Citi Double Cash Review: Is It the Best 2% Card on the Market?Credit Cards
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- Citi Double Cash: Best Basic Cash Back Card
- Basics: This card essentially gives you 2% cash back on everything. You get 1% cash back when you swipe and an additional 1% when you make a payment.
- Example: Excluding housing costs (which typically can't be paid by credit card), the average American household spends $35,000 per year. If you put $35,000 annually on this card, you would earn $700 cash back.
- Bottom Line: While other cards may give you more rewards in certain categories like groceries or gas, this card has you covered when it comes to the bulk of your spending. I personally use this card whenever I make a purchase that doesn't fall into a bonus category on another card.
- Welcome Offer
None at this time
- Annual Fee
- Credit Score
Good - Excellent
Citi Double Cash: Overview
Although the Citi Double Cash is my go-to cash back card, there are a few things that may cause some users to go with a different 2% cash back card. I’ll get into the pros and cons of the Citi Double Cash card later in this article, but first I’ll go over when this card makes sense.
Mechanically, this card’s cash back is awarded in two parts: 1% when you use the card to make a purchase and another 1% when you make a payment.
This can cause a slight delay in the awarding of your cash back, but only by a month if you diligently pay off your balance every month.
And on the positive side, this function can provide you extra incentive to pay off your balance as quickly as possible (which you should be doing anyway).
How to Redeem Cash Back
There aren’t any complicated point systems here. Your available cash back balance is displayed, down to the penny, right in your online account.
A minimum of $25 is required to redeem cash back.
Here are the four redemption offers currently offered by the Citi Double Cash:
- Statement Credit: This option applies your cash back as a credit against your current balance on the card. The credit will post 2-3 business days after you select this option.
- Direct Deposit: This option deposits your cash back into your Citi or non-Citi account within 1-2 business days.
- Check by Mail: This option sends your cash back as a check mailed to the address associated with your account. You should receive the check within 7-10 business days.
- Convert to Points: This option allows you to convert your cash back into Citi ThankYou Points. This would really only be an advantage if you have a travel Citi card like the Premier or Prestige that permits you to transfer your ThankYou Points to Citi’s airline partners at a bonus rate. This is beyond the scope of this review.
Keep in mind that reward statement credits do not count toward the minimum payment on your card. In fact, rather than worrying about minimum payments, here at Money Done Right we recommend that you pay off your balance in full every month to avoid financing charges.
Great Balance Transfer Offer
The Citi Double Cash currently offers a hard-to-beat 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers completed within four months of account opening.
Of course, this benefit isn’t free. You will pay a balance transfer fee of the greater of $5 or 3% of the balance transferred.
So if you transferred $10,000 from another card to your Citi Double Cash, you would pay a balance transfer fee of $300.
Doing a bit of math (12 months / 18 months x 3% = 2%), this is essentially like getting an 18-month loan at a 2% interest rate with the interest paid in advance.
Cash Back Rate2%
0% APR Period18 Months
No Sign-Up Bonus
At this time, the Citi Double Cash is not offering any kind of sign-up bonus.
This really isn’t a huge strike against the card since it’s pretty rare for no annual fee credit cards to offer a sign-up bonus, and even when they do, they’re pretty lackluster (something like $50 – $100).
Here is a breakdown of the Citi Double Cash’s fee structure. The fees are generally low with the exception of the 3% foreign transaction fee.
|Fee Type||Fee Amount|
|Late Payment Fee||None for the first late payment; up to $40 after that.|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||3%|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Greater of $5 or 3% of the balance transferred|
|Cash Advance Fee||Greater of $10 or 5% of the amount advanced|
Citi Double Cash: Other Benefits
Beyond the 2% cash back rewards, the Citi Double Cash offers several other benefits to cardholders.
- Free FICO Score: Every month you can check your FICO score free of charge, provided by Experian. Note that your score may look a bit “high” because the scoring model used is the Bankcard Score 8, which ranges from 250 to 900. When I first checked my score in my Citi account, I saw that it had been 850 at one point, and I got super excited (prefect score woo-hoo!). But then I discovered that this is actually an 850 out of 900 rather than an 850 out of 850, so I didn’t have a perfect credit score after all.
