Citi® Double Cash Card review: Great for filling cash back gaps
The Double Cash card is a top choice for picking up a little extra cash back for purchases that aren’t included on tiered cash back cards.
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Citi® Double Cash Card Overview
“Practical” comes to mind when analyzing the Citi® Double Cash Card. This cash back credit card offers a few concrete ways you can simplify your financial responsibility, improve your credit card habits and enjoy cash back rewards without the fuss of tracking rotating categories.
Here’s a breakdown of the Citi Double Cash’s card offerings, who it’s ideal for, the best cards to pair it with and more.
What are the pros and cons?
- Does not carry a sign-up bonus, making it harder to match the value offered by other 2 percent flat-rate cash back cards
- A 3 percent foreign transaction fee makes this card a poor choice for taking abroad
- No introductory APR on new purchases, a feature that’s readily available on the Double Cash card’s closest competitor
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Unlimited 1 percent as you buy, plus another 1 percent when you pay for your purchases
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: None
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent introductory APR for 18 months
- Regular APR: 17.74 percent to 27.74 percent (variable)
Current welcome offer
The Citi Double Cash does not currently offer a sign-up bonus, a fact that arguably keeps it from being the best flat-rate cash back card on the market. That’s because the card’s biggest competitor, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, not only earns 2 percent cash rewards on purchases, but also offers a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in your first three months. While a sign-up bonus shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when weighing card options, it’s important to keep in mind the outsized value these bonuses can offer. After all, earning $200 in cash rewards on a 2 percent cash rewards card requires $10,000 in spending if it has no sign-up bonus.
That said, the Citi Double Cash recently offered cardholders a chance at a sign-up bonus of $200 after spending $1,500 in their first six months. If you’re in no rush and have your eyes set on the Double Cash or the Citi Trifecta, it may be worth waiting to see if a similar offer returns to the card.
Besides being one of the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market with its up to 2 percent cash back, the Citi Double Cash can help keep your spending habits in check with its earn-as-you-pay rewards structure.
In order to receive an additional 1 percent cash back for your purchases (on top of the automatic 1 percent cash back you earn), you must pay off the balance you owe. This is a unique feature tied to a benefit that other cash back cards share. It makes the Double Cash card a great option for cardholders who are tempted by rewards, but who also want to be responsible credit users.
How you earn
The value you extract from the Citi Double Cash depends on how wisely you use it. In other words, make sure you’re paying at least the minimum due on time each month or, ideally, the full amount. You’ll only earn the full potential cash back if you pay off what you owe, and incurring interest can quickly eat through the rewards you earn and then some.
There’s no cap on the amount of cash back rewards you can earn with the Citi Double Cash, so it’s the perfect card if you’re the type of cardholder who wants to put every purchase on one card.
How you redeem
Redemption options for your cash back rewards include statement credits, direct deposit, check and ThankYou points.
If you choose to redeem your rewards for points, a ThankYou account is automatically created for you. This opens the opportunity for you to redeem your points for gift cards, travel through Citi or Shop with Points on Amazon or PayPal. Just keep in mind that these are considered “basic” ThankYou points and can’t be transferred to a Citi travel partner without a premium Citi travel card.
You can redeem rewards by logging into your online account or calling Citi at 1 (855) 473-4583. Cash back rewards expire after 12 months of card inactivity, meaning you haven’t earned cash back on purchases or payments for one year.
How much are rewards worth?
Generally, you can expect cash back to be worth 1 cent per percentage point back. In the case of the Citi Double Cash card, if you spend $500 a month with the card and pay off the full amount, you’ll earn $120 in cash back rewards by the end of 12 months.
The Citi Double Cash isn’t marketed as a ThankYou point-earning Citi credit card, considering you earn cash back, not points. You can, though, easily convert your cash back to ThankYou points as a redemption option. However, ThankYou points earned from Citi’s no annual fee cards are considered “basic” and can’t be transferred to travel partner programs for a rate higher than Citi’s base 1 cent value. In order to make the most of “basic” points, you can pool them with one of Citi’s premium travel cards, like the Citi Premier® Card. Based on Bankrate’s latest point valuations, this could increase the value of your points to around 1.9 cents each on average when you take advantage of its best transfer partners.
Other cardholder perks
The Citi Double Cash is pretty simplistic in terms of additional card benefits, but there are a few conveniences that, without, would make this card fairly uncompetitive with other options.
0 percent APR offer
In addition to being a cash back card, the Citi Double Cash functions as a balance transfer credit card. The 18-month 0 percent introductory APR offer on balance transfers (17.74 percent to 27.74 percent, variable, APR after) is one of the longest balance transfer periods currently available. If you take advantage of the offer you’ll still pay the greater of either a $5 or a 3 percent intro balance transfer fee. This fee is only for transfers completed within the first four months. A balance transfer fee of 5 percent of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after four months of account opening.
For reference, if you had $2,000 in credit card debt and transferred it to the Citi Double Cash, you could pay just over $111 a month for 18 months and completely wipe out your debt — all without paying a dime in interest. Bear in mind, you’d also owe a $60 balance transfer fee.
