There's no better time to be a credit card rewards junkie than right now. There are so many amazing sign-up bonus offers and new cards with rich features that it's a bit dizzying. But with many of these credit cards, you need to think carefully about where you spend the most money in order to choose the right one for you. And when you have a few different reward cards, you have to remember which one to use in which situation to get the maximum benefit.
Let's say this is what your wallet looks like: There's the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which gets you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases; and the Discover it® Balance Transfer card, which offers 5% cash back on rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
These are all excellent credit cards, and if you're the type of person who has the time to carefully strategize and remember which card to use for each purchase, you can definitely reap a lot of rewards in terms of cash back and points for airline travel.
But that can get exhausting for people who don't want to think about what credit card to use every time they go to make a purchase, or to pour over your purchases to determine the best card for your needs. What's more, it can be frustrating to realize you left money on the table when you accidentally use the wrong card.
Enter the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer.
I've had this credit card for a few years now, and I absolutely love it—because I never have to think too hard about what card to use when. I know that I'm going to get a total of 2% cash back on every single purchase I make. Sure, when I need to book travel, I may use one of my other cards to turbocharge my rewards, but this one is my go-to for everyday purchases because it offers one of the best cash back rates around.
How the Card Works
Annual Fee: None
APR: 15.49 — 25.49% (Variable)
The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer rewards structure is a little different from most credit cards. First, you earn 1% cash back on every single purchase you make. Then, when you pay off your balance each month, you earn another 1%. It's great incentive to make sure you're paying off the card because you get some free money in the process. There are no caps on the number of awards you can earn.
And a flat 2% cash back rate is one of the best around, especially without an annual fee. Other cash back cards often offer 1.5% flat cash back. Even cards like Discover and Chase Freedom that offer 5% cash back on rotating categories only offer 1% back on everything else, so sometimes your earnings could end up just being a wash.
The rewards are easy to use, as well. You have the option of getting a gift card, statement credit, direct deposit or check, and you don't have to redeem them in certain increments or when you have a minimum amount. If you earned $17.03 in rewards during one billing period, you can immediately get $17.03 back.
Another feature I've taken advantage of is Citi's Price Rewind program, which conducts a 60-days search for a lower price on something you've bought with the card. If there's a better deal available, even after the fact, Citi will refund up to $500 back per item and up to $2,500 per year. You must register the products you want Price Rewind to scan.
Finally, Citi is currently offering one of the best balance transfer rates available: 0% introductory APR for 18 months, plus a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. (Balance transfers must be completed within four months of opening the account.) After that, the variable APR will be 15.49 — 25.49% (Variable) based on your creditworthiness.
Some Drawbacks to Consider
While it is an excellent flat-rate cash back card, it's not perfect. There's no lucrative sign-up bonus for opening an account—in fact, there's no sign-up bonus at all. I was mostly OK with that because I took advantage of a sign-up bonus on my travel rewards card. But some users may be tempted by some of the hefty bonus offers out there.
Finally, the interest rate on this card is definitely somewhat high. So if you carry a credit card balance or miss a payment, you're going to be paying a lot more than you would on another card. That would also wipe out much of the cash back rewards you'd earn.
That doesn't matter to me—I never carry a balance, so I simply reap the rewards. But if you're worried about not being able to pay it off in full occasionally, then you're probably better off with a different card that offers a lower interest rate.
You can find more cash back credit cards here.