Citi® Double Cash Card review
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Citi® Double Cash Card Overview
“Practical” and “constructive” comes to mind when analyzing the Citi® Double Cash Card. This cash back credit card offers a few concrete ways in which you can better your financial situation, improve your credit card habits and enjoy cash back rewards without the fuss of tracking rotating categories — all while doubling as an excellent zero-interest card with no annual fee.
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.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
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: None
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: None
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent introductory APR for 18 months
- Regular APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable
Besides being one of the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market with its desirable 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 rewards for your purchases (on top of the automatic 1 percent cash back you earn), you must pay off the balance you owe.
Earning cash back
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.
There’s no cap on the amount of cash back rewards you can receive with the Citi Double Cash, so feel free to swipe and earn as you please.
Redeeming cash back
Redemption options for your cash back rewards include statement credits, direct deposit, check and ThankYou points.
Check, statement credit and direct deposit redemptions start at $25, meaning you must have at least $25 in cash back rewards in your account to redeem. Converting your rewards to ThankYou points requires a much lower $1 cash back rewards balance.
If you choose to redeem your rewards for points, a ThankYou account is automatically created for you. This allows you to further 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 of12 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, The Points Guy discovered that 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 transfer “basic” points, you can pool them with one of Citi’s premium travel cards, like the Citi Premier® Card, to reach The Points Guy’s latest valuation of up to 1.7 cents each.
Citi Double Cash: Details and benefits
The Citi Double Cash is pretty simplistic in terms of additional card benefits, but that doesn’t mean those the card does offer aren’t useful.
0 percent APR offer
In addition to being a cash back card, the Citi Double Cash also acts as a balance transfer credit card. The 18-month 0 percent introductory APR offer on balance transfers (13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR after) is one of the longest balance transfer periods currently available. Keep in mind, if you take advantage of the offer, you’ll still pay either $5 or a 3 percent balance transfer fee, whichever is greater. Additionally, balance transfers must be made in the first four months of account opening to qualify for the rate.
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 a myriad of security and fraud protections.
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 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter. The ongoing APR is well 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 similar 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 2021. 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.
|Card||Annual fee||Rewards rate||Sign-up bonus||Other details|
|Citi Simplicity® Card||$0||N/A||N/A||
Fargo Platinum card
|Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card||$0||
||$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months||
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. Seeing as the Citi Double Cash doesn’t offer a welcome bonus, you might look to pair it with a card that does.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
As Citi’s only other cash back card, the new Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is naturally one of the best cards to partner with the Double Cash. It offers 5 percent cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle (up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent), plus a 15-month 0 percent intro APR for both purchases and balance transfers (then 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable).
Using the Custom Cash strictly for purchases toward one of its 10 everyday categories helps you maximize rewards on all of your spending, which can then be pooled with a Citi travel card for even more reward value using a ThankYou Rewards transfer partner.
Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back, for example, offers 5 percent cash back on rotating categories each quarter—every three months—on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent (activation required). Here’s a look at the Discover it Cash Back bonus calendar for 2021:
- January through March 2021: Grocery stores (includes Walmart grocery pickup and delivery pickup purchases, excludes other Walmart and all Target Purchases), Walgreens and CVS
- April through June 2021: Gas stations, wholesale clubs and select streaming services
- July through September 2021: Restaurants and PayPal
- October through December 2021: Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com
This no annual fee credit card is a good option for you if a significant chunk of your spending falls within these rotating categories (keep in mind categories are subject to change each year). Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com may be helpful during the holiday season, especially with the card’s 0 percent 14-month introductory variable APR on purchases (11.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR after).
Lastly, the Discover it Cash Back offers a pretty stellar Cashback Match welcome bonus; at the end of your first year of card ownership, Discover matches all of the cash back you’ve earned. If you racked up $200 in cash back rewards, for example, this welcome offer would bring you to a total of $400 in cash back earnings.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Similar to the Discover it Cash Back, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card offers a rotating cash back calendar with new places to earn boosted rewards; earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1 percent) and at least 1 percent cash back on other purchases. Chase only announces new quarterly bonus categories a few months ahead of time, so keep an eye on Chase’s 2021 cash back calendar to see how it stacks up to Discover’s categories.
The Chase Freedom Flex doesn’t charge an annual fee, and there’s a 15-month introductory 0 percent APR on purchases (14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR after). New cardmembers can also receive a $200 sign-up bonus after spending $500 in purchases within the first three months. Even better, Chase has added year-round unlimited bonus categories to stimulate rewards spending:
- 5 percent cash back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases
- 3 percent cash back on dining (including eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases
Citi Premier Card
If you’re a frequent flyer with a premium Citi travel credit card like the Citi Premier or the Citi Prestige® Card, combining it with the Citi Double Cash can be one of the best card combinations to maximize your rewards. Redeeming your Double Cash Card rewards for ThankYou Points isn’t a very valuable redemption option on its own, but pooling those points with your premium Citi travel card boosts your points beyond their “basic” status and allows them to be transferred to a Citi travel partner for a higher value.
Instead of only earning 1 point per dollar on purchases outside your Citi travel card’s bonus categories, you could use your Citi Double Cash to earn double the points on any purchase — including big expenses like bill payments.
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—no rotating categories or cash back calendars to keep up with. There’s no opportunity to earn a welcome bonus with the Citi Double Cash, though, which may be a drawback if you value bonus earning potential over all else.
To be approved for the Citi Double Cash, you’ll need a good to excellent credit score (between 670 and 850), meaning this card might not be the best option for you if you’re just starting to build your credit or have a poor-to-mid-range credit score.
Most importantly, 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.
Those who’re in the market for a balance transfer credit card can benefit greatly from the Citi Double Cash with its significantly 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 simplistic rewards structure. The earn-as-you-pay caveat may even act as encouragement to stay out of debt.