- Identity Theft Assistance: With the Citi Double Cash card you are eligible for Mastercard ID Theft Protection at no extra charge. This protection provides you with constant identity monitoring as well as assistance in the unfortunate event that your identity is ever stolen. Note that this benefit is not automatic; you will have to opt in to it in the “Card Benefits” section of your account. However, this opt-in process is as easy as clicking a couple buttons and comes at no extra charge to you.
- Citi Quick Lock: If your card is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised, you can log in to your Citi account and lock the card so that it cannot be used. Note that this feature does not request a replacement for your card; there is another area for that. This feature simply locks the card.
- $0 Liability on Unauthorized Charges: You are not responsible for unauthorized charges made on your Citi Double Cash card. “Unauthorized charges” are any charges not made by you or by anyone allowed to use the account, such as authorized users.
- Fraud Warnings: As with most cards, you will be alerted via your choice of text, email, phone, and/or mail of any suspicious-looking transactions on your account.
Shopping and Travel Benefits
- Citi Concierge: This is a service that I don’t think very many people use but can be very helpful. If you’re planning a trip or even just an event in your own city, the Citi Concierge can help you with things like reservations, gift ideas, airline tickets, and more. They are available 24/7 at 1-800-508-8930.
- Citi Entertainment: Through Citi Entertainment, you can get exclusive access as well as presale tickets to a variety of music, sports, theater, and dining events in all fifty states.
- Virtual Account Numbers: Although most websites are up-to-date when it comes to keeping your sensitive information secure, many aren’t. This is where a Citi virtual account number can come in handy. With one click, you can have Citi create a “substitute” credit card number that you can use online instead of your actual card number. If this “substitute” number somehow gets compromised, you aren’t affected.
The Citi Double Cash gives unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee.
When This Card Is Best
For personal spending, I use the Citi Double Cash more than any other card, and this may be the case for you as well if your goals for a cash back card line up with the characteristics below.
You Want Rewards Flexibility
Compared to other 2% cash back cards with no annual fee, the Citi Double Cash makes redeeming your cash back a breeze: you can redeem it as a statement credit, have it direct deposited to a bank account, receive a check in the mail, or convert your balance into points. This kind of flexibility is definitely a plus.
Personally, I redeem my cash back directly into a high-yield savings account so I earn interest on my cash back.
You Do a Lot of “Everyday” Spending
But if you do a lot of spending that doesn’t fall into the bonus categories for other cash back cards — I call this “everyday” spending — then the Citi Double Cash card may be worth getting before applying for one of the more specialized cards.
When This Card Isn’t Best
Of course, no one credit card is suited for everyone. Here are some situations in which you may want to check out other cash back cards that may better suit your needs.
You Spend a Lot of Time Abroad
The Citi Double Cash has a 3% foreign transaction fee. Yes, you will get 2% back on the fee itself (which kind of brings the fee down to 2.94%), but my point is that the Citi Double Cash should not be your go-to card overseas.
That said, I don’t count this factor against this card too heavily since if you travel abroad, you should also have a travel card with no foreign transaction fee in your arsenal.
You Won’t Use It a Lot
Although the Citi Double Cash’s rewards are versatility in how they’re redeemed, you can only redeem them when you have a minimum $25 cash back in your account.
In order to accumulate $25 cash back you will have to spend and pay off $1,250 on the card. If you’re not sure if you will hit this threshold regularly, consider checking out the PayPal Cashback Mastercard.
Citi Double Cash Pros and Cons
Below I have listed the pros and cons of the Citi Double Cash card in summary format.
Citi Double Cash Pros
- Gives 2% cash back
- No annual fee
- Easy to redeem rewards
- 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made within four months of account opening (keep in mind the 3% balance transfer fee)
Citi Double Cash Cons
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- No sign-up bonus
- $25 minimum cashout
Citi Double Cash: Should You Get It?
So is the Citi Double Cash the best cash back card on the market right now? That’s a tough question, and frankly there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on your spending habits.
That said, if you’re looking for a simple go-to card without having to worry about an annual fee, the Citi Double Cash is as good as any in my opinion. You’re getting the best-in-class 2% cash back rate, and as long as you hit the $25 minimum, you have a variety of redemption options at your disposal.
Cash Back Rate2%
0% APR Period18 Months
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Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.