Both of these cards offer a straightforward path to 2% cash back on everything that you purchase. And both carry the endorsement of money expert Clark Howard as top options for your wallet.
But there’s a difference in the way they pay out rewards that could determine which is the right choice for you.
In this article, Team Clark will assess the strengths and weaknesses of both cards in an effort to help you decide between the two cash back rewards cards.
Table of Contents
|Credit Card Perk||Fidelity Rewards Visa||Citi Double Cash|
|Intro Period for 0% APR on Balance Transfers||None||18 months|
|Cash Back Rewards||Unlimited 2% when invested in a qualified Fidelity investment account||Up to 2% unlimited (1% when you purchase, 1% when you pay your bill)|
|Cash Back Balance Redemption Minimum||$50 (automatic deposit into linked investment account)||$25|
|Cash Back Redemption Method||Investment account credits, statement credits, gift cards, travel rewards||Check, statement credit, credit to linked bank account, or credit card points|
|Intro Period for 0% APR on New Purchases||None||None|
|Welcome Bonus Opportunity||None||None|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||1%||3%|
|Apple App Rating||4.8 out of 5||4.9 out of 5|
|Google App Rating||4.3 out of 5||4.6 out of 5|
Card Overview: Fidelity Rewards Visa
This card is targeted toward Fidelity investment account holders as a passive way to grow the amount of money they can plug into those investment vehicles.
All you have to do to earn the 2% cash back, which accrues in $50 increments, is set up an eligible Fidelity investment account and choose for the rewards money to be deposited there.
Clark says this the top card for people who are looking to invest their credit card rewards.
Here are the different types of Fidelity accounts where you can deposit your credit card rewards:
- Brokerage account
- Fidelity® Cash Management Account
- Fidelity®-managed 529 College Savings plan
- Retirement account (IRA, Roth IRA, etc.)
- Fidelity Go® account
- Fidelity Charitable® Giving Account®
Fidelity has other ways you can redeem your rewards, but in some cases, that means you drop below 2% in earnings.
Here’s a quick look at some of the other top perks to consider with this card:
- Zero Liability Fraud Protection: If your card is lost or stolen, you will not be held responsible for unauthorized charges.
- Warranty Manager Service: You can double the time period of the manufacturer warranty (up to an additional year) on purchases made with this credit card. (No longer available after 3/31/21)
- Auto Rental Damage Waiver: This card will cover damage due to collision or theft on a rental car, as long as you make your reservation and pay for the rental with this card. So you’ll be able to decline the insurance offered at the car rental counter. (No longer available after 3/31/21)
- Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Through the Visa Signature program, you can contact the number on your card for help coordinating medical, legal or travel services. You’ll also have access to Roadside Dispatch, Travel Accident Insurance and Lost Luggage Reimbursement programs as part of this card’s travel perks.
- More Visa Signature Perks: You can access shopping discounts (specialoffers.visa.com) and complimentary food and beverage discounts while staying at a hotel in the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. You’ll also have access to the 24-hour Visa Signature concierge (800-953-7392) and can gain special access to sporting, entertainment and dining events (visa.com/signature).
For more details on the Fidelity Rewards Visa, you can read Team Clark’s full review of the card here.
Card Overview: Citi Double Cash
The marketing pitch for the Citi Double Cash 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!
Unlike the Fidelity card, there are no restrictions or qualifiers on how you use your rewards.
Clark carries this card in his wallet because of the consistent, reliable cash back rewards it offers with simple, easy-to-understand terms.
Here’s a quick look at some of the other top perks to consider with this card:
- Introductory Balance Transfer Period: Citi offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers made to this card. 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).
- $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 deep dive into the Citi Double Cash, check out Team Clark’s full review of the card here.
Key Differences Between the Cards
Now that you have a good understanding of what each card brings to the table, let’s examine a couple of key differences that may help you make your decision.
Both of these cards can return you an unlimited 2% cash back on all of your spending, but they take different paths to get there.
The good news is that neither has annoying category spending requirements.
But the “bad news” is that you’re still going to need to do some financial goal analysis to see which of these cards is best for you.
To get the full 2% back from the Fidelity card, you have to commit to investing the rewards on things like retirement, college savings or your general investment portfolio.
The Double Cash carries no such qualifiers on your intentions for your cash to get the full 2%, but there are hoops to jump through here as well.
With the reward policy of 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay the balance, you’re going to have to be diligent about paying your balance in full each month to ensure you’re claiming all of your rewards with the Citi card.
Keep in mind that Team Clark recommends these credit cards only if you’re planning to pay the balance in full. Rewards credit cards can do more harm than good if you regularly carry a large balance. If you fall into that category, Clark recommends getting a credit card from your local credit union that has a fixed, low APR.
Balance Transfer Offer
If you are carrying a high-interest balance on a credit card already in your wallet, the Citi Double Cash may offer you a reprieve that the Fidelity Rewards cannot.
Citi offers a very competitive 18-month 0% APR period on balance transfers if you make the transfer within the first 120 days of owning the card.
You’ll have to pay a fee equal to 3% of the amount of money you’re transferring (minimum of $5), but it will buy you 18 months’ worth of interest-free payments on that debt.
Depending on the amount of debt you’re carrying, that could save you hundreds of dollars in interest.
Team Clark recommends using that 18-month period as an opportunity to set up a plan for eliminating that debt from your life for good.
Mastercard vs. Visa
If you’re serious about the details of your credit card perks, it may make a difference to you that the Fidelity card runs on the Visa Signature platform while the Citi Double Cash runs on Mastercard.
Differences can include both the types of perks available (warranties, discounts, etc.) and the amount of time or terms on the offers.
Most of those differences are fleshed out in the detailed reviews we have on each card.
From a spending perspective, Visa and Mastercard are the two most accepted card payment methods in the country, so there should be no issues there.
You really can’t go wrong with either of these cash-back credit cards.
Both receive the full endorsement of Clark Howard, with the Citi Double Cash actually finding its way into his wallet in 2020.
Each one gives unlimited 2% cash back with no category limits, placing them among the very best cash back rewards cards.
Both cards are also great for credit card users who are interested in investing or saving their rewards.
If you plan to specifically set aside your credit card rewards for saving or investing, the Fidelity card is probably the right choice.
If you plan to use those rewards for other types of spending, you’re likely better off with the Citi Double Cash.
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