- The Citi® Double Cash Card now earns ThankYou points instead of cash back.
- Transfer options are limited unless you pair with a Citi Premier® Card, but that combo is actually a very powerful new maximization tool.
This update could change your entire rewards strategy.
The Citi® Double Cash Card has long been on many best-cards lists thanks to its high rewards rate on, well, just about everything. With the Citi® Double Cash Card, you earn 1% back when you make a purchase, then another 1% back when you pay your bill, for a total of 2% cash back -- all without any categories to track or activate.
This effective 2% rate earned the card a top spot on many best cash back card lists, as well as lists touting the best cards overall. But the card rarely offers a sign-up bonus and the cash back structure can be considered over-complicated. This has helped newer 2% back cards, such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card, usurp the Citi® Double Cash Card's top spot.
However, a recent change to the way the Citi® Double Cash Card earns rewards may have boosted it back up the ranks -- but not, perhaps, for cash back. Instead, the Citi® Double Cash Card may now be one of the best rewards cards for points.
Earn ThankYou points instead of cash back
In late March of this year, Citi announced the Citi® Double Cash Card would no longer earn straight cash back. Instead, it now earns ThankYou points on purchases. So, rather than earning 1% cash back -- or $0.01 in cash back per dollar spent -- cardholders will earn 1X point per dollar on purchases. Then, you'll earn another 1X point per dollar when you pay your bill.
For those who love their cash back, this change won't mean much. You can still redeem for cash back at the same rate -- 1 ThankYou point can be redeemed for $0.01 in cash back. In fact, cash back users will have an added perk: no more minimum redemption limit. Citi removed the $25 minimum requirement to redeem for deposits and statement credits.
However, the points-loving rewards maximizers out there just got a new reason to explore the Citi® Double Cash Card: transfers.
Combine with the Citi Premier for extra value
If you're new to points, you may be wondering what the big deal is. It comes down to how points work, and specifically, how transferable points work. Basically, you can turn ThankYou points into loyalty points with hotels and airlines, unlocking free flights and hotel stays.
To be fair, if you only have the Citi® Double Cash Card, then your transfer options aren't great. You'll be limited to:
- Choice Privileges® (1:1.5 ratio)
- JetBlue TrueBlue (1:0.8 ratio)
- Wyndham Rewards® (1:0.8 ratio)
These options are, admittedly, not the best in terms of per-point value, especially with the low ratios for JetBlue and Wyndham. But things get a lot more interesting when you add a Citi Premier® Card to the mix.
If you have a Citi Premier® Card, you have the option to transfer ThankYou points to any of Citi's 16 hotel and airline partners. What's more, most transfers are at a 1:1 ratio (or better).
And yes, this applies to the three partners that allow transfers with the Citi® Double Cash Card. Specifically, with a Citi Premier® Card, your transfer rates with those partners increase to:
- Choice Privileges® (1:2 ratio)
- JetBlue TrueBlue (1:1 ratio)
- Wyndham Rewards® (1:1 ratio)
So, if you pair the updated Citi® Double Cash Card with a Citi Premier® Card, you'll earn a nearly unbeatable rate on non-category purchases -- and with points you can transfer to more than a dozen travel partners.
Of course, the potential doesn't end there. Citi also has some other options you can add into the mix for some truly valuable earning opportunities.
New competition for the Chase Trifecta
If you've been in the credit card rewards game for a while, chances are good you've heard of the Chase Trifecta. Basically, this is a rewards strategy where you combine a Chase travel rewards card with the two Chase Freedom cards to maximize Ultimate Rewards points. (Check out a rundown here: What is the Chase Trifecta?)
The benefit of the Chase Trifecta is that you can earn bonus rewards across a wide range of categories, as well as get a good rate on your non-category spending. Well, the change to the Citi® Double Cash Card has unlocked the possibility for a very strong -- i.e. valuable -- Citi Trifecta.
As we've already shown, pairing the Citi® Double Cash Card with a Citi Premier® Card lets you transfer your points to all of Citi's partners. These two cards also cover most purchase types; the Citi® Double Cash Card is ideal for non-category spending, and the Citi Premier® Card's bonus categories include groceries, dining, gas, and even flights and hotels.
Which card rounds out the trifecta? The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card.
While the other two options cover most of your everyday spending, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card can cover another big expense. Specifically, it offers 5% back -- in the form of 5X ThankYou points per dollar -- in your largest spending category each month from a long list of options (on up to $500 in spending). The list includes things like streaming services, hardware stores, drugstores, and even fitness clubs.
So, when you combine these three cards into the new Citi Trifecta, you could potentially maximize nearly every category you use, plus earn up to 2X points per dollar on other purchases. With so much potential value here, many people may be rethinking their credit card rewards strategy this year.
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