Full Review of Citi Simplicity Credit Card
Outstanding 0% APR offer on balance transfers
0% introductory APR offer on new purchases
No late fees, penalty rates, or annual fees
3% foreign transaction fee
No rewards program
No one-time offer
- 0% Introductory APR for 18 months on Balance Transfers: According to Experian, the average credit card balance in 2019 was $6,028. If you’re struggling with credit card debt, and paying the customary 20% or so in annual interest on that balance, one way to tackle the problem is to complete a balance transfer—as in, moving your balance to a card with a low introductory APR. The Citi Simplicity card has one of the best such offers of any credit card: you’ll get 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the date of your first transfer. (The transfer fee, however, is the higher of $5 or 3%) All transfers must be completed within the first four months of opening an account, but there’s no time limit of course on paying off the principal. After the introductory APR period is over, though, the APR is 14.74% to 24.74%, depending on your creditworthiness, which is a fairly typical range.
- 0% Introductory APR for 18 Months on New Purchases: This card is also a fine choice if you plan to make major purchases soon, such as replacing your home appliances or upgrading your computer setup, and want to put off paying interest on them, at least for a while. You can get 0% APR on purchases for 18 months from the date of opening an account, giving you more than a full year to finance your purchase without worrying about interest charges. It’s best, of course, to pay off most or all of that spending before that interest-free period is up. Once the introductory offer expires, the regular APR will kick in, and could markedly add to your remaining debt.
- No Late Fees, Penalty Rates, or Annual Fees: For a card with such generous introductory APR offers, the absence of an annual fee is an added perk. There are also no late fees, no matter when you make a payment, although you will continue to incur interest on the outstanding balance, at least after the initial 0% APR period. Also, unlike with some cards, the APR doesn’t increase to a penalty rate--usually the highest interest rate charged on the card—after you’ve been in arrears on payments for 60 days or more.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: The Citi Simplicity card’s 3% foreign transaction fee makes the card less than ideal for use outside of the United States or to make online purchases from foreign vendors. While that’s a typical rate for this fee, not all credit cards impose this charge. You may want to also carry another credit card, such as the Capital One VentureOne Rewards card, that has no foreign transaction fee.
- No Rewards Program: With many credit cards, you earn valuable rewards in the form of cash back, points, or airline miles when using your card to make purchases. The Citi Simplicity card doesn’t have this perk. You earn no rewards for purchases you make.
- No One-Time Offer: This card doesn’t have a one-time offer, so there’s no incentive for spending a certain amount after you receive it. (Which, alternatively, might be a plus to the card if you fear earning the offer might make you spend beyond your means.) If you’re looking for a card with a generous one-time offer, consider the Citi Rewards+ card. You’ll get 15,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening an account, a $150 value.
This Card is Best For
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Tends to pay less than balance in full and so accumulates debt on card
The Citi Simplicity card is an excellent option for those carrying debt on high-interest credit cards and are seeking relief in the form of a low-interest balance transfer. This card offers 0% APR for a generous 18 months after the date of your first transfer, allowing you a year and a half to pay off your credit card debt without incurring further interest charges.
To put that in perspective, let’s say you are carrying a $6,000 balance on a typical credit card. According to the Federal Reserve, the average assessed interest rate for credit cards as of May 2019 was 17.14%. Assuming you were paying that average rate, the minimum payment on your balance would be $180 per month, and it would take you 46 months to pay off the debt. In total, you’d repay $8,205, including interest charges of $2,206.
But, let’s say you instead transferred the $6,000 balance transfer to the Citi Simplicity card. You’d be charged a transfer fee of 3% of the balance, which would come to $180. However, provided you stuck with a $180 monthly payment, and you qualified for a 14.74% interest rate after the introductory APR offer ended, you’d eliminate the balance in 36 months (you would eliminate $3,240 at 0% interest during the first 18 months and then it would take another 18 months to pay down the remaining $2,760 once the introductory rate expires). Even better, you’d pay just $317 in interest, in addition to the transfer fee. The balance transfer would save you $1,889 in interest compared with your old card, and you’d be out of debt 10 months sooner.
The card is also a fine choice if you plan major purchases, since it allows you to forgo interest on those buys for the 18 months you own the card. That feature could allow you to skip hundreds of dollars in interest charges on buying a pricey new computer, say, or on completing a major home renovation or taking an expensive vacation.
- Citi Identity Theft Solutions
- Digital wallet access
- Choose your own payment due date
According to the 2019 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction study, Citi ranks 6th out of 11 card issuers in terms of customer satisfaction. Its ranking is 799, which is just below the national issuer average of 806.
If you have questions about your card or your account, Citi’s customer service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Just call 1-800-347-4934.
As a Citi cardholder, you can set up automatic account alerts. Once in place, the alerts help you monitor your account. Citi will remind you about balance totals and payment due dates, as well as warning you if you go over your credit limit.
As a Citi cardholder, you get access to Citi Identity Theft Solutions for all your cards and accounts. If your personal information is stolen, even through fraud on a card issued by a different company, you can receive personalized support and assistance through the program. A Citi representative will assist you in contacting credit bureaus to report the theft, advise on how to complete any necessary police reports or government forms, and help you identify other accounts that may have been compromised.
Hidden Fees to Watch Out For
With no penalty APR, late fees or annual fees, the Citi Simplicity card is a relatively low cost option. However, you should be aware that the 3% foreign transaction fee could add to your costs when traveling internationally.
There’s also a fee for balance transfers. It will cost you $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. If you're looking to transfer a balance, there are cards available that don't charge a fee, or who charge a lower fee than the Simplicity card.
If you have credit card debt and need some time, interest-free, to pay it off, signing up for the Citi Simplicity card makes a lot of sense. You’ll get 18 months at 0% APR on eligible balance transfers, giving you nearly two years to reduce or eliminate your debt without incurring costly interest fees. The offer could help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest.
However, the Citi Simplicity card has little to recommend it once your debt is paid off. After that, consider signing up for a rewards credit card, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Like the Citi Simplicity card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has no annual fee. However, you’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.