Which Card for Cash Back: Citi Double Cash or Amex Fidelity?

Dec 14, 2014

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TPG reader Zach messaged me on Facebook to ask:

“I’ve been considering switching to the Citi Double Cash card; this would replace my Fidelity Investment Rewards card that earns two percent cash back. Since the Citi card is MasterCard and the Fidelity one is American Express, I thought maybe the Citi card would be accepted in more places. What are you thoughts on switching?”

They say cash is king, and many people prefer cash back to points and miles. Personally, I prefer to maximize my points—they don’t call me The Points Guy for nothing—because I think it’s less lucrative (and kind of boring) to get just one or two percent back when I can be earning many times that. Of course, it all depends on what you value, and I place high value on first class and last-minute travel, where points and miles clearly come in handy.

If you really want to stick with your cash back card, there are a few differences between the Citi Double Cash Card and the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express. While the Fidelity card offers two percent back, the Citi card offers one percent back up front and then another one percent as you pay, so you really have to pay in full if you want to earn two percent back. You’ll receive that second one percent after the statement closes.

Which cash back card works for you? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Which cash back card works for you? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

You’ll get your rewards faster with the Fidelity Amex, but as Zach mentioned, it may not be accepted in as many locations. However, Amex has really worked to increase their presence, especially globally, over the last couple of years. If you’re frequently having trouble making purchases at places that don’t accept Amex, than it may make sense to go with the Citi card; just make sure you can pay the balance in full to earn your extra 1% cash back.

One other key difference is that the Amex Fidelity card has a a 2% foreign transaction fee, and the Citi Double Cash has a 3% foreign transaction fee. Therefore, I don’t recommend using either card abroad, but if you absolutely must, the Amex Fidelity is a better bet.

All things considered, I would probably prefer to have the Citi Double Cash card and the MasterCard benefits and not have to deal with opening up a Fidelity account in order to get the Fidelity Amex. That said, I don’t currently have either card, and I have no plans to get them, since they don’t offer sign-up bonuses and I prefer other rewards.

If any of you TPG readers out there has experience with either card, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

For more info, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.