Citi Simplicity Card Review: Is It Right for You?
The Citi Simplicity Card is a low APR credit card providing two different 0% APR offers and an absence of several fees.
The card is unique in that there are no other cards on the market that combine an absence of major fees as well as extended 0% APR offers. At the same time, the card is missing a rewards program.
With these things in mind, we’ll help you decide if this card is right for you. We’ll analyze how the card works, what its rates and fees are and how it compares to other low APR credit cards.
At the end of our review, we’ll give you our opinion about if you should add this card to your wallet.
Pros: 21 months of 0% interest on balance transfers, no late fees.
Cons: Average intro offer for purchases, relatively high APR.
|Intro APR for balance transfers||Intro APR for purchases||Regular APR|
|0% for 21 months||0% for 12 months||16.74% to 26.74%|
This card is very simple in its approach to card ownership. Rather than emphasizing rewards and sign-up bonuses, it focuses on reducing fees and providing extended periods of 0% interest.
Citi doesn’t say what kind of credit scores you’ll need to get this card, but out guess is that scores of around 660 or higher are eligible for this card. We say this for a couple of reasons.
Credit card companies take your credit scores seriously. If you have low scores, they see you as a risk.
So, they most likely won’t approve you for their rewards credit cards that can, in some cases, earn you $600 a year. They don’t want to spend the money funding rewards if you end up skipping out on your payments.
Cards like the Citi Simplicity don’t offer rewards, however. Since the card doesn’t offer those rewards, Citi can lower the credit score requirements.
This is a good thing, as Citi’s combination of low fees and interest rates can be a big boost if you’re trying to pay down balances and build your credit.
The card’s features are pretty simple. If Citi approves you for the card, you’ll get an email notification and your card will arrive in the mail, in most cases, within seven to 10 days.
Once you have the card, you can use it to do three things: make purchases, transfer balances and get cash advances.
You can add your Citi Simplicity Card to Google Pay, Samsung Wallet, and Apple Pay, which is a good thing to keep in mind as you make purchases.
Balance transfers are another option you have with this card. Balance transfers are beneficial when you have a balance on another card that’s generating interest payments.
Because the Citi Simplicity Card offers 0% interest on balance transfers, moving a balance to this card could save you a lot of money.
For example, if you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 20% APR, you’ll pay $1,000 in interest if you carry that balance for a year.
However, if you transfer that balance to the Citi Simplicity Card, you’ll pay no interest for at least the first year (more on that later), thereby saving yourself $1,000.
You’ll have to pay a balance transfer fee, which is something we’ll talk about in the rates and fees section.
While the Citi Simplicity Card is missing some of the common fees you’ll see among other cards, it still has interest rates, balance transfer fees and cash advance fees you need to know about:
- Interest rate for purchases and cash advances: 16.74% to 26.74%
- Intro APR on balance transfers: 0% for 21 months
- Intro APR on purchases: 0% for 12 months
- Balance transfer fee: $5 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Cash advance fee: $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%
- Returned payment fee: Up to $39
- Annual fee: None
The first thing we want to cover in this section is the interest rate. Citi is going to review your application, check your credit scores and your credit history, then determine what your interest rate will be.
The better your credit scores and the cleaner your credit history, the lower the APR you’ll get.
Now, it can be hard to understand how much an interest rate can affect you, so we’ve created a table to show you the effect interest rates have on balances.
The chart shows three different APR’s you might get on this card, five balances you’d carry for a year and the interest you’ll pay on those balances:
|16.74% APR for one year||20.74% APR for one year||26.74% APR for one year|
|$1,000 daily balance||$167.40||$207.40||$267.40|
|$2,000 daily balance||$334.80||$414.80||$534.80|
|$3,000 daily balance||$502.20||$622.20||$802.20|
|$4,000 daily balance||$669.60||$829.60||$1,069.60|
|$5,000 daily balance||$837.00||$1,037.00||$1,337.00|
The single best way to hurt yourself using a credit card is to carry a balance. When we say “carry a balance,” we mean not paying off your balance every month. If you don’t, then Citi will apply the APR to the leftover balance.
The research we’ve done indicates that you’re more likely to carry a balance than not carry a balance if you use your credit card(s) regularly.
So, look at this chart. Even the lowest APR will cost you more than $500 a year if you carry a $3,000 balance.
Think of the interest you pay as a fee for using the card. Are you willing to pay $500 a year to own this card? If not, then make sure you pay your balance off every month.
Not only will you avoid interest payments but you’ll also see your credit scores go up.
How high your balances are in relation to your credit limit is the second most important factor in your credit score. The lower your balances, the higher your scores.
The next set of fees are those you’ll pay for a balance transfer and cash advance. The Citi Simplicity Card will give you 0% interest on balance transfers for 21 months.
You have to make these transfers within the first four months of owning your card. You can submit a transfer request when you fill out your application and you can do it through your Citi account.
However, you will pay a 5% fee to transfer your balance. If you move $2,000 to this card, you’ll pay $100. Keep in mind, though, that in nearly every case, the fee you pay to move the balance will be far smaller than what you would’ve paid in interest.
