Biggest-Ever Bonus On The Benchmark Cash Back Card, Strategy To Fit This Into Your Wallet

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The Citi® Double Cash Card is my benchmark. It is a no annual fee 2% cash back card. But it’s even better than that.

  • Right now there’s a limited time offer (and there’s never been a bigger one for this card). You can earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. Most of the time there has been no initial bonus offer for this card at all.

  • They made two positive changes to the card this year. They eliminated the $25 minimum to redeem for cash and they now award ThankYou points directly for spend on the card (which can still be converted to cash at the same rate). This change means you no longer need to first convert the points to ThankYou points to have greater flexibility, do other things with them, like – if you have a Citi Premier® Card – transfer those points to airline miles or hotel points.

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the absolute strongest cash back cards. It has a $0 annual fee and earns 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you you pay for those purchases. There’s no caps on the cash back you earn, and the full rebate applies regardless of spending category.

And I say it’s a benchmark because it’s how I think about whether to earn miles with an airline card or even in a bank points program. Given that this card is available, and has no annual fee, the opportunity cost of earning points on a card is 2 of Citi’s points or 2% cash back. I wouldn’t spend 2 cents to buy an airline mile but that’s what you’re doing if you put spend on an airline card that’s only earning 1 mile.

And since in conjunction with a Citi Premier® Card the points become transferable, and I value those points at 1.6 cents apiece, it’s possible to earn an effective rebate of 3.2% on all of your spend without even needing a category bonus.

Add in that there’s even an initial bonus offer on the card right now, which is unusual (and they’ve never offered more), this is the perfect time to get the Citi® Double Cash Card. And it’s the perfect time for the Citi Premier® Card, too, since there’s never been a bigger offer on that product than the current one to earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

The two products make a powerful pair, transfer partners of Citi Premier include:

  • SkyTeam: Aeromexico Club Premier, Air France KLM Flying Blue

  • oneworld: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qatar Airways Privilege Club

  • Star Alliance: Avianca LifeMiles, EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

  • Non-alliance: Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, JetBlue TrueBlue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Citi Premier earns 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets, 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels; 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases. And then put your unbonused spend on Double Cash for a 2x return.

When considering these two products note that you can generally only be approved for one Citibank card every eight days (two every 65 days) at most.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Awesome, thanks for sharing! I’ve been waiting for some kind of bonus before getting the Double Cash card, so I’ll take it!

  2. I tried to get into the Citi eco-system, they said NO. I have a 830 credit score, but I was rejected.
    Therefore, I have rejected Citi.

  3. When will people realize that with credit cards, you have to carry a balance at some time on at least one of the cards you own? Whether you make a half payment of the balance or something like that, but at least have some balance next month. Citi is one of those banks that if you never carry any balance on any of their cards, you will likely not be approved for any more Citi cards. Citi is not American Express!

  4. Please explain this, thanks

    And since in conjunction with a Citi Premier® Card the points become transferable, and I value those points at 1.6 cents apiece, it’s possible to earn an effective rebate of 3.2% on all of your spend without even needing a category bonus.

  5. If Lloyd can’t even spell his own name, I don’t think he is cut out for credit card membership.

    You earn 2 points per dollar. Each point is worth 1.6 cents. How many cents per dollar do you earn?

    Half the country can’t solve this preschool level arithmetic, so Lloyd, don’t feel bad.

    We live in a country where we tip 20% for a takeout order because it’s considered hard work to pack food in a plastic bag.

  6. I have both the Citi Prestige and Double Cash card. I think this is the best duo in the game for everyday purchases, and travel purchases directly with the airline.

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