Citi Double Cash Complete Guide

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Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash card keeps getting better!  It started its life as a simple fee-free 2% cash back card (which confusingly was advertised as 1% + 1% back).  At that time it was a fine choice for 2% back, but then it went on a roller coaster ride where it got worse, then better, and now even better…

Worse at first: One of the things that used to set the Double Cash card apart from the competition was Citi’s very strong purchase protections such as Extended Warranty, Price Rewind, and more.  Sadly, Citi removed all of these benefits in September, 2019.

Then better: Shortly after dropping purchase protections in September 2019, Citi added the ability to transfer cash back to ThankYou points.  Combined with certain other Citi cards, this made the Double Cash’s rewards more flexible and more rewarding for travel.

Here’s everything you need to know…

Application Tips

Should you apply?

In my opinion, the Double Cash is one of the most rewarding cards available.  For most people I recommend getting the card.

The Citi Double Cash rarely has a signup bonus.  As a result, you may be better off product changing from another consumer Citibank card to the Double Cash card (call Citi to make the change).  One warning: some Citi cards have 24 month restrictions against getting a bonus for the same or a similar card.  For example, the Citi Premier bonus has this restriction:

Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+℠, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.

The reason this is important here is that if you product change from one of the listed ThankYou cards to the Double Cash card, Citi will record the event as if you closed the ThankYou card account.  That will then reset the clock and you’ll have to wait 24 months before you can qualify for a bonus on a new ThankYou card.

Let’s say, for example, that you have the Prestige card and you want to product change it to the Double Cash, and suppose it has been more than 24 months since you’ve signed up for or cancelled any other Citi ThankYou cards.  In that case, I’d recommend first signing up for another ThankYou card with a good bonus (such as the Citi Premier which has a 60K offer at the time of this writing), and then product change the Prestige to the Double Cash afterwards.

A better choice for a product change is to change from one of Citi’s American Airlines consumer cards.  Take the AAdvantage Platinum Select card, for example.  That card has the following 48 month rule:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® account in the past 48 months.

Notice that cancelling an AAdvantage card does not reset the 48 month clock.  So, if you product change from an AAdvantage card to the Citi Double Cash, Citi will record the event as if you cancelled the AAdvantage card, but that won’t hurt your future ability to sign up for that card again.

If you would rather sign up new for the Double Cash and you are near a Citi branch it makes sense to visit to see if there are any in-branch offers for the card.  If you’d rather sign up new, online, click here to find our application link.

Are you eligible?

Given that there isn’t usually a signup bonus for the Double Cash, the only eligibility criteria is whether or not you can get approved.  Compared to other issuers, Citi is usually pretty easy on approvals.

How to apply

Product change to the Double Cash card or look for a signup offer in-branch.  If you want to apply online, you can find the signup link here: Citi Double Cash Card.

Reconsideration

If your application is denied, call reconsideration here: 800-695-5171.  If the reconsideration call doesn’t work, try the Citi Credit Card Executive Office: 423-477-6858.

Citi Double Cash Disadvantages

The Citi Double Cash card isn’t perfect.  Here are the key things I don’t like about the card:

Foreign Transaction Fees

Don’t use the card outside of the United States.

No Purchase Protections

This card used to have very strong purchase protections such as Extended Warranty, Price Rewind, and more.  Sadly, Citi removed all of these benefits in September.

Perkless

This card doesn’t have any perks worth mentioning.

Rewards

Signup Bonus

This card doesn’t usually have a signup bonus, but if one is available it will appear here:

Card Offer
Citi Double Cash Card

Recent better offer: None

Spend

The best way to earn Citi Double Cash rewards is through credit card spend.  Technically, this card earns 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay your credit card bill.  I find it simpler to say that this card earns 2% cash back.  And, since rewards can be converted to ThankYou points, 2% cash back is identical to 2X ThankYou points on all spend.

The Citi Double Cash card is particularly good for “non bonus” spend.  For example, some cards earn bonuses at restaurants, some at grocery stores, some at gas stations, etc.  The Double Cash is one of the most rewarding cards for all other (not bonused) spend.

Increase Spend

Our Manufactured Spending Complete Guide lists many ways to increase credit card spend to earn more rewards.  Here are a few examples that are particularly rewarding with the Double Cash card:

  • Pay bills with Plastiq: Plastiq charges 2.85% to pay most bills by credit card. Paying with the Double Cash card is therefore like buying ThankYou points for 1.425 cents per point.  That’s an OK deal if you plan to transfer those points to airline miles to book high value awards.
  • Pay federal taxes: You can pay your estimated federal taxes by credit card for as low as 1.87% in fees.  This is a way to buy ThankYou points for less than a penny each!
  • Buy Visa gift cards at Simon Mall: The Double Cash card is one of the most rewarding options for these purchases.

