Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
Updated on Monday, April 11, 2016
Earning cash back is just one of the many rewards that come from using some of the best credit cards on the market to make your purchases. Two of the leading cash back reward card contenders are Chase Freedom® and Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.
While both could be beneficial to keep in your wallet, the way each of these cards calculate cash back rewards varies.
If you are in search of your next cash back credit card, we’ll compare these two options side by side so you can determine which option is best for you.
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $200 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
The Chase Freedom® card has a point system in place called Chase Ultimate Rewards® that translates each 100 points to $1 in cash. This enables you to earn up to $300 in cash back rewards annually in 5% categories with your Chase Freedom® card.
The 5% bonus categories change every quarter.
This card is ideal if you’re an active credit card user who doesn’t mind paying attention to unique offers and putting in the extra effort to maximize your cash back rewards.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has a $0 annual fee and allows you to earn double cash back on all purchases. Unlike the Chase Freedom®, there is no limit to how much cash back you can earn as long as you pay your bill on time each month.
With this Citi card, you Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases., allowing you to double your cash back.
This card is a good option for people who would like to keep one cash back card with a simple strategy that offers a competitive bonus.
Pros & Cons
Pro: Sign-on bonus. Earn a $200 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Con: Rotating categories. 5% sounds great, but you may not experience a benefit each quarter if you don’t typically spend in those categories.
Pro: Rewards stay good. The cash back you earn on this card does not expire.
Con: Rewards cap. There’s a spending cap of $1500 on qualifying purchases per quarter, meaning you can’t earn more than $300 in cash back annually.
Pro: No annual fee. You won’t need to pay an annual fee that eats away at your rewards.
Con: Rewards eligibility isn’t automated. You need to actively enroll online to activate the 5% cash back categories each quarter.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Pro: Double rewards. It’s a set it and forget it type of cash back card. You earn double cash back on all your purchases (assuming you pay the bill off on time).
Con: No sign-on bonus. Unlike the Chase Freedom® card, there is no bonus for getting the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.
Pro: No caps on rewards. Unlike some of the cards with rotating categories, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t cap the rewards you can earn each year.
Con: Foreign transaction fee. The 3% foreign transaction fee nullifies your international purchases so this shouldn’t be your first pick for spending aboard.
Pro: No annual fee. You can stash all those double cash back rewards right in the bank because you won’t lose any to an annual fee.
Which One is Better?
If you had to choose which card was better, the answer would rely heavily on what your preferences are in terms of a cash back card. If you are looking for a higher cash back bonus and don’t mind keeping up with different spending categories throughout the year and enrolling to receive cash back bonuses at the beginning of each quarter, you may favor Chase Freedom®.
This card is ideal if your looking to strategically use your credit card to maximize the bonuses and rewards you earn. It also helps that Chase Freedom® offers a sign on bonus – Earn a $200 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
On the other hand, if you favor consistency and would like to stick to one card that earns a flat, high cash back rate, you might consider choosing the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. Since this card has no spending cap and no categories, you can earn cash back rewards easier and don’t have to worry about a spending limit as long as you pay your bill off on time each month to receive the full 2% cash back.
Consider factors like your spending habits, income level (this can dictate how much you are willing to spend each month or quarter), and what characteristics you are looking for in a cash back credit card before making your decision.
When to Consider Using Both Rewards
If you’re still wondering which card might be best for you, you might benefit more from using both. Both the Chase Freedom® card and Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer have benefits that the other one doesn’t provide.
Since you will only receive 5% cash back when you spend in certain categories, you can use the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer for all your other spending. Even though Chase Freedom® does offer unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, why not earn 1% when you make your purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill with Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer?
For example, if you end up hitting the $1500 spending limit for purchases at grocery stores in June, you can use your Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer for other purchases like at gas stations, drug stores, etc. to earn double back on all purchases. And if you don’t hit your limit, you can use the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer for all non-grocery spend.
Keeping track of two credit cards may seem like a hassle to you or make you nervous about overspending. If you’re looking to just get the best card for your specific spending habits, then use our customizable tool to see which card is best for you.
You can also pair either card with the Nusenda Credit Union’s Platinum Cash Rewards Card.
Nusenda offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and 5% cash back in revolving categories. These categories could be coupled with Chase Freedom®‘s revolving categories that change every quarter to maximize your ability to earn 5% back.
- January to March – Groceries and Gas Expenses
- April to June – Movies, Restaurants, and Home Improvements
- July to September – Gas and Education Expenses
- October to December – Restaurants, Hotels, and Airfare
For example, you get 5 cents back per dollar on movies, restaurants and home improvement purchases from April to June. One perk compared to Chase Freedom® is that you don’t have to register for these categories like many other 5% cash back cards.
Another option, is the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card that allows you to earn 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day and has a $0 annual fee. While this card’s cash back bonus rate is smaller than Chase Freedom® and Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, you can take advantage of the One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Since Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t offer a sign on bonus, you can use the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card as well to reap this benefit, but in the long run, your Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer will still earn you more cash back annually.
You Don’t Have to Just Pick One
Both Chase Freedom® and Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer carry a competitive cash back bonus. If the benefits of one card fits your spending habits and preferences over the other card, it may be a solid option. If you’re looking to optimize the cash back you could earn on regular purchases you make throughout the year, consider using both as long as you don’t have to alter your spending habits and can manage to pay the balance off each month.
The information related to Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer and the Chase Freedom® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.