Citi Double Cash® Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card Cash Back Credit Card Comparison

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If you are looking for an everyday cash back credit card in 2022, the card_name and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are both good choices, though they offer slightly different approaches to their rewards programs.

The Double Cash offers an unlimited 2% cash back (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay for those purchases), while the Freedom Unlimited offers unlimited 1.5% cash back with bonus rewards categories on select purchases. Each ranks among our top cash back credit cards.

Money expert Clark Howard has the Citi Double Cash in his wallet because he enjoys the certainty of getting 2% cash back every time he makes a purchase. Are you better off following that tactic, or could you gain a better return on your spending with the Freedom Unlimited card’s bonus opportunities?

The answer likely will depend on your spending habits, but it’s something we’ll try to help you determine with this comparison of the two popular cash back credit cards.

Table of Contents

Quick Card Comparison

Credit Card PerkCiti Double Cash® CardChase Freedom Unlimited® credit card
Annual Fee$0$0
Cash Back RewardsUnlimited 2%: 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay for your purchases. To earn
cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
Unlimited 1.5% + Category Bonuses
Intro APR Period for New PurchasesNoYes
Intro APR Period for Balance TransfersYesYes
Welcome Bonus OpportunityEarn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as
20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back
Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Foreign Transaction Fees3%3%
Balance Transfer FeeEither $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, introductory fee for transfers made within 4 months of account opening.
After that, your fee will be either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
$5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Apple App Rating4.9 out of 54.8 out of 5
Google App Rating4.6 out of 54.4 out of 5

Card Overview: Citi Double Cash® Card

The marketing pitch for the card_name is that you earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase and then another 1% cash back when you pay the bill on that purchase. And with no category spending limits, that’s 2% cash back — unlimited!

Here’s a quick look at some of the other top perks to consider with this card:

Introductory Balance Transfer Period:

The Citi Double Cash® Card has 0% on balance transfers for 18 months. Afterwards, the (Variable) APR will be 19.24% – 29.24%, based on creditworthiness.

To qualify for this perk, you must make the transfer within the first four months of your card membership. And it will be subject to a fee of either $5 or 3% of the transfer balance (whichever is greater).

Other perks include:

  • $0 Fraud Liability Protection: Citi offers full fraud protection on this card, meaning you will not be held personally responsible for any fraudulent charges made with this card.
  • Lost Wallet Service: If you lose your credit card, Citi says it can get a replacement card in your hands as soon as 24 hours after you report your card lost. Citi also can provide you with a cash advance to help you until your new card has arrived.
  • Citi Entertainment: This card gives you access to the Citi Entertainment portal, which can help you with things like presales for events or discounted ticketing.

For a deeper dive into the Citi Double Cash, check out Team Clark’s full review of the card here.

Card Overview: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card long has been known for its unlimited 1.5% cash back reward, but it recently added some new categories that make it a real contender in this card category.

In addition to the 1.5% unlimited cash back you’ll get on everyday purchases, here are the new categories that earn additional cash back bonuses:

  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% on dining (including takeout and delivery services)
  • 3% on drug store purchases

And now, for a limited time, the card has an introductory offer that enhances these cash back returns for new users. Here’s a quick look at how that works:

  • Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy on up to $20,000 spent in the first year. That’s worth up to $300 cash back.
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

Spending Comparison

For most people, the choice between these two cards is going to boil down to which one offers them the best long-term opportunities to earn everyday cash back rewards.

Given that this may vary based on your spending habits, we have decided to give some monthly spending examples to help you get a better idea of which card could be right for you.

For the purposes of this comparison, we have excluded promotional or welcome bonus offers to give you a clearer long-term picture.

Remember, the unlimited cash back rate for the Citi Double Cash is 2%. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers 1.5% on everyday purchases, but gives 3% on dining and drug store purchases.

Monthly Everyday SpendingMonthly Dining SpendingMonthly Drug Store SpendingCash Back from Citi Double CashCash Back from Chase Freedom Unlimited

I did not include the 5% travel bonus for the Freedom Unlimited card because it applies only to purchases made with Chase’s travel program, but that’s another area where you could occasionally beat the Double Cash with a large monthly spend.

Key Differences Between the Cards

Let’s take a look at three areas in which these cards have clear differences that you’ll have to consider as you make your decision:


Chase’s Bonus Categories Require Some Math

As you saw in the spending samples above, you’re going to need to do a little bit of math to see what your annual rewards may look like with the Freedom Unlimited.

Meanwhile, the Citi Double Cash is pretty straightforward with its unlimited 2% cash back. If you’re following Clark’s advice by paying your bill in full each month, you’ll see that 1% when you buy and the other 1% when you pay your bill.

You’ll need to analyze your spending habits to determine if the Chase bonus categories give you a chance to elevate the cash back return enough to make up the half-percent (1.5% vs. 2%) when compared to the Double Cash.

Welcome Bonuses

Chase allows you to earn a welcome bonus of $200 by spending $500 on purchases with your Freedom Unlimited card in the first three months of the account opening.

Citi lets you earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back

Keep in mind that Clark does not recommend making a long-term decision on a credit card based on the short-term gains of a welcome bonus. So while Chase wins this contest, make sure that you don’t place too much weight on it because you’ll be using your card for years to come.

Introductory APR Offers: New Purchases vs. Balance Transfers

Both cards offer an introductory APR period, but the offers are different.

With the Double Cash, you get 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the date of the first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from the date of the account opening. Afterwards, the APR will be 19.24% to 29.24%, based on creditworthiness.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Unlimited offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening. Afterwards, a variable APR of 20.49%–29.24% applies, based on creditworthiness.

Remember, Clark is not a fan of spending on an introductory APR for new purchases because of the temptation to spend money you may not actually have. However, he is a proponent of taking advantage of balance transfer offers if you’re able to use them to get yourself out of credit card debt.


Final Thoughts

Both of these cash back credit cards have merit as everyday spenders. It depends on your spending habits and personal preferences.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to know that you’re getting 2% on everything you buy with complete certainty, you’re on Clark’s team with the Citi Double Cash.

If you know you’re going to spend enough on things in the Chase Freedom Unlimited bonus categories, there’s a chance you’ll make up the difference even though the Freedom Unlimited pays half-a-percent less in rewards on everyday purchases.

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