In this post I wanted to take a closer look at what I nowadays consider to be the single best credit card for everyday spending, assuming you’re using it correctly.
Arguably this card is more valuable than ever before, given the amount of flexibility it offers, especially at this uncertain time.
Citi Double Cash Card Basics For December 2020
The Citi® Double Cash Card used to just be an excellent cash back credit card, but nowadays it’s also an exceptional credit card for those looking to earn rewards points. In this post I wanted to provide an updated review of this incredible card.
As far as I’m concerned, the Citi Double Cash has ushered in a new era of credit cards, where you can earn 2x transferable points on all purchases with no caps. Not only is this a great card for those looking for a simple credit card strategy, but it’s also a great card for those who go great lengths to maximize their points.
Here’s what you need to know about this card, starting with some basics, followed by what makes this card so awesome:
No Annual Fee
The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, which you can’t beat. A lot of people sacrifice credit card rewards because they don’t want a card with an annual fee, so here you’re getting a valuable card that won’t cost you anything.
0% Intro APR
The Citi Double Cash has an offer for 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within four months from date of account opening. After that, your APR will be 13.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
This won’t be for everyone, but I know that this is something that some people take advantage of. While some cards offer 12 months 0% APR, 18 months is quite a long time.
As always, in general I only recommend getting a credit card if you’ll be able to pay off your balance in full every month and use it responsibly, or else the rewards won’t outweigh the cost.
The Citi Double Cash is a Mastercard, which is worth mentioning because Mastercard has excellent acceptance with merchants.
The same is true of Visa, though this is an area where American Express is still improving. There is something to be said for getting a Mastercard that will be accepted virtually everywhere.
3% Foreign Transaction Fees
This isn’t a card you’re generally going to want to use for international purchases. The card has 3% foreign transaction fees, so the rewards you earn wouldn’t compensate for the fees you’re paying. Fortunately, there are lots of other great cards with no foreign transaction fees.
Citi Application Restrictions
Every credit card issuer has different policies for approving new cardmembers. With Citi, the main restriction to be aware of is that you’ll be approved for at most one card every eight days, and at most two cards every 65 days.
Since the Citi Double Cash doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, the 24/48 month restrictions don’t apply.
You Can Product Change To The Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. While it can make a lot of sense to apply for the card directly (that’s exactly what I did), there are potentially some other pathways by which you can acquire this card.
Citi is among the most generous issuers in letting people product change between cards:
- You can downgrade any personal Citi credit card to the Citi Double Cash; this even includes co-branded cards
- You can generally only product change if you’ve had a card for at least 12 months, so you can’t do this with a new card
- You’ll want to call Citi to see all the options available to you
The benefit of product changing rather than applying outright is that you can maintain your credit line, and also that it won’t count as a further inquiry on your credit report.
Whether you apply for the card outright or product change to it, you have options.
Earning Rewards With The Citi Double Cash
This is where the Citi Double Cash gets truly incredible, especially with the changes that were made to the card in 2019.
When you spend a dollar on the card (and pay the bill) you’re potentially looking at earning two cents of rewards, and those rewards can even be transferred to Citi ThankYou points at a ratio of one cent per point.
Earning Cash Back With The Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase.
After making a purchase and paying your bill, you’ll earn rewards worth two cents back on every dollar spent, which is great. A lot of people earn 1-1.5% cash back on their credit cards, so this is much better.
As far as I’m concerned, earning at least two cents back on every dollar is the gold standard for credit card rewards.
Earn valuable cash back with the Citi Double Cash
How To Redeem Citi Double Cash Rewards As Cash
As explained above, the Citi Double Cash offers a return of two cents on the dollar for your spending (after paying your bill), but how does the actual process of earning cash back work?
The cash back will show in your Citi account after logging in, and will appear in two columns — the 1% cash back you earn from spending, and then the 1% cash back you earn from paying for your purchase.
