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One of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back cards is the Citi Double Cash Card. This card gives you two opportunities to earn cash back: 1% when you buy and then another 1% as you pay for a total of 2% cash back. You only need to make the minimum payment each month to earn the second reward, but we strongly recommend always paying your balance in full.
The biggest drawbacks of the card are the lack of a sign-up bonus and a 3% foreign-transaction fee. Still, 2% cash back on every purchase with no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn is a pretty solid value proposition, especially for a card with no annual fee.
Who Is This Card For?
If you value cash back and no annual fees, then the Citi Double Cash Card is the card for you. There’s no need to decide which card to use for each purchase like you would with the Chase trifecta, Amex trifecta or the perfect mix of no annual fee cash-back cards since you’ll earn 2% cash back for each purchase — 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay your bill. And, there’s no need to worry about whether you’re getting maximum value from your points and miles, since you’ll simply earn cash back as a check, statement credit or deposit into your banking account.
If you use your credit card for purchases outside the US frequently, this won’t be the card for you since it carries a 3% foreign-transaction fee. And, if you’re willing to pay an annual fee and/or sign up for multiple credit cards, you may be able to get more value from another card or multiple other cards. But, the Citi Double Cash Card is king if you want just one no annual fee card that will provide up to 2% cash back across all spending categories.
The Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, but it does offer an introductory 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers. Balance transfers must be completed within the first four months of card membership to take advantage of the introductory 0% APR and you’ll need to pay a fee of $5 or 3% of the balance you transfer (whichever is greater). The normal APR is 15.99% – 25.99% variable though. So, although this offer can be a good way to move a balance from a high-interest card, you’ll want to pay off your balance within the introductory APR period.
You won’t earn cash back on balance transfers, and if you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month. If you’re considering the introductory balance transfers offer, also take a look at TPG‘s guide to credit cards that have introductory 0% APR offers to make sure you get the best offer. Some other credit cards offer 0% APR for an introductory period and no balance transfer fees, but the Citi Double Cash Card offers one of the longest introductory APR periods for balance transfers at 18 months.
The cash-back rate is consistent; there are no category bonuses and no limit on the cash back you can earn. You simply earn 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your statement, which means you’ll effectively earn 2% back. This earning structure can be a positive or a negative depending on how you manage your spending. If you’re diligent about maximizing bonuses, then the Citi Double Cash can’t compete with cards like the Chase Freedom and Discover it® Cash Back, both of which offer 5% back in rotating quarterly categories; up to $1,500 per quarter; enrollment required. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases. However, if you prefer to just have one cash-back card that you can use anywhere without having to enroll in new category bonuses every few months, then the Citi Double Cash Card is an excellent choice.
To get your hands on your cash back, you have to wait until your cash rewards balance reaches $25. Then, you have three options:
- Request a check for at least $25 up to the total cash rewards balance at the time you redeem.
- Redeem for a statement credit to your card account for at least $25 up to the total cash rewards balance at the time you redeem.
- Redeem for a credit to your linked Citi savings or checking account or to a checking account from which you have paid a Citi Credit Card bill at least two times.
Which Cards Compete With the Citi® Double Cash Card?
The Citi Double Cash Card competes with other no annual fee flat-rate cash-back cards including the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. While the Double Cash Card provides 2% cash back, these competitors both provide 1.5% cash back — although the Freedom Unlimited now features a sign-up bonus of 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
To see how the Citi Double Cash Card stacks up for a consumer who’s interested in having just one flat-rate cash-back card for all of his or her spending, check out the following table.
For the purposes of this comparison, I used the 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer spending data for the average consumer. I assumed that the only expenses payable with a credit card are food ($7,729), apparel and services ($1,833), fuel ($1,968), entertainment ($3,203) and personal care products and services ($762). If all these expenses are paid with a credit card, then the average consumer would put $15,495 on his or her credit card annually. But, to make the calculations cleaner, I assumed $15,000 annual credit card spend for my calculations.
|Citi Double Cash Card||Chase Freedom Unlimited||Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card|
|Sign-up Bonus||N/A||3% cash back on all purchases in the first year up to $20,000 spent||$150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months|
|Year 2 (net)||$300 ($600)||$225 ($675)||$225 ($600)|
|Year 3 (net)||$300 ($900)||$225 ($900)||$225 ($825)|
|Year 4 (net)||$300 ($1,200)||$225 ($1,125)||$225 ($1,050)|
|Year 5 (net)||$300 ($1,500)||$225 ($1,350)||$225 ($1,275)|
As shown in the table, the Double Cash Card easily outpaces the Quicksilver Cash Rewards after the second year and the Freedom Unlimited after the third year. However, if you plan to travel internationally with your credit card, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards card may be a better choice since it has no foreign transaction fees. And, if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit card — the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — then the Freedom Unlimited will be a better option since then you’ll earn 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent when using the Freedom Unlimited after your first year. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, this means you’d be getting a 3% return on everyday spending.
The Double Cash Card also competes with some flat-rate cash back cards that have specific membership requirements. The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card provides 2% on all purchases with no annual fee but requires that card holders have a specific Fidelity account. Another popular option that’s available to Alliant Credit Union members is the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card, which provides 3% on all purchases the first year with a waived annual fee and then 2.5% in subsequent years with a $59 annual fee.
If you’re looking for a cash-back credit card with no annual fee and you don’t want to worry about category bonuses and figuring out the best credit card to use for each purchase, the Citi Double Cash Card may very well be the right card for you. In particular, it’s great for those that don’t use their credit card internationally (since there’s a 3% foreign-transaction fee) and don’t have a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card that would boost the earning rate of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
All in all, the Citi Double Cash Card is the card I recommend to those who only want one credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee and value the simplicity of cash back. And, if you’re willing to sign up for a couple cards, it’s an important component of the perfect mix of no annual fee cash-back cards for home and abroad.
Featured image by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.
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- Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
- To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
- Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.99% - 25.99% based on your creditworthiness.
- Click "Apply Now" to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
- Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 25.99% based on your creditworthiness.*