yfan wrote:One difference that is in favor of the Double Cash, though, is that Chase almost never gives out SP CLIs. Citi does. So if Chase gives you a low limit on the Freedom or the Freedom Unlimited, you are kind of stuck with it unless you are willing to take a hard pull for another card, and even then there's no guarantee you'll get a good limit on THAT card. Citi will do SP CLIs every 6 months, at least up to a point.
Something to consider for sure. Right now, I have my sights set on getting the Double Cash card next, but I want to eventually get the CSP (maybe 2 years down the line) and that is making me consider the CFU for the UR.
Is that specifically great for rewards? No, but I have often found that people do not account for the opportunity cost of bonus. It isn't just a matter of giving up the extra 0.5% on the DC as opposed to the Freedom. But when you get a card that has a minimum spend for a bonus, you may be using that card in places where other cards may give you a better rate, not just as a base rate but through a promotion. Right now one of my Amex offers is for Virgin Atlantic flights (or Air France). Spend $1K, get $200 back. If I do that on a Freedom because I need to meet the minimum spend, my total return is: $150 + $15 (1.5% of $1K) or $165. For my BCE, that total is $210 ($200 from the Amex offer and $10 as 1% of $1K). But the Freedom's spend requirement is small and it's reasonable it could be covered by other expenses that don't have such lucrative promos from other cards, depending on what someone spends on and how much. This math gets even more biting when we are talking about larger spend requirements, like the $4K spend requirement for the CSP.
Great point. The bonuses of some of these cards like CSP and PRG are great, but you tend to lose out on maximum rewards in your quest to meet the spending goals. Which is why I made a mental note not to apply for any of those cards until I have a large, non-specific expense that I can put on those cards (though I'd probably still be losing out on $20-$40 if I have the Double Cash by then). Like you said, unless you plan it out pretty meticulously, the actual differential is rarely as much as the bonus.
My point is that bonuses need to be put into context against someone's entire profile and opportunities from existing cards, not just one alternative product. If you are foregoing great deals to earn a bonus on an everyday spend card, perhaps you don't come out as much ahead as you think and a higher rate, long term, no bonus card should be considered.
It looks like we're not going to be getting any new card that's going to offer a better cashback than the Double Cash's 2%. That makes it a great long-term card for miscellaneous expenses, like you and kdm have said. The best alternative would perhaps be the CFU card for its sign-up bonus and the UR, provided you have the CSP.