2017 Citi Simplicity Review – WalletHub Editors
This content is not provided or commissioned by any issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of an issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by an issuer.
The Verdict: You don’t need to be a civil engineer to enjoy Citi Simplicity. Rather, urban planning jokes aside, you need to have excellent credit and either big-ticket spending in your plans or a significant balance already accruing interest at a high rate in order to benefit. That’s because the Citi Simplicity Credit Card is most notable for offering 0% introductory interest rates on new purchases and balance transfers for an astounding 21 months.
When you further consider that it does not charge an annual fee, Simplicity clearly is an amazing offer for new-purchase financing and a pretty great way to reduce the cost of existing debt. You just need to make sure to incorporate its 3% balance transfer fee into your debt payoff plan.
Finally, it’s important to note what Citi Simplicity most certainly is not: An everyday spending vehicle. It does not offer rewards and thus should not be used to make purchases that you can pay for in full within a billing period. We therefore recommend it as part of an Island Approach to credit-card use.
0% Intro Rates For 21 Months: Nearly two years without interest is something that most credit card users can only dream of. In fact, 21 months is among the longest 0% introductory terms on the market, and such a lengthy respite isn’t always available.
While both new purchases and balance transfers get to go on this vacation from interest rates, it’s most valuable when employed before incurring debt. That’s because a balance transfer – which you have to make within four months of opening your account – would still incur finance charges in the form of a 3% balance transfer fee. Paying that fee could make sense in certain situations, given that Citi allows you to transfer most major types of consumer debt – including auto loan, mortgage and private student loan balances, according to WalletHub’s Balance Transfer Study – but it’s worse than nothing and must be factored into all calculations.
Regardless of how you decide to make use of this offer, doing so in conjunction with a credit card calculator will help you plan the monthly payments that will be necessary to get out of debt before high regular rates take effect.
No Annual Fee: Having to pay an annual fee would at least partially defeat the purpose of using a 0% credit card. After all, it would essentially amount to prepaying the interest that you would accrue under normal circumstances. Citi Simplicity’s lack of an annual fee is therefore one of its most critical features.
Not having to pay an annual fee allows you to keep your account open indefinitely, even if you don’t use your card beyond the 0% introductory period, which will benefit your credit standing by increasing the average age of the accounts listed on your credit report.
- Above-Average Regular APR: Everyone who gets approved for this card has excellent credit. However, everyone who gets approved will also be assigned a regular APR that is above the 13.16% market average for excellent-credit credit cards. It could be anywhere from 14.24% to 24.24%, depending on just how excellent your excellent credit is. It seems that’s the tradeoff for such an extensive 0% term. It’s also why you should always use this card with an eye on the clock.
- 3% Balance Transfer Fee: While this is roughly equal to the average balance transfer fee, it’s a cost that must nevertheless be taken into account when contemplating such a transaction. In the context of the $7,941 owed by the average household with credit card debt, this fee would amount to $238 in added debt to pay.
- No Card Rewards: Rewards certainly shouldn’t be a high priority when you’re searching for a card to lighten your financing load, especially in the case of balance transfers. But the fact that Citi Simplicity does not offer rewards of any kind might make new-purchase financing a bit less appealing, and definitely detracts from the card’s ongoing usability.
Other Things To Consider
- No Late Fees Or Penalty Rate: The average credit card has a maximum late fee of $35.50 and a penalty APR of 28.04%, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report. Not having to worry about such costs should provide some peace of mind, but it doesn’t mean that you should be any less vigilant about paying on time. Failing to make payments on schedule can lead to significant credit score damage, ultimately costing you a lot of money and serving as a major penalty in its own right.
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee: Getting charged to spend money is always a bummer, and while you may not have any international travel planned, Simplicity’s 3% foreign transaction fee could enter the equation if you make a purchase from a merchant that is based abroad. It certainly isn’t the simplest policy for cardholders in a global economy, especially when other issuers – namely, Capital One and Discover – have eliminated foreign fees from their credit cards altogether.
- Citicard Accoutrements: Simplicity will give you access to a range of special cardholder services and benefits. This includes Citi Private Pass, which enables you to buy tickets to exclusive concerts and events, and Citi Price Rewind, a system that searches for lower prices on items that you purchase in order to provide refunds of up to $2,500 per calendar year.
Compared To The Competition
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
|Purchase Intro APR||0% for 21 months||0% for 21 months||0% for 18 months||0% for 15 months|
|Transfer Intro APR||0% for 21 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 21 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 18 months|
Transfer Fee: 4% (min $10)
|0% for 15 months|
Transfer Fee: $0 Intro Fee on Transfers made within 60 days of Account Opening.
|Regular APR||14.24% - 24.24% (V)||13.24% - 23.24% (V)||13.74% - 23.74% (V)||15.74% - 24.49% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.9 / 5||5.0 / 5||N/A||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
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