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 KarpOctober 8, 2020
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.

Our Take

5.0

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

  • High rewards rate

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period on Balance Transfers

Cons

  • No sign-up bonus

  • No 0% APR for purchases

  • $25 minimum redemption

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 to $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 intro for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

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 on Purchases for 12 months

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 to haul in 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 . There's no limit to how much you can earn, 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.

As good as it is, this offer is not going to have everything that every credit card shopper is looking for. There's no sign-up bonus, for example, nor does it offer ways to earn more than its (admittedly high) base rewards rate. For those who want to transfer a balance, terms are decent but not top-of-class.

Even so, to get maximum rewards with minimum effort (or cost), you'd be hard-pressed to find a better card.

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% cash back for every dollar spent.

  • 1% cash back for every dollar paid off.

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

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

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% on the front end 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.

Nerd 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 a handsome 1.98% 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 reach the limit for a spending category.

You need excellent credit to qualify for this card.

Drawbacks to consider

The drawbacks of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer are hardly deal-breakers in light of the high rewards rate, but they're still worth mentioning.

No bonus. There's no sign-up bonus as part of this offer, but cash-back card bonuses usually aren’t high anyway, typically $150 or less.

No outsized rewards. Double cash on all purchases is great, but it doesn’t approach the 5% back you can get on some spending if you’re willing to invest more effort by using quarterly category cards.

Foreign transaction fee. Its 3% fee for foreign transactions means this is a poor choice of card to use abroad. Many cards have no such fee.

Balance transfer fee. The lengthy no-interest period on balance transfers is competitive, and the 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.

Redemption minimum. You must have at least $25 in rewards before you can redeem, equal to $1,250 in purchases. Several cards allow you to redeem rewards in any amount at any time.

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.

Citi® Double Cash Card vs. the competition

The stiffest competitors are cards that give huge cash back for specific categories of spending, based on where you use it.

Rotating categories. Some cards offer 5% back on bonus categories that change quarterly. In the past, categories have included gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, department stores and home-improvement stores. 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.

Permanent categories. 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. It has an annual fee of $0.

Nerd 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.

Other flat-rate cards. A few credit union cards might have flat-rate cash-back programs that match or exceed the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, but you must qualify to be a member of the credit union.

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer beats the more typical flat rate of 1.5% cash back offered by multiple cards. However, some of those cards offer nifty cash bonuses that the Citi card does not. The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, for example, makes this offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. On top of that, it also pays 5% on up to $12,000 in grocery store spending in the first year.

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

Is it right for you?

If you want a low-hassle, flat-rate rewards card, it’s difficult to beat the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer because its rewards apply to all spending and have no limit. Returns can be even better if you use it in conjunction with a bonus-categories card.

Frequently asked questions

Comments

NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.

Write a review

Read Our Posting Guidelines
user avatar
Overall Rating:
Select your rating
undefined reviews

Some of the reviews on the NerdWallet site were purchased through a third party provider. Users who post a review directly on the NerdWallet site will not be compensated in any way. Please see our Terms of Use and Posting Guidelines for more information.