop Through ChaseDoorDash DashPassInstacart+ benefitsCiti Merchant OffersCiti Entertainment benefitsWorld Elite Mastercard shopping benefits such as Shoprunner and DoorDash membershipCiti Shopping PortalAdditional Benefits0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.49% – 28.24%0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 18.49% – 28.49%Annual Fees and Authorized UsersAnnual fee of $0No fee to add authorized usersAnnual fee of $0No fee to add authorized usersThe Value of a Welcome OfferUpon approval, you’ll have the opportunity to begin earning a welcome offer with both the Freedom Unlimited card and the Citi Custom Cash card.Welcome offers on our featured cards can come in the form of additional cash-back earnings on spending or a lump sum of cash-back after meeting minimum spending requirements. The value of the welcome offer for each card also varies, so be sure to review the most current offer before applying for any card.Here are the most recent welcome offers and the value you can expect to receive with each one:Bottom Line: Both the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card come with solid initial welcome offers that can be earned in the period starting immediately after card approval. Earning PotentialBoth of our featured cards earn cash-back on select travel purchases, including flights. Image Credit: MNStudio via Adobe StockWhile the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card are not considered pure travel rewards cards, the cards do earn bonus rewards on travel purchases and have travel redemption options, including the potential to transfer points to partners when paired with a premium travel card.Even if you don’t spend a lot on travel, both of our featured cards have additional bonus-earning categories that can match up with your everyday spending.Here’s how the cards compare when we look at earning potential.Earning CategoryFreedom Unlimited CardCiti Custom Cash CardTravel5% cash-back on travel purchased via the Chase travel portal5% cash-back on Lyft rides through March 31, 20255% cash-back on 1 category each statement period when select travel*, transit**, restaurants, drugstores, gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, select streaming services***, or live entertainment is your top eligible spending category, up to $500 in purchases each statement periodDrugstores and Dining3% cash-backHome Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs, Live Entertainment1.5% cash-backAll Other Purchases1.5% cash-back on all other purchases1% cash-back on all other purchases* Citi Custom Cash card 5% cash-back travel categories include purchases such as those made with an airline, hotel, cruise line, or travel agency.** Select 5% cash-back transit categories include car rentals, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limos, car services, tolls, parking, bus fares, and recreational vehicle rentals. Exclusions do apply.*** Select 5% cash-back streaming services include Amazon Prime, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Paramont+, Disney+, DirectTV Stream, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Stars, Sirius XM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV, and TIDAL.The Freedom Unlimited card is a great choice for drugstore and dining purchases, as well as for purchasing travel via the Chase travel portal. One key purchasing strength of the card is that you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on any purchase, making it perfect if you have large or frequent purchases in non-bonus categories.If you need to pay tuition, home improvements, car repairs, doctor’s bills, or any other household expense, the Freedom Unlimited card allows you to earn 1.5% cash-back, even when your monthly spending mix is quite diverse.The Citi Custom Cash card could be ideal for the person who doesn’t want to keep track of bonus-earning categories, as the highest-earning spending category automatically receives 5% cash-back.This means, even if your spending categories change on a monthly basis, you can count on up to $25 each statement period in cash-back when your highest expense, within the select bonus categories, reaches $500. Plus, you’ll earn 1% cash-back on all other purchases.Bottom Line: The Freedom Unlimited card offers at least 1.5% cash-back on every purchase you make and has bonus categories that include drugstores, dining, Lyft rides, and travel via the Chase travel portal — with no rewards cap on any of those categories. The Citi Custom Cash card includes 5% cash-back on 1 category which is your highest spending category each statement period, for a maximum of $500 in purchases. You’ll receive 1% unlimited cash-back after that and on all other purchases. Redemption OptionsWhile not travel rewards cards per se, rewards earned on each of our featured cards can be redeemed for travel. Image Credit: yAOinLoVE via Adobe StockWhile both the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card are marketed as cash-back rewards cards, you’ll have the option of also being able to redeem rewards for travel.Cash-back earned on the Freedom Unlimited card is awarded as Ultimate Rewards points and rewards earned on the Citi Custom card are earned as ThankYou Points.This important feature sets the foundation for flexible redemption options beyond receiving cash-back.Let’s look at your options at redemption time with both of our