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Compare Credit Cards: Chase Freedom vs. Citi Double Cash

Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards
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Compare Credit Cards: Chase Freedom vs. Citi Double Cash

Looking for the best cash-back credit card? You’ve probably run across the Chase Freedom® and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer once or twice in your research.

But the choice between them can be a tough one; to help, the Nerds carefully compared the two cards on all of their important features. The results are below, so read over them carefully to figure out which card is right for you.

At a glance
Chase Freedom® Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Annual fees  $0  $0
Intro APR offer  0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.74% Variable APR  0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
Rewards program  Cash back  Cash back
Signup bonus  Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening  None
Verdict: If your spending matches Chase Freedom® 5% categories, go for it. If you want simplicity and unlimited rewards, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is the way to go.
Good for:
  • Someone who likes the idea of earning bonus rewards throughout the year
  • Someone who has the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Someone who is looking for a signup bonus
  • Someone who values simplicity
  • Someone who wants to earn a high, unlimited rewards
  • Someone who thinks that rotating bonus categories are a hassle
Bad for:
  • Someone who doesn’t like rotating bonus categories
  • Someone who wants to earn travel rewards more easily
  • Someone who wants to do a balance transfer
  • Someone who wants to be able to redeem rewards for travel
  • Someone who doesn’t mind opting into bonus categories every quarter
  • Someone who wants to do a balance transfer

Chase Freedom® vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Rewards

Both the Chase Freedom® and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer have cash-back programs, but the way rewards are earned is quite different. Let’s start with the Chase Freedom®: With it, you’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. You’ll also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

In past years, the Chase Freedom® has featured retailers like gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores and Amazon.com as 5% bonus categories. This means that nearly every type of spender will have the opportunity to earn serious cash back throughout the year.

On the other hand, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer allows you to rack up rewards in a totally different way. With this card, you’ll earn 1% cash back when you make your purchases, then an additional 1% cash back when you pay them off. There are no rotating bonus categories – the rewards rate stays steady throughout the year, no matter where you shop. Plus, there’s no limit to the cash back you can earn.

When it comes time to redeem rewards, the Chase Freedom® and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer have similar choices. Both cards allow you to use your cash back for purchasing gift cards or for a statement credit. The Chase Freedom® also offers the option to use your rewards to shop at Amazon.com or receive a direct deposit into your bank account. With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, you can opt to have your cash back sent as a check in the mail if you’d like.

In terms of a signup bonus, the Chase Freedom® wins: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t provide an introductory rewards bonus.

Chase Freedom® vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Fees

Looking at the fees charged by the Chase Freedom® and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a fairly easy exercise. For most common fees, both cards charge the same amount. For example:

  • Annual fees: The Chase Freedom® charges $0 and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer charges $0.
  • Balance transfer fees: The Chase Freedom® charges 5% or $5, whichever’s greater, and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer charges 3%, with a $5 minimum.
  • Foreign transaction fees: Both cards charge 3% for every purchase made abroad.

The late-fee structure does vary a bit between the two cards. With the Chase Freedom®, you’ll pay between $15 and $37, depending on the size of the late payment. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer will forgive your first late payment, then charge you up to $35 thereafter.

Chase Freedom® vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Special features

Reward, signup bonuses and fees will only tell you so much about a credit card. To make a final decision, you should know what really makes a card shine.

In the case of the Chase Freedom®, it’s the 5% bonus cash-back categories. This feature makes it easy to rack up truly stellar rewards throughout the year. And don’t forget, there is an indirect way you can use them for travel: Since the Chase Freedom® technically earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer them over to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card account if you have this card, too.

From there, you can book a trip using Chase’s Kayak-like tool or move them over to a participating frequent traveler program. This makes the Chase Freedom® a great choice for travelers and cash-back hounds; the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer certainly doesn’t offer this degree of flexibility.

However, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer does provide something that many busy consumers value above all else: simplicity. Although you won’t have the opportunity to earn 5% cash back with this card, you will be earning a high and reliable rewards rate throughout the year. There aren’t any special categories you’ll have to remember to opt into, and you won’t have to adjust your shopping habits to maximize rewards.

Plus, with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer there’s no limit to the rewards you can earn. With the Chase Freedom®, you’ll have to worry about bumping up against that $1,500 quarterly cap on bonus category spending.

Also, since the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is issued by Citi, you’ll have access to all the benefits it offers its cardmembers. Our favorites include Citi Price Rewind for shopping and Citi Private Pass for entertainment.

It’s also worth noting that both the Chase Freedom® and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer provide an introductory 0% APR offer. With the Chase Freedom® you’ll get 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.74% Variable APR. With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer you’ll get 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

Although either of these cards is a good choice for financing a large purchase at 0%, we don’t recommend them for balance transfers. Both cards charge balance transfer fees, and this could be avoided by choosing our best credit card for balance transfers.

The bottom line: Should I get the Chase Freedom® or the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer?

If your spending aligns with its 5% bonus categories or you’re trying to pump up the rewards balance on your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Freedom® is probably the cash back card for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a card that offers a simplicity and an unlimited, sky-high rewards rate the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is the way to go.

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