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Citi Double Cash vs. Fidelity Visa: How to Choose

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It’s true: There are credit cards with higher rewards than those offered by the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer and the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card. But to earn rewards with those cards, you need to use them at certain stores at certain times of the year.

Flat-rate rewards cards can be a better option for people who don’t like to spend time thinking about how to use their credit cards. Both the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer and the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card offer a great flat rewards rate, low fees and, perhaps best of all, utter simplicity.

Turns out, it’s also fairly simple to choose between them.

Are you a Fidelity Investments customer?

If so, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card is the easier option. It pays a flat 2% back on every purchase, with no limits or restrictions, and rewards are automatically deposited into the Fidelity account of your choice.

Here’s an overview of the card’s other features:

  • The $0.
  • There’s a modest sign-up bonus: None.
  • The card doesn’t offer an introductory 0% annual percentage rate. The ongoing APR is 14.99% Variable.
  • You’ll pay 3% or $5 to transfer a balance, whichever is greater.
  • There’s a 1% foreign transaction fee.
  • It requires excellent credit, which generally means a FICO score of 720 or higher.

The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card is tailor-made for value-conscious Fidelity customers who are too busy to mess around with a complicated rewards structure or fancy features. If you want a straightforward rewards card and you already have an account with Fidelity, this card is a good choice.

» MORE: Full review of the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Do you pay your balance in full every month?

Most rewards credit cards reward you for spending money, and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is no exception. But this card also rewards you for paying off your debt. You earn an unlimited 1% on purchases and another 1% when you make your payments. That makes the overall rewards rate comparable to that of the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card.

Here’s a summary of the card’s features:

  • The annual fee is $0.
  • You won’t earn a sign-up bonus.
  • There is an introductory APR offer: 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. To take advantage of the offer, you must transfer a balance within the first four months of account opening.
  • Balance transfer fees are 3%, with a minimum of $5.
  • There’s a 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • You can qualify for this card with good credit, generally meaning a score above 690.
  • Rewards can be redeemed for statement credit, gift cards or direct deposit into your bank account.

A key benefit to this card is that it provides extra motivation for paying off your balance. It also has more flexible redemption options, less stringent credit requirements and a nice, long balance transfer offer.

» MORE: Full review of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Which card is better?

What if you’re a Fidelity customer and you pay off your balance in full every month? There are some small but important differences between these cards.

  • For international travelers: The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card charges only 1% on foreign transactions, a third of what the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer charges. If you travel abroad a lot, though, you might want a card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
  • For people with good but not great credit: The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is open to those with good credit, generally defined as a score of 690 or higher. The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card requires excellent credit, generally considered to be 720 or higher. Keep in mind, though, that credit score is just one factor considered when you apply. Your income and other factors will matter, too.
  • For people with debt to pay off: For a card that pays high rewards, we’re impressed that the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has such a long introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers. However, if you’re looking for a card primarily to transfer a balance, we’d advise you to look for a card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee.
  • For people who like flexible rewards redemption: Fidelity wants to keep your money in the family by depositing your rewards directly into a Fidelity account. But Citi is more flexible. If redeeming for statement credit or as a deposit to a checking account is important to you, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a better choice.

Really, the differences between these cards are minor. It comes down to how you want your credit card rewards served up and whether you’re already a Fidelity customer. Since the cards have comparable fees and rewards structures, they’re more or less equal for most people’s day-to-day credit card needs.

» MORE: Credit cards with 2% rewards

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.