Make way for a new entrant to the pool of cash back credit cards: the new Citi Double Cash Card. It has the chops to become one of the most popular cash back credit cards, thanks to its generous cash back program.
The Double Cash Card has no annual fee and offers unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases. Then, you’ll get another 1% cash back on the account balance that you pay off (at least the minimum amount due). Effectively, you’re getting a total of 2% cash back.
There’s a psychological play here. Citi is using that extra 1% cash back as an incentive for good repayment habits. Want that cash back? You better pay off that balance.
The card’s other benefits — including EMV chip technology, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and concierge service — are great, but they don’t do anything to set Double Cash apart from other cards. These are perks that can be found with many other credit cards. The cash back program is the star of the show.
But, there are some initial concerns that I have about the Double Cash Card:
How does it hold up against other cards?
Citi’s Double Cash Card is obviously aiming to steal the attention away from the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
The 1.5% cash back from Quicksilver simply cannot compete with the 2% cash back from the Double Cash Card — it’s a pure numbers game on this front.
The Double Cash Card even trumps the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express card. Although both cards offer 2% cash back on everything, the Fidelity card requires that you also maintain an eligible Fidelity account (where you collect your cash back) — a slight obstacle to owning the card.
But, if you have a more specific spending pattern, then Citi’s Double Cash Card will still fall short of other popular cash back credit cards.
Discover it®: Discover it® doles out 5% cash back on different categories that change every quarter (you have to sign up every time). Usually, the categories include gas, restaurants, shopping and more. You’ll earn more in overall cash back if you can maximize the 5% cash back categories.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred: If you’re buying plenty of groceries on a regular basis, you’re much better off with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, which offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to the first $6,000 grocery purchases per year; 1% thereafter).
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard: You’re probably wondering if the Double Cash Card has a leg up on Arrival Plus, which pays out 2 miles per dollar spent (for an annual fee of $89 — waived first year). I’d say no, if you’re traveling frequently. The waived foreign transactions and the 10% miles back on travel redemptions are the reasons that make Arrival Plus the better card.
|Card||Citi Double Cash Card||Discover it®||American Express Blue Cash Preferred||Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard|
|General rewards||2% effective cash back (1% on purchase + 1% on paid balances)||1% cash back||1% cash back||2 miles per dollar|
|Bonus rewards||None||5% cash back on bonus categories that change quarterly (enrollment required)||6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 spent per year); 3% cash back at gas stations and select department stores||None|
|Notable perks||Personal concierge and trip cancellation/interruption insurance||No foreign transaction fee, no penalty APR and no first-time late payment fee||None. (It just has the common card protections and insurances.)||10% miles back on travel redemptions, no foreign transaction fees and personal concierge|
My suggestion: The Citi Double Cash Card is a great “sidekick” to the rest of the rewards credit cards in your wallet. Can’t earn more than 2% cash back on purchase? Use the Double Cash Card instead.
Is it a Visa, MasterCard or American Express?
Citi has been known to partner with Visa, MasterCard and American Express for its credit cards. The extra benefits of the Double Cash Card can vary depending on which one Citi picks as the partner.
Citi has not mentioned what type of card it will be.
Many people fear that the card is an American Express card, which is less widely accepted by merchants than Visa and MasterCard.
However, judging by the benefits that is listed, the Double Cash Card is most likely issued in partnership with Visa or MasterCard. The trip cancellation and interruption insurance tells me that it’ll be either a Visa Signature or World MasterCard card.
What if I want to convert an existing Citi card?
I know for a fact that there are current Citi cardmembers who want to convert their accounts to the Double Cash Card… because I am one of them.
After speaking Citi, I found out that I could convert my Citi card to the Double Cash Card, just not yet. Here’s what I was told:
“If you would like to convert your existing card to the Citi Double Cash Card, you will need to wait until September 7th. You can contact customer service after September 7th at 1-800-950-5114 to request your existing account to be converted to the new card.”
Now, I’m not sure what will happen to the rewards already accumulated on my account. Since I have the Citi Dividend card, which is a cash back card, I’m hoping that I wouldn’t have to worry that the cash back balance would disappear. Otherwise, I’d just redeem the cash because the card conversion.
Other people who have Citi card that participate in the ThankYou rewards program may have to double check with Citi before requesting a conversion — it’s best to use those points now if they’re going to disappear.
New Citi customers, on the other hand, can apply for the card immediately.
In the end, there’s no doubt that the new Citi Double Cash Card is an awesome credit card. With the 2% cash back program, it’s the best general-purpose cash back credit card for purchase categories that are not usually eligible for bonus cash back on other cards.
I expect Citi Double Cash to become an instant hit.
Again, however, you should look into your most common (and largest) purchases to see if you can get more than just 2% cash back. After you’ve completed this review of our spending, you might end up finding a better option on MyBankTracker’s list of the best cash back credit cards.