Why You Can Trust CNET Advertiser Disclosure
CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Citi Double Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Both credit cards offer strong rewards, but which one is better?

Citi is an advertising partner.

The Citi® Double Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are both strong cash-back credit cards, but the Freedom Unlimited will offer most people a wider array of benefits. It offers strong cash-back rates, an easily reachable welcome bonus and a better introductory APR offer.

The Double Cash still has its strengths -- particularly if you don't spend a lot on dining and drugstores or need to knock out some existing credit card debt. Consider your goals and the details of each card's offer to determine the best fit for you.

Which card does it best?

Card feature Winner
Rewards Freedom Unlimited
Introductory purchase APR Freedom Unlimited
Balance transfers Double Cash
Additional card perks Freedom Unlimited
Welcome bonus Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

8/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: 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!
APR17.99% - 26.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 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
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR17.99% - 26.74% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 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

Citi® Double Cash Card

7.25/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Balance Transfer APR17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Rewards and redemption

Winner: Freedom Unlimited

The Citi Double Cash earns rewards no matter what you're spending on, while the Freedom Unlimited earns more rewards depending on the kind of purchases you're making. Here's a breakdown of how your rewards on $500 of spending would look for each category.

Rewards breakdown

Card Dining rewards Drug store rewards Travel rewards General spending rewards Total rewards
Double Cash $10 $10 $10 $10 $40
Freedom Unlimited $15 $15 $7.50 $7.50 $45

There are a number of bonus categories that the Freedom Unlimited will always beat the earning potential of the Double Cash, simply because it features the higher cash-back rate. 

It's important to note that the travel rewards category is a bit more nuanced. If you're able to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Freedom Unlimited, you'll earn 5% cash back, which will end up earning you more rewards than the Citi Double Cash would for spending on general travel.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited will be more rewarding provided you spend heavily in its bonus categories, though the Double Cash earns a strong reward rate no matter what you're spending on.

Introductory purchase APR

Winner: Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited comes out on top here as well as it offers an introductory APR offer for purchases and balance transfers -- the Double Cash only offers this feature on balance transfers.

However, the Freedom Unlimited's offer is short. Cardholders get 15 months of 0% introductory interest for new purchases or a transferred balance (then 17.99% to 26.74% variable).

The Freedom Unlimited offers cardholders the opportunity to make a large, planned purchase and pay it down while it accrues no interest. Considering the Freedom Unlimited's strong rewards and shorter window to qualify for its introductory 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee, it's better to use it for its intro purchase APR rather than for a balance transfer.

Balance transfers

Winner: Double Cash

While the Freedom Unlimited carries the better introductory APR offer considering it provides a way to avoid interest charges for purchases and balance transfers, if you do need to utilize a balance transfer, the Double Cash will be the better choice.

It has a longer window to qualify for its introductory balance transfer fee. The Freedom Unlimited has an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 minimum) so long as you make any transfers within the first 60 days of account opening, otherwise the fee will be 5% ($5 minimum). But the Double Cash gives you four months from account opening to complete any balance transfers to qualify for its 3% ($5 minimum) intro fee before the fee increases to 5% ($5 minimum). You'll also need to complete any balance transfers within the first four months of account opening to qualify for the intro balance transfer APR.

The Double Cash also gives you more time to pay down a transferred balance. Cardholders get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then 17.74% to 27.74% variable) compared to 15 months (then 17.99% to 26.74% variable) with the Freedom Unlimited.

Three months may not seem like a huge deal, but it could make all the difference depending on your budget and the size of the balance you're looking to transfer. We don't recommend using the Freedom Unlimited for a balance transfer, but it is a good choice if you need to finance a large, planned purchase.

Additional card perks

Winner: Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited offers far more when it comes to additional card perks than the Double Cash. The Double Cash only provides the standard fraud protections which come included with most credit cards, whereas the Freedom Unlimited provides cardholders with:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

It's a surprisingly strong benefit offering for a credit card without an annual fee.

Welcome bonus

Winner: Freedom Unlimited

Considering the Citi Double Cash doesn't feature a welcome bonus, the Freedom Unlimited goes uncontested in this field. Here's the Freedom Unlimited's bonus:

  • Freedom Unlimited: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)

With nothing for it to compete against, the Freedom Unlimited is the clear winner here.

The bottom line

While both the Citi Double Cash and the Freedom Unlimited are strong rewards credit cards, the Freedom Unlimited will be the better choice for most people. It has the potential to be more rewarding thanks to its bonus categories, it can help avoid interest charges on more than just balance transfers and provides a welcome bonus along with more card benefits.

However, if you don't spend a lot across the Freedom Unlimited's bonus categories, Double Cash has the potential to offer more rewards. It will also be the better choice if you're planning on utilizing a balance transfer. You could also get both cards considering neither have an annual fee.

FAQs

Is it worth paying a balance transfer fee?

Yes. Paying a balance transfer fee will typically be less than the cost of continuous interest charges on a credit card with a high APR.

What's the difference between cash back and points?

Typically the difference is how much points and cash back are worth and how you can redeem them. With points, you may have more options when it comes time for redemption, but they may not always be worth one cent. Cash back on the other hand can usually only be redeemed as statement credits. 1% cash back is also generally worth 1 cent.

Could I get both the Freedom Unlimited and the Citi Double Cash?

Yes. You could use the Double Cash card for everything that the Freedom Unlimited doesn't earn more rewards for. That way, you could maximize the return on your spending and get the most out of both cards.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.