featured cards.Redemption OptionFreedom Unlimited CardCiti Custom Cash CardTravelTransfer points to premium Chase cards then redeem for travel for up to 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portalTransfer points to premium Chase cards to then transfer to airline or hotel partners to book award flights or free hotel nightsRedeem for travel via the Chase travel portal at 1 cent per pointRedeem for a statement credit at 1 cent per point to offset travel purchasesAdditional Redemption OptionsStatement credit, direct deposit, check at 1 cent per pointGift cards, checkout with select retailers, charitable donation — redemption value variesStatement credit, direct deposit, check at 1 cent per pointGift cards, Shop With Points at select retailers, charitable donation — redemption value variesFor the Freedom Unlimited card, transferring points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® allows you to redeem points for 1.25 to 1.5 cents each, respectively, for select travel via the Chase travel portal. You also have the option of transferring points to airline and hotel partners like Hyatt and United for even greater potential value.Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to airline transfer partner Air Canada Aeroplan, for example, would allow you to fly one-way in business class to South America or select European cities for just 60,000 points!Hot Tip: For more ideas on how to receive great value with Chase transfer partners, we’ve done the homework for you in our extensive guide on how to best use Chase Ultimate Rewards points.For the Citi Custom Cash card, if you transfer points to the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card, you will then be able to transfer points to airline and hotel partners to maximize the value of your points.A strong Citi transfer partner is Choice Privileges Rewards. Points transfer at the ratio of 1:2, meaning 1 Citi ThankYou Point equals 2 Choice Rewards points. You can then transfer Choice Rewards points to Radisson Rewards America for even more value at the ratio of 1:2. This results in 1 Citi ThankYou Point equaling 4 Radisson Rewards points. You can enjoy the beachfront Park Inn by Radisson Mazatlan for just 15,000 points per night.The Freedom Unlimited card allows you to redeem any amount of points you want with no minimum. The Citi Custom Cash card requires a minimum of $25 for redemption.Additionally, once Ultimate Rewards points are earned on the Freedom Unlimited and transferred to premium Chase cards, the value of the points increases to up to 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel via the Chase travel portal. You will receive just 1 cent each for points earned on the Citi Custom Cash card when redeemed via the Citi travel portal.This difference in redemption value, when redeeming rewards through the associated travel portal, translates into $1,500 worth of airline tickets costing just 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Freedom Unlimited card (when transferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card) versus 150,000 Citi ThankYou Points with the Citi Custom Cash card.Bottom Line: The best potential value for rewards earned on the Freedom Unlimited card or Citi Custom Cash card is to transfer points earned on either card to premium travel cards offered by the same issuer. If you do not have another Chase or Citi card to which you can transfer, you can still enjoy redeeming your rewards for 1 cent each in value for travel, cash-back, and more.Travel Protections and BenefitsTravel protections can save you money and provide assistance when your trip is disrupted.Here are the key features you’ll find on the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card:Freedom Unlimited CardCar Rental Insurance — Reserve and pay for your entire rental with your Freedom Unlimited card, decline the rental agency’s CDW/LDW coverage, and receive secondary car rental insurance coverage. Secondary coverage means that you must first file a claim with any other applicable insurance before card coverage becomes effective. International car rentals can receive primary coverage; terms apply.Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance — Should your flight need to be canceled for a covered reason, or if your trip is disrupted, you could receive up to $1,500 per covered person, up to a maximum of $6,000 per trip.Roadside Dispatch — One call when you’re stranded roadside can bring needed assistance including standard winching, limited towing, emergency fuel, jumpstart service, lockout service, and changing of your inflated spare tire. You will be charged 1 pre-negotiated fee for the service call.Travel Emergency Assistance — Receive assistance 24/7 during your travels, including medical/legal referrals, help with lost luggage, arranging emergency transportation, and more.Citi Custom Cash CardMastercard Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio Benefits — Book a stay at more than 4,000 high-end properties worldwide and receive daily breakfast for 2, room upgrades, early check-in, and late checkout, subject to availability.Bottom Line: The Freedom Unlimited card comes with car rental insurance, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, roadside dispatch, and travel emergency assistance. The Citi Custom Cash card comes with World Elite Mastercard benefits, including access to the