Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Citi Double Cash: Choose Freedom Unlimited for Maximum Rewards

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Our Pick
Good for Maximizing Rewards
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
Rewards rate:

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. 1.5% on all other purchases.

Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Good for Flat Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.9/5)
Citi® Double Cash Card
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Citi® Double Cash Card
Editor’s Score: (4.9/5)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

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  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    17.24% – 25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Rewards rate:

    Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service. 1.5% on all other purchases.

  • Intro offer:
    $200 Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    16.99% – 26.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Rewards rate:

    Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Valuable first-year bonus
  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off large purchases over time
Cons
  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Travel bonus rewards only apply to travel booked through Chase
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Great limited time welcome offer
  • Flat cash back on every purchase
  • 18-month 0% intro APR for balance transfers (16.99% to 26.99% variable APR thereafter)
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5)
  • Delayed cash back rewards if you carry a balance
Additional Card Details
Additional Card Details
  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 17.24% – 25.99%. interest thereafter; intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass, followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by 12/31/24)
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
Additional Card Details
  • Extra incentive to pay down your balance in full: You’ll earn only 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and the other 1% when you pay it off
  • 18-month 0% intro period on balance transfers, 16.99% to 26.99% variable APR thereafter
  • Redeem cash back for statement credits, direct deposit, check, or convert cash back value to Citi ThankYou points
  • Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening and a 3% ($5 minimum) fee applies, After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5)
NextAdvisor’s Take

The Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Citi Double Cash Card both have flat cash back rewards and no annual fee. If you most favor simplicity, the Citi Double Cash is a great option with 2% cash back (1% as you buy, 1% as you pay off purchases) on everything. But the Chase Freedom Unlimited can offer a better value for most people. Both cards come with a welcome bonus, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers tiered cash back rewards that let you earn up to 5% on select categories, in addition to 1.5% flat cash back on non-bonus spending and access to Chase Ultimate Rewards.

You don’t have to pay an annual fee to get great returns on your spending — but with numerous high-earning cash back credit cards on the market, it can be a challenge to determine which one might serve you best.

For example, is it better to earn more rewards in frequent spending categories? Or would you be better off with a card that lets you earn a higher rate on everything you buy? Two of our favorite examples of these different cash back types are the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Citi® Double Cash Card — both of which make our ranking of the best cash back credit cards this year.

Here’s how these cards stack up in terms of benefits and rewards, and how you can decide between the two.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Chase Freedom UnlimitedCiti Double Cash Card
Annual Fee$0$0
Welcome OfferEarn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)Earn $200 after spending $1,500 within the first six months of account opening
Cash Back Rewards• 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards

• 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025)

• 3% back at restaurants and drugstores

• 1.5% back on everything else
• 2% back on everything you buy — 1% when a purchase is made and another 1% when it is paid off
Other Benefits• 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 17.24% to 25.99%, intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days

• 3 complimentary months of DashPass membership (Activate by Dec 31, 2024)

• Purchase protection

• Extended warranty

• Secondary auto rental coverage

• Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

• Travel and emergency assistance services
• 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24%

• Citi Entertainment benefits

• Citi Identity Theft Solutions

Bonus Comparison

Chase Freedom Unlimited comes out ahead in this category, as the only one in this pair that offers a welcome bonus. When you sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy, on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.

This bonus easy to earn and pretty generous, giving you the potential to earn up to $300 cash back.

The Citi Double Cash has a limited-time $200 welcome bonus after spending $1,500 within the first six months of account opening, equaling to $250 each month.

Rewards and Benefits Comparison

There can be a lot to unpack when you’re comparing these two cards’ rewards structures. 

To start, both earn a minimum flat cash back rate on every purchase. The Citi Double Cash gives you 2% back on everything you buy — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. The Chase Freedom Unlimited only offers 1.5% back on regular spending.

However, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has several additional bonus rewards in everyday spending categories. The additional categories — 5% back on travel booked with Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022), and 3% back at restaurants and drugstores can all help you rack up a lot more over time if you spend in those categories regularly.

It’s also worth noting the different ways you can redeem rewards with these cards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with several redemption options. You can use rewards for statement credits, cash back, gift cards, merchandise, or travel through Chase. You can also pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with a Chase Sapphire travel credit card that earns boosted points value when you redeem for travel. If you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, you can transfer your Freedom Unlimited points to that card account and pool your rewards together for a 25% boost when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards or unlock the option to transfer your points to airline and hotel partners affiliated with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Citi Double Cash redemptions are similar, but lack the same breadth of options and points boost when paired. You can redeem Citi Double Cash rewards for a check, statement credit or credit to a linked account once you have at least $25 in rewards in your account. You can also convert your rewards to Citi ThankYou points once you have a rewards balance of at least $1, and redeem them for cash back, gift cards or even payments to a student loan or a mortgage. If you have a Citi travel card like the Citi Premier® Card, you can pool your points in your Citi Premier account for transfers to Citi retail partners or airline partners like Air France/Flying Blue or Virgin Atlantic.

APRs

These cards have comparable ongoing interest rates, but their introductory offers are very different. Chase Freedom Unlimited offers an introductory APR for both purchases and balance transfers, while the Citi Double Cash Card has a longer introductory offer for balance transfers only.

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 17.24% to 25.99%, intro balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days
  • Citi Double Cash: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24%

The best offer for you depends on what you’re looking for — financing a large upcoming purchase over time, or paying down existing debt — but you will need a plan to use either offer before you apply. 

Pro Tip

Balance transfers and rewards don’t always mix well — it’s hard to pay down debt when you’re also charging purchases to a card. If you plan to consolidate debt with a balance transfer, you should avoid using credit cards for purchases until you’re debt-free.

Either way, it’s crucial to remember introductory rates don’t last forever. If you don’t pay off eligible balances before the introductory offer on your card ends, you’ll be stuck paying off debt at your assigned regular variable APR. And because both cards have high ongoing interest rates, make sure you have a plan to pay your balances in full and on time each month.

Fees

Both of these cash back credit cards come with a $0 annual fee and 3% balance transfer fee. The Citi Double Cash has a 3% intro balance transfer fee (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening, after that 5% of each transfer (minimum $5). The Chase Freedom Unlimited has an intro balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Citi Double Cash Card also come with the same 3% foreign transaction fee, as well as a 5% (minimum $10) cash advance fee.

Our Choice
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    17.24% – 25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
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Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

Editor’s Score: (4.9/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $200 Cash Back
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    16.99% – 26.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
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Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro offer:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    17.24% – 25.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site

Deciding Between Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi Double Cash

At the end of the day, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has the potential for higher earning power between these two cards. Not only does it come with the opportunity to earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year), worth up to $300 cash back, but it also has a lot more benefits than the Citi Double Cash, including purchase and travel protections. You’ll earn a bit less on non-bonus spending (1.5%), but the competitive rewards rates in everyday bonus categories (travel, restaurants, and drugstores) can help almost anyone boost their rewards haul. 

While it’s not quite as lucrative, the simplicity of the Citi Double Cash Card makes it a good option for nearly anyone. The 2% cash back rate on every purchase (1% when a purchase is made and another 1% when it is paid off) is the highest you’ll find among flat cash back cards, and you’ll never have to worry about strategizing bonus categories. For a lot of consumers, this card’s straightforward rewards program is very appealing. Plus, the card now comes with a $200 welcome bonus when you spend $1,500 within the first six months of account opening, which is equal to 20,000 Citi ThankYou points.

Both cash back credit cards are winners in our eyes, but Chase Freedom Unlimited will be more valuable for many types of spenders. Still, take time to work out your budget and what you want most from your cash back card — the simplicity of flat-rate rewards or the chance to maximize rewards with bonus category spending.