The Citi Double Cash is one of the best flat rate credit cards around. It was introduced in the Fall of 2014 to rave reviews and has been a favorite ever since. The Double Cash has no annual fee, which makes it a great foundational card and long-term keeper.
In September 2019, Citi announced that the Citi Double Cash would start earning Thank You (TY) points like the Rewards +. However, points earned can be transferred to a premium Citi card and then transferred to one of Citi’s transfer partners. This is similar to how the Chase Ultimate Rewards “ecosystem” works.
The Citi Double Cash is known for its 2x (2%) flat rate on all purchases. However, you do not earn the full 2x points upon making a purchase like with most other credit cards. Instead, you earn one point (or 1% cash back) upon purchase and another point (or 1% cash back) upon paying your bill.
Unfortunately, the Double Cash Card does not have a sign-up bonus. This is common among high earning flat rate cards such as the American Express Blue Business Plus. A lack of sign-up bonus makes cards like the Double Cash great long-term keeper cards because you must use them for a long time to earn cash back that’s the equivalent of a sign-up bonus.
Personally, I prefer cards with a slightly lower earning rate (or different earning structure) and a higher bonus. This is because you can get the bonus money upfront. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a sign-up bonus worth 20,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points (or $200 cash back). And the minimum spend requirement is just $500. Earning the same $200 with the Double Cash Card requires you to spend $10,000 and pay it back in full. That’s 20 times more money for the same bonus!
The best redemption method with the Citi Double Cash depends on whether you have a premium Citi card.
Minimum Rewards Balance
The Citi Double Cash has a minimum rewards balance of $25 or 2,500 TY points before you can redeem. This minimum balance can be earned by spending $1,250 and paying it back. Minimum balances are common on cash back credit cards. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred also has a minimum rewards balance of $25. Cash back is shown in two columns in your online account. The first column shows how much you have earned from spending. And the second column shows how much you have earned from paying your bills.
The Citi Double Cash card has access to Citi’s transfer partners indirectly. You must have the Citi Prestige, Premier, or (discontinued) Chairman Card and transfer points to one of those accounts to access the partners.
If you have a premium Citi card, you can transfer your points to the following partners:
- Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Etihad Guest
- Eva Air
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Jet Airways
- JetBlue (5 TY = 4 True Blue Points if you do not have a premium Citi card, otherwise 1:1)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
The Double Cash gives you four other redemption methods if you do not have a premium Citi credit card:
Direct deposit is the most valuable because you can move the money into a bank account of your choice. This account does not have to be a Citibank account. I prefer this method because you can use the money for investments or for a designated travel account. You can also simply move it into checking or savings.
The second-most valuable option is receiving a check in the mail. This is a nice alternative for those who don’t use the internet or for those times when Citi’s website is glitching. Checks usually come within 7-10 business days.
Statement Credits are the most traditional of the four methods. I would only recommend using this option if you use your Double Cash to pay for travel expenses that cannot be paid for with points or miles.
Gift Cards are the most limiting of the four options. I would only use this option if there is a specific card that you want, especially if its travel-related.
Unfortunately, the Citi Double Cash lacks many of the benefits that come with most credit cards. This is because Citi stripped all of their cards of their benefits. However, the Double Cash has a 0% Intro APR period that lasts for 18 months. While I would not call this a true benefit, 18 months is longer than average for not having a APR.
This card also comes with MasterCard benefits. Your level of MasterCard and benefits will depend on your credit limit. World MasterCards have minimum credit limits of $2,000 and World Elite MasterCards have minimum credit limits of $5,000.
Rules & Regulations
Citi has several rules to consider before applying for one of their cards. While these rules are annoying, they serve as a reminder to be certain before applying. However, their main purpose is to dissuade “churners” from getting sign-up bonuses.
The 1/24 Rule states that you cannot receive a sign-up bonus if you opened or closed a card within the same family in 24 months.
The 6 Inquiries Rule states that those with more than 5 hard inquiries in 6 months will be automatically denied. This rule is akin to the Chase 5/24 Rule, but it lasts for six months and is for any hard inquiry.
The 1/8 Rule states that only one card can be approved within a rolling 8-day period. Its corollary, the 2/65 Rule, states that only two cards can be approved within a rolling 65-day period.
What if the Citi Double Cash is not for you? Here are some alternatives that might be better:
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns Ultimate Rewards (UR) points at a 1.5x flat rate. This is equivalent to 1.5% cash back if you do not have a premium Chase UR point-earning credit card. It also earns 5x UR points (or 5% cash back) on Travel from the Chase Travel portal. And it earns 3x points (or 3% cash back) for Dining and Pharmacy purchases.
Plus, the Freedom Unlimited has a sign-up bonus worth 20,000 UR points (or $200). And it can be earned after spending just $500. This is much better than the Citi Double Cash, which does not offer a sign-up bonus.
In essence, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a much better earning structure for travelers as well as a sign-up bonus. It is also the card that I use for my everyday purchases.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Card
Cash back lovers might like Bank of America’s (BOFA) flagship cash back card more than Citi’s. The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card has a sign-up bonus worth $200. It can be earned by spending just $500 within the first three months. The Cash Rewards Card also has no annual fee.
Furthermore, the BOFA Cash Rewards Card has a tiered earning structure with bonus categories. You can choose your 3% category from a list of seven. The card also earns 2% back at Grocery Stores and Wholesale Clubs, as well as 1% on non-bonus spend.
This BOFA Cash Rewards Card’s earning structure can make it a complement to the Citi Double Cash. You can use the former strictly for your 3% category of choice and the latter for your other expenses.
The Citi Double Cash has one of the highest flat rates in the industry. And it has since become a much better earner with its new abilities to earn Thank You Points. But the Double Cash is best used as a “workhorse card” for those who want to earn TY Points.
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