Simple and rewarding: Citi Double Cash Card review
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Citi® Double Cash Card overview
The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back rewards cards. With up to 2% cash-back earnings on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off — it’s difficult to beat this no-annual-fee card. Plus, now you have the option to convert your cash-back rewards to ThankYou points with another card. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
The Citi Double Cash Card is one of the best cash-back cards because it earns up to 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you make a purchase, plus 1% as you pay that purchase off) with no annual fee. Although the card appeals to many consumers who prefer the simplicity of cash-back rewards and fixed-rate earning, it can also be a solid pick for those who are already maximizing Citi ThankYou points, since you can convert the card’s cash-back rewards to ThankYou points if you also hold either a Citi Prestige® Card (no longer available to new applicants) or Citi Premier® Card.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Who is this card for?
If you value cash back, simplicity and no annual fee, then the Citi Double Cash Card is likely the card for you. There’s no need to fumble through which card to use for every type of purchase, since you’ll earn 2% cash back on everything — 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay your bill.
Although you can use the Citi Double Cash Card as a cash-back card, you can also convert your cash back to ThankYou points via a linked ThankYou account. If you also have the Citi Premier Card or the Citi Prestige Card, this unlocks the ability to transfer your points to airline partners and redeem for flights.
If you’re looking for a card to use for purchases outside the U.S., however, this won’t be the card for you, since it carries a 3% foreign transaction fee.
The Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus, but it does offer an introductory 0% APR for the first 18 months for balance transfers. Balance transfers must be completed within the first four months of account opening 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). After the introductory APR period, the variable APR is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.
Note that you won’t earn cash back on balance transfers. 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.
Main benefits and perks
Unfortunately, the Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t offer many other standout benefits or perks. Here’s what you’ll get:
- Contactless payment with your contactless-chip enabled Citi card
- Access to Citi Entertainment, which provides special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events
- ID theft protection that helps eliminate the worry of identity theft by monitoring and alerting cardholders if suspicious activity is found
- The free services of Citi Identity Theft Solutions if your personal information has been stolen to commit fraud or theft
How to earn
The Citi Double Cash Card is popular with many cardholders because its earning rate is consistent. There are no category bonuses and no limit on the cash back you can earn. Earning is simple: you earn 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your statement. This means you can effectively earn 2% back.
However, your card account must be current to earn rewards. This means you must pay at least the minimum payment due by the first day of each billing period — although it’s best practice to always pay your statement in full, if possible. Also, your cash rewards balance will expire if you have not earned any cash back on purchases or cash back on payments for 12 months.
Related: The best cash-back credit cards
How to redeem
Historically, the Citi Double Cash Card only earned cash-back rewards with three options to obtain cash back once your cash rewards balance reaches at least $25:
- 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 twice
Now, however, you can also convert your cash back to ThankYou points via a linked ThankYou account, as long as your cash rewards balance is at least $1. Through this conversion, $1 of cash rewards becomes 100 Citi ThankYou points. How you can use your points varies depending on whether you also have a Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card.
Then, you can combine and redeem these points as if they were earned by your Citi Premier or Citi Prestige. In particular, you can transfer your points to Citi’s 15+ airline transfer partners — including American Airlines until Nov. 13, 2021. Based on TPG’s valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, this means you can earn an effective 3.4% return when you buy and pay with your Citi Double Cash Card.
Which cards compete with the Citi Double Cash Card?
The Citi Double Cash Card competes with other no-annual-fee, fixed-rate cards such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. Although the latter earns at a lower 1.5% cash-back rate, the Quicksilver comes with a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. You can also now convert the cash back you earn with it into Capital One miles if you hold a credit card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and then transfer them to that program’s airline and hotel partners. The two cards stack up in interesting ways, especially after the first year.
For the purposes of this comparison, I used the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer spending data for the average consumer. I assumed that the only expenses payable with a credit card are food ($8,169), apparel and services ($1,883), fuel ($2,094), entertainment ($3,050) and personal care products and services ($786). If all these expenses are paid with a credit card, then the average consumer would put $15,982 on his or her credit card annually.
|Citi Double Cash Card||Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card|
|Sign-up bonus||N/A||$200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening|
|Earning rate||2% on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay)||1.5% on all purchases|
Year 1 when converted to points and transferred to travel partners
|$440 (including the sign-up bonus)
|Year 2 (net)
Year 2 (net) when converted to points and transferred to travel partners
|Year 3 (net)
Year 3 (net) when converted to points and transferred to travel partners
|Year 4 (net)
Year 4 (net) when converted to points and transferred to travel partners
|Year 5 (net)
Year 5 (net) when converted to points and transferred to travel partners
As you can see, the Citi Double Cash Card outpaces the Quicksilver Cash Rewards by the third year, and the gap continues to widen after that. However, if you plan to travel internationally with your credit card, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards card may be the better choice, since it has no foreign transaction fees.
Another option worth comparing is the Chase Freedom Unlimited, offering 5% back on travel booked through Chase Travel, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5% on everything else. The Freedom Unlimited also offers the opportunity to convert your cash-back rewards to transferrable points if you also hold select cards.
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 you can effectively earn 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent when using the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Based on TPG’s latest valuations, this means you’d be getting a 3% return on everyday spending with the Freedom Unlimited. You may want to consider the Freedom Unlimited instead thanks to its more robust earning rates on bonus categories, though you’d have to keep track of your spending.
If you’re looking for a cash-back credit card where you don’t have 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.
Getting this card is also a great way to round out your Citi Quadfecta if you have the Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card to maximize your Citi ThankYou points by signing up for the Citi Double Cash Card. You can now convert cash rewards earned by the Citi Double Cash Card to ThankYou points, so the Double Cash card can be a great way to rack up ThankYou points on everyday purchases.
Apply here for the Citi Double Cash Card.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Benét J. Wilson.
Featured image by John Gribben for The Points Guy.
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