Citi Double Cash: More Valuable Than Ever Before

Citi Double Cash: More Valuable Than Ever Before

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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.

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.

Use cash back earned on the Citi Double Cash for everyday expenses

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:

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.

Use ThankYou points for some incredible travel experiences

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 either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

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:

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.

Earn 3x points on dining with the Citi Premier Card

Bottom line

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.

Furthermore, when you combine the Citi Double Cash with the Citi Premier Card, you’re looking at one of the best card combos out there with one low annual fee.

Is anyone else using the Citi Double Cash as their go-to for everyday spending?

Conversations (8)
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  1. Ernesto

    Not sure why there is always the proviso that you can only convert double cash back to TY points if you have already have a Citi Prestige or Premier card. I have neither, yet I am able to convert (and do so) my Citi double cash to TY points every billing cycle; don't even have to wait to accrue any minimums.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Ernesto -- You can convert rewards into ThankYou points, but unless you have the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, you shouldn't be able to transfer them to airline partners. That's the only redemption option that will get you more than one cent per point (which is otherwise the "cash out" value with the Citi Double Cash).

  2. askmrlee

    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.

    Fidelity Investments Rewards Visa pays 2% on all purchases and your full earnings are auto deposited to a Fidelity account (checking, 529 or IRA) once you've earned at least $50 in rewards ($2,500) on a statement. Forex / Foreign transaction fee is only 1% (should be zero, but at least you're still ahead after the rebate).

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ askmrlee -- Indeed, there are some other 2% cash back cards, but my point was that there aren't any offering more than 2% back without any sort of major catch. While the forex fee is indeed better, it's still not a card I'd personally use abroad. Therefore I'd pick the Citi Double Cash over the Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa, given the better acceptance of Mastercard vs. Amex.

  3. William

    What card do you recommend for everyday, non-bonused spending abroad? Thanks, Ben!

    1. DenB

      I recommend the Citi Premier for non-bonus cuz ThankYou points are as valuable as MR or UR points, IMHO. Also, Citi honours bonus categories in foreign countries for the Premier (my experience Canada). For restaurants outside the US, can't beat Amex Gold. No forex on these cards.

    2. Ben Schlappig

      @ William -- I'd say the Capital One Venture is probably as good as it gets abroad. It offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent, and those can be redeemed for one cent each, or otherwise can be transfered to travel partners at a ratio of up to 1:1 (though most transfers are 2:1.5 or 2:1. More here: https://onemileatatime.com/capital-one-venture-card-review/

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Joe1293

Awesome

Ben Schlappig

@ askmrlee -- Indeed, there are some other 2% cash back cards, but my point was that there aren't any offering more than 2% back without any sort of major catch. While the forex fee is indeed better, it's still not a card I'd personally use abroad. Therefore I'd pick the Citi Double Cash over the Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa, given the better acceptance of Mastercard vs. Amex.

Ben Schlappig

@ William -- I'd say the Capital One Venture is probably as good as it gets abroad. It offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent, and those can be redeemed for one cent each, or otherwise can be transfered to travel partners at a ratio of up to 1:1 (though most transfers are 2:1.5 or 2:1. More here: https://onemileatatime.com/capital-one-venture-card-review/

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