Citi® Double Cash Card Review: Best-In-Class Cash Back
Carries one of the highest base cash-back rates available, the card rewards users for paying off balances, and includes no annual fee, among other valuable perks.
Great for: Cash back and balance transfers Citi® Double Cash Card
Credit Rating Requirement:
- Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
- Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
- 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% - 25.24% based on your creditworthiness
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- No categories to track, no caps on cash back
- No annual fee
While cash back seems like a simple enough benefit, banks have found plenty of ways to make it more complicated. There’s an assortment of cards offering different cash-back rates in certain spending categories, and sometimes the bonus categories even change every three months. If that’s more than you’d like to handle, the Citi® Double Cash Card keeps it easy for you. All you need to do is use the card and pay the bill, and you’ll be earning the highest flat rate on the market.
It isn’t all good news, though, as the card has a couple drawbacks you’ll want to be aware of. To help you figure out if the Citi® Double Cash Card is worthy of your wallet, I’m taking a detailed look at it.
Why you can trust me
Finding the best credit cards has been a subject of interest for me since early adulthood. I’ve never had a loan, so credit cards have been the main way that I’ve built and maintained my credit score. While I originally had credit cards solely for that purpose, I progressed to using them for rewards and seeking out the best credit card offers.
Now, you could say that credit cards are an obsession of mine. I read card benefits and bonus offers to figure out how much value a card has. Whether I love a card, think it’s alright, or absolutely hate it, I’ll tell you that and why I feel that way.
What I like
Up to 2% cash back -- Among personal credit cards, the Citi® Double Cash Card has the highest potential flat rate for cash back. The word “potential” is included because you receive 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and then you receive the other 1% when you pay the bill by its due date (you just need to make the minimum payment). If you pay late, you lose the second-half of your cash back. It’s an interesting quirk that can obviously be annoying if you slip up, but it does motivate you to pay your bill on time.
0% intro APR on balance transfers -- Has one of the longest 0% intro APR offers for balance transfers, as that rate lasts for 18 months. Even though there’s a 3% balance transfer fee, this card remains a smart choice for consolidating all your debt with a balance transfer credit card. Once you do, you’ll have those 18 months to pay it off without incurring any more interest. By the way, you don’t earn any cash back on balance transfers, which is a standard term of cash-back cards.
No annual fee -- Many cash-back cards have no annual fee, so this isn’t a big advantage for this card. But it’s still nice for your budget when you don’t have to pay anything for your credit card.
Multiple cash-back redemption options -- You can use your cash back for a statement credit or request it as a check, and the redemption minimum for both methods is $25. You can also have your cash back deposited in either a Citi bank account or any checking account that you’ve used at least two times to pay your Citi credit card bill. With deposits, there’s no redemption minimum.
What could be improved
Sign-up bonus -- Sign-up bonuses have become commonplace, even for cash-back cards. The fact that the Citi® Double Cash Card doesn’t have one is a handicap.
No 0% intro APR on purchases -- Purchases aren’t eligible for that intro APR offer, making other cards a better choice if you need to finance anything.
3% foreign transaction fee -- The card certainly isn’t alone in charging a 3% foreign transaction fee, but that will increase your travel expenses if you go out of the country and don’t have another card to use. If you like to travel, then you should have a card without a foreign transaction fee for international use, either instead of or in addition to the Citi® Double Cash Card.
What to look for in a cash-back card
When you’re shopping for a cash-back card, you obviously want to choose the one that will earn you the most money back. But figuring that out can be trickier than it sounds after you take sign-up bonuses and bonus categories into consideration.
As you know by now, the Citi® Double Cash Card can earn the highest flat rate at 2% back, so if you just want to use one cash-back card for all your spending, it’s a sound choice. The only caveat is that you’ll need to remember to pay your bill on time, but that’s something you should always do anyway.
Now, if you only use your credit card for select expenses (such as dining or groceries), you’d be better served by a card offering a higher cash-back rate in that specific spending category. And if you’re open to carrying multiple cards, you could earn more cash back by using different cards for different expenses.
Since several popular cash-back cards have sign-up bonuses, those will earn you more off the bat, but the Citi® Double Cash Card will earn you more in the long run. Here’s an example comparing earnings on the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns 1.5% back on all spending and has a $150 sign-up bonus for spending $500 within three months.
|Card||Sign-up Bonus||Cash-back from $20,000 in Annual Spending||1 Year Earnings||2 Year Earnings||3 Year Earnings|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||$0||$400||$400||$800||$1,200|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||$150||$300||$450||$750||$1,050|
While the sign-up bonus gives the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card an early lead, the extra 0.5% back on the Citi® Double Cash Card adds up and makes it the better card for long-term use.
Suggested credit score
We recommend getting your score in the 700 to 750 range before applying for the Citi® Double Cash Card. Citi might approve you with a lower score, as that’s not the only criteria they use when assessing your application, but a score over 700 will be a big help.
This card is right for you if...
The Citi® Double Cash Card is the card you choose when you want your finances to be as uncomplicated as possible. It doesn’t have much in the way of benefits, but the benefits it does have are very good. You should consider it if you’re looking for any of the following in a cash-back card:
- Prefer the simplicity of a one-card wallet
- An unlimited flat rate of up to 2% cash back
- No annual fee
- A generous 0% intro APR period of 18 months for balance transfers