The Citi Double Cash Card makes sense for those who prefer cash back over other types of travel rewards. It’s also a great card for those who prefer simplicity over more complex types of cash back credit cards.
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While many people who use reward credit cards like to play around with points and miles, plenty of people still prefer to earn cash back. If you’re determined to find a top cash back card that offers a high, flat rate back on all purchases — without any special categories to worry about — the Citi® Double Cash Card should be on your list of cards to consider.
When is the Citi Double Cash Card worth it?
You want a simple cash back card
With the Citi Double Cash, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back at the time of purchase and another 1 percent cash back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2 percent cash back. You’ll earn this much cash back on all of your purchases, with no spending or category limits. However, note that the cash back you’ll earn with this card will technically be in the form of basic Citi ThankYou points.
Also, the cash rewards program is incredibly easy to use. Many competing cash back credit cards offer bonuses for certain categories of purchases, which often include a variety of exceptions. The categories can be confusing, and some cardholders may not know if their purchases qualify for the bonus until after they receive their statement. Other cash back cards require you to register for your bonus categories in advance or have limits on the number of purchases that will be eligible (sometimes both). In contrast, the Citi Double Cash doesn’t require you to do anything other than make purchases — and pay for them on time — to receive your full rewards.
You pay your bills in full and on time
Citi likes to say this is the only credit card that offers you cash back twice. Another way to look at this card is that it’s a product that rewards responsible use. That’s because you receive half of your rewards for making a purchase and the other half for paying off your purchases.
Plus, like most reward credit cards, the Citi Double Cash has a higher interest rate than similar cards that don’t offer rewards. The standard variable interest rate for this card is 17.74 percent to 27.74 percent. The rate you receive will depend on your creditworthiness at the time you apply. This means that the most qualified applicants could receive a standard interest rate on the lower end, but most will likely receive a higher rate.
You need to transfer a balance
If you have unpaid balances on another card, the Citi Double Cash still has you covered. New cardholders will receive a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (after that, 17.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable APR). You’ll also get an intro balance transfer fee of 3 percent (minimum $5) for balance transfers completed within the first four months of account opening (after which you’ll pay a 5 percent balance transfer fee). Just note that balance transfers won’t earn cash back.
You want a card with long-term value
The Citi Double Cash is the kind of card people keep for many years. It rewards you by offering consistently high levels of cash back on all purchases, all the time. And it does so with no up-front cost to you. It has no annual fee, and its other fees are just penalties that are easily avoidable, such as its late fee and returned payment fee of up to $41.
You want to pair cards to maximize rewards
If you like to use multiple credit cards to maximize your rewards, the Citi Double Cash is a valuable addition to your wallet. When paired with a Citi card (or cards) that offer higher rewards rates for some purchases but only 1 percent on other purchases, you could easily use your Citi Double Cash to ensure you never earn less than 2 percent cash back on anything.
For example, you could pair the Citi Double Cash with a premium Citi travel card like the Citi Premier® Card, which offers 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels and 1X points on all other purchases. That way, you’ll earn a higher rate of rewards in those bonus categories with the Citi Premier and then a higher rate on everything else with the Citi Double Cash. Plus, with this combo, you can pool all of your rewards together. Note that the Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee.
When is the Citi Double Cash Card not worth it?
You tend to carry a balance
If you plan to carry a balance with this card, this probably isn’t the card for you. Reward cards like this one are best for those who avoid interest charges by paying their entire statement balance each month. Do that, and you’ll not only have no interest to pay, but you’ll also receive your full 2 percent cash back soon after your purchases. Considering that the Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, avoiding interest charges means there’s no cost to using this card, and you’ll actually earn unlimited 2 percent cash back for using the card.
You’d rather earn higher rates of cash back
While the Citi Double Cash will help you to get at least 2 percent cash back on everything you buy, you can earn higher rates of cash back in select bonus categories or rotating bonus categories with another cash back card. Many of these cards also come with no annual fee, too.
For example, you may want to try another Citi card, like the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, which offers 5 percent cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent back). Eligible top categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel and transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.
Or, you may want to consider cash back cards from other issuers like the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which is a top no-annual-fee card for dining out, or the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which is one of the best cards for groceries.
You’re not interested in cash back
No one credit card is right for everyone, and the Citi Double Cash is no exception. It’s ideal if you prefer to earn a high rate of flat cash back (or basic Citi ThankYou points), but it’s not a good card if you’d rather earn flexible points or miles that can be redeemed for travel and other rewards.
If you’re more interested in the latter, the Citi Premier card allows you to transfer Citi ThankYou points to Citi airline and hotel partners, an option unavailable to Citi cards that earn basic ThankYou points.
Should you get the Citi Double Cash Card?
Even if you prefer to use multiple credit cards to maximize rewards, the Citi Double Cash is worth having. Use one card for groceries and another for dining out, but when it’s time to buy furniture, pay an insurance bill or visit a home improvement store, you can earn 2 percent cash back with the Citi Double Cash instead of the 1 percent on non-bonus categories that’s offered by most cash back credit cards.
Plus, the Citi Double Cash is a great choice if you’re looking for a rewarding balance transfer card. You can save a significant amount of interest by using its 18 months of 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers. As long as you pay off your balance in full before the promotional period ends, you can continue to use the card for its cash back.
Overall, the Citi Double Cash is a great default cash back card. It’s also a great card if you prefer simplicity over more complex cash back credit cards. If you know you’ll pay off your balance in full each month and want a simple way to earn 2 percent cash back on all (or at least some) of your spending, this card deserves a place in your wallet.