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If you're looking for an easy-to-use rewards credit card, you can't get much better than one that offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. While the Citi® Double Cash Card has been the top choice in this category for years, last week Wells Fargo launched the Wells Fargo Active CashSM Card, giving consumers another strong option. Both cards take the effort out of earning cash back, giving cardholders a flat 2% cash rewards on all purchases.
While there are many similarities between the two cards, we dug into all the bells and whistles you get with the Double Cash Card and the Active Cash Card, comparing them based on their rewards programs, welcome bonuses, annual fees, APR and foreign transaction fees.
When it comes to the welcome bonus, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has a big leg up. New cardholders can earn $200 cash rewards when they spend $1,000 within the first three months of card membership.
At the moment, the Citi Double Cash Card is not offering new cardholders a welcome bonus.
Winner: The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card because new cardholders have the opportunity to earn a $200 welcome bonus.
Both cards have the same rewards program: They both provide unlimited 2% cash rewards on all purchases. The one notable difference is that the Citi Double Cash Card gives cardholders 1% cash back when they buy and 1% back when they pay their credit card bill. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card doesn't require cardholders to pay off their bill before getting the full 2%.
The Citi Double Cash Card rewards program encourages cardholders to pay their monthly bill on time and in full in order to receive all their cash-back rewards.
Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn in a year when using their Wells Fargo Active Cash Card and Citi Double Cash Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126. (See our methodology to see how we choose the best credit cards.)
The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).
We found that, in the first year of card membership, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card users earned $643 in cash rewards, including the welcome bonus. Cardholders with the Citi Double Cash Card can earn $443. (Of course, you may earn more or less depending on your spending.)
Winner: The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card because you can earn an additional $200 cash rewards in the first year if you earn the welcome bonus.
Since both cards are no-annual-fee cash-back cards, they don't come with many of the extra perks or benefits that more premium travel cards have. The Active Cash Card does offer cell phone protection if you use the card to pay for your cell phone bill. If your phone is damaged or stolen, Wells Fargo will reimburse the replacement or repair of your cell phone for up to $600 (with a $25 deductible).
Additionally, Active Cash cardholders will have access to the Visa Concierge Service, a 24/7 personal assistance hotline that helps people with travel and entertainment related requests like making hotel reservations or booking concert tickets.
Another perk that Active Cash users can enjoy is the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, a portfolio of curated hotels, resorts and properties. When cardholders book a hotel or resort stay through the collection, they'll get perks like a food and beverage credit and complimentary breakfast.
The Citi Double Cash cardholders have access to Citi Entertainment, which allows them to purchase tickets, including presale tickets, for concerts, sporting events, theater shows and dining experiences.
Winner: The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card because it offers cell phone protection in addition to access to the Visa Concierge Service and the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.
Both cards are good if you're looking to make a balance transfer. The Citi Double Cash Card has a 18-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (after, 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR), and the Active Cash Card has a shorter, 15-month 0% APR introductory period on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then, a variable APR of 14.99% - 24.99%).
For balance transfers, the Active Cash Card has an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 minimum). To qualify for the intro 0% intro APR, balance transfers must be done within 120 days from account opening.
For the Citi Double Cash Card, the balance transfer fee is 3% or a minimum of $5. Balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening in order to qualify for the 0% intro APR .
Winner: Tie. While both cards offer 0% APR on balance transfers, the Citi Double Cash Card has a longer intro period at 18 months. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has the benefit of offering a 0% APR intro period for purchases, too.
Since both cards are quite similar with no annual feel and a flat-rate cash rewards program, consumers would be well served with either card. The Active Cash Card narrowly edges out the Double Cash Card because of its $200 welcome rewards bonus, the added benefit of cell phone protection and perks of Visa Signature membership.
But if you're looking for a flat-rate cash-back card that offers balance transfers, you're better off going with the Citi Double Cash Card, which has a slightly longer 0% APR introductory period.
Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
$200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for the first 15 months from account opening
14.99% to 24.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Introductory fee of 3% ($5 minimum) for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5% ($5 minimum)
Foreign transaction fee
See rates and fees, terms apply.
2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill
No current offer
0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases
13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Foreign transaction fee
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.