Citi Double Cash Review: 2% on Everything Is Tough to Beat

The combined 2% rewards rate — 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off — is among the best on any cash-back card, especially for an annual fee of .
May 24, 2022

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Our Take

4.6

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Great rewards make up for the lack of a sign-up bonus or a 0% intro APR period for purchases.

Citi® Double Cash Card
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.74%-24.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • High rewards rate

  • Intro balance transfer fee

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • No bonus offer

  • No bonus categories

Alternate Pick: Up to 5% cash back

Discover it® Cash Back
NerdWallet rating 

Discover it® Cash Back

Big rewards in quarterly bonus categories

Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate (on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending), and 1% on all other spending. Bonus: Annual fee: .

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.74%-24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

12.24%-23.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.24%-23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The is a valuable workhorse among credit cards. With superior flat-rate cash back, it’s ideal for consumers who want low-hassle cash rewards on everything they charge. What it lacks in sizzle, it makes up for in daily dependability. It’s a Honda Accord in a credit card market that's lately gotten jammed with Lamborghini wannabes.

Most of what you need to know: The card gives you 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you make it, and another 1% back when you pay it off. Rewards are unlimited, and the annual fee is .

» WORRIED ABOUT THE SHIFT TO POINTS? Don't be. This is still a cash back card.

The stands up well on its own, but it also makes an ideal companion to a bonus-category credit card for those who use a two-card strategy to maximize cash back. And you can transfer rewards to a handful of partners to potentially snag outsize value.

On the downside, the card offers no sign-up bonus or ways to earn more than its base rewards rate.

Even so, to get good, reliable rewards with minimum effort (or cost), this card should be among the top few you consider.

Citi® Double Cash Card: Basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: .

Sign-up bonus: None.

Rewards: 2% cash back on purchases, distributed in two stages:

  • 1% back for every dollar spent.

  • 1% back for every dollar paid off.

Nerdy tip: Technically, rewards earned on the Citi® Double Cash Card appear in a cardholder's account as Citi ThankYou points, but that will not affect your ability to earn or redeem cash back. You'll earn 1 point per $1 spent and 1 point per $1 paid off. Points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for cash back, meaning you'll still get 2% cash back on purchases. See here for more information.

Redemption options: Statement credit, bank account deposit or a check. You can also transfer your points to a handful of partners, including JetBlue, Wyndham and more.

Interest rate: .

Balance transfer fee: 3% of the amount transferred or $5 (whichever is greater) for transfers completed within the first four months of account opening; 5% fee or $5, whichever is greater, after that.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Benefits of the Citi® Double Cash Card

High rewards rate

The industry standard for cash back used to be 1%. As its name implies, the essentially doubles that rate, paying 1% back on purchases and 1% after paying the bill. The sooner you pay your balance, the sooner you earn the second half of the rewards. That's a powerful incentive to pay your credit card bill in full every month, which we recommend you do anyway to avoid interest.

While we still think this is a fine card, it’s not quite the industry unicorn it used to be. Other cards also offer 2% cash back or more on purchases.

Nerdy tip: When you redeem cash back for a credit on your statement, you don’t earn the second 1%. That’s because you’re not actually paying off that amount; it’s just subtracted from your bill. But that’s a minor consideration. Redeeming a hefty $1,000 per year would mean forgoing $10 in rewards for the convenience of taking the money in the form of a statement credit. That’s still very close to a 2% return on spending, assuming you pay your bill in full every month.

Simplicity

Many cash-back cards offer bonus categories — some of them permanent, some that change every month. They allow you to earn extra rewards in featured spending categories, such as gas stations, restaurants and home improvement stores. They can be a hassle to keep track of. Some limit the amount of spending eligible for bonus rewards, and all spending over that limit earns a mundane 1% cash back.

With the , you can be a lazy optimizer and whip out the same card all the time, without thinking about where you’re using the card and whether you’ve reached the limit for a bonus spending category.

Flexibility

Even though the is considered a cash-back credit card, technically what you're earning are Citi ThankYou points. And while those points can easily be turned into cash at a rate of a penny each, they could potentially be even more valuable when used for travel.

The card features a handful of travel partners, including JetBlue, Wyndham and Choice Privileges, and depending on your credit card strategy and travel goals, this conversion flexibility could potentially increase the value of your rewards, should you find a good deal on flights or hotels with those partners.

That's especially true if you happen to hold multiple Citi cards because you can combine points across them all. While the Double Cash features only a few transfer partners, other Citi products — like the or — feature more than a dozen.

Nerdy tip: The Citi ThankYou rewards program is not as straightforward as others and requires a little know-how to navigate in order to get the best value. For example, transfer ratios with the are less than favorable: 1,000 ThankYou points would get you only 800 points with JetBlue or Wyndham.

Drawbacks to consider

No sign-up bonus

A sign-up bonus can be a big part of a card's value in the short term, like the first few years. That’s why you might consider a different card that offers a bonus for new cardholders.

The most direct competitor is the .

This card also earns 2% cash back in rewards, but it has a sign-up bonus: . It also has an intro 0% APR offer with an annual fee of .

No bonus categories

Double cash on all purchases is great, but it’s less than you’ll find on cards that offer elevated rewards on spending at certain places, like restaurants, supermarkets or gas stations.

Indeed, some cards offer 5% back on bonus categories that change quarterly. In the past, categories have included gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, Amazon.com and PayPal. Good examples are the and the . Both offer 5% back on categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter (equal to $75 in cash back), and 1% on all other spending.

Other cash-back cards have bonus categories that don't change. The is a good example. The card offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; and 1% cash back everywhere else. Terms apply (To view rates and fees of the , see this page.). It has an annual fee of .

Nerdy tip: For optimizers, the decision is not either-or, but both. Boost cash rewards by using a bonus-categories card to get higher earnings on certain purchases, and use the for everything else. That reaps a superior return with a little more effort.

And some cards offer a combination: a good flat rate on most purchases, a sign-up bonus and bonus categories. Example: The .

  • Flat rate: 1.5%

  • Bonus category rewards: 3% cash back on dining at restaurants and drugstore purchases and 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Sign-up bonus:

No intro APR on purchases

The intro APR offer for this card is: .

Noticeably absent is an intro APR rate on purchases. Why is that important? After you transfer a balance to this card, future purchases you charge to it will begin accruing interest immediately. You won’t have a credit card grace period, even if you pay off your new purchases in full. You only get the grace period back if you also completely pay off the balance transfer amount. That’s why many other cards feature an intro APR offer, often for the same number of months, for both balance transfers and purchases.

Balance transfer fee

The lengthy no-interest period on balance transfers is competitive, and the introductory 3% balance transfer fee with a minimum of $5 is typical. But the fee still hurts. That amounts to a $300 fee on $10,000 transferred. And after the first four months, the balance transfer fee is 5% or $5, whichever is greater.

Foreign transaction fee

Its 3% fee for foreign transactions means this is a poor choice of card to use abroad. To be fair, this fee is more common on cash-back cards, but rarer on travel cards.

Reward expiration

Citi says cash rewards balances “expire” if you don’t earn cash back from purchases or payments for 12 months. If you quit using the card, be sure to first redeem eligible rewards — or make a minor purchase with the card at least once a year to reset the clock on expiration.

Is it right for you?

If you want a low-hassle, flat-rate rewards card, the fits the bill because its rewards apply to all spending and have no limit. Your return rate can be even better if you use it in conjunction with a bonus-categories card.

Need more information to help you compare your cash-back credit card options? Our best credit cards page can help.

To view rates and fees of the , see this page.

on Citibank's application

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

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