The Citi® Double Cash Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ are both household names in the cashback card space, but they fundamentally differ in one important way. The Citi® Double Cash Card is a flat-rate cashback card, offering 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% as you pay them off. Meanwhile, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a rotating-bonus-category card, offering 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined bonus spending in different categories each quarter, then 1%.
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Other differences: Citi’s card is superior for balance transfers, offering 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then 15.49% to 25.49% variable. Meanwhile, Chase’s card offers an intro APR on purchases, as well as new flat-rate categories in travel, restaurants and drugstores it received in September 2020.
The winner: Chase Freedom Flex℠
If you want the highest flat rewards on the market and you value simplicity, its tough to do better than the Citi® Double Cash Card. But the recent flat-rate additions to the Freedom Flex have greatly increased its value, particularly if you spend a lot on dining and travel. Combined with the accelerated earning of the rotating cashback categories, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a pound-for-pound value behemoth.
Citi® Double Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠ breakdown
When choosing a card that’s right for you, it’s important to compare the benefits and determine which card comes out on top and which benefits you prioritize most for your spending needs. Let’s have a look at how each card performs in a few categories.
Best signup bonus: Chase Freedom Flex℠
There’s no contest here: the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a $200 signup bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months of account opening, plus you earn 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year. This does not include purchases made at Walmart or Target. Combine the two and you get a $200 back during the first year. The Citi® Double Cash Card, on the other hand, offers no signup bonus at all.
When it comes to cashback cards, a signup bonus typically isn’t as important as the long-term value produced by the card’s earning categories. So let’s move on and get to the meat of this face-off: the cash back.
Best cash back: Tie
Unfortunately, picking a clear winner between the two of these cards is tough. That’s because which card you pick ultimately comes down to your spending. The Citi® Double Cash Card is a flat-rate card, with one of the highest rates on the market at that. This means so long as you keep up on your payments, you’ll earn a cool 2% back on all purchases with no cap. This makes the card great for everyday spending throughout the year for your standard consumer — no need to juggle timing windows or earning caps to maximize your rewards.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠, on the other hand, is a rotating category cashback card. It earns a higher cash back rate at 5%, but only on certain categories that rotate out throughout the year. You’ll also only be able to earn this larger rate up to a spending cap, about $1,500 in combined purchases for that quarter. Add the 5% cashback at grocery stores during your first year and the 5% back on Lyft rides until March 31, 2022, and you’re looking at bigger returns on your spending.
Best intro APR: Chase Freedom Flex℠
We’ve given the nod to the Chase Freedom Flex℠ for two reasons: Its purchase intro APR offer fits in rather naturally with what you’ll be doing with the card anyway – making purchases and shooting for your signup bonus. And the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers the same intro period of time for both purchases and balance transfers.
Citi’s conundrum is you really shouldn’t use a card that’s received a balance transfer to make purchases until you pay off your transferred debt. That means if you use your Citi® Double Cash Card for a balance transfer, you won’t be earning any cash back with the card until you pay off your balance (and balance transfer payments don’t earn you cash back.) But another way to frame the Citi® Double Cash Card is as a solid balance transfer card with excellent ongoing cash back. And that’s a rarity when it comes to balance transfer cards.
Best additional perks and features: Tie
One thing not necessarily apparent when you’re looking at the Chase Freedom Flex℠ features is that it actually earns Ultimate Reward points. You can trade these in for a statement credit, but you can also redeem them on travel, gift cards, or transfer them to another Chase card. If you transfer them to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can then transfer them to Chase travel partner, which can significantly boost the value of your rewards with the Chase Freedom Flex℠. The downside: you need to invest in another Chase card and put in some research and work to take full advantage.
The Citi® Double Cash Card comes with Citi Entertainment, which grants access to presale tickets or VIP packages for sports, concerts and more. This is a nice, simplistic perk that can offer some value if you enjoy concerts and dining. And of course, you get this value with just one card.
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