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Updated July 8, 2016

Citi Simplicity Review: Fastest Way to Pay Off Debt?

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
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Do you have existing debt? The Citi Simplicity is a great way to pay if off faster with a generous intro APR offer. Find out if it’s right for you and how it compares with other popular balance transfer cards.

Overall Score

4.5

Fees

5.0

Benefits

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers and purchases
  • No late fees
  • No penalty interest rate
  • No annual fee
  • No rewards

Bottom Line

Excellent card for people who carry a balance

We understand. You may have racked up some credit card debt, or maybe sometimes you just need a little bit of extra time to pay the bill.

This is where a card like the Citi Simplicity comes in handy.

By not charging for late payments, the Citi Simplicity Card gives cardholders some breathing room when it comes to managing their credit. Plus, with a 21-month introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, this card is a smart pick for people who carry a balance. But in exchange for this flexibility, it does not have a rewards program.

Is it right for you? Let's take a look at its best features, some downsides, and what other comparable cards you may want to consider.

Reasons to Get Citi Simplicity

The Citi Simplicity card is not a rewards cards. Instead, its value is its extra-long introductory APR period and leniency on late payments.

Here are the most attractive features of the card:

  • Introductory APR for 21 months: The most valuable feature of the Citi Simplicity card is its generous introductory APR: 0% APR for the first 21 months. After the first 21 months, the variable APR is 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness. The introductory promotion applies to both purchases and to balance transfers from other cards, so this card is ideal for those with existing debt or planning on making large purchases soon.

    This is the longest introductory APR term we've seen on CreditDonkey.

    Please note that there is a balance transfer fee of 3%, with a minimum charge of $5 (more below), and that balance transfers must be completed within 4 months from opening the account.

    © Matthew Grapengieser (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

  • No Late Fees: Citi Simplicity will not charge you a late fee for paying late, ever. This is helpful if you need some extra days to pay or if you just forgot one month (we've all been there).

    However, be aware that consistent late payments will still be reported to the credit bureaus and affect your credit score. So even though you will not be charged any additional fees, always paying late will have a negative impact in the long run. Learn more from CreditDonkey about keeping your credit in good standing.

  • No Penalty Rate: Some card issuers may raise your monthly interest rate to an APR penalty rate of 29.99% if you are late with a payment or spend over the credit limit. With the Citi Simplicity, there is no penalty rate.

  • Payment Due Date Option: To make it easier on your finances, you can choose what day of the month you'd like to pay. This is helpful if you're flooded with bills in the beginning of the month, or if you're paid bi-monthly and you won't have the funds to pay your credit card bill until your paycheck arrives.

  • Price Protection: Ever feel like you've paid too much for something? With Citi Simplicity, you can register eligible purchases you make with the card at Citi Price Rewind, and the issuer will search hundreds of sites for 60 days after your purchase to see if it's being sold at a lower price. You can get a refund of up to $500 back per eligible item (up to $2,500 per calendar year).

  • No Liability on Unauthorized Charges: Like other major credit cards, Citi Simplicity offers protection against fraudulent charges. If someone you have not authorized gets a hold of your account number or card itself, you won't have to pay a cent for charges that person makes.

  • No Annual Fee: Have we said that this card has no annual fee yet? Combined with the long intro APR offer, this card is a great way to really get a handle on your debt.

Downsides of the Card

If you've got existing debt and want to find a way to pay it off faster, you'll be hard pressed to find a card better than Citi Simplicity. However, be aware of these downsides.

  • No Rewards: The Citi Simplicity card does not offer any sort of rewards program. Your purchases on this card do not generate any points for cash back, hotel visits or airline tickets. The lack of a rewards program means that Citi can keep the fees on this card low. If you tend to or plan to always pay off your balance in full every month, you are probably better off using a rewards card.

  • Balance Transfer Fee: There is a 3% fee on balance transfers, with a minimum charge of $5. In other words, if you transfer $1,000, it will cost $30. While transfers are not free, the fee is significantly lower than paying hefty interest on a big balance. If you can pay off your balance within the 21-month intro period, you will have saved yourself a ton in interest charges.

  • Foreign Transaction Fee: International travelers should keep in mind that there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you do not plan to use this card out of the U.S., then this has no impact on you. Otherwise, travelers should consider bringing a no foreign transaction fee credit card overseas instead.

