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Citi Simplicity® Card Review: A debt consolidation card with a generous introductory balance transfer period
For those looking to transfer existing debt, the Citi Simplicity® Card has a great introductory offer — 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months and then an ongoing 14.74% — 24.74% APR. Citi adds even more to that initial perk with 0% APR on new purchases for 12 months as well, then an ongoing 14.74% – 24.74% APR. Then it gets even better with no annual fee and no penalty for late payments.
All of that sounds fantastic, but it does come with a catch. Two actually — a prohibitive balance transfer fee and zero rewards. However, if you have another card earning points on daily purchases and appreciate paying off debt without fear of late fees, the Citi Simplicity® Card is certainly worth a look.
What we like about the Citi Simplicity® Card
- Lengthy 0% interest on balance transfers: 0% APR for 21 for balance transfers, then an ongoing 14.74% — 24.74% APR. The balance must be transferred to the card within four months of activation to qualify for the offer.
- No annual fee: Although plenty of no annual fee cards exist, it’s beneficial in a balance reduction card not to incur an additional expense every 12 months.
- No late fees: The Citi Simplicity® Card will not penalize you for being late with no actual late fees or interest increases.
- Additional benefits: The Citi Simplicity® Card features Citi’s identity theft solutions program and purchase protection, should your identity, your card, or both be compromised. The card also comes with 24/7 customer service, automatic account alerts, and contactless-chip and digital wallet capabilities.
Things to consider
- High balance transfer fee: The average credit card levies a 3% balance transfer fee to handle your unpaid debt, while some even offer a 0% transfer fee. However, the $5 minimum or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater fee that the Citi Simplicity® Card renders can prove pricey for those looking to pay down their balance — even if you have 21 months to do so. It’s worth doing your homework and figuring out the math before taking on additional debt.
- No rewards: The Citi Simplicity® Card is built with debt consolidation and reduction as its primary focus, whether that’s from a prior balance or a recent purchase. However, if you want to pay down a balance and earn rewards from daily use, this is not the card for you.
- High APR: For a balance transfer card such as this one, the high APR rate — from 14.74% — 24.74% — is an aspect to consider.
- No late fees: Surprised to see this listed as something to consider? For some, it can be problematic. While a no late fee card is helpful in certain situations — payment timing, traveling abroad, the holidays — it can lure you into a false sense of security. Late payments, even if you’re not immediately penalized, will eventually harm your credit score. Rack up too many, and it will hinder your ability to maintain good credit later on.
Balance transfer details
The primary draw of the Citi Simplicity® Card is the attractive introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months, then an ongoing 14.74% — 24.74% APR. With 21 months to pay down a relocated balance, the Citi Simplicity® Card helps make debt more manageable. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to pay a $5 or 5% balance transfer fee, whichever is greater. Also, remember to transfer your debt within four months of opening the account to take advantage of the low term.
You may not want to take this card on a trip abroad, as it includes a 3% foreign transaction fee.
However, you don’t have to worry about an annual fee or late fees, which is a big deal if you opt to utilize the full 21 months 0% APR offer on balance transfers for debt reduction, then an ongoing 14.74% — 24.74% APR. These are significant perks for someone who can’t afford extra charges.
How does it compare to other balance transfer cards?
If paying down debt is your primary objective, and you want a no interest timeframe in which to do it, few cards will serve you better than Citi Simplicity® Card. If debt consolidation is just one of your goals, and you don’t mind sacrificing time for some extra features, there are a couple of alternatives.
Citi offers another card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, which has a lower intro balance transfer timeframe and transfer fee, but you can earn cash back rewards on purchases. The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers an extended 0% APR to both balance transfers and purchases for 20 billing cycles and provides cell phone protection.
|Card name||APR||Annual Fee||Credit Needed||Key features|
|Citi Simplicity® Card||14.74% — 24.74%||None||Good to Excellent|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||13.99%–23.99% variable||None||Good to Excellent||2% cash back on purchases (1% at purchase plus 1% upon payment of purchases)|
|U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card||See Terms||$0||Good||Cell phone protection|
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