Mastercard Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio. Shopping Protections and BenefitsShopping protections add peace of mind when purchasing eligible items while shopping benefits can save you money. Image Credit: carlos aranda via UnsplashShopping protections can provide coverage if an item you purchased with your card becomes damaged or, in some cases, stolen. Shopping benefits can save you money and provide convenient services.Both the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card have 1 unique shopping benefit in common:Freedom Unlimited card: 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.49% – 28.24%Citi Custom Cash card: 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 18.49% – 28.49%Here are the additional shopping protections and benefits that are unique to each of our featured cards.Freedom Unlimited CardPurchase Protection — You could receive up to $500 per item, up to $50,000 per calendar year if an eligible item purchased with your card becomes damaged or stolen within 120 days of the purchase date.Extended Warranty — Purchase an eligible item with your card and receive 1 additional warranty year for items with manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less.Chase Offers — Login to your online Chase card account to find Chase Offers that can earn additional statement credits for purchases with select retailers and service providers.Shop through Chase — Chase’s shopping portal offers bonus rewards on top of what you earn with your credit card when using Shop through Chase.DoorDash DashPass — Receive 3 months free and a 50% discount on an additional 9 months when you register by December 31, 2024.Instacart+ — Receive 3 free months of membership and a $10 credit each quarter when you register by July 31, 2024.Citi Custom Cash CardCiti Merchant Offers — Sign in to your online card account and select offers with retailers and service providers that earn you additional cash-back.Citi Entertainment Benefits — Be first in line for tickets to your favorite event with special presale privileges and exclusive experiences, only available for cardholders.World Elite Mastercard Shopping Benefits — Enjoy retail discounts and free 2-day shipping/returns with ShopRunner membership and a 3-month membership with DoorDash. Benefits also include discounts with Lyft, Fandango, and more.Citi Shopping Portal — Earn additional rewards just for shopping at your favorite stores via the Citi Bonus Cash Center.Bottom Line: Both the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card come with shopping benefits that can help you earn additional rewards. The Freedom Unlimited card offers the additional benefit of purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. Annual Fees and Authorized UsersThe Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card are easy additions to your wallet given their annual fee:Freedom Unlimited card: $0Citi Custom Cash card: $0You’ll also be able to add trusted friends or family members to your card with no additional fee.Additional Benefits and InformationQualificationYou will need a good to excellent credit score, generally considered 670 to 850, to be considered for either the Freedom Unlimited card or the Citi Custom Cash card.Introductory 0% APR on Balance TransfersIf you have high credit card balances that you’re carrying month-to-month and wish to pay off those balances over time with no interest charges, the 0% APR for balance transfers could serve you well. Both the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card offer this benefit for 15 months from the date of card approval.Freedom Unlimited card: 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.49% – 28.24%Citi Custom Cash card: 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 18.49% – 28.49%Foreign Transaction FeesIt’s important to note that both the Freedom Unlimited card and Citi Custom Cash card charge foreign transaction fees of 3% of the total transaction. If you’re looking for a card to use abroad, check out our list of the best cards with no foreign transaction fees.Final ThoughtsWhile the Citi Custom Cash card boasts 5% cash-back on your highest qualifying spending category each statement period, your earnings are limited to a $25 maximum in 5% categories each month. Beyond that, you’ll earn just 1% cash-back.The Freedom Unlimited card comes with the advantage of unlimited earnings on its bonus categories which can open up the potential for far greater earnings.At redemption time, points earned on either card are generally worth 1 cent each and both cards offer the option to transfer points to premium cards for greater potential value with airline and hotel partners. The Freedom Unlimited card offers 1 additional benefit for redeeming points (once transferred to premium Chase cards), and that is a greater value of up to 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel via the Chase travel portal.If you already have a premium Chase card, the Freedom Unlimited card is a worthy addition to your wallet. Even if you don’t, the Freedom Unlimited card can be a good choice for unlimited earnings, especially if you have large expenses in non-bonus categories and can take advantage of the 1.5% cash-back on those purchases.If you want to explore more of the best no-annual-fee cards, we’ve done the homework for you in our article on the topic. The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.