The cash advance fee applies to transactions where you use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM. Any withdrawal of $200 or lower will incur a $10 fee. Any withdrawal above $200 will get the 5% fee.
The card has no late fees but it does have a fee for a returned payment. So, while the Citi Simplicity Card claims to be a no-fee card, it does charge fees.
What’s missing is a late fee and an annual fee. The late fee is the truly unique omission, as other low APR cards don’t charge annual fees, either.
When taken by itself, a credit card can seem better than it is or worse than it is because there is no context. This is why we believe it’s important to compare the Citi Simplicity Card to other low APR cards. The following chart shows the rates and fees of other low APR cards:
|Citi Simplicity Card||Chase Slate Credit Card||Citi Diamond Preferred Credit Card||BankAmericard Credit Card||U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card||Wells Fargo Platinum Card|
|Intro APR for balance transfers||0% for 21 months||0% for 15 months||0% for 18 months||0% for 15 months||0% for 18 months||0% for 18 months|
|Intro APR for purchases||0% for 12 months||0% for 15 months||0% for 18 months||0% for 15 months||0% for 18 months||0% for 18 months|
|Regular APR||16.74% to 26.74%||16.99% to 25.74%||15.74% to 25.74%||14.99% to 24.99%||14.49% to 25.49%||17.49% to 26.99%|
|Balance transfer fee||$5 or 5%||$0 for first 60 days, $5 or 5% after||$5 or 5%||$10 or 3%||$5 or 3%||$5 or 3% for first 120 days, then 5%|
|Late payment fee||None||Up to $39||Up to $39||Up to $39||Up to $39||Up to $37|
The Citi Simplicity Card has the longest 0% offer for balance transfers at 21 months, with the Citi Diamond Preferred Credit Card and the Wells Fargo Platinum Card in second with an 18-month 0% period.
However, the card’s intro APR for purchase is second-worst to the BBVA Compass Visa Signature Card’s six months of 0%.
This is a bit disappointing but not a major flaw. If you can pay off your balance every month, then the card’s 0% interest on purchases isn’t a factor.
That being said, you can leverage a 12-month intro APR to spread out payments of a big purchase.
For example, you may need to pay for repairs to your car. If the repairs are $1,000 and you have 12 months of 0% interest, then you can split up that $1,000 into 12 payments of $83.33 per month.
As for balance transfer fees, the best card in the group is the Chase Slate because of its 0% fee for the first 60 days. This is the ideal situation if you have a high-interest balance, as you can move that balance to your card without paying a dime.
The Citi Simplicity Card is by far the best card for late fees, as it’s the only one in the group not to charge a late fee.
In general, we believe this card fares well against its competition. It’s got a relatively high APR and short 0% APR on purchase.
However, its 21 months of no interest on balance transfers, as well as no late fees make it one of the best cards of the six we compared.
Based on our research, we think it’s an excellent fit if you’re looking to transfer a high-interest balance.
The card’s 21 months of 0% APR on balance transfers is excellent, although you’ll have to pay a 5% fee to make that transaction.
To use our earlier example, if you have a $5,000 balance for a year on a card with a 20% APR, you’ll pay $1,000 per year in interest. That equals out to about $83 a month. If you transferred that balance to this card, you’d pay a $250 fee to do so.
However, you’ll avoid those $83 payments for 21 months, which will save you more than $1,700 in interest payments. If you’re smart about your balance transfer, you’ll use that saved $1,700 to pay down your balance.
If you choose to leverage your Citi Simplicity Card this way, you’ll drop your balance from $5,000 to $3,300. And, if you’ve got the 16.74% APR and you carry the balance for a year, then your interest payment will be about $552, or about half of what you were paying on the other card.
If you don’t have a balance to transfer but are looking for a card you can use to spread out payments on a big purchase via a long 0% APR for purchases, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Signature Card is a good choice.
It has 18 months of 0% interest and, unlike the Citi Diamond Preferred, which also has 18 months of 0%, it doesn’t have a penalty APR.
For further research, check out our ranking of the best low APR cards. We do a deep dive into the details of each of the cards, helping you see which card may be the best fit for your particular financial situation.
Company does not do credit checks nor verifies identity/names
I just got a call from Citi Simplicity today, 8/30/19, promoting their products, saying my husband by the name of ARMESTIC has an account and is wanting to make a purchase. I do not have a husband. He is deceased and has been for 18 years. I am waiting on a credit for $1670.55 for a refrigerator that was never delivered. The order had been canceled since July. I still have not gotten credit for it in over 45 days. Home Depot issued credit on my behalf for my refrigerator yesterday. I told them that once I got the credit, I'd be canceling the card. Can't handle nor can tolerate this. I did a dispute and was promised a refund. I hope it will be expedited and a paper check mailed to me for the payment I did over the phone for $50 since it was not necessary. I did not have time to investigate at the time of the collection call so I paid it to avoid problems. That money needs to be refunded.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend