Earning back a portion of what you spend on everyday purchases is always enticing. The Citi® Double Cash Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® both return a straightforward percentage on every purchase for no annual fee, without the need to activate revolving categories.
Both of these cards also have extra-long zero percent intro APR periods for balance transfers — Citi Double Cash offers 18 months (13.99 – 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter) and Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 15 months (16.49 – 25.24 percent variable APR thereafter) — making balance transfers very attractive.
Card comparison overview
|Features||Citi Double Cash Card||Chase Freedom Unlimited|
|Welcome bonus||N/A||Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 within the first three months.|
|Rewards rate||Earn 2 percent cash back on purchases: 1 percent when you buy and 1 percent as you pay.||Earn unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase.|
|Introductory APR||Zero percent APR on balance transfers for 18 months, 13.99 – 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter.||Zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, 16.74 – 25.24 percent variable APR thereafter.|
Citi Double Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited highlights
Here’s a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two cash rewards cards to help determine which is a better choice for you.
Sign-up bonus: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited is the clear winner here, with a $150 welcome bonus after spending $500 or more within the first three months of opening your account. Citi Double Cash, on the other hand, doesn’t offer any welcome bonus.
Rewards rate: Citi Double Cash
While both cards offer simple cash back rewards for everyday shopping, Citi Double Cash is the better choice for cardholders who consistently pay balances in full each month. Doing so makes Citi’s rate a straight 2 percent back on purchases (1 percent when you buy and 1 percent as you pay), while Chase’s is a little lower at 1.5 percent cash back.
Annual fee: Tie
No competition here. Both credit cards skip the annual fee altogether, so it’s appealing to give either card a try to see if it’s a good fit for your finances.
Balance transfer fee: Citi Double Cash
Both cards have the same balance transfer fee of 3 percent with a $5 minimum on the amount you transfer. Here’s where they differ: Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 3 percent intro balance transfer fee is good for transfers made during the first 60 days your account is open, then goes up to 5 percent ($5 minimum). Citi Double Cash card has a 3 percent transfer fee (minimum of $5) all the time, but you must complete your transfer within 4 months of account opening.
Introductory APR period: Depends on your needs
Chase Freedom Unlimited offers zero percent intro APR for 15 months from account opening on both purchases and balance transfers (16.49 – 25.24 percent variable thereafter). Citi Double Cash has a longer zero percent intro APR period of 18 months, but it’s only good for balance transfers (13.99 – 23.99 percent variable thereafter), not for new purchases you’ll be making with the card.
Which card earns the most?
Because of the finer points each card offers, it’s best to look at true-to-life scenarios that represent typical spending patterns. If you only look at sign-up bonuses or the rate of cash rewards, you could miss out on additional factors that determine the best choice for you.
Citi Double Cash vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited spending example
If you spend $250 a month for one year, you’ll earn a total of $60 with the Citi Double Cash card (as long as you’re paying your balances to earn the complete 2 percent back). Spending the same amount with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn $45, but you’ll still come out on top your first year of card ownership with the $150 sign up bonus (after spending $500 in the first 3 months).
If your spending is a lot higher — say $1,500 per month — you’re far better off using the Citi card with 2 percent rewards and forgoing the cash bonus from Chase, especially after the first year. Spending $18,000 annually, you’d earn $360 with the Double Cash and $270 with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
One extra thing to note if you opt for the Chase Freedom Unlimited: if you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can also increase your cash back by converting it to Chase Ultimate Rewards points at the rate your respective Sapphire card earns.
Why should you get Citi Double Cash?
This card is extra beneficial to those who’ve been burdened with debt on other high-interest credit cards. A full 18 months to pay off a transfer balance can contribute a lot to your peace of mind (13.99 – 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter). But you should be prepared to end the debt cycle and pay your balances in full if you want to maximize this card’s 2 percent rewards.
The main appeal of Citi Double Cash is its 1 percent cash back earn when you buy plus 1 percent cash back as you pay. No travel perks are included with the card.
Citi Double Cash has a few different ways to redeem points. You can request a check for at least $25, redeem rewards for a statement credit of at least $25 or redeem for a credit to a Citi savings account, Citi checking account or to a checking account you’ve used to pay a Citi credit card bill at least twice. Convert your cash rewards to Thank You Points and use them to book travel or with authorized retailers.
Recommended credit score
To apply for this card you should have a good to excellent rating on your credit history, typically a score of 670 or better.
Why should you get Chase Freedom Unlimited?
Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you a $150 welcome bonus if you spend at least $500 during the first three months, and you’ll get unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on purchases. This is the better card if you have a large purchase coming in the near future: Chase’s card has a zero percent intro APR for 15 months on purchases (16.49 – 25.24 percent variable APR thereafter), whereas Citi’s regular APR for purchases begins right away.
Chase Freedom Unlimited offers three months of DashPass subscription services. When you order over $12 on Doordash, you won’t pay delivery fees, plus you’ll get 5 percent cash back rewards on Lyft rides through March 2022.
Chase Freedom Unlimited card lets you redeem your points for cash, gift cards, travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards or shopping with Amazon. Points don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
If you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve in your wallet, there’s another perk to the Chase Freedom Unlimited: you can boost your cash back by transferring it to Chase Ultimate Rewards points at the rate your respective Sapphire card earns.
Recommended credit score
To qualify for this card it’s best to have a good to excellent credit score of 670-850.
There’s no annual fee on either card, and both are great options for completing balance transfers. But there are distinct trade-offs between these two cards depending on whether you’re more motivated by a short-term welcome bonus and flexibility to transfer rewards between cards or higher cash back rate over the long haul. If simply earning maximum cash back on every purchase is your goal and you are diligent in paying balances off each month, the Citi Double Cash Card will offer more long-term value than the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.