Citi Double Cash Redeem Rewards

Cash Back

By default, the Double Cash card earns cash back, not ThankYou points.  You can withdraw the cash back as a statement credit, direct deposit, or a check by mail.

Convert to ThankYou Points

Every Double Cash card has an associated ThankYou Rewards account. Unlike other ThankYou Rewards cards, the Double Cash doesn’t earn ThankYou points automatically.  You must convert your cash back to points to add points to your ThankYou account.

You can convert your earned Cash Rewards to ThankYou points at a one to one ratio.  One penny = one point.  Conversions must be a minimum of $1, but can be odd amounts after that.  For example, you can convert $1.01 to 101 ThankYou points.

Redeem for Purchased Travel

There are a few ways to get better than 1 cent per point value when redeeming ThankYou points for travel: Redeem for 1.25 cents value with the Citi Premier Card (through April 10, 2021); Or book a 4th Night Free award with the Citi Prestige Card.

You can get these benefits with points from the Double Cash card in a couple of ways:

  1. Combine ThankYou accounts: Combine your Double Cash ThankYou account with your Premier or Prestige ThankYou account. Or:
  2. Convert your Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points and then share your ThankYou points with the ThankYou account that has the Premier or Prestige card.

Redeem points for travel: 20% point discount (1.25 cents per point value)

This option requires the Citi Premier Card.  Book travel through the ThankYou Rewards portal for 20% fewer points than with other cards (this results in 1.25 cents per point value).  For example, a $500 flight would usually cost 50,000 points, but with the Citi Premier Card it would cost only 40,000 points.

You can book airfare, hotels, cruises, and car rentals in this way. Airfare purchased this way still earns airline miles and elite qualifying miles.  Hotels booked this way do not earn hotel rewards.  Worse, hotels booked this way often won’t offer you elite benefits even if you have status.  Also, be sure to compare hotel prices booked through Citi with prices posted elsewhere.  Citi often has far worse pricing.

Note that this feature is available only through April 10, 2021.  See this post for details.

Redeem points for a 4 night hotel stay: 25% point discount pre-tax (up to 1.33 cents per point value)

This option requires the Citi Prestige Card.  Book a 4 Night hotel stay for the price of 3 nights (not counting taxes & fees, the 25% discount results in 1.33 cents per point value).   Hotels booked through the ThankYou portal do not earn hotel rewards.  Worse, hotels booked through the portal often won’t offer you elite benefits even if you have status.  Also, be sure to compare hotel prices booked through Citi with prices posted elsewhere.  Citi often has far worse pricing.

Be sure to compare hotel prices booked through Citi with prices posted elsewhere.  Citi often has far worse pricing.

Transfer Points to Airline Miles

The best use of ThankYou points, in my opinion, is to transfer points to airline partners in order to book high value awards.  One example is the ability to book United flights to Hawaii for only 7,500 points each.  Please check out our post which covers the best awards that can be booked with Citi ThankYou points:

>>>>>  Citi ThankYou points sweet spots <<<<<

It is usually best to wait until you find a great flight award before transferring points.  One exception: Citi often offers 25% or 30% transfer bonuses to certain programs (Air France Flying Blue and Avianca LifeMiles are two recent examples).  If you’re confident that you’ll use the points for good value, it may make sense to transfer points when those bonuses are in effect.

Current Transfer Bonuses

Transfer bonuses come and go over time.  When transfer bonuses are in effect, details will automatically appear here (when viewed online):

