Understandably the pandemic caused some people to at least temporarily reassess their approach to using credit cards. Even among those who value travel rewards, those rewards were ultimately of little value for quite a while, causing many to wonder if they should be using a cash back card instead. While I maintained the same credit card strategy, I totally get the sentiment.
That’s also exactly why I think the Citi® Double Cash Card (review) is worth another look for those who don’t have it — there’s no card that offers as good of a return on spending while also offering so much flexibility in terms of the rewards that you can earn.
Why the Citi Double Cash is so valuable
The Citi Double Cash is possibly the most versatile no annual fee credit card out there. It’s the credit card I use for my everyday, non-bonused spending, and it’s one I recommend regardless of whether you want to earn cash back or travel rewards.
- Earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase, earn 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase
Here are the four reasons that the Citi Double Cash should be in your wallet:
No annual fee
Okay, I kind of hinted at this above — the Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, so it doesn’t get better than that. Need I say more?
Earn cash back at a rewarding rate
The Citi Double Cash has a phenomenal rewards structure if you’re looking to earn cash back. Cash is king, as they say, and it’s hard to beat the structure of this card.
The Citi Double Cash offers:
- 1% cash back when you make a purchase
- 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase
By the time you’ve paid for your purchase, you’ll get two cents back on every dollar spent. This is more rewarding than a vast majority of cash back credit cards, and is in line with the best cash back return you’ll find on a credit card.
There’s not a single card I can think of that offers a return of better than 2% cash back without any major strings attached.
Flexibility to turn cash back into travel rewards
This is why the Citi Double Cash gives you the best of both worlds. Not only can you earn the equivalent of two cents on the dollar, but those points can also be converted into travel rewards points:
- This is valid for those who have the Citi Double Cash in conjunction with the Citi Premier® Card (review) or Citi Prestige (which is no longer open to new applicants)
- If you have one of those cards, then you can convert each cent cash back into one ThankYou point
- That’s incredible, because personally I value ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that increases the value of the rewards by 70%
- Citi ThankYou points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to around 15 airline partners, including to American AAdvantage for a limited time (through November 13, 2021)
- See here for details on how to convert Citi Double Cash rewards into ThankYou points
What really makes this so awesome is that you can earn rewards on the Citi Double Cash even without having the Citi Premier. Then in the future, you can decide to apply for the Citi Premier Card (review), and all the cash back you’ve racked up on the Citi Double Cash can be converted into ThankYou points, should you so choose.
This means for every dollar you spend (and subsequently pay the bill for) you’re getting your choice of either two cents or two transferrable points, which can be converted into airline miles.
0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers*
This is something I’d recommend avoiding if possible, but understandably this is something that some people looking for credit cards value. The Citi Double Cash is offering a 0% introductory APR for 18 months 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. Keep in mind that there is a balance transfer fee of 3% for each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening.
You’ll want to do everything you can to pay off the balance during that period, since the interest after that can be high. But 18 months is a long period — some other cards offer 12 months, but 18 months is rare.
How I’ve maximized rewards with the Citi Double Cash
I picked up the Citi Double Cash in 2019, so how am I using this card? Essentially it’s the card I use for all personal spending within the United States when there’s not otherwise a bonus category. For example:
- I’ve paid my rent with the card through Plastiq
- I’ve paid my taxes with the card
- I’ve used the card for most online shopping
Those are just a few examples, but this is essentially my go-to card for any domestic purchases not at supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations, etc.
Amazing combo: Citi Premier + Citi Double Cash
If you’re looking to earn travel rewards in the long-term, I think it’s specifically worth talking about the value of having the Citi Double Cash in conjunction with the Citi Premier Card, which is one of the best card combos out there:
- The Citi Premier offers a solid welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening, which will really jumpstart your rewards earnings
- You’re eligible for both of these cards as long as you follow Citi’s general credit card application rules
- The Citi Premier offers 3x points on dining, gas, groceries, air travel, and hotels, and has no foreign transaction fees
- You can earn all of this with a single $95 annual fee on the Citi Premier, since the Citi Double Cash doesn’t have an annual fee
To me, this is a valuable and straightforward approach to take towards maximizing credit card rewards, as you’ll earn 2-3x points on all purchases.
The Citi Double Cash has been my go-to card for everyday spending for a couple of years now, and I absolutely love it. Personally, I use the card for the ability to earn ThankYou points.
The flexibility this card offers is unrivaled. The no annual fee card can earn you the equivalent of two cents or two transferrable points for every dollar you spend (after paying the bill). Being able to efficiently earn either cash back or travel rewards is the kind of flexibility that consumers should be looking for nowadays, and there’s no other card as well rounded as this.
Is anyone else using the Citi Double Cash as their go-to for everyday spending?