Finance: Citibank DoubleCash credit card

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The CitiBank DoubleCash Card is a great simple way to get the best deal on a card. It may not be the best for every single situation. But if you don't want to spend time trying to figure out if some other card is better,

Just take 15 minutes to make the call. Get this card. Done; covered. Move on.

This is an entirely unsolicited testimonial. I will always be straightforward with details. And nobody at any credit card company knows or has paid me, anyway.*

Who this card is NOT for

  • You must pay your card in full each month. If you can't pay your credit card in full each month, CREDIT CARDS MAY NOT BE FOR YOU. Otherwise, don't worry if you can't quite pay in full every month, as long as you really can pay it in full most of the time.
  • Some cards pay 3% for groceries, 5% for gas, or whatever. If you travel a lot (hotels, gas, or flight), or fall into some other special situation, something else might be better.
    • But if you're not sure, stop sweating the details. That's what I'm saying. Just get a DoubleCash. You can always figure out what's best later. In the meantime do the easy thing. Evaluate your Annual Summary whenever.
  • You probably have to have good credit. I wouldn't know about bad credit situations.
  • If you want to work hard for your money, there are lots of cards where you have to do things like, have automated deposits for 12 months, then get $300, or whatever. If you are counting every single cent, these other offers may very well make better sense for you. You have to ask, how hard do you want to work.

The DoubleCash is The Big Easy. It's for those who don't want to do a lot of work to get a one-time payoff of few hundred.

Why this card rocks

It gives you 2% back on everything going through the card. So make all your monthly bills be paid through it (below). Easy peasey. You are smart and forever more have easy 2% back on all that.

How It Works

When you first charge something to your DC card, you get 1% back. When you pay your bill, you get the second 1% back. It's all very simple; I've never seen a variation on this.

Now, you do have to manually go into your account to request each payback. Then go through about 5 clicks plus type in your max back each month. There is a $25 minimum, so if you have bought less than $1250, you'll have to wait until next month.

I always keep it simple and make it a credit to my DoubleCash account. I sure wish they made this automatic, but I've seen far worse.

My old Bank Of America card that said it was 1.5% made you jump through huge hoops. You had to wait until you had $25k banked til you got 1.25%. On the early days (2009), they made you get a check in the mail. WTH dude, you're sitting right on my money... your only intent is to hope I don't do this, or lose the check. And they made the last 0.25% (making you officially 1.50% and not the 1.25% each month) be rewarded once a year, on the anniversary of your enrollment.

It's all so very last decade, thanks to CB DoubleCash.

Complaint

I can understand the company not wanting to automatically give 2% back without any action needing to be done whatsoever. The consumer must show at least the barest amount of consciousness. That's okay.

But you do have to make 5 clicks each month, and enter the total amount you can get, any time you pass the $25 minimum (which is most every month for me). If I have passed the basic test of being a human who wants to get his 2% back, I wish they didn't make me do that rigamorale every single effing month. Just let me checkmark "Always pay the full reward to my account whenever I have met the $25 minimum".

This complaint is very minor. I definitely have this card. And I await the next card that blows past this minor inconvenience.

Peanut Gallery

That being said, let's compare the hassle of the Bank Of America Platinum Plus Rewards I used to have. This card said it gave you 1.5% back, but it had numerous obstacles:

  • With my stupid old BoA card, you actually only got 1.25% back regularly. Then the final 0.25% occurred once a year as an additional payout (on the anniversary of when you started). If you quit mid year, too bad.
  • It had a funky scaled payback scheme where you essentially had to wait until you earn $250 in cash back before you could receive your cash back 1:1. For less than $250 back, you would get a lower return. This not only meant you had to watch it across long time periods, it also meant you could lose the full 1:1 payout if you quit your account before $250 accrued.

Compared to this, the DoubleCash is a walk in the park. What I'm telling you, people. If you're lisning.

Annual Summaries: See your purchase categories

Some folks fly a lot. Some drive for a living. These people want cards that work for them in these regards.

But many of us go to restaurants, gas stations, and buy groceries in widely varying amounts.

This is where credit card Annual Summaries are worth their weight in gold.

How to get it

It can be a little work to get your Annual Summary. They are usually available starting in February, for the previous year. You usually have to go online and download it. DO THIS. Make a point of it. Put a reminder on your electronic calendar for next February NOW.

Google makes it easy to repeat something once a year, forever. Look at Google Calendar's Repeat options. Make a repeating notice early February of each year. Get your Annual statement. Banks like to make them disappear after a few months.

Get it while you can.

How to use it

Annual Summaries make it easy to see where categories fall. There are lots of stores, lots of categories. Some things make plain sense, but then there are the wrinkles.

Does Walmart count as gas? Does Kroger? They were broken out separately when I had Bank Of America... but not now with DoubleCash.

Does Walmart count as groceries?

Where does insurance fit in?

Amazon?
eBay?
the many other oddities of life?

These are important questions that your Annual Summary can easily pin down for you.

You may have thought that these categories are gimmicks designed to screw you. It's my impression that this is generally not the case. We are talking about huge credit-card-pass-through dinosaurs trying to categorize a countless number of businesses over time. Credit card companies don't change the categories of major businesses at the drop of a hat. But it is also true that you can't really tell where all your money is going until you look at the details. Some are mega stores covering many areas, others are gray areas.

But never mind all the details. Just look at your most recent Annual Summaries! They are what they are, and your spending habits are what they are. Make a little spreadsheet of your major category summaries. Tweak them for any known huge changes in your past or expected for the future.

Now you know where your spending habits lie.

Mostly I would think that unless you drive for a living, or buy groceries for a restaurant, you don't care about these categories. But if you fly a lot or use hotels a lot, that's another thing.

Don't take my word for it. Look at YOUR Annual Summaries!

And need I repeat? If you don't want to do all this work? Just get a Double Cash! A 15 minute phone call. Fire and forget.

Automatic Bill Paying

It has come to my attention that some people do not pay routine bills automatically each month.

Apologies to anyone without enough cash to do this each month. For the rest of you:

What the f is your problem?

Most - but not all - companies let you easily pay their bills automatically through your credit card or checking account.

If you are not doing this, I challenge you,

Each time you lick that envelope, ask yourself, why did I just waste three more minutes of my life

totalling perhaps half an hour a month, for the totality of your miserable life.


All those envelopes, stamps, time putting things in the mail, things being lost in mail - they're all all ancient history.

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself. Well... How did I get here?

There are many mysteries to life. One of them is, why do people put things in the mail when everything is set up to make that not needed? (Same as it ever was.)


* If a credit card company talks to me in any substantial way that might influence me, I will update this page to tell you all about it. Just keeping it real.