Transfer Bonus DetailsEnd Date Sortable

Transfer Partners

Rewards ProgramBest Uses
AeroMexico ClubPremierAeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. Club Premier points can be used to book flights on AeroMexico, SkyTeam alliance members (such as Delta or Korean Air), or on select partner airlines. Unfortunately many have reported that awards are extremely difficult to book through AeroMexico so we do not recommend transferring points to this program. If you want to fly AeroMexico, look to transfer points to another SkyTeam partner (such as Air France) and then book AeroMexico with that program.
Air France KLM Flying BlueMonthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.
Avianca LifeMilesAvianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesCathay Pacific has a decent distance based award chart, but they no longer allow stopovers longer than 24 hours. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available. For long distance flights, it is possible to reduce the cost of first class by adding on a business class flight. See this post for details.
ChoiceChoice Privileges points seem to be randomly valuable within the US, but dependably valuable internationally in expensive locations such as Scandinavia and Japan
Emirates SkywardsThe best use of Emirates miles is to fly Emirates itself. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip.
Etihad GuestEtihad has a very competitive award chart for American Airlines flights, among others.  For example, they charge only 50,000 miles one-way for business class flights from North America to Europe. Partner awards must be booked over the phone.
EVA Air Infinity MileageLandsIf you want to fly one of the best business class products in the sky, the best way to snag EVA flights is with their own miles since they release more award space to their own members. One-way business class flights from the US to Taipei cost 75K to 80K miles. Fuel surcharges are very low on these routes.
Jet Airways Inter MilesJetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.
JetBlueJetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one of these cards.
Malaysia EnrichGiven Malaysia's award chart devaluation in June 2017, I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles.
Qantas Frequent FlyerBest use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Also useful for short AA flights. Qantas offers distance based award charts similar to Cathay Pacific. Both are OneWorld Alliance members. I recommend comparing award prices across both programs before transferring to either. Qantas offers round the world business class awards for only 280,000 points (but with many restrictions)
Qatar Privilege ClubQatar has reasonable award prices for flying Qatar itself, but abysmal prices for flying partners.
Shop Your Way RewardsDon't do it. Shop Your Way points can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards. That said, unless Shop Your Way starts offering discounted gift cards, there's no point in converting transferrable points to Shop Your Way.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerUse to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members), Alaska Airlines economy awards, or for Star Alliance awards (including United Airlines).
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid PlusI'm not aware of any good uses for these miles
Turkish Airlines Miles & SmilesMiles & Smiles offers a number of awesome sweet-spot awards including 7.5K one-way anywhere within the US, even to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online but can be booked via email. See: Turkish Miles & Smiles Complete Guide and Turkish business class sweet spots from the US.
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubVirgin Atlantic offers quite a few sweet spot awards including ANA first class between the US and Japan for as low as 110K points round-trip; and US to Europe on Delta One business class for only 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).
WyndhamWyndham often allows booking multi-room suites for the same price as a standard room. It's sometimes possible to get great value from points in that way. Additionally, you can book vacation rentals for only 15K points per room per night.

The Rewards+ Rebate

One way to make your rewards go farther is to get a Rewards+ card and combine it with your other accounts.  The Rewards+ card offers a 10% rebate on redeemed points, up to 10,000 points rebated per year.  By combining the Rewards+ ThankYou account with your Premier or Prestige ThankYou account, for example, you’ll get that rebate when you convert points to airline miles or when you book travel.  See this post for more: Citi Rewards+ is a great companion to Premier or Prestige.

This is also a great option to combine with the Double Cash card. By picking up a Rewards+ card and combining ThankYou accounts between the two cards, you can take advantage of the Rewards+ card’s 10% points rebate each year (on up to 100,000 redeemed points).  Let’s say you spend $25,000 on the Double Cash card and therefore earn $500 in rewards.  You can then convert those rewards to ThankYou points and redeem $500 in points for $600 worth of gift cards.  You’ll then get $50 in ThankYou points back (thanks to the Rewards+ card) which you can then use to get $60 worth of gift cards.  You’ll then get $6 in ThankYou points back.  So, for a total cost of $494 worth of ThankYou points, you’ll get $660 worth of gift cards.  In total, your $25,000 spend results in $660 in gift cards plus $6 in ThankYou points.  That’s a return of 2.66% on your spend!

Manage Rewards

Combine Rewards Across Cards

If you are the primary account holder with multiple credit cards that earn ThankYou Rewards, you can combine ThankYou Rewards accounts.  When your points are combined, they can then automatically be redeemed at the same value as your best card.  For example, if one of your cards is the Premier card, and you have combined ThankYou accounts, then you’ll get a 20% point discount on travel booked with points even if the points were earned on your Double Cash card.  Combining your Double Cash ThankYou account with the Premier or Prestige card also gives you the ability to transfer points to airline miles.

There are disadvantages to combining points:

  • You lose the ability to pick and choose which points are used when you redeem awards.
  • You lose visibility into how many points remain with each card.

Overall, I think that these disadvantages are minor.  The advantages of combining your Double Cash ThankYou account with your Premier or Prestige ThankYou account greatly outweigh to disadvantages.

