Citi Simplicity® Card Review: Get 21 Months of 0% APR Balance Transfers

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The Citi Simplicity card offers a 21-month introductory period for 0% APR on balance transfers.
Image Credit: Citi / Clark.com

If you are in credit card debt and are looking for relief from mounting interest charges, you may want to consider a balance transfer with the Citi Simplicity® Card.

With a 0% APR introductory period of 21 months for balance transfers, it is an attractive card for consumers who are looking to move a large existing balance from another card. It has a 12-month introductory period for 0% APR on new purchases, as well, so it also may be an option for those looking to spend interest-free in the short term.

Citi also touts “no” as the theme of this card, as in no annual fees, penalty rates or late fees.

But is this balance transfer card right for you? Team Clark decided to take a deeper dive into the details, explore the math behind the balance transfers and compare the perks to the popular Citi Double Cash card.

Table of Contents

Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market for the best options for balance transfers and 0% APR introductory periods. The Citi Simplicity Card is one of the options we evaluated in those categories. We determined that it is a viable choice for those seeking a 0% APR period on both balance transfers and new purchases. The length of its introductory rates and lack of an annual fee, penalty rates and late fees make it an attractive option.

As you’re making your decision on whether the Citi Simplicity Card is a fit for you, please use Team Clark’s review of the card in conjunction with money expert Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.

What Is the Citi Simplicity Card?

The Citi Simplicity Card is a balance transfer credit card known for its long introductory 0% APR period. New cardholders get 21 months of 0% APR on balance transfers and 12 months of 0% APR on new purchases. However, there are some caveats. You must make your balance transfer within the first four months of card membership to receive the 0% rate and you are subject to a 5% fee (minimum $5) on the total amount transferred.

The card also touts a policy of no annual fees, late fees or penalty rates.

Citi Simplicity Card: Specs and Perks

Before we get too far into whether or not this credit card is the right choice for you, let’s take a look at some of the perks and drawbacks of the card from the fine print:

Bonuses and Perks

  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: You will have 0% APR on any balance you transfer from an existing credit card over to the Citi Simplicity Card during the first four months of membership. These balance transfers, which are subject to a transfer fee of $5 or 5% (whichever is greater), can save you a significant amount of money if you are mounting interest debt on a credit card with a high APR. Balance transfers must be made within the first four months of card membership to receive the introductory rate. Transfers made in the 5th month and beyond are subject to your regular APR.
  • Introductory New Purchase APR: While not as long as the introductory period on balances transfers, you’re still going to get a full year of 0% APR on new purchases with the card. This period of time is lot quite as long as some of the top 0% APR cards on the market, but it does provide some flexibility in use of the card if you sign up to utilize the introductory balance transfer period.
  • No Late Fees or Penalty Rates: One of the biggest marketing pieces for this card is that Citi does not charge late fee or penalty rates if a due date is missed. This is nice, especially if your budget is tight and having an extra few days to get to payday makes the difference. But if you dig beneath the surface a little, you’ll find that you still owe interest on late payments and that you’ll still get dinged on your credit report if you are too late with your payment.

Cardholder Benefits

  • $0 Fraud Liability: You will not be responsible for unauthorized charges on this card
  • Free Credit Score: You will receive access to updates and historical trends for your FICO score via your Citi card account
  • Identity Theft Assistance: Citi will work with TransUnion to help you repair your credit if your personal information is stolen

Cardholder Fees

Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the Citi Simplicity card:

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  • Annual Fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Whichever is greater between $5 or 5% of the amount of the transfer
  • Cash Advance Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the total cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of a foreign purchase
  • Late Payment Fee: There is no late payment fee. However, there is a returned payment fee of up to $40

Can a Balance Transfer With the Citi Simplicity Card Save You Money?

Why Would You Transfer A Balance?

First, let’s understand why you’d want a balance transfer credit card in the first place.

A credit card balance transfer is when you take the balance owed from one credit card and move it over to the balance owed on a different credit card. This is a move that is ideal for people who are carrying a large amount of credit card debt at a less-than-ideal APR interest rate.

For example: If you are paying more than 20% APR on a balance on your existing credit card, the Citi Simplicity Card would be a solution for relief from interest charges due to its introductory 0% APR for 21 months.

How Much Money Could a Balance Transfer Save?

This depends on a couple of factors: How much money do you owe? And what APR is your interest on the existing card?

Once you have those numbers, you’ll be able to assess whether the transfer fee you’ll be charged by Citi is worth the 21 month respite you’ll receive from interest charges.

While your opportunity for savings is going to be very specific to your personal credit card balance situation, I’ve put a chart together to illustrate how the Citi Simplicity balance transfer offer could impact a standard card holder.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to make some assumptions:

  • We’ll use 16.14% as the theoretical APR for the card holding a balance. Per CreditCards.com, this was the national average for an APR as of April 2020.
  • We’re going to assume that 21 months is the target payoff time frame for the debt. That’s the maximum period you could carry the balance on the Citi Simplicity Card without paying interest.
  • We will use Capital One’s handy credit card calculator to crunch the numbers on our fictitious 16.14% APR credit card balance. We will not make adjustments for any card specific minimum payment requirements.
  • Totals will be rounded to the nearest dollar.
  • Option A will be the total amount required to pay the balance off in 21 months if you keep your balance on the current card.
  • Option B will be the total amount required to pay the balance off in 21 months with Citi Simplicity’s 0% APR after paying the transfer fee ($5 or 5%, whichever is greater).
Credit Card BalanceOption A: Keep Balance with Average APR CardOption B: Transfer Balance to Citi Simplicity
$250$289$263
$500$577$525
$750$866$788
$1,000$1,155$1,050
$1,500$1,732$1,575
$2,000$2,309$2,100
$3,000$3,464$3,150
$5,000$5,773$5,250
$10,000$11,545$10,500

This chart illustrates that the more money you owe, the more switching to Citi Simplicity can help. You’ll save more than $1,000 in interest charges on a $10,000 balance transfer if you pay everything off before the introductory rate expires.

Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Double Cash: How Does It Stack Up?

The Citi Double Cash card is one of money expert Clark Howard’s favorite credit cards because of its cash back rewards program, but it also has a strong introductory APR offer that makes it worth considering as a balance transfer card.

The Double Cash card offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers made within the first four months of card membership. That’s three months short of the 21 months you’d get from Simplicity.

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But what may be surprising is that Double Cash actually has a better balance transfer fee. The Double Cash only requires a 3% fee on the transferred balance (minimum $5), while the Simplicity card charges a significantly higher 5% (minimum $5) for its transfer fee.

Generally, if you are in the market for a balance transfer card, it is likely that you already have a substantial amount of credit card debt. Team Clark would encourage you to shy away from making any new purchases until that debt is cleared.

But if you do want to look down the road a little at new purchases, there are some more things to consider when comparing the two.

The Citi Double Cash pays up to 2% cash back on every purchase you make with it (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay). The Simplicity card carries no cash back or points rewards. However, Simplicity does have