Citi Simplicity® Card

Pros

  • 0% intro APR
  • $0 late-payment fees
  • $0 annual fee
  • Free FICO® Score

Cons

  • No rewards
  • Balance-transfer fee

Updated September 19, 2017

Citi Simplicity® Card is one card at the top of the pack for helping to cut debt. It nails a few things better than any of its competitors: The card offers the longest 0% intro APR window we know of outside of Citi®-branded credit cards, plus it doesn’t charge for late payments.

These are a few reasons we think it’s one of both the best balance-transfer credit cards and the best credit cards of 2017. Read on to dive deeper and learn whether it’s a good fit for your needs.

What we like about Citi Simplicity® Card

  • 0% intro APR - The card includes a 0% intro APR for 21 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers made within four months. We think the real value is in the balance transfer promo. We Fools always encourage smart use of debt, and transferring balances to a 0% intro APR card can help avoid costly interest charges. In fact, paying down a $5,000 balance over 21 months will cost a whopping $825 in interest charges at an 18% APR. 
  • $0 late fees – We applaud Citi’s wallet-friendly move to nix late payment fees and penalties since they can quickly pile up when missing a payment. Many credit card issuers charge upwards of $30 for a missed payment and bump up APRs to near 30%, which doesn't happen with this card! That doesn’t mean Citi Simplicity® Card cardholders can ignore monthly obligations, though. Card benefits can be pulled for delinquent payments. Furthermore, payment history makes up 35% of your FICO® Score, so paying late will result in a substantial hit to your score.

What could be improved about Citi Simplicity® Card

  • Rewards – Citi Simplicity® Card does not offer any cash-back rewards or a sign-up bonus. While we’ve not uncovered a feature-packed credit card where each feature is best-in-class, we can hope that such a credit card utopia exists somewhere and some competing cards offer both rewards and a 0% intro APR (more on that below).
  • Balance-transfer fee – Balance transfers incur a 3% fee. This is standard, but we’d prefer offering an introductory period during which balance-transfer fees are waived.

How to best use Citi Simplicity® Card

  • Keep an eye on your calendar when transferring balances. Only balance transfers made within the first four months of account opening qualify for a 0% intro APR.
  • Consider placing credit purchases on a different credit card if able to pay down balances in less than 21 billing cycles. There are many great cash-back credit cards that earn rewards on purchases and include 0% intro APR's ranging from 9 to 15 billing cycles.
  • Leverage free access to your FICO® Score. Citi provides free access to your FICO® Score, and this perk is a huge value! In fact, myFICO charges upwards of $350 per year to receive, track, and monitor your comprehensive credit history.

A $0 balance-transfer fee option

Citi Simplicity® Card charges balance-transfer fees, but BankAmericard® has nixed transfer fees for balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening (3%, $10 min. thereafter). That’s $150 worth of savings on a transferred balance of $5,000. In addition, BankAmericard® offers a lengthy 0% intro APR and a $0 annual fee. Read our full BankAmericard® review to learn more.

$150 sign-up bonus and a 0% intro APR

Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM may be a better fit for individuals with good credit who want a high rewards rate and a sign-up bonus, in addition to a 0% intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers. The credit card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back without an annual fee and qualifying cardholders earn a $150 bonus after spending at least $500 in the first three months from account opening. But a word of caution: Cash-back cardholders will generally be better off paying balances by their due dates monthly to avoid interest charges and we'd caution against spending to earn rewards, if balance transfer strategies are the main reason you're consider Citi Simplicity® Card. Read our full Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM review to learn more.

Final take

Citi Simplicity® Card combines most of the features we find ideal for paying off debt faster, all in one package. An ensemble of low fees, ease of paying down debt balances, and convenience are some features we value in credit cards. Citi Simplicity® Card delivers on all these fronts, which is why we hold it in high regard. Cardholders wanting to earn rewards won't find much value here, but that's intended and we view this as a pure balance-transfer credit card. We believe $0 the right amount of credit card debt to carry and cardholders may be best off focusing on getting out of debt fast, rather than worrying about rewards.


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