Citi Simplicity has one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers on the market. If you transfer credit card debt to Simplicity, you will get a 0% intro APR for an incredible 21 months. There is a 3% balance transfer fee. You should do the math (and we will help you later in this post) — but for most people the fee is worth paying. As the name implies, Citi has tried to make this card “simple.” That means no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty APR. It also means no rewards. If you have credit card debt at a high interest rate, Simplicity can help you save a lot of money and become debt-free faster if you use it wisely.
The card gets its name, Citi Simplicity, from its effort to keep things simple. There is never an annual fee, late fee, or penalty rate. There is an introductory offer of 0% for 21 months which includes balance transfers made within the first four months of opening the card and all purchases made during the 21-month period. After 21 months your rate will depend on your creditworthiness. Additionally, after the introductory rate ends, you will see the same interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.
The Introductory Offer
This is the longest 0% purchase offer that we have found on the market. If you need to finance a purchase, it will be hard to find a better deal. What we particularly like about this 0% APR is that the interest is waived, not deferred. Most store credit cards only defer the interest (and for far fewer than 21 months), and you would be hit with a big penalty if you don’t pay the balance in full before the promotional period is over. That is not the case with Citi Simplicity.
In addition to the 0% purchase offer, there is also a very strong 0% balance transfer offer. You will pay no interest for 21 months, but will need to pay a 3% balance transfer. If you think you can pay your debt in full within 6 months, a balance transfer is usually not worthwhile. However, if you think it will take longer than 6 months, the fee is usually worth it and you can use this calculator to see how much you can save.
Here is an example to help understand the math. If you are making a monthly payment of $300 on $10,000 of credit card debt at a current interest rate of 17% and you transfer it to the Citi Simplicity card, you will be charged a $300 upfront fee. However, during the 21-month promotional period you would save over $2,000 — making the $300 fee worthwhile.
What Happens After 21 Months
Even if you still have a balance at the end of the 21 months, interest will start to accrue on your remaining balance on a go-forward basis. There is no penalty, and no retroactive interest will be applied.
No Late Fee
Most credit cards charge a late fee of around $30 when you miss paying at least the minimum payment by the deadline. However, the Citi Simplicity does away with this fee and will let you choose your payment due date when you sign up.
However, just because Citi doesn’t charge a late fee doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for making a late payment. If your payment is more than 30 days late, Citi would report that information to the credit bureau. This can have a negative impact on your credit score that can result in higher interest rates when you later apply for new lines of credit.
No Penalty Rate
Most credit cards in addition to charging a late fee will penalize you with an increased interest rate when you are late with a payment. This rate could be somewhere in the 30% range for purchases moving forward. The Citi Simplicity Card promises no penalty rate, meaning even if you are late with a payment, after all mistakes happen, you won’t be gouged with your credit card interest rate. However, if you bounce a check for payment, then you can be charged $35.
Same Interest Rate No Matter What You Use Your Card For
The Citi Simplicity card, keeping things simple, makes the interest rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances all the same. Many other credit cards will have different interest rates for each.
It’s already been mentioned that the Citi Simplicity card does not offer any rewards programs. However, they do offer some price protection. It’s called Citi Price Rewind. After you make a purchase with your card, you can register that purchase with Citi. Then Citi will search for lower prices across hundreds of online retailers. If Citi finds it at a lower price within 60 days, you will receive the difference between what you paid and the lower price found, up to $500 per purchase and $2,500 per year.
The only downside is this benefit only applies to certain purchases. For example, it doesn’t apply to purchasing a car, but can apply for tires purchased. You can view the full list of what qualifies here. If you find a lower price yourself, then you can submit a Price Rewind Benefit Request.
You need to have good or excellent credit in order to be approved for the credit card.
In addition to a strong credit score, you will also need to demonstrate your ability to repay the debt. Citi will look at your total debt relative to your income to ensure that you are not too deep into debt. This product is not a way for people in trouble to get a lower rate — it is a way for Citi to get borrowers with a good profile who want a lower interest rate.
A very long 0% period.
At a 3% balance transfer fee, this is the longest balance transfer on the market. Time is money — and every additional month at 0% can represent considerable savings.
Fewer “gotcha” fees.
Although we hope you never need to take advantage of these benefits, the card has no late fees and no penalty APR. In order to avoid even the risk of a late fee, we strongly recommend that you automate your monthly payments. However, mistakes can happen — and we do applaud Citi for removing some of the most annoying fees.
Price Rewind — it is actually a nice feature.
Price Rewind is a feature that is not used enough. Citi will look for a better deal — and give you the difference if you overpaid. This isn’t just a promise — we have spoken with people who have benefited from this feature.
There is a balance transfer fee.
In most cases, and for most people, the fee will more than pay for itself. However, there are other balance transfer deals on the market that don’t have a fee. Just make sure you do the math to ensure that the fee is worth paying in your situation.
The rate after the 0% intro offer is not low.
After the intro period is over, the go-to purchase APR is not low. It ranges from the teens to the 20s, depending upon your credit risk. Hopefully, the 21-month period is long enough to eliminate your debt completely.
After receiving your card, you should call the number on the back of your card to initiate the balance transfer. You will need to give the credit card number of the credit card that has the debt. You cannot transfer debt from another Citi credit card (including its co-brand cards).
Although it can take less time, Citi warns that a balance transfer takes at least 14 days to complete. And you will remain responsible for making all payments on your card until the transfer is complete. We recommend paying close attention so that you do not end up with any late fees on your existing cards.
If you have a lot of credit card debt that will take a long time (more than 15 months) to pay off, this card is a great option. Over 21 months, the savings can be incredible. Just make sure you take advantage of the 0% period to attack your debt as quickly as possible.
No — you do not need excellent credit. Citi will approve anyone with good or excellent credit.
Once the introductory period is over, interest will start to accrue at the standard purchase interest rate on a go-forward basis. Interest during the introductory period is waived — so you do not need to worry about a retroactive interest charge.
In the short term, your credit score will probably take a small hit (5-10 points) because you applied for new credit. However, over time, a balance transfer can increase your credit score with proper practices. This is because while new credit makes up 10% of your credit score, the amount you owe accounts for 30%. By using a balance transfer, you will reduce your interest rate. That should help you get out of debt a lot faster.