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My Citi Double Cash earned $600 cashback this year, with no annual fee



This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

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.

Regular APR

13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

2% cash back on all purchases

Balance Transfer Fee

Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

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  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
    • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
    • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
    • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
    • No annual fee
    • Simple earning structure
    • Some cards earn higher rates of cash back on rotating categories

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    We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

    Earn unlimited cash back with the Citi Double Cash

    I actually use the Citi® Double Cash Card card because it offers unlimited cash back on everything. You earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay your balance. 

    Just in the past year alone, I’ve redeemed over $600 in cash-back rewards. 

    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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    Bad Credit

    How to Avoid a Prepayment Penalty When Paying Off a Loan | Pennyhoarder



    Look at you, so responsible. You received a financial windfall — stimulus check, tax refund, work bonus, inheritance, whatever — and you’re using it to pay off one of your debts years ahead of schedule.

    Good for you! Except… make sure you don’t get charged a prepayment penalty.

    Now wait just a minute, you say. I’m paying the money back early — early! — and my lender thanks me by charging me a fee?

    Well, in some cases, yes.

    A prepayment penalty is a fee lenders use to recoup the money they’ll lose when you’re no longer paying interest on the loan. That interest is how they make their money.

    But you can avoid the trap — or at least a big payout if you’ve already signed the loan contract. We’ll explain.

    What Is a Loan Prepayment Penalty?

    A prepayment penalty is a fee lenders charge if you pay off all or part of your loan early.

    Typically, a prepayment penalty only applies if you pay off the entire balance – for example, because you sold your car or are refinancing your mortgage – within a specific timeframe (usually within three years of when you accepted the loan).

    In some cases, a prepayment penalty could apply if you pay off a large amount of your loan all at once.

    Prepayment penalties do not normally apply if you pay extra principal in small chunks at a time, but it’s always a good idea to double check with the lender and your loan agreement.

    What Loans Have Prepayment Penalties?

    Most loans do not include a prepayment penalty. They are typically applied to larger loans, like mortgages and sometimes auto loans — although personal loans can also include this sneaky fee.

    Credit unions and banks are your best options for avoiding loans that include prepayment penalties, according to Charles Gallagher, a consumer law attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida.

    Unfortunately, if you have bad credit and can’t get a loan from traditional lenders, private loan alternatives are the most likely to include the prepayment penalty.

    Pro Tip

    If your loan includes a prepayment penalty, the contract should state the time period when it may be imposed, the maximum penalty and the lender’s contact information.

    ”The more opportunistic and less fair lenders would be the ones who would probably be assessing [prepayment penalties] as part of their loan terms,” he said, “I wouldn’t say loan sharking… but you have to search down the list for a less preferable lender.”

    Prepayment Penalties for Mortgages

    Although you’ll find prepayment penalties in auto and personal loans, a more common place to find them is in home loans. Why? Because a lender who agrees to a 30-year mortgage term is banking on earning years worth of interest to make money off the amount it’s loaning you.

    That prepayment penalty can apply if you want to pay off your loan early, sell your house or even refinance, depending on the terms of your mortgage.

    However, if there is a prepayment penalty in the contract for a more recent mortgage, there are rules about how long it can be in effect and how much you can owe.

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ruled that for mortgages made after Jan. 10, 2014, the maximum prepayment penalty a lender can charge is 2% of the loan balance. And prepayment penalties are only allowed in mortgages if all of the following are true:

    1. The loan has a fixed interest rate.
    2. The loan is considered a “qualified mortgage” (meaning it can’t have features like negative amortization or interest-only payments).
    3. The loan’s annual percentage rate can’t be higher than the Average Prime Offer Rate (also known as a higher-priced mortgage).

    So suppose you bought a house last year and then wanted to sell your home. If your mortgage meets all of the above criteria and has a prepayment penalty clause in the mortgage contract, you could end up paying a penalty of 2% on the remaining balance — for a loan you still owe $200,000 on, that comes out to an extra $4,000.

    Prepayment penalties apply for only the first few years of a mortgage — the CFPB’s rule allows for a maximum of three years. But again, check your mortgage agreement for your exact terms.

    The prepayment penalty won’t apply to FHA, VA or USDA loans but can apply to conventional mortgages — although the penalty is much less common than it was before the CFPB’s ruling.

    “It’s more of private loans — loans for people who’ve maybe had some struggles and can’t qualify for a Fannie or Freddie loan,” Gallagher said. “That block of lending is the one going to be most hit by this.”

    How to Find Out If a Loan Will Have a Prepayment Penalty

    The best way to avoid a prepayment penalty is to read your contract — or better yet, have a professional (like an attorney or CPA) who understands the terminology, review it.

    “You should read the entirety of the loan, as painful as that sounds, because lenders may try to hide it,” Gallagher said. “Generally, it would be under repayment terms or the language that deals with the payoff of the loan or selling your house.”

    Gallagher rattled off a list of alternative terms a lender could use in the contract, including:

    • Sale before a certain timeframe.
    • Refinance before a term.
    • Prepayment prior to maturity.

    “They avoid using the word ‘penalty,’ obviously, because that would give a reader of the note, mortgage or the loan some alarm,” he said.

    If you’re negotiating the terms — as say, with an auto loan — don’t let a salesperson try to pressure you into signing a contract without agreeing to a simple interest contract with no prepayment penalty. Better yet, start by applying for a pre-approved auto loan so you can get a pro to review any contracts before you sign.

    Pro Tip

    Do you have less-than-sterling credit? Watch out for pre-computed loans, in which interest is front-loaded, ensuring the lender collects more in interest no matter how quickly you pay off the loan.

