Citi Double Cash Complete Guide (2.4% back everywhere via gift cards!)

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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.

Then even better: We have now learned that Shop Your Way points can be used to buy gift cards for a large selection of merchants.  This is interesting because Citi ThankYou points can be converted to Shop Your Way points with a 20% increase in value.  This is true even if you only have the no-fee Double Cash card.  So, indirectly, you can now convert Double Cash rewards to gift cards with 20% more value.  For example, if you convert $25 worth of Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points, you can then convert those $25 in ThankYou points to $30 in Shop Your Way points and buy a $30 gift card for any of a large number of merchants including Walmart, eBay, and more.  See: On my mind: Shop Your Way gift cards are a BIG deal and Maximizing value from Shop Your Way gift cards.

  • 2.4% Everywhere: By converting Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points and then to Shop Your Way points and then to gift cards, you end up with 20% more value.  This means that while the Double Cash continues to earn 2% cash back for all spend, you can think of it as earning 2.4% in gift card rewards for all spend.  That’s a fantastic rewards rate for a fee-free card!
  • Up to 2.66% Everywhere: 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.  All together, 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!

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:

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 Gift Cards with 20% bonus

ThankYou points can be redeemed directly for gift cards through the ThankYou portal, but you’ll only get 1 cent per point value that way (except when they offer a discount, which they do occasionally).  A better option is through Shop Your Way points.  This is a multi-step process:

  1. Convert Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points
  2. Convert ThankYou points to Shop Your Way points (which offers an automatic 20% increase in value)
  3. Use Shop Your Way points to buy gift cards: shopyourway.com/giftcards

Note that gift cards purchased through Shop Your Way are available only in very specific denominations.  I recommend deciding which gift cards you want before converting ThankYou points.  Then, figure out how many ThankYou points you need to convert by dividing the gift card amount (in pennies) by 1.2.  For example, if you want a $30 gift card, you can divide 3000 pennies by 1.2 to get 2,500.  That’s how many Thank You points you must transfer to Shop Your Way.

In my experience, both transferring points and buying gift cards are quick.  Point transfers are usually complete within a minute or two.  And when I’ve used Shop Your Way points to buy gift cards, I’ve received the card details by email within a couple of minutes as well.

For more details about buying gift cards with Shop Your Way Rewards, see: Guide to Shop Your Way Gift Cards.

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 ProgramCiti Transfer RatioBest Uses
AeroMexico ClubPremier1 to 1AeroMexico 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 Blue1 to 1
(instant)
Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.
Avianca LifeMiles1 to 1
(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. See this post for details.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1
(instant)
Cathay Pacific has a decent distance based award chart, but as of April 2020 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.
Emirates Skywards1 to 1Emirates has different award charts for each airline partner. Sometimes they allow one-way awards, sometimes they do not. In general, award prices are fairly high, but there are a few sweet spots such as New York to Milan for 90K round trip in business class.
Etihad Guest1 to 1
(~1 week)
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 Air Infinity MileageLands1 to 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 JetPrivilege1 to 1
(instant)
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.
JetBlue1 to 1
(instant)
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 (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 or both cards.
Malaysia Enrich1 to 1
(~2 days)
Given Malaysia's award chart devaluation in June 2017, I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles.
Qantas Frequent Flyer1 to 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. 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 Club1 to 1
(~2 days)
Given Qatar's award chart devaluation plus the addition of award booking fees in May 2018, I'm not aware of any particularly good uses for these miles.
Shop Your Way Rewards1 to 12Shop Your Way points can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards including Walmart, EBay, and more. For details, see our Guide to Shop Your Way Gift Cards.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 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 International Royal Orchid Plus1 to 1
(~1 week)
I'm not aware of any good uses for these miles
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1 to 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 Club1 to 1
(instant)
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. Virgin Atlantic also offers great award prices for Air France premium economy awards.

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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