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

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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 Offer$200 bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account openingNone
Cash Back Rewards• 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards

• 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)

• 5% back on up to $12,000 in grocery spending the first year (then 1% back)

• 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% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%

• 3 complimentary months of DashPass membership

• 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 13.99% to 23.99%

• 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 $200 in bonus cash when you spend just $500 within three months of account opening. 

That works out to at least $167 per month, making this bonus easy to earn and pretty generous considering the low spending requirement.

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 limited 5% back on up to $12,000 in grocery spending the first year could help you net $600 in rewards in year one if you max it out. The other 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% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%
  • Citi Double Cash: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%

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 they both have a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) . After 60 days, the balance transfer fee on the Chase Freedom Unlimited goes up to 5% (minimum $5).

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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

Editor’s Score: (4.4/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’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 a $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening, 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 (groceries the first year, 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.

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.

*All information about the Citi® Double Cash Card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.