    If your lender presents you with a contract that includes a prepayment penalty, request a loan that does not include a prepayment penalty. The new contract may have other terms that make that loan less advantageous (like a higher interest rate), but you’ll at least be able to compare your options.

    How Can You Find Out if Your Current Loan Has a Prepayment Penalty?

    If a loan has a prepayment penalty, the servicer must include information about the penalty on either your monthly statement or in your loan coupon book (the slips of paper you send with your payment every month).

    You can also ask your lender about the terms regarding your penalty by calling the number on your monthly billing statement or read the documents you signed when you closed the loan — look for the same terms mentioned above.

    What to Do if You’re Stuck in a Loan With Prepayment Penalty

    If you do discover that your loan includes a prepayment penalty, you still have some options.

    First, check your contract.

    If you’ll incur a fee for paying off your loan early within the first few years, consider holding onto the money until the penalty period expires.

    Pro Tip

    If you don’t have a loan with a prepayment penalty, contact your lender before sending additional money to ensure your payment is going toward principal — not interest or fees.

    Additionally, although you may get socked with a penalty for paying off the loan balance early, it’s likely you can still make extra payments toward the balance. Review your contract or ask your lender what amount will trigger the penalty, Gallagher said.

    If you’re paying off multiple types of debt, consider paying off the accounts that do not trigger prepayment penalties — credit cards and federal student loans don’t charge prepayment penalties.

    Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

    This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.

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    10 things you didn’t know will help you get a mortgage



    Anyone who wants to apply for a mortgage right now will know that it’s not easy. Coronavirus has made the process of applying longer, while lenders are now more careful than ever about who they will lend to. You probably already know that having a healthy credit score is essential to a successful mortgage application, but how can it be achieved? Personal finance experts from Ocean Finance  weigh in with the top tips for making sure your application is a success – that you may not have heard about. 

    1. Make sure your name is on all household bills

    If you share a rental, it can be tempting to let someone else put their name down on the utility bills and just pay them back. If you want a mortgage, avoid doing this: bills with your name and address on them are proof that you pay them on time. This especially applies to the rent itself – never move into a house share without your name being on the contract. Before applying for a mortgage, ask your landlord for a letter confirming that you pay on time. 

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    How Can I Prequalify for a Personal Loan? A Guide



    When you are in need of money quickly, you very likely don’t want to sit around pondering a bunch of different options. You want to find the option that works best for you and utilise it. Unfortunately for so many people around the country, it can be difficult to get their hands on the money they need due to them having a bad credit score, or even no credit score at all.

    How Can I Prequalify for a Personal Loan?

    Photo, Varun Gaba.

    Your credit score is thought of as being pretty important, as it shows your financial trustworthiness to financial institutions like banks, credit card companies, lenders, and more. Your credit score is one thing that will usually be considered by just about any company you apply for a loan through, so keeping a close eye on your credit score is imperative for your financial life.

    No matter what your credit score looks like, knowing how you can prequalify for a personal loan can be a comforting feeling when you are in need of quick cash. After all, when you are eligible for personal loan prequalification, you feel a little better going into the loan process knowing you won’t have to wait around for a loan decision.

    How is Pre-qualification Decided? Prequalifying for a personal loan can depend on several different factors that you will have to keep in mind, and it will vary greatly depending on the lender you are applying through. Here are two of the things you will need to keep in mind when it comes to your loan that could affect whether or not you prequalify for the loan.

    — Your credit score; Yes, this is always going to be something you are going to need to think about. Depending on the financial institution or lender you are going through, you can bet that your credit history and score will play a huge part in whether or not you prequalify.

    — The amount of your loan; How much money you plan on borrowing from the lender or bank is also going to play a part in deciding whether or not you prequalify.

    To get the most out of your search for a lender that you could prequalify with, think about applying with more than just one lender. This way, you might get several pre-qualification offers, and this will allow you to sort through the lenders and decide which one works best for you.

    How Can I Prequalify for a Personal Loan?

    Photo, Christina @

    The Pre-qualification Process: No matter where you are trying to prequalify for your loan through, you will find the process to be pretty simple and largely similar across most lending platforms. You will need to provide some information to the lender that will help them decide whether or not to prequalify you.

    How Can I Prequalify for a Personal Loan?

    Photo, Windows.

    Some of the information you will need to provide includes:

    — Your full name; You will want to make sure you provide your full legal name so you can make the process simple for yourself and the lender. Depending on the lender, you might also be asked to provide images of your government issued ID or driver’s license to validate your identity.

    — Your income and information on your job; Your income and employment status are often considered over your credit score when it comes to pre-qualification for loans, especially if you are applying for a personal loan through a lender who deals with customers with bad credit or no credit.

    — The loan amount you want; Of course, you will have to include the amount of money you would like to borrow. Make sure it is something reasonable, and something that you can realistically pay back on time.

    What Will the Lender Do? If you are trying to prequalify through a lender who specialises in bad credit clients, then you won’t have to worry about your credit score being negatively affected by taking out your loan. However, if the lender reports to the credit bureaus, your payments could still make an impact on your credit score.

    If not working with a specialised lender, you might find that the lender will do a soft inquiry on your credit when going through the pre-qualification process. No worries here, as this doesn’t put any dents in your score. If you prequalify for the loan you are looking for, you should get an alert via email from the lender of your choice.

    The Money You Need: Hopefully, you will have prequalified for the loan you are looking for so you can ensure you have access to the money you need, when you need it. Whether you’re going through some unexpected circumstance in life or just need money to pay something off quickly, knowing you are prequalified for the loan you need is a comforting feeling, allowing you access to the cash you need for whatever you need it for.

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