Share Rewards Across Cardholders

If you don’t have a premium ThankYou card or you don’t want to combine it with your Double Cash ThankYou account, then you can opt to “share points” instead.

Citi allows people to transfer ThankYou points to anyone else, for free.  The “anyone else” includes yourself if your accounts aren’t combined.  There are two catches to this:

  1. Shared points expire after 90 days. Make sure you have a specific near-term use in mind before transferring points.
  2. 100K limit: Each member may share up to 100,000 points per calendar year.  Each member may receive up to 100,000 points per calendar year.

Why this is valuable:

  • A friend or family member with a Premier card can book travel for you in order to get the 20% point discount.
  • If a friend has airline elite status with one of Citi’s transfer partners with which you want to book an award, you may be better off transferring points to your friend who can then transfer the points to the airline partner and book the award for you (to get free award changes, for example).
  • If you haven’t combined accounts, you can still use points from your Double Cash card effectively by sharing them with your Premier or Prestige account before redeeming the points.
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ktenorman

Hi Greg – a note that I have combined Rewards+/Prestige/DoubleCash account with ThankYou and it’s been 1wk+ since I transferred cash rewards to TYP and they still haven’t shown up as points in my account. Citi’s phone reps have assured me that everything is fine but you know how little that can be worth sometimes. YMMV if you need these for an immediate redemption.

[…] you can easily get a card with no annual fee that offers 2% back everywhere (and in the case of the Citi Double Cash, you could also have the option of 2 airline miles per dollar […]

[…] new way to use your Double Cash points to earn up to 2.4% back when redeeming them for gift cards (check out this post from Frequent Miler for the details.)  You can get more value for your points if you have either a Citi Premier or Citi Prestige […]

Satforlegroom

Thanks for the insight! One technicality is that 2.4% for gift cards isn’t the same as 2.4% rebated as cash since redemption for gift cards have the opportunity cost from not earning rewards on that spend. So I’d say to get a true net value of the benefit you need to discount by the foregone benefit from paying with a gift card versus a rewards credit card.

[…] Tokyo, Australia, New Zealand, and Niue on 40K points and even the ~$650 that I spent. Greg wrote yesterday about how the Citi Double Cash may now be the best starter rewards card and he makes a pretty good argument. But despite all that, today’s post isn’t a gushing […]

Nick

Greg, there’s a huge downside to using points for statement credit I had to learn the hard way. The 2% cash back is earned 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay. Apparently using points as statement credit is not considered “when you pay” and you don’t earn the other 1% this way.

Nick Reyes

I actually always avoid taking cash back as a statement credit with any issuer to avoid this potential issue. I usually just request a check.

Anthony

– Regarding the 10% rebate when you redeem points, does that count when you transfer points to an airline as well or only for buying gift cards or using your points to book flights or hotel through their portal? I have 2 Double Cash cards right now, I did a product change to get another one with a higher credit line and will change the other into the Rewards plus.

Marty

In your first few paragraphs you state my exact scenario – I have the Prestige and was looking at PC’ing to the Double Cash for the 2%. I used to love the Prestige before they chopped the benefits and with travel (for me) down to zero, I have little use to pay for the card anymore. I’m up in November for the annual fee. I like that the DC is just a plain ol’ 2% card, with no nonsense of caps, categories, etc., etc.

I have about 25k TYP left and none of the travel partners are really exciting to me and don’t expect to travel any time soon. The unlimited 4th night free was AMAZING, not to mention the AA Lounges.. sadly, those are gone, and I doubt I’ll even be able to use a single 4th night free benefit any time soon and can’t justify the expense (even with the travel credits they offer).

I understand that if I PC to the DC, I will lose any SUB’s for 24 months. Is your advice still to get a Premier card for the SUB and then PC over to the DC?

Wasn’t sure if anything changed drastically for this scenario since your article was written.

Thanks!!

TCW

What does this mean? “If you want to fly AeroMexico, look to transfer points to another SkyTeam partner such as Air France or Delta and then book AeroMexico with one of those programs.” Are you saying we can transfer Thank You Points to AeroMexico ClubPremier points and then from AeroMexico ClubPremier points into Delta Skymiles? Or are you saying we can transfer Thank You Points directly into the Delta Skymiles program? That doesn’t seem possible.

[…] Citi’s Double Cash card is a no-brainer for most.  It has no annual fee and earns 2% cash back for all spend.  Even better, cash back can be converted to ThankYou points to make the rewards worth even more.  See this post for complete details: Citi Double Cash Complete Guide. […]