Citi has just launched an all-new cash back credit card and it is actually quite compelling. With the Citi® Double Cash Card, as the name suggests you earn cash back twice:
- 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make
- Plus an additional 1% unlimited cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time.
This all comes with no caps, no category restrictions, no quarterly enrollment hoops, no rotating categories. All with no annual fee. The only way you don’t get your 1% + 1% total is if you default on your bill and don’t even make the minimum payments. You can redeem your cash rewards in full as soon as it totals $25 or more, via check or statement credit (i.e. if you have $31.44, you can get a check for $31.44).
So is this a 2% cashback card? Imagine you put $100 on the charge, 1% is earned so you have $1. Then you redeem that $1 (ignore minimums for this example) for a statement credit (as opposed to paper check) which means Citi actually “paid” for $1 of the $100. So you pay the remaining $99 and get an additional 1% or $0.99 back. Final tally: $1.99 back on $100 in purchases, or 1.99% back.
- If you ask for your cash rewards in the form if a statement credit, you’ll get 1.99% effective cash back.
- If you ask for your cash rewards in the form of a check, you’ll get the full 2% total cash back.
If you charged $1,000 per month, the difference between 1.99% and 2% per month would be a whopping 10 cents per month, or 1.20 per year.
There have been flat 2% cards in the past (Fidelity Mastercard, Sallie Mae, Priceline) but they are all no longer open to new applicants. However, most existing cardholders were grandfathered in, so based on that precedent you may want to get this card while it is still offered. Based on call with a Citi phone rep, you cannot convert an existing Citi card to this one at this time.
(Added 10/2014: According to various online reports, certain existing Citi cardholders can now convert their card to this Citi Double Cash card. Most success stories involve Citi Dividend and Citi ThankYou cards. Many Dividend holders got to keep their cash rewards balances; ThankYou cardholders must still have another linked ThankYou card or risk losing unused points. Some people got to keep their old number, but you may get a new number especially if your current card isn’t a Mastercard. Many rejection stories involve the Citi Forward or Citi Simplicity cards. While there is uncertainty, it does appear worth a shot if you are interested. Converted cards are not eligible for the 0% interest for 15 months mentioned below. Call the number on the back of your card.)
Obviously, you’ll want to pay in full every month (unless taking advantage of the 0% APR promo rate on purchases) as to not rack up interest charges which can quickly offset your cashback rewards.
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99%, 15.99%, 18.99%, 20.99%, and 22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Bottom line. Given the combination of the ability to get 2% flat cashback on all purchases, no annual fee, and the fact that it is a Mastercard which has the widest acceptance, the Citi Double Cash is a great rewards card to keep in your wallet, both for those who prefer simplicity and just want one card and for those who like optimizing multiple cards and can now establish a 2% minimum on everything. I don’t know of any other card that offers this combination of features.