The Citi Double Cash card used to be a simple fee-free 2% cash back card. 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.
But then… something else happened in September to arguably make the Citi Double Cash the single best 2% card available: Citi added the ability to transfer cash back to ThankYou points. And since there are ways to get considerably more than 1 cent per point value from ThankYou points, the Citi Double Cash jumped to the top of many wallets.
Here’s everything you need to know…
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Should you apply?
The Double Cash is one of the most rewarding cards available and worth considering.
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 80K offer at the time of this writing), and then product change the Prestige to the Double Cash afterwards.
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.
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.
This card doesn’t have any perks worth mentioning
This card doesn’t usually have a signup bonus, but if one is available it will appear here:
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. It is 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 bonused” spend. For example, some cards earn bonuses at restaurants, some at grocery stores, some at gas stations, etc. The Double Cash is good choice for any purchases you make.
Here are a few examples that are particularly rewarding with the Double Cash card:
- Pay bills with Plastiq: Plastiq charges 2.5% to pay most bills by credit card. Paying with the Double Cash card is therefore like buying ThankYou points at only 1.25 cents per point. That’s a great 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!
Citi Double Cash Redeem Rewards
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.
Important: It is not a good idea to convert cash back to ThankYou points unless you or someone you trust has a premium ThankYou card (such as the Citi Premier or Prestige) which can be used to make points more valuable. By itself, Double Cash ThankYou points are rarely even worth a penny each.
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; Or book a 4th Night Free award with the Citi Prestige Card; Or combine both of these for up to 1.67 cents per point value.
You can get these benefits with points from the Double Cash card in a couple of ways:
- Combine ThankYou accounts: Combine your Double Cash ThankYou account with your Premier or Prestige ThankYou account. Or:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
|Partner||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time||Best Uses|
|AeroMexico ClubPremier||1:1||Almost instant||AeroMexico 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. 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.|
|Avianca Lifemiles||1:1||Almost Instant||Avianca 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|
|Air France / KLM Flying Blue||1:1||2 days||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.|
|Cathay Pacific||1:1||24 hours||Cathay Pacific has a fairly generous distance based award chart and allows multiple stopovers. Fuel surcharges can be very high on certain routes. 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.|
|Emirates||1:1||Almost instantly||Emirates offers a miles calculator instead of an award chart. But you can find some great offers such as trips to Japan via JAL business class for only 145,00 miles, etc.|
|Etihad Airways||1:1||6 days||Etihad 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 Air1||1:1||2 days||If 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||1:1||Almost Instantly||JetAirways 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.|
|JetBlue TrueBlue™||1:0.08||Almost Instantly||JetBlue 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.|
|Malaysia Airlines||1:1||2 days||No good uses for these miles.|
|Qantas Airways||1:1||2 days||Best 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. Compare 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 Airways||1:1||2 days||No good uses for these miles.|
|Singapore Airlines||1:1||2 days||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.|
|Thai Airways||1:1||4 days||No good uses for these miles|
|Turkish Airlines||1:1||1- 2 days||Miles & Smiles offers an incredible sweet spot award: 7.5K one-way anywhere within the US, even to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online, but can be booked via email.|
|Virgin Atlantic® Flying Club||1:1||2 days||Virgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.|
The Rewards+ Rebate
One way to make your rewards go farther is to get a Rewards+ card and combine it with your Citi Premier or Prestige account. 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, you’ll get that rebate when you convert points to airline miles or when you book travel.
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, 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:
- Shared points expire after 90 days. Make sure you have a specific near-term use in mind before transferring points.
- 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.