How It Compares

Before you apply for this card, let's take a look at how it compares to a few other cards with balance transfer offers and no annual fee.

If you want a similar 21-month intro period with a more competitive ongoing APR:
The Citi Diamond Preferred also offers a long introductory 0% APR period of 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, with no annual fee. After the intro period, a variable APR of 12.24% - 22.24% applies.

However, there is a trade-off. Unlike the Citi Simplicity, it will charge a late fee and penalty rate for late payments. Our opinion: if you need the breathing room once in a while to pay late, then the Citi Simplicity offers much more value.

 

Citi Simplicity

Citi Diamond Preferred

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0%* introductory APR for 21 months*0%* introductory APR for 21 months*
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0%* introductory APR for 21 months*0%* introductory APR for 21 months*
Purchase APR13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors12.24% to 22.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors12.24% to 22.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee

Citi Simplicity: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on December 22, 2015 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Citi Diamond Preferred: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on December 22, 2015 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Simplicity® Card and Citi Diamond Preferred® Card have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you don't want to pay a balance transfer fee:
Chase Slate is one of our top recommended balance transfer cards for one big reason: it has an awesome $0 balance transfer fee promotion for the first 60 days. This feature is rare for credit cards, as most charge a transfer fee of 3% - 5%.

It has a 15-month introductory period, which is 6 months shorter than the Citi Simplicity. But if you can pay off your balance within this time, then the Chase Slate will save you more money. If you think you may need more time to pay off the debt, the Citi Simplicity is still the better way to go because you will save more money on interest for an additional 6 months.

 

Citi Simplicity

Chase Slate

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0%* introductory APR for 21 months*0% introductory APR for 15 months
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0%* introductory APR for 21 months*0% introductory APR for 15 months
Purchase APR13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors13.24% to 23.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors13.24% to 23.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee

Citi Simplicity: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on December 22, 2015 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Chase Slate: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 14, 2016 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Simplicity® Card and Chase Slate® have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you want to earn cash back rewards:
The Citi Double Cash has a introductory APR for balance transfers AND gives you the opportunity to earn cash back. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and then another 1% when you pay your credit card bill (as long as you pay the minimum payment).

Please note that the introductory APR is for balance transfers only (not for purchases). In general, this is a great card if you're looking to pay down existing debt faster and want to earn cash rewards. But you will have to make sure you can pay the entire balance every month (including balance transfers), or you'll be charged interest. Consider this card if your finances are stable and you have the ability to do so. If not, the Citi Simplicity will give you more breathing room.

 

Citi Simplicity

Citi Double Cash Card

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0%* introductory APR for 21 months*N/A
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0%* introductory APR for 21 months*0%* introductory APR for 18 months*
Purchase APR13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors13.24% to 23.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back Cash Back Rewards: Earn cash back twice on every purchase: 1% cash back when you buy; plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases

Citi Simplicity: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on December 22, 2015 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Citi® Double Cash Card: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on April 21, 2016 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Simplicity® Card and Citi® Double Cash Card have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom Line

To recap, here are the pros and cons when considering Citi Simplicity:

Pros:

  • No fees on late payments or purchases over the credit line
  • No penalty APR for late payments or purchases over the credit line
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months; after that, a variable APR, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness
  • No annual fee

Cons:

  • No rewards program
  • Balance transfers have a fee of 3% (with a $5 minimum) and must be made in the first 4 months of account opening to qualify for the 0% introductory APR
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

If you have existing debt on another card, the Citi Simplicity is a great way to make a serious dent in that debt. The lack of most common fees (annual fees, late fees, and penalty rates) and a long introductory APR make this a fantastic card if you carry a balance and are occasionally late with a payment. 21 months is huge savings.

However, if you pay off your balance every month, you won't be getting any value out of this card. You're better off with a rewards card that will earn you cash back or points for travel.

Follow @CreditDonkey or write to David R at davidr@creditdonkey.com
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citi.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on January 7, 2012. This content may have been updated on July 8, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Citi website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Simplicity® Card, Citi Diamond Preferred® Card, Citi® Double Cash Card, and Chase Slate® have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.