February 25, 2021

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Citi Double Cash vs Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card comparison

7 min read

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

  • The Citi® Double Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® both earn cash back with no annual fee, but there are some key differences.
  • The Citi Double Cash card doesn’t come with a welcome bonus, while you can get $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening with the Freedom Unlimited. 
  • You can also earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent on grocery purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) in your first year with the Freedom Unlimited.
  • The Freedom Unlimited earns bonus cash back on select spending categories, while the Citi Double Cash earns 1% back when you buy and another 1% when you pay, no matter the purchase.
  • See Business Insider’s list of the best cash-back credit cards »

The Citi® Double Cash Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards are two cards with no annual fees and powerful benefits. Both of these cards offer an above average earning rate on all purchases. The earning rate on the Citi Double Cash is slightly higher (2% compared to 1.5%), but the Chase Freedom Unlimited makes up for that with even higher rates in some categories. Both of these cards also allow you to convert your cash back into transferable points for even more value. You can see why these two cards are some of our best credit cards with no annual fees.

Regular APR

13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

2% cash back on all purchases

Balance Transfer Fee

Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
    • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
    • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
    • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Simple earning structure
    Cons
    • Some cards earn higher rates of cash back on rotating categories

    Read Our Review
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    We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

    Here is a comparison of the biggest features and rewards of these different cards in table form:

      Citi® Double Cash Card Chase Freedom Unlimited®
    Annual fee $0 $0
    Welcome bonus X

    $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

    5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent on grocery purchases in the first 12 months*

    Earning rates 2% cash back on all purchases (1% cash back when you buy, plus 1% cash back when you pay your bill)

    5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards

    3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases

    1.5% cash back on everything else

    Introductory APR offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months, then a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR
      Learn more Learn more

    *excluding Target and Walmart purchases

    The Citi® Double Cash Card is an outstanding no-annual-fee credit card, but one area where it falls short is its lack of welcome bonus. Many credit card issuers have rules and restrictions on how many credit cards you can open, so you’ll want to think twice before spending one of your applications on a card with no welcome bonus.

    The welcome bonus on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is solid and achievable. You can get $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening. Additionally, you can earn 5% cash back on all grocery purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) in the first year of having the card, up to a maximum of $12,000 spent.

    Most households will be able to get 5% back on all of their grocery purchases for a year, though larger families with higher grocery spend may run into the maximum. The 5% cash back at grocery stores makes the Freedom Unlimited as one of the best credit cards for grocery spending.

    The earning rate on the Citi® Double Cash Card is a flat 2% cash back on all purchases, providing you pay your monthly bill on time. You’ll earn 1% back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back when you pay your bill.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns cash back as follows:

    • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
    • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

    One important note for both of these cards is that in both cases the cash back that you earn can be transferred into more valuable rewards points. However, the manner in which that happens is slightly different for each card.

    With the Citi® Double Cash Card, your rewards are issued as cash back, and one of the ways that you can redeem your cash back is by converting them to Citi ThankYou points at a rate of 1 cent per point. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, your rewards are issued directly as Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can choose to redeem your Ultimate Rewards at a value of 1 cent per point, but if you have a premium Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards and get even more value.

    Regular APR

    14.99%–23.74% variable APR

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

    Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
    • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
    • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
    • No annual fee
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 – 23.74%.
    • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    Pros
    • Solid flat cash-back rate
    • You can combine cash-back rewards with Ultimate Rewards points if you have an eligible card
    • No annual fee
    Cons
    • Some other cards offer a higher rate of cash back on certain types of purchases

    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

    Whether the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Citi® Double Cash Card is right for you depends on how much of your spending is in the bonus categories for the Freedom Unlimited.

    If you plan on spending $10,000 on your credit card and none of the purchases would qualify you for bonus cash back on the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, the difference between 2% on the Double Cash and 1.5% on the Freedom Unlimited would be $50 ($200 to $150).

    Especially during the first year of having the card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited®‘s $200 welcome bonus and bonus categories would make sense for most people. After the first calendar year, it will depend on your specific spending patterns.

    Because there is no welcome bonus on the Citi Double Cash, it may make sense to do a product change from a different Citi credit card rather than signing up for the Double Cash as a new card. 

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

    Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

    Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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