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Wealth and Wants

Should you switch from the Citi Double Cash to the Wells Fargo Active Cash?

It's a tough choice between these two flat-rate cash back competitors

Summary

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is is a close competitor of the Citi® Double Cash Card. Read on for help deciding which one is right for you.  

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With no annual fee and earning 2% cash rewards, the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card is regarded as one of the top cash back cards in the market. Among the eight largest credit card issuers, only one other, Citi, offers a close competitor.

If you already have the Citi® Double Cash Card, should you consider switching to the Wells Fargo Active Cash? Or, if you’re considering signing up for one or the other, which should you choose? Keep reading for some help on making that decision.

See related: Best flat-rate cash back cards

Sign-up bonus 

The Active Cash is the clear winner, since it gives new cardholders a $200 cash rewards bonus after they spend $1,000 on purchases in their first three months. The Double Cash does not currently offer a welcome bonus, but keep in mind that’s only one factor. I wouldn’t make a card application decision solely over a one-time $200 bonus, so let’s get deeper into the details.

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How the rewards work

The Citi Double Cash technically gives 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off, and you need to accumulate at least $25 in rewards in order to redeem. Once you’ve hit that threshold, you can opt for a check, statement credit or bank account deposit. It’s also possible to convert your cash back into Citi ThankYou points at a rate of $1 in cash back to 100 ThankYou points.

Converting your cash back to ThankYou points opens up additional redemption opportunities, such as booking travel through Citi, exchanging points for gift cards and using points to offset purchases from certain retailers (such as Amazon.com). ThankYou points are especially attractive if you also have the Citi Premier® Card since it allows points transfers to more than a dozen airlines. Pooling your points and transferring to airline partners is often the most lucrative redemption option, but it is more complicated.

The Wells Fargo Active Cash doesn’t have transfer partners. You can use your rewards to offset eligible purchases starting with as little as $1 in cash back, as long as your rewards cover the entire transaction. You can also deposit your cash back earnings into your Wells Fargo bank account (if you have one), withdraw cash in $20 increments using your Wells Fargo ATM or debit card, receive a statement credit, request a paper check, get gift cards or reduce an eligible Wells Fargo loan balance.

Winner: Citi Double Cash, especially if you have another Citi card that allows airline points transfers.

Interest rates 

If you plan on carrying a balance, you should prioritize your interest rate over rewards. Neither of these cards would be a good choice for someone paying interest on a regular basis, because they charge variable APRs ranging from 13.99% to 23.99% (Double Cash) and 14.99% to 24.99% (Active Cash).

A possible exception is that the Active Cash offers a 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (14.99% to 24.99% variable APR thereafter). The Double Cash offers an 18-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter), but it doesn’t have an introductory 0% APR rate for purchases. If you’re planning some major purchases and are confident that you can pay them off before the 0% term expires, the Active Cash might be a good way to earn rewards and buy some more time without paying interest.

Winner: Wells Fargo Active Cash, but be careful not to overspend and aim to pay off the entire balance before interest starts accruing.

Overall winner 

These are both really compelling cards. Most people would be well served by having a no annual fee, 2% cash back card in their wallets, either as their primary card (if they want to get a solid, straightforward return on every purchase) or as the foundation of a broader card strategy (complementing it with other cards that give higher rewards on certain purchases but lesser rewards on others, which is where the 2% card comes in).

It doesn’t make sense to have both at the same time, however, since there’s so much overlap. If you already have the Double Cash, I’d recommend sticking with it and focusing your next card application on a generous sign-up bonus or maximizing a category in which you spend a lot of money.

If you’re starting from scratch, the Double Cash would still be an excellent choice, but I might be swayed by the Active Cash’s $200 welcome bonus (after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months) and introductory APR as tiebreakers.

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at ted.rossman@creditcards.com and I’d be happy to help.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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