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 $0.
Gregory KarpNov 15, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

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

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Recommended Credit Score

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: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300. Annual fee: $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99%-22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

14.99%-23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 14 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

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 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 $0.

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 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.

On the downside, it 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: $0.

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.

Redemption options: Statement credit, bank account deposit or a check. Minimum redemption amount: $25.

Nerdy tip: The Citi Double Cash is a cash-back credit card, but it also allows you to convert your cash rewards to Citi ThankYou points at an effective 1:1 ratio. Redemption options for ThankYou points include travel, gift cards and more. See here for more information.

Interest rate: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR.

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 Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 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 Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, 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

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer features the flexibility to earn cash back, or convert your rewards to ThankYou points.

ThankYou points can be valuable, especially for travelers. But the ThankYou rewards program is not as straightforward as others and requires a little know-how to navigate in order to get the best value. Cash back earned from the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer converts to ThankYou points at a 1:1 ratio, at a penny per point. This means you could turn $100 in cash rewards into 10,000 ThankYou points. Then, you could redeem points for travel, gift cards, purchases at eligible retailers and other options.

Depending on your credit card strategy and travel goals, this conversion flexibility can potentially increase the value of your rewards.

If you hold only the Citi Double Cash, you'll only have the ability to transfer ThankYou points to JetBlue Airways. But if you also have the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card, you could combine points and transfer them to any of Citi’s multiple airline partners.

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 Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card.

This card also earns 2% cash back in rewards, but it has a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.. It also has an intro 0% APR offer with an annual fee of $0.

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 Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Discover it® Cash Back. 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 Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 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 Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.). It has an annual fee of $0.

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 Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 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 Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

  • 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: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

No intro APR on purchases

The intro APR offer for this card is: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR.

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 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 Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 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 Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.

Frequently asked questions