Security and protection perks
In addition to a solid flat-rate rewards structure and lengthy introductory APR offer, the Citi Double Cash extends plenty of security and fraud protections to cardholders.
Get $0 fraud liability, 24-hour fraud protection, Citi Identity Theft Solutions and Lost Wallet Service — meaning Citi will replace your lost card within 24 hours and provide you with emergency cash in the meantime.
Citi Entertainment gets you access to presale tickets, events and more, whether it be a music festival, professional football game or high-end restaurant experience. For more information, read Citi Entertainment’s FAQ page.
Rates and fees
Typically, it’s important that your spending garners enough rewards to justify paying an annual fee, but the Citi Double Cash doesn’t charge an annual fee, meaning there’s no recurring yearly cost to offset.
As discussed above, the Citi Double Cash offers a lengthy 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months with a 17.74 percent to 27.74 percent (variable) APR thereafter. The ongoing APR is below the average current interest rate and could be one of the lowest rates for a flat-rate cash back card of its caliber that we’ve seen so far this year. Just keep in mind if you fail to pay off your balance within the given 0 percent window, you’ll be subject to the card’s variable APR for the rest of your card ownership.
Frequent travelers should know the Citi Double Cash charges a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent of each purchase. If you travel outside the U.S., be sure to bring along an additional credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees.
How the Citi Double Cash compares to other cash back cards
In the current economy, it isn’t uncommon to notice issuers lowering the time period of introductory balance transfer offers from their cards’ offerings or removing them altogether. Luckily, the issuer trend of adding extra bonus categories or limited-time offers geared toward online shopping and home-based needs has also continued into 2022. The Citi Double Cash card is excellent for earning more cash back on these homebound purchases that typically aren’t covered in other bonus categories — such as online specialty merchants, bills and digital products — but competing cards might offer more features and an intro APR for purchases.
With all that in mind, here are a few solid flat-rate cash back cards or balance transfer options to consider before deciding on the Citi Double Cash.
Citi Double Cash Card vs. Citi Simplicity® Card
The Citi Simplicity credit card is a balance transfer credit card that’s great for cardholders with a chunk of debt to transfer from another card. It has a longer introductory balance transfer period than is offered on the Double Cash Card with a slightly higher regular variable APR of 17.74 percent to 28.49 percent. There is no annual fee, no welcome offer and the Citi Simplicity card does not earn rewards.
The Simplicity functions much better than the Double Cash as a dedicated balance transfer credit card, however. In addition to its balance transfer period, it includes a 12-month 0 percent introductory APR period for new purchases, after which the card’s regular APR applies. This means you’ll curb interest on both your debt and any new purchase you make for the first year you hold the card. It’s a much better choice for cardholders climbing out of debt than it is for those focused on cash back earnings.
Citi Double Cash Card vs. Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is the Double Cash card’s strongest competitor but falls short in a few areas worth mentioning.
Plus, the Double Cash has a slightly lower regular variable APR and its introductory APR period on balance transfers is three months longer. However, the Double Cash does not include an introductory APR on new purchases. The Active Cash card does.
If you’re the type of cardholder who has a fair amount of debt and you still need room to make new purchases while avoiding interest, then the Active Cash sets you up for success. This is especially true if you don’t want to sacrifice a solid cash back rate just for the interest free cushion you’ll have.
Best cards to pair with Citi Double Cash Card
When it comes to pairing credit cards, it’s best to choose a card that supplements and even makes up for what the initial card is lacking.
In the case of the Citi Double Cash, consider pairing it with a bonus category cash back card that can help you earn a higher rate of rewards in categories you tend to spend more in. Additionally, if you know you have a big purchase coming up, a low introductory APR on purchases may be helpful.
Tiered rewards or cash back cards that earn highly in specific categories you regularly make purchases in are perfect supplementary options to the Double Cash card.
If you value the flexibility of earning a decent cash back rate on your most frequent spending category, you might consider the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. This is naturally one of the best cards to partner with the Double Cash. It offers 5 percent cash back for one of your top 10 spending categories each billing cycle (up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent). Plus you can pool your Custom Cash and the Double Cash points with the Citi Premier Card. This will let you transfer points to Citi travel partners to potentially increase the value of your ThankYou reward points.
Overall, any card that earns a rate higher than 2 percent for purchases in named categories you spend frequently in can fit alongside the Citi Double Cash. This is primarily because the Double Cash Card is included in one of the best credit card combinations available.
Bankrate’s Take — Is Citi Double Cash worth it?
The Citi Double Cash is a great choice for those looking for an everyday credit card that earns a solid cash back rate on each purchase, with no rotating categories or cash back calendars to keep up with. Those who are in the market for a balance transfer credit card can also benefit greatly from the Citi Double Cash thanks to its long introductory APR period on balance transfers. Further, you can continue to get use out of the card after your debt is paid off, thanks to its no-hassle rewards structure. The earn-as-you-pay caveat may even act as encouragement to stay out of debt.
That said, the Citi Double Cash is only worth it if you can pay back what you owe and avoid carrying a balance for an extended time; if you don’t pay them off, each purchase only earns 1 percent cash back. Should you have a history of skipping credit card payments or paying bills late, it might be best to consider a different cash back card.