The Citi® Double Cash Card is a cash back credit card with no annual fee and an unusual, but not overly complicated, rewards program. As the name suggests, Double Cash earns cash back rewards twice – once when you spend, and again when you pay off your card balance. Cardholders who take advantage of both earning opportunities get an effective unlimited 2% cash back rate, which is about as generous as no-annual-fee cash back cards get.
Citi Double Cash competes with a host of other no-annual-fee cash back cards, including Chase Freedom, Discover it, Discover it Chrome, Blue Cash Everyday from American Express, BankAmericard Cash Rewards World MasterCard, Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard, and the Capital One Quicksilver Card. Thanks to its generous rewards program, it’s also comparable to fee-bearing cards such as Blue Cash Preferred from American Express ($75 annual fee) and AmEx EveryDay Preferred ($95 annual fee), as well as with travel rewards cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee). Unlike many of these cards, Double Cash doesn’t have a sign-up bonus.
- Sign-up Bonus: Currently, there is no sign-up bonus for this card.
- Earning Cash Back Rewards: Citi Double Cash purchases earn a flat, unlimited 1% cash back. Every payment made on your card’s balance also earns that same flat, unlimited 1% cash back, as long as you make the minimum payment. Accordingly, when used properly, this card has a flat, unlimited 2% cash back earning rate. Importantly, you can carry a balance for as long as you want and still earn cash back on eventual payments – though, of course, the interest charged on carried balances offsets and overwhelms your cash earnings over time.
- Redeeming Cash Back Rewards: Once you reach the $25 minimum redemption threshold, you can redeem your accumulated cash back rewards for a paper check, statement credit, gift card, or bank account deposit. Citi only permits external bank account deposits if you’ve used the chosen account to make at least two credit card payments in the past. If there’s no purchase or payment activity in your account for at least 12 consecutive months, your accumulated rewards expire.
- Introductory APR: This card has a 18-month 0% APR promotion for balance transfers. To qualify, balance transfers must be made within 4 months of account opening and keep in mind that balance transfers do not earn any cash back.
- Regular APR: After the promotional period end, APRs rise to a range between 13.24% and 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49% from day one, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
- Important Fees: There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the transaction amount, cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%. There is no late payment fee for the first missed payment; however, subsequent late payments cost $35 each. Returned payments always cost $35 each.
- Additional Benefits: Citi Double Cash carries a nice lineup of value-added benefits, including 24/7 concierge service (including travel and event booking), purchase protection (damage and theft for up to 120 days) up to $1,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year), and complimentary loss and damage insurance on car rentals charged in full to your card account. Citi Double Cash also comes with Citi Private Pass, which confers VIP access to major events (such as concerts and sporting events), as well as exclusive access to more intimate experiences (such as celebrity dinners).
- Credit Required: This card requires good to excellent credit. A few minor blemishes on your credit record aren’t likely to disqualify your application, but more serious issues probably will.
- No Annual Fee. Citi Double Cash doesn’t have an annual fee. This further boosts its effective cash back earning rate and serves as a welcome contrast with some higher-end cash back cards, such as American Express’s Blue Cash Preferred ($75 annual fee).
- High Potential Earning Rate. Citi Double Cash’s maximum effective cash back earning rate is an unlimited 2%. That’s higher than that of many competing cards, including Capital One Quicksilver and Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard (both unlimited 1.5%).
- Long Intro APR Period. Citi Double Cash comes with a 18-month 0% intro APR promotion for balance transfers. That’s longer than Capital One Quicksilver, which offers a rolling 9-month intro APR period, and Discover it, which offers a 12-month intro APR period.
- No Caps, Rotating Categories, or Activation Requirements. Citi Double Cash offers flat, across-the-board, unlimited cash back earning power. You never have to worry about spending caps, rotating categories, or pesky category activation requirements. That’s not the case with Chase Freedom and Discover it, both of which have quarterly rotating spending categories with caps and activation requirements.
- First Late Fee Waived. You don’t have to pay Citi Double Cash’s $35 late fee on your first missed payment as a cardholder. This is a great benefit for cardholders who rarely miss payments.
- Nice Fringe Benefits. For a no-annual-fee cash back card, Citi Double Cash has a nice lineup of fringe benefits. Citi Private Pass, which offers rare access to high-demand and exclusive events, is particularly useful for cardholders who seek out entertainment.
- No Sign-up Bonus. Citi Double Cash doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. That puts it in a distinct minority of cash back cards. The sign-up bonuses of most comparable cards range from $100 to $150.
- Has a Penalty APR. Citi Double Cash’s 29.99% penalty APR is a big problem for cardholders who miss payments. Many competing cards, including Capital One Quicksilver, don’t have penalty APRs.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card’s foreign transaction fee is a bummer for cardholders who travel outside the U.S. with any frequency. Capital One Quicksilver and Discover it both eschew foreign transaction fees, cutting globe-trotting cardholders a major break.
- Minimum Redemption Threshold Disadvantages Light Spenders. Citi Double Cash’s $25 minimum redemption threshold is a significant hurdle for light spenders, who can take a long time to accumulate enough rewards to cash out. If you’re seeking a cash back card that lets you redeem in any amount, look instead to Discover it or Capital One Quicksilver.
- Rewards Accumulate at Flat Rate. If you focus your spending in one or two favored categories, such as gas or groceries, and are unlikely to exceed the associated cap, consider a grocery or gas credit card such as BankAmericard Cash Rewards or American Express’s Blue Cash Everyday.
- Rewards Expire After 12 Months of Account Dormancy. If you don’t make any purchases or payments on your account for 12 months or longer, your accumulated cash back rewards expire. This is a drawback if Double Cash isn’t your primary credit card, and thus isn’t used regularly. Few other cash back cards put an expiration date on earned rewards.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is billed as “Citi’s best cash back card.” With unlimited 2% cash back and no annual fee, that’s not a hard case to make. You could go further and say that Double Cash is one of the best cash back cards around, period. If you use this card heavily and make timely payments, you can earn rewards at a faster clip than just about any other flat-rate cash back card.
That said, Double Cash isn’t perfect. If you prefer a rewards program without redemption minimums, or one with favored spending categories that accelerate your cash back earnings past 2%, you need to look elsewhere. There’s no right or wrong here – just optimal cash back earnings that fit your lifestyle.