Citi Double Cash® Card vs. PayPal Cashback Mastercard®: Top Cash Back Credit Cards

Written by |

If you are looking for an everyday cash back credit card in 2023, you probably have come across both the card_name and the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®.

And you’d be wise to consider both of them. Each ranks among our top cash back credit cards.

Money expert Clark Howard has the Citi Double Cash in his wallet, but he also has favorable things to say about the PayPal Cashback Mastercard. Both cards fit into his strategy for steady cash back returns with no annual fees.

“It means everything you buy is essentially discounted by two percent,” Clark says.

While it’s true that both cards can earn at least 2% cash back, they do have their differences. In this article, I’ll compare the two cash back cards to help you choose the best one for your wallet.

Table of Contents

Quick Comparison

Credit Card PerkCiti Double Cash® CardPayPal Cashback Mastercard
Annual Fee$0$0
Intro Period for 0% APR on Balance TransfersYesNone
Intro Period for 0% APR on New PurchasesNoneNone
Cash Back RewardsUp to 2% unlimited (1% when you purchase, 1% when you pay for those purchases) Unlimited 3% when you shop with PayPal,
otherwise earn unlimited 2% cash back everywhere
else Mastercard is accepted
Cash Back Redemption MethodCheck, statement credit, credit to linked bank account, or credit card pointsVia linked PayPal balance account: Statement
credit, PayPal Debit Card, or bank account transfer
Welcome Bonus OpportunityNoneOccasional limited time offers
Foreign Transaction Fees3%3%
Apple App Rating4.9 out of 54.8 out of 5
Google App Rating4.6 out of 54.3 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 APR Period: The Citi Double Cash® Card credit card offers 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, the balance must be transferred to the Double Cash card within the first four months of card membership. There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

  • $0 Fraud Liability Protection: Citi offers full fraud protection on this card, meaning you will not be held personally responsible for fraudulent charges made with this card online or otherwise.
  • 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 the 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, check out our full Citi Double Cash review.

Card Overview: PayPal Cashback Mastercard

You don’t have to worry about the whole split reward structure with this card. Cardholders get unlimited 3% when shopping with PayPal, and unlimited 2% cash back everywhere else Mastercard is accepted. No category concerns.

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

  • Easy Reward Redemption: One of the top perks of this card is that there are no spending minimums required to claim your cash back balance. And it’s pretty easy to claim. Since you have to have a PayPal account attached to this PayPal-branded credit card, the cash back balance is simply transferred to your PayPal account balance.
  • PayPal Protection: When you use this card to buy something on PayPal, you can get an added layer of security on the purchase — for free — through the PayPal Protection Program.
  • Mastercard Identify Theft Protection: Mastercard ID Theft Protection (IDT) provides you with access to a number of Identity Theft resolution services, should you believe you are a victim of Identity Theft. Learn more about Mastercard benefits here.

For a deeper dive, check out our full PayPal Cashback Mastercard review.

Key Differences Between the Cards

While these cards are very similar in the way they reward cardholders, there are some key differences that may “break the tie” for those of you who are on the fence.

Cash Back Payout Method

The most important reward from each of these credit cards is the cash back earned on purchases, so it stands to reason that you’d want to make sure that the payout method for the card you choose is best suited to your situation.

With the PayPal card, you must have a PayPal account to redeem your cash back rewards (and apply for the credit card at all, for that matter). The good news, though, is that there is no minimum amount to earn before you can claim your rewards. It simply lands in your PayPal account. Also, you can connect a bank account or debit card to your PayPal account if you need a quick way to move that reward money elsewhere.

As for the Citi Double Cash, there is an extra step to the process. You are awarded ThankYou points for your purchases. You then must choose how you want to redeem those points. Citi gives you a lot of redemption options. You can request a check, use the balance as a statement credit, transfer to a linked Citi bank account or use the ThankYou rewards points to purchase things through Citi’s portal.

The good news is that Citi has removed the $25 cash back redemption minimum it previously required for cash back redemption.

Potential for Welcome Bonus Opportunity

Chances are that you may not be able to get a welcome bonus from either of these credit cards. Neither offers one as a part of its promotional package for the credit card.

However, from time to time, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard does target some PayPal customers with limited-time welcome bonus offers. And the Double Cash has offered a limited-time welcome bonus in the past as well.

For example, I’ve gotten promotional emails promising things like 4% cash back for the first 90 days of card membership.

I probably got this offer based on my PayPal history: It’s not an offer that was ever promoted on the website.


And 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.

Balance Transfer Policy

If you are trying to transfer an existing credit card balance to one of these cards, the Citi Double Cash is the better choice for you.

The Citi card offers an introductory APR offer on balance transfers completed within the first four months of card membership, with a transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5). After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Meanwhile, the PayPal card does not offer balance transfers at all.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a steady, everyday cash back credit card, you really can’t go wrong with either of these options.

Some things you’ll probably want to consider:

  • Whether or not you have a PayPal account, and how often you transact with PayPal
  • Whether the balance transfer period offer for the Citi Double Cash matters to you

If you’re a regular PayPal user, my advice is to consider the PayPal Cashback Mastercard, so that you get rewarded on the front
end of your transaction rather than going through the 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay model of the Double Cash.

You’ll also have a chance to earn 3% cash back with PayPal transactions that isn’t present with the Double Cash.

However, Clark Howard would tell you that you should not carry a balance on either of these cards because of their potentially high APRs. So if you’re using the Double Cash card properly, you should also see quick cash back returns on paying that bill in full each month.

How many credit cards should I have? How Many Credit Cards Should I Have? - Are you worried that the number of credit cards you have could have a negative impact on your financial life? Is there a “right” number of credit cards for one person to have in 2024? The answer is a little…
Welcome bonuses can be a great way to boost the value of a credit card. Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses for 2024 - Team Clark spent hours reviewing the market for credit card sign-up bonuses and evaluated them according to the guidelines for usage set by money expert Clark Howard. Clark believes credit cards with exorbitant annual fees are a bad idea for most…