Travel rewards often steal the spotlight when it comes to credit card perks and rewards, but a great cash-back rewards credit card can likely find a place in just about anyone's wallet.
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are both strong choices for a cash-back credit card. Neither charges an annual fee and both offer an introductory 0% APR period (the terms differ and details are below) and flexible redemption options that could even allow you to make your cash-back card function as a kind of travel rewards card. In other words, they're worth checking out no matter what your credit card rewards goals. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser
At first glance, the cards look almost identical, but there is a key difference in how each card awards cash back. Keep reading for more about that difference as well as all the details you need to know about the cards' terms and benefits.
Rewards earning rates
These cards are both marketed as cash-back rewards cards, but they earn at different rates.
With Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer, cardholders earn 1% cash back upon making a purchase and then another 1% back when they pay for those purchases, so it's effectively 2% cash back on every purchase along with a healthy incentive to pay off your balance each month.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders, on the other hand, earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase as well as 5% cash back on grocery store purchases for your first year as a cardholder (up to $12,000 spent and excluding Target and Walmart purchases).
New cardholder cash-back bonus
If a new cardholder bonus is what you're looking for, Chase Freedom Unlimited® takes the prize with a welcome bonus $200 to new cardholders who spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
New Citi® Double Cash cardholders, however, do not have a new cardholder bonus to look forward to as the card doesn't offer one.
Cash-back redemption options
Both Citi® Double Cash and Chase Freedom Unlimited® call themselves "cash-back rewards cards"; however, there are some flexible redemption options available with both.
Both cards allow cardholders to redeem for statement credit, check, direct deposit and gift cards. The both also allow cardholders to convert rewards to their respective points programs. For Citi® Double Cash, that means you can convert your rewards into ThankYou Points®, Citi's travel rewards (and other options) program. You can find out more about the program in our Guide to Citi ThankYou® Points.
Freedom Unlimited® cardholders, likewise, can redeem their cash back as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, Chase's points program. In both cases, you can combine your rewards with points you're earning through other Citi or Chase points-earning cards. In the case of Freedom Unlimited®, combining your points under a Chase Sapphire Reserve® card or a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) would make those points worth 50% or 25% more, respectively, when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
Interest rates and fees
Choosing a credit card is, of course, about more than just rewards. You'll want to consider the fees and interest rates as well.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers no annual fee and an introductory APR offer of 0% for the first 15 months on purchases (then, 14.99 - 23.74% Variable).
Citi® Double Cash also offers an intro 0% APR, but this one is for balance transfers and extends for 18 months. It does charge a balance transfer fee of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. This fee is quite typical when it comes to balance transfers.
One thing to consider for both cards is that they both charge foreign transaction fees. That means neither is your best choice for your travels abroad.
Should I get Citi® Double Cash or Chase Freedom Unlimited®?
The chart below provides an at-a-glance look at how the Citi® Double Cash Card compares to Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Both cards routinely make the CardRatings picks for Best credit cards, so we consider either option to be a good choice. It might come down to whether you need an introductory 0% APR on purchases or balance transfers.
Citi Double Cash® vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
No traditional new cardholder bonus
$200 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months after opening account
Earn 1% cash back when you make your purchases and another 1% back when you pay for them, effectively meaning you can earn 2% cash back on every purchase
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Also, earn 5% cash back on grocery store (excluding Target and Walmart) purchases up to $12,000 spent during your first year as a cardholder
Cash back rewards will expire if you haven't earned any cash back on purchases or on payments for 12 months. Rewards can be redeemed for:
- Request a check for deposit into a bank account (minimum redemption is $25)
- Statement credit (minimum redemption is $25)
- Gift cards
- Direct deposit to a Citi savings or checking account OR any checking account from which you've made at least two Citi credit card bill payments
- Convert cash back to ThankYou® Points under a ThankYou® Points earning card, such as the Citi Rewards+℠ Card
Cash back rewards do not expire so long as account is open and there is no minimum for redemption. Rewards can be redeemed for:
- Cash back as a statement credit or direct deposit
- Gift cards
- Travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Amazon purchases
- Apple Ultimate Rewards® Store purchases
Enjoy 0% intro APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Enjoy 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases, then 14.99 - 23.74% Variable
3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
24/7 Citi concierge
Travel notice monitors your account to check for possible fraudulent activity
Auto rental collision damage waiver
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
Travel and emergency assistance services
- Zero liability protection against unauthorized charges
- Virtual account numbers for secure online purchases
- Zero liability protection
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase protection for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per year
Citi® Quick Lock allows you to instantly lock your card aginst new purchases via the app or Citi online
- Paperless statements
24/7 access to customer service specialist
Embedded chip technology
- Paperless statements
For a full synopsis of each card, see our review of the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer and Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.