You’ll need a minimum of a $25 cash back balance to redeem your Citi Double Cash rewards, which is earned after $1,250 of spending. You have four redemption options for Citi Double Cash rewards:
- You can redeem for a gift card from a variety of retailers
- You can redeem for a statement credit, which will post to your account within 2-3 days
- You can redeem for a direct deposit, which can be to a Citi account, or an account with another bank
- You can redeem for a check, which will be mailed to you within 7-10 days
Personally, I wouldn’t redeem for a gift card (why limit yourself?), but rather would choose either a direct deposit or check, which gives you the most flexibility.
Earning ThankYou Points With The Citi Double Cash
In September 2019, Citi added the functionality to convert Citi Cash Rewards into Citi ThankYou points at the rate of 100 ThankYou points per $1 of Cash Rewards. In other words, 100 cents cashback converts into 100 ThankYou points.
There are lots of ways you can redeem your Citi ThankYou points. You can redeem them for one cent each towards gift cards and other purchases, though that isn’t worth it. At that rate you’re just better off earning cash back outright rather than gift cards.
If that’s the case then you can also transfer these points to Citi’s airline transfer partners, including Etihad Guest, Singapore KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and more. This is a fantastic way to redeem for international first & business class experiences. Of course this all assumes that we get back to traveling soon…
Redeem Citi Double Cash rewards for travel in Singapore’s new A380 Suites
Points potentially transfer at the following rates to the following programs:
|Citi ThankYou Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio|
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||1000 : 1000|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||1000 : 1000|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1000 : 1000|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1000 : 1000|
|Etihad Guest||1000 : 1000|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||1000 : 1000|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege||1000 : 1000|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1000 : 1000|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||1000 : 1000|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1000 : 1000|
|Qatar Privilege Club||1000 : 1000|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1000 : 1000|
|Thai Royal Orchid Plus||1000 : 1000|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||1000 : 1000|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1000 : 1000|
This is the first credit card out there to offer an uncapped return of 2x transferable points per dollar spent. I value ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of 3.4% on spending.
In some cases, you can do even better than that. Citi frequently has transfer bonuses, so you can potentially take advantage of those while earning 2x points on this card.
The only card that compares in any way is The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, which offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. However:
- You’re limited to earning 2x points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year, and
- This is a business credit card
Is The Citi Double Cash Right For You?
The Citi Double Cash has long been lucrative. However, historically I’ve thought this card was ideal for those looking to earn simple cash back rewards, rather than true points hobbyists. That’s no longer the case, since major changes were made several months back.
After you spend a dollar on the card and pay the bill you’ll have your choice of earning:
- Two cents cash back
- Two transferable points, assuming you have the card in conjunction with the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige
Earning 2x transferable points per dollar spent with no caps on earnings is unrivaled.
What makes this card even more valuable is the flexibility it gives you at this uncertain time — you can earn cash back, and then in the future you can always transfer points to ThankYou partners, should you want to travel.
Citi Double Cash Card Alternatives
The Citi Double Cash is now industry leading when it comes to the return it offers on transferable points, though there are still some other cards that may be worth considering:
- If you want a card that has among the best cash back rates in the industry, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card (review) has a $95 annual fee, a welcome bonus worth $500 of travel, provides great perks, and potentially offers up to 2.625% cash back
- If you’re looking to earn flexible travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) and Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) are an incredible duo that offer a great return on spending and valuable perks
- If you want a cash back card and spend a lot on dining, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card (review) has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, offers a welcome bonus worth $300 cash back, has no foreign transaction fees, and offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
- If you want a travel rewards card that offers flexible points, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (review) has a $95 annual fee, offers a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points, offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent, has no foreign transaction fees, and more
Those are just a few options, but I wanted to provide a good selection of options.
Citi Double Cash Card Summary
The Citi Double Cash has gone from a great cash back credit card, to an unrivaled card for those who are into miles & points. Not only can the card potentially earn up to two cents back per dollar spent, but in conjunction with the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige you can potentially earn 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent, which can be transferred to airlines or hotels.
This card is now a must-have. I picked up the card last year, and it’s now the card I use for my everyday, non-bonused spending.
This card is also a no brainer for paying your taxes with, for example, since you can do so for a fee of 1.87% (which is like acquiring ThankYou points for under a penny each). The same is true for payments through Plastiq.
This card has been valuable for a while, but is now even more valuable as people increasingly look for flexibility with their credit card rewards.