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The appeal of the Citi Double Cash Card lies entirely in its simple easy-to-earn rewards plan: receive 2% rewards from every dollar spent and every dollar paid off.
The card’s combined 2% rewards rate – 1% every time you swipe and 1% after your bill is paid – boasts a mass appeal to general consumers with strong credit scores (above 700). Since it doesn’t offer rewards for any particular category of spending, the Citi Double Cash Card lets you accrue cash rewards on everything you charge with very little hassle.
But what the card offers in easy rewards it sorely lacks in excitement. The card doesn’t offer many of the perks typically known to appeal to new customers. These include a sign-up bonus and rewards bigger than 2%, which is low compared to category-specific credit cards.
Let’s weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the Citi Double Cash Card – and determine whether or not it’s the right fit for your wallet…
Citi Double Cash Card
On Citi’s Secure Website
Great for the Everyday, Credit-Conscious Spender
Good – Excellent
Simple and Generous Rewards System – “double cash” rewards program offers you a strong incentive to pay off your balance.
Low Balance Transfer Fee – The card boasts a lengthy 18-month period of 0% fees on all balance transfers
No Intro 0% APR on Purchases –
variable APR between 15.49% and 25.49%
No Sign-Up Bonus
While the Citi Double Cash Card’s combined 2% rewards rate doesn’t sound as enticing as a higher rewards rate on a category-specific card, the former is much more rewarding if you spend across a wide variety of categories.
24 Hour fraud protection + Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
No annual fee, which is particularly unique among Citi credit cards since their average annual fee is $190
1% cash back on every $1 spent everywhere.
An additional 1% on every $1 paid off
Here’s a summary of the main pros & cons (click to see explanation or scroll down):
|Simple and Generous Rewards System||No Sign-Up Bonus|
|Competitive Balance-Transfer Policy||No Intro 0% APR on Purchases|
|Fee Waiver on First Late Payment||Balance Transfer Fee|
|No Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
Citi Double Cash Card – Benefits
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of the Citi Double Cash Card – and whether or not it’s right for your wallet…
Simple and Generous Rewards System
The card’s most appealing feature is right there in the name – the “double cash” rewards program offers you a strong incentive to pay off your balance. That’s because you can double your rewards by paying off your card as quickly as you swipe it. While the Citi Double Cash Card’s combined 2% rewards rate doesn’t sound as enticing as a higher rewards rate on a category-specific card, the former is much more rewarding if you spend across a wide variety of categories.
For example, the Capital One Savor Card provides 4% rewards (or 4 points) on every dollar spent specifically on dining and entertainment. Although that’s more than double the Citi Double Cash Card’s 2% rewards rate, the general consumer tends to spend very little on dining and entertainment. If you’re among the majority that spends only 4.2% of their yearly income on non-grocery food purchases and only 3.9% on entertainment purchases, you’re probably not getting your money’s worth in cash back. That means 4% on a combined 8.1% of all yearly spending on dining and entertainment comes out to a measly 0.3% in rewards.
With a card like the Citi Double Cash Card that provides 2% rewards on all spending categories (e.g. dining, entertainment, supermarkets, airfare, travel, gas, and more), a broader rewards program ultimately pays off much more for the general consumer.
Competitive Balance-Transfer Policy
The card boasts a lengthy 18-month period of 0% fees on all balance transfers. This means that if you want to keep all of your debt on one card to avoid interest repayments on multiple cards, you can transfer your balances from other lenders onto your Citi Double Cash Card for no charge within the first 18 months. After this period each transfer requires paying a variable APR between 15.49% and 25.49%. That’s a fair range among general-spending cards like the Citi Simplicity Card, which boasts a similar yet slightly higher range of 15.99% to 25.99%.
Fee Waiver on First Late Payment
If you accidentally make your first credit card payment late, you won’t be charged a late fee on your Citi Double Cash Card. This is extremely generous, as all lenders have the authority to charge fees at the maximum federal level of $27 on the first delinquent payment.
No Annual Fee
Another highly competitive benefit is the card’s $0 annual fee, meaning you don’t have to worry about swiping your card enough to cover a fixed yearly payment. This is an enormous and unique benefit, as the average annual credit card fee sits near $147. It’s particularly unique among Citi credit cards since their average annual fee is $190, the highest of all major U.S.-based issuers.
Citi Double Cash Card – Drawbacks
No Sign-Up Bonus
The card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, a common perk often used to attract customers to a new card. Many cards offer sign-up bonuses as high as $500 once you surpass a certain amount of spending within the first few months. Other cards can provide sign-up bonuses in forms other than cash, including the travel-specific Capital One Venture Rewards Card, which offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles.
No Intro 0% APR on Purchases
Despite an intro 0% APR on balance transfers, the Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t offer an intro 0% APR on actual purchases. Instead, all purchases from the sign-up period onward endure the variable APR between 15.49% and 25.49%, with the low end of the range still below the 15.96% national average across all U.S. credit cards.
This is uncommon among similar cards since several offer an intro 0% APR on both balance transfers and purchases. For example, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which also targets general spenders, provides an intro 0% APR period of 15 months for both balance transfers and purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
The fee is incurred when you transfer debts from one or more credit cards to your Double Cash card. This fee is $5 or 3% of the transfer, whichever is bigger. This fee is upfront and will be added to your debt load when transferred.
Foreign Transaction Fee
Citi Double Cash has a 3% fee for each transaction in another country. If you are traveling outside of the US you may want to leave this card at home.
Alternatives to Citi Double Cash Card
Several other credit cards provide similar rewards to the Citi Double Cash Card while also offering the enticing sign-up bonuses and intro APR periods on purchases that the Citi Double Cash Card lacks.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
The Wells Fargo Propel card boasts a similarly easy and generous rewards program. Customers earn 3% rewards (or 3 points) for every dollar spent across most major purchase categories, including dining, entertainment, flights, hotels, car rentals, gas station purchases, and even media streaming like Hulu and Netflix. It also offers one of the most competitive sign-up bonuses out there: 30,000 bonus points (or $300 in cash back) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Quicklsilver cash rewards card’s earns 1.5% rewards on every dollar spent everywhere. While that’s lower than the Citi Double Cash Card’s 2% rewards on every purchase, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card makes up for it with exciting perks. In addition to the aforementioned intro 0% APR periods on both balance transfers and purchases, this card offers a sign-up bonus of $150 once you spend $500 in the first three months, as well as a lower variable APR range between 14.74% and 24.74% after the intro period.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The chase freedom card’s perks mirror those of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. Both offer 1.5% rewards on all purchases, intro 0% APR periods on balance transfers and purchases, and a $150 sign-up bonus after $500 in the first three months. However, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a higher variable APR range between 16.99% and 25.74% after the intro period, as well as a 5% transfer fee above the average range of 3% to 5% for most credit cards.
Is the Citi Double Cash Card Right for You?
The lack of a sign-up bonus and intro APR period for purchases may make the Citi Double Cash card a “boring” choice among a sea of competitors. But for the average consumer who makes purchases across all categories, the Citi Double Cash Card can’t be beat. The combined 1% on the front end and 1% on the backend add up to a strong 2% rewards system that not only offers a consistent stream of cash back, but also offers an incentive to build a strong credit score.