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August 14, 2017

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Citi Double Cash

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Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you 1.5% cash back, while the Citi Double Cash earns 1% cash back twice. Which is better? Learn the surprising truth.

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Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Double Cash both offer above-average cash back rewards. Both have no rotating categories and no annual fee. Both make great options for everyday spending.

One card gives a flat 1.5% cash back for all purchases. The other card has the potential to earn more, but has some downsides you should not ignore.

Read on to find out which is better for you.

Overview: Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Double Cash


Chase Freedom Unlimited

Citi Double Cash


Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 monthsN/A
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months0%* introductory APR for 18 months*
Purchase APR16.74% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.24% to 25.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR16.74% to 25.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.24% to 25.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic!Cash Back Rewards: Earn cash back twice on every purchase: 1% cash back when you buy; plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
 Apply NowApply Now

Citi Double Cash: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees was obtained on June 19, 2018 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi® Double Cash Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Before we get into the meat of the comparisons, let's do a quick rundown of how the cards work:

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You also get a $150 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months of account opening.

  • Citi Double Cash gives you 1% cash back on all purchases, and another 1% cash back when you make payments. It does not offer a sign-up bonus.

Why the Chase Freedom Unlimited Is Better

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Apply for Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is very tempting because of the generous sign-up bonus. Here are reasons why you may prefer it.

  • $150 bonus offer. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is currently offering a sign-up bonus of $150 after you spend $500 within the first three months of account opening. This is a generous offer for a card with no annual fee. The spending requirement is low, too. If you need a bit of extra cash fast, this deal is hard to beat.

  • Earn an extra $25 for adding an authorized user. On top of that, you can earn an extra $25.00 for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase within the first three months. That means in total, you can earn up to a $175.00 bonus.

  • Earn Ultimate Rewards points. You get your rewards in the form of Ultimate Rewards points. On their own, the points are worth cash back at 1 cent each. However, if you have one of the premier UR cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred), you can pool your points. This will then allow you to transfer them 1:1 to an airline or hotel partner, or use points to purchase travel on the Chase travel portal at a discount.

    Even if you don't have one of the premier cards yet, think about if you'd eventually get one. This would get you in the Ultimate Rewards family, where you can later redeem for travel at greater value.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. You get a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (and then the APR is 16.74% - 25.49% Variable). Citi Double Cash has no intro APR on purchases. So the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the better choice if you're planning on making some big purchases and need time to pay them off.

    However, if you need to transfer a balance from another card, the Double Cash may be better. We'll go over that below.

Why the Citi Double Cash Is Better

The Citi Double Cash can potentially give you more cash back. The perks include:

  • Ability to get rewarded twice. You receive 1% cash back when you make a purchase and an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases.

  • No late fee for paying late, once. This is a small little perk that could come in handy. Most of us are guilty of forgetting to pay a bill from time to time. Citi Double Cash will give you a pass and not charge a late fee for the first late payment.

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. The 0% intro APR for balance transfer is longer at 18 months (and then the APR of 15.24% - 25.24%* (Variable)). The balance transfer fee is also lower at 3% (compared to 5% for the Freedom Unlimited) - both with a $5 minimum. So if you do have a larger balance to transfer, it'd cost less with the Citi Double Cash and you'd get slightly longer to pay it off interest-free.

    Tip: If your priority is to pay back debt and you have a large balance to transfer, consider credit card with no balance transfer fee instead.

Downsides to Both Cards

Beware of these potential downsides for both cards.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited:

With the Citi Double Cash Card:

  • No sign-up bonus. This could a major turn off for some. You'll have to spend and make payments on $7,500 on the Citi Double Cash to get $150 in cash back (whereas you get $150 as a bonus for just spending $500 on the Chase Freedom Unlimited within the first 3 months of opening your account).

    Thinking of signing up for a new card? Check out best credit card promotions.

  • $25 minimum for redemption. You can only redeem rewards after you have accrued $25 in rewards. There is no minimum for redemption with the Freedom Unlimited.

  • Rewards expire. They expire after 12 months if there is no account activity.

  • No intro APR for purchases. It's not ideal if you're planning on some large purchases (unless you can pay them off right away).

  • 3% foreign transaction fee.

When Does It Make Sense to Choose One over the Other?

Let's say you are able to pay off your balance each month. So which is better?

The 1% + 1% from the Citi Double Cash sounds like more than the flat 1.5% from Chase Freedom Unlimited. But remember that the Freedom Unlimited has a potential sign-up bonus.

We've done the math. You would have to spend over $30,000 in order to start earning more rewards with the Citi Double Cash. Here's how it works.

  • With Chase Freedom Unlimited:
    $30,000 x 1.5% = $450 cash back
    $450 + $150 sign-up bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months = $600 total cash back

  • With Citi Double Cash
    $30,000 x (1% + 1%) = $600 total cash back

Note: that this is assuming that you pay off your balance to get the full second 1% cash back with Citi Double Cash, and that you meet the $500 spending requirement to get the $150 bonus for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Bottom Line

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So, should you get the Citi Double Cash or the Chase Freedom Unlimited?

Both the Citi Double Cash and Chase Freedom Unlimited are good options when it comes to no annual fee, cash back credit cards.

If you have other Chase credit cards or want the sign-up incentive, then the Freedom Unlimited will probably be the better choice. Ultimate Rewards points are valuable as they have the potential to be worth more.

If you're a heavy spender and pay off your card in full each money, you may find the Citi Double Cash more rewarding. But remember that there's no sign-up bonus and rewards expire after 12 months of inactivity.

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Apply for Chase Freedom Unlimited
At Chase's Secure Site
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom and Citi® Double Cash Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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