Citi Double Cash vs. Capital One Quicksilver

citi-double-cash-vsIf you’re trying to decide between the Citi Double Cash Card and the Capital One Quicksilver credit card, the decision seems easy — after all, the Citi card essentially gives you 2% cash back vs the 1.5% cash back offered by the Capital One Quicksilver. But are there other factors to consider? Let’s take a closer look at which card may be right for you.

The is a MasterCard that offers you essentially 2% cash back, but with an uncommon formula. You earn 1% cash back immediately on your card purchases, and then another 1% back on the balances you pay back. If you pay off your complete balance every month, you earn 2% cash back immediately; if you revolve your balances, it takes longer to get the full 2%, but you will get it as long as you eventually pay off your balances. (Note that you don’t get cash back on any interest you pay if you carry a balance month-to-month.)

The Citi Double Cash card requires you to have at least $25 in cash back accrued before you can actually get the money, meaning you will have to have spent and/or paid off at least $1250 with the card to reach the reward total. You can receive your cash back as a check or as a statement credit. You will lose your cash back if you don’t use the card for 12 months.

Other notes on this card: It has no annual fee. It offers a 0% interest rate on purchases for 15 months, followed by a rate of anywhere from 12.99% to 22.99% depending on your credit history. It also offers a 0% rate for 15 months on any balances you transfer to the card from other cards. There is a fee to transfer a balance of 3% of the amount transferred. Transferred balances do not earn cash back.

On to the Capital One Quicksilver…

The offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases. This is obviously a very simple formula that requires no extra thought on your part. You can also redeem your cash at any time for any amount, and get the money as a check or as statement credit. Again, very simple. Also, earned cash back does not expire unless you close the account without having redeemed it.

quicksilver-visaThere’s a chance for a bonus with this card: You can earn a one-time $100 bonus if you spend at least $500 with the card in the first 3 months you have it.

Other notes: There is no annual fee. You get a 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for approximately 9 months (3% fee on balance transfers). Interest rate after the 0% period may be 12.9%, 17.9%, or 22.9% depending on your credit history. (Note that Capital One also offers a with a $39 annual fee for those whose credit is not good enough to qualify for the standard Quicksilver card.) Finally, it is worth pointing out that Capital One does not charge a fee for card transactions outside of the United States, a rarity for a no-annual-fee card in today’s market. (The Citi Double Cash Card has a 3% fee on foreign transactions.)

The Winner

It’s close… but the Citi Double Cash Card eeks out the win. Bottom line, 2% cash back beats 1.5%, even if the formula to get the 2% is a bit more convoluted. However, the Quicksilver does have some advantages: the chance for an upfront $100 bonus (vs. no bonus from the Citi Double Cash Card), easier redemption of rewards, and no fees on transactions outside of the United States. The Quicksilver could be for you if you don’t use your credit cards very often and want to redeem smaller earnings or if you travel internationally on a regular basis. Also, the Double Cash Card is a MasterCard and the Quicksilver is a Visa; if you have a preference for some reason (we don’t), that could factor in to your decision.

You can’t go wrong with either card. In fact, if your credit is good enough to take a short-term hit, you might want to get both and use them strategically to get the best perks from each one.

See also: 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards, Instant Approval Credit Cards, Store Credit Cards