Citi Double Cash vs. Chase Freedom Flex

Two cards. Two different uses. The Citi® Double Cash Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ are both no annual fee rewards cards, but depending on what you value most out of your rewards card, their worth varies.

If you’re interested in maximizing your rewards potential or earning a significant sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom Flex is a good pick. If you’d rather swipe (or insert) your card without racking your brain to remember which rewards category you’d earn more cash back in each month, you’re probably better off with the Citi Double Cash.

You’ll never know the best option for you until you do your research. Luckily, we’ve done it for you.

Comparison overview

Features Citi® Double Cash Card Chase Freedom Flex℠
Annual fee $0 $0
Sign-up bonus N/A $200 cash back
How to earn bonus N/A Spend $500 within the first three months
Rewards
  • 1 percent back on purchases
  • 1 percent when you pay for the purchase
  • 5 percent cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter (up to $1,500, then 1 percent)
  • 5 percent cash back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 3 percent cash back on dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services)
  • 3 percent cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
Introductory offer 0 percent intro APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers 0 percent intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases
Balance transfer fee $5 or 3 percent of the intro transferred balance completed within the first 4 months of account opening—whichever is greater $5 or 3 percent of the transferred balance—whichever is greater
APR after intro period 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable 14.99 percent to 24.74 percent variable

Citi Double Cash vs. Chase Freedom highlights

As far as the rewards go, the Chase Freedom Flex has the potential to earn you more. At the same time, if you’re planning a balance transfer, you might want to consider the Citi Double Cash.

Here’s what you need to consider.

Welcome bonus winner: Chase Freedom Flex

Since the Citi Double Cash doesn’t offer a welcome bonus, the Chase Freedom Flex is the obvious winner in this category. You can earn $200 for spending $500 in your first three months with the card—a decent bonus with a comparatively low spending requirement.

Rewards rate winner: Chase Freedom Flex

The Citi Double Cash offers an unlimited 1 percent cash back on purchases, then another 1 percent when you pay off your purchase. In other words, you’ll get 2 percent cash back for being a responsible cardholder. There’s no limit on how much cash back you can earn—just make sure to pay off your balance in full each month.

The Chase Freedom Flex offers 5 percent cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter when you activate) and on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases. You can also get 5 percent cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022. The card also comes with 3 percent cash back on dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases. All other purchases will earn you at least 1 percent cash back.

As you can see, the Flex provides more opportunities to earn cash back at a higher rate, especially in your first year of card membership. Categories like dining and travel—outside of the pandemic times—may be quite lucrative.

Introductory offer winner: Tie

If you’re looking to get a credit card because you’re planning a balance transfer, the Citi Double Cash may be a better choice. The card has an introductory APR period of 18 months on balance transfers (13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable afterward)—compared to no such offer on the Flex.

At the same time, the Citi Double Cash doesn’t have a 0 percent offer on purchases, while the Chase Freedom Flex comes with 0 percent intro APR for the first 15 months (14.99 percent to 24.74 percent variable afterward). If you’re planning a big purchase and know you’ll carry a balance, the Flex is a better option for you.

Which card earns the most?

While it’s clear that in the first year the Chase Freedom Flex can earn you more, let’s take a look at which card is a better deal in the long run.

Citi Double Cash vs. Chase Freedom Flex spending example

Say you’re spending $15,900 per year on your credit card, $2,250 of which is spent at restaurants, $650 on travel and $150 at drugstores.

The most you can earn with the Chase Freedom Flex rotating categories each quarter is equivalent to $75, or $300 a year, which would require $6,000 in spending in these categories. $650 in travel would earn you $32.50 if booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and $2,250 spent at restaurants would translate into $67.75 in cash back. Finally, drugstores isn’t a very popular category, and the $150 spend would only bring you $4.50 back. You’d also earn 1 percent on the rest of your spending ($6,850), equaling $68.50.

As a result, you’d get $473.25 in that year.

As for the Citi Double Cash, spending $15,900 in a year would earn you $159 in cash back, and $159 after you would have paid off your purchases, which brings your total cash back to $318.

This example demonstrates how bonus categories can make a lot of difference in your cash back earnings, even though it might take you a bit more effort to stay on top of them.

Why you should get the Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex provides excellent opportunities to earn cash back at a higher rate. If you don’t mind putting in some work in activating categories and making sure to use the card for bonus category spending, the Flex can be very rewarding.

Additionally, if you’re planning a big purchase, this card is also a better choice since it offers an intro APR on purchases, which the Citi Double Cash Back doesn’t.

Additional benefits

With the Chase Freedom Flex, you’ll enjoy purchase protection, zero liability protection, fraud alerts and more, making it easier to catch unauthorized purchases and protect yourself from the aftermath.

Redemption options

This card offers more redemption options than the Citi Double Cash—you can redeem cash back for points at Amazon, gift cards or travel when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Being able to use your cash back as Chase Ultimate Rewards and transfer points to travel partners (if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®) can help you maximize the card’s value even further, since these are some of the most valuable rewards in the credit card market.

Recommended credit score

As with the majority of rewards credit cards, the Chase Freedom Flex requires a good to excellent credit score (at least 670) to qualify.

Why you should get the Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash is definitely the more easy-to-use card of the two, but it will take a bit of patience. The card can still be very rewarding if you use it on as many purchases as you can, and its rewards rate is highly competitive when it comes to flat-rate cash back credit cards.

There’s also an introductory APR on balance transfers for this card that’s absent on the Flex. For that reason, if you’re looking for a card to do a balance transfer, we recommend the Citi Double Cash.

Additional benefits

With the card, you can enjoy benefits like Citi Private Pass, which gets you access to VIP events like concerts, sporting events and more, along with a guaranteed pass on your first late fee (should you forget to pay).

Redemption options

You can redeem your cash back for statement credits or checks, but you won’t be able to transfer your cash back to hotel or airline partners. So, if you’re big on travel, it’s best to consider other cards—including the Chase Freedom Flex.

Recommended credit score

The Citi Double Cash requires an excellent credit score (at least 740), which can make it harder to get approved for, comparing to the Chase Freedom Flex.

Should you double up and get both?

It can be a good idea to carry both a flat-rate cash back credit card and a card with rotating or bonus categories. This way, if you spend outside of these categories, you can still get more than 1 percent cash back and maximize your earnings.

That’s why the Chase Freedom Flex and the Citi Double Cash can be excellent credit cards to pair together. Since they both don’t charge annual fees, you also won’t have to worry about using one over the other to justify the card’s cost. Instead, you can focus on maximizing rewards.

Bottom line

While the Citi Double Cash Back offers a great rate for a flat-rate cash back credit card, the Chase Freedom Flex offers more opportunities to earn rewards. Still, there are other details to consider, such as whether you’re planning to carry a balance or transfer it, and how much effort you’re ready to put into your credit card strategy.