If you want rewards for your everyday purchases but aren’t keen on keeping up with all the rotating bonuses or spending categories, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer might be a card to consider in 2023.
With a straightforward cash back policy that can net you up to 2% on every purchase, this card has been a mainstay on Team Clark’s list of cash back credit cards. And it has money expert Clark Howard’s full endorsement.
The beauty of the Double Cash card is the simplicity of its rewards program. You get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and then unlock an additional 1% cash back when you pay your bill.
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Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Card Overview
Annual Fee: $0.00
Card Issuer: Citi
Card Processor: Mastercard
Intro APR Period on Balance Transfers: 18 months
Variable APR: 18.74% – 28.74%
Rewards Program Details: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Cell Phone Coverage: No
Auto Rental Insurance Coverage: No
Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Citi Double Cash Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s one of the top choices as an everyday spending card thanks to its steady return on every purchase you make.
As you’re making your decision on whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: 5 Things To Know
As you consider whether this card is right for you, here are five things I think are important for you to know.
1. The Simplicity of the Rewards Program Is Why We Like It
Clark Howard has recommended the Citi Double Cash Card as an everyday spender for years thanks to a really easy-to-understand rewards model.
You get up to 2% back on almost everything you purchase with the card. There are no categorical restrictions or spending limits that can hinder your earning potential.
Here’s how it works:
When you make a purchase with this card, 1% of the balance of that transaction is the amount that is credited to your cash back balance. So if you make a $100 purchase at your local store, you can expect your Double Cash rewards balance to go up by $1 upon completion of that purchase.
The second 1% comes into play when you pay for that purchase on your credit card bill. While this can be done slowly over time, it’s better to pay the balance on that purchase at the completion of the billing cycle.
Why? Money expert Clark Howard explains:
“Any rewards card of any kind is only useful if you pay your balances in full,” Clark says. “Because usually they’ll charge you high interest rates on any balance you carry. That means any victory of rewards you’re getting is actually a giant defeat.”
Also, keep in mind that your card must be considered “current” to accrue cash back rewards. You can read more about this here.
2. Claiming the Rewards Is A Bit More Complicated Than It Used To Be
There is one thing that Clark doesn’t like about this card: In March 2022, Citi announced that it would start rewarding customers with ThankYou points rather than cash rewards.
The good news is that the change is more of an annoyance than an overhaul. You’ll still see the exact same rewards you’ve been getting from the card; it will just require an extra few steps to get your money. You’ll have to convert the ThankYou points to cash back.
“It takes away what I love about the card: the simplicity,” Clark says. “You have one additional step now to get your money. Instead of just getting the money, you have to go their website or app and say, “Give me my money.’ But it is still there.”
You can turn your ThankYou points into “cash value” by one of the following methods:
- Request a check as payment for your rewards.
- Redeem your rewards as a statement credit.
- Redeem as a credit on a Citi savings or checking account.
Or, if you’d rather, you can redeem ThankYou points for perks like flights or hotel rooms.
3. The Promotional Balance Transfer Period Is Solid
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer credit card offers 0% on balance transfers for 18 months. Afterwards, the (Variable) APR will be 18.74% – 28.74%, based on creditworthiness. To qualify for this perk, the balance must be transferred to the Double Cash card within the first four months of card membership. And it will be subject to either a $5 or 3% balance transfer fee (whichever is greater).
The length of this offer is among the best balance transfer credit card offers on the market.
However, I do feel obliged to let you know that money expert Clark Howard generally advises against spending with a credit card based on an introductory APR promotion. The temporary freedom from interest payment responsibilities could lead some consumers to overspend and be left with an unwanted interest bill at the end of the promotional term.
4. Unfortunately, There Is a Foreign Transaction Fee
If you’re looking to do some traveling abroad, this may not be the credit card to keep in your wallet.
The Citi Double Cash Card has a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the United States. This fee is charged in U.S. Dollars.
There are many credit cards on the market that offer fee-free foreign transactions. You can find some good options for this on our list of best travel rewards credit cards.
5. Clark Howard Carries This Card In His Wallet
After years of recommending the card to readers and listeners, Clark finally decided to add this card to his wallet in 2020.
Why did it take him so long? Well, he is an avid traveler who typically enjoyed enhanced rewards from a travel credit card. But, like most of us, Clark was “grounded” from travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and saw a shift in his spending habits.
That created the need for a simple, easy-to-use 2% cash back credit card.
Clark is back to traveling and swiping his other rewards credit cards, but he says that his wife is still a regular user of their Double Cash.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer vs. Alliant Visa Signature Card: Which Is Better?
While the Citi Double Cash is one of Team Clark’s top cash back card choices, it does face some stiff competition from the Alliant Visa Signature Card in the everyday spender category.
Alliant Credit Union offers select members 2.5% cash back with its credit card, which is a bit better than the Citi Double Cash. But there are some hoops you have to jump through to receive that rate of cash back, which is limited to $10,000 in spending per billing cycle. If you fail to meet those requirements, the cash back is just 1.5% on all purchases.
So which one is a better choice for your wallet?
First, let’s do a quick rundown of what the Alliant Visa Signature Card offers:
- 2.5% cash back on up to $10,000 in purchases per billing cycle for Tier 1 rewards members
- 1.5% cash back for Tier 2 members and for Tier 1 member spending beyond $10,000 per month.
- The card used to have an annual fee, but that has been eliminated
- No purchase categories
- No cap on cash back
Now, let’s make some assumptions and issue some reminders for the sake of this comparison:
- Set aside APR for this exercise. We’re going to assume you pay your bill in full each month.
- For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll show both Tier 1 and Tier 2 rewards for the Alliant card. Remember, you can move in and out of a tier level based on your average checking account balance and other factors.
Given those parameters, here’s a breakdown of how the annual cash back payouts would look using monthly spending increments:
|Monthly Spend||Alliant Tier 1 (2.5% Cash Back)||Alliant Tier 2 (1.5% Cash Back)||Citi Double Cash (2% Cash Back)|
So what can we take away from these spending samples?
If you’re able to qualify for and maintain Tier 1 status with Alliant, this would be the preferred choice over the Citi Double Cash.
However, if you see yourself dipping into Tier 2 for any length of time, the advantage may actually side with the predictability of rewards from the Double Cash.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Pros and Cons
Are you considering adding the Citi Double Cash to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
|Up to 2% cash back (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay) with no rewards cap||No welcome bonus offer|
|Introductory APR offer for balance transfers||No introductory APR for new purchases|
|No annual fee||Must convert ThankYou points for cash back reward|
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a cash back credit card that rewards spending without any hoops to jump through, the Citi Double Cash card may be the right choice for you. With up to 2% in unlimited cash back on every purchase, you know exactly what you’re getting when you make purchases and pay off balances on this card.
Do you have experience with the Citi Double Cash Card? Share your opinion in our Clark.com Community!