Citi® Double Cash Card
- Rewards: Unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases and 1% cash back on timely balance payments, for a total cash back rate of 2%
- Intro APR: 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, then variable regular APR applies (currently 18.99% to 28.99%)
- Fees: 3% foreign transaction fee
- Annual Fee: $0
- Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
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 and Discover it. Thanks to its generous rewards program, it’s also comparable to fee-bearing cash back cards such as the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, as well as with travel rewards cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
These are the most important features of the Citi Double Cash Card.
Earning Cash Back Rewards
Citi Double Cash has a two-tiered cash back program:
- Purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back.
- Every payment made on your card’s balance also earns unlimited 1% cash back, as long as you make the minimum payment.
When you pay your balance in full by the statement due date, this card therefore earns unlimited 2% cash back.
You’re free to carry a balance for as long as you want and still earn cash back on eventual payments. 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, subject to some restrictions.
If there’s no purchase or payment activity in your account for at least 12 consecutive months, your accumulated rewards expire.
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.
Balance transfers do not earn cash back. During the promotional period, purchases continue to accrue interest at the regular APR. Following the end of the promotional period, APR for balance transfers rises to a variable regular range (currently 18.99% to 28.99%, depending on your creditworthiness).
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%.
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.
- 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 (unlimited 1.5%).
- Very 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 15-month intro APR period, and Discover it, which offers a 12-month intro APR period. Following the end of the intro period, the balance transfer APR rises to a variable regular range, depending on your creditworthiness.
- 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.
- Has a Penalty APR. Citi Double Cash charges penalty interest. That’s 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 a 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 the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Mastercard or Blue Cash Everyday from American Express.
- 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.
Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card is an ideal primary credit card for moderate and heavy spenders who have far-ranging spending needs and don’t mind redeeming for cash or cash equivalents. It’s not ideal for light spenders who concentrate their spending in a few favored categories, such as gas or grocery purchases.