I redeemed over $600 in cash back from the Citi Double Cash this year, and I think it's a great 'gateway' card if you're new to credit card rewards

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  • I've had the Citi® Double Cash Card for two years, and this year I redeemed more than $600 in cash-back rewards.
  • The card has no annual fee and I love that it earns unlimited cash back everywhere, so I'll keep it for the long term.
  • There are no categories to track so it's simple to use, but I might take advantage of the new option to convert rewards from the Citi® Double Cash Card into Citi ThankYou points.
  • If you're a rewards credit cards beginner, the Citi® Double Cash Card is a great place to start — and if you want to dive into advanced travel rewards later it's still worth having.
  • Read Business Insider's guide to the best cash-back credit cards.

I've experienced my share of bad credit cards, but the Citi® Double Cash Card is not one of them. I've been holding onto the card for over two years now and I don't ever think I'll close it. 

I love earning credit card rewards and redeeming them for trips, but I also don't consider myself a guru in this area at all. I'm not interested in holding 15 credit cards and opening and closing accounts each year to maximize rewards. 

Using the Citi® Double Cash Card provides me with the perfect balance between an everyday cash-back card and a card with higher-level rewards opportunities for travel and gift cards. Here's why I'm keeping the card for the long term.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi Citi® Double Cash Card

While other cards offer an annual cap on how much cash back you can earn and redeem, I like that this card doesn't. You can start redeeming your cash-back rewards as soon as you hit a $25 balance, but I often wait until I reach $100. 

No confusing categories

While the Citi® Double Cash Card doesn't offer a super competitive cash-back rate, you will earn cash back on every purchase that you make. Other cards may allow you to earn up to 5% cash back, but you're limited to specific categories like restaurants, groceries, gasoline, or rideshare apps. 

If you're not spending in those areas, then the high cash-back rate is pretty useless. I'd rather just earn cash back on everything I spend whether it's at a local store, on Amazon, or by paying my household bills. 

I'm also big on paying off my bill each month and this card rewards users for doing that. Since you get 1% when you spend and 1% when you pay that purchase off, the Citi® Double Cash Card motivates you to pay the balance off in order to get the full 2% cash-back reward.

No annual fee

I love that the Citi® Double Cash Card has absolutely no annual fee. I do pay an annual fee for some of my other cards, but I highly recommend mixing in no-fee credit cards as well because it's just one less thing to worry about. 

I have an $8,900 credit limit which adds a nice chunk to my overall credit limit across the board. Even if I spent absolutely nothing on this card, I'd still be maintaining a great credit score for free since my overall utilization would be far below 30%.

Another added perk is that the card gives me my FICO score for free so I can track my credit without paying any membership fees. 

How I use rewards from the Citi Double Cash

There are quite a few different ways to redeem your cash-back rewards with the Citi® Double Cash Card. Once you reach the $25 balance threshold, you can request a check or statement credit. 

You can also just get the money deposited directly to your checking account which is what I often do. I like just having the cash so I can spend it however I want. Some years, I've used the money to supplement our holiday spending and buy Christmas gifts. Other times, I've used it to add to our travel budget for upcoming trips or fund snacks and gas for a road trip. 

I tend to view the cash-back rewards as extra money so I like to do something fun with them. 

Last year, Citi added a new redemption method that I'd like to try out. Citi® Double Cash Card cardholders can now convert cash-back rewards to Citi ThankYou points. You can redeem ThankYou points for gift cards, travel, and other rewards. 

Citi was able to automatically link my ThankYou account with my Citi® Double Cash Card account so I can quickly convert my rewards. If you have $1 in rewards, it converts to 100 points, so 2,500 points would cover a $25 gift card. Right now, I have $80 in cash back in my account, so if I converted the whole amount I'd have just over 8,000 points.

The travel rewards are probably the most enticing to me because once I start traveling more again I can book flights, hotels, and a rental car with Citi ThankYou points. 

Are there downsides to the Citi Double Cash?

As with all rewards credit cards, there are some potential downsides to using the Citi® Double Cash Card. However, for me, these things are not worth getting rid of the card. 

To start, the card doesn't offer a sign-up bonus. On the flip side, this does mean you won't have to pressure yourself to spend $3,000 to $5,000 in a short time frame as soon as you get the card.

There's also a 3% foreign transaction fee which makes the Citi® Double Cash Card not the best option to use when you're out of the country or paying a foreign vendor. Finally, you need at least $25 to cash out your cash-back rewards — but this isn't a problem for me since I like to wait until I have at least a $100 balance anyway.

Who the Citi Double Cash is best for

Overall, the Citi® Double Cash Card has become my go-to everyday credit card for the past two years and I don't see this changing anytime soon. It's best for someone who is looking to earn rewards for regular spending but doesn't yet have an in-depth credit-card strategy. 

You don't have to deal with an annual fee or crack the code when it comes to determining which cash-back spending category should be used for the month. The fact that you can convert Citi® Double Cash Card rewards to Citi ThankYou points is just another feature that makes this a flexible gateway card for anyone looking to start earning general rewards (like gift cards and cash back) — with the potential to get more involved with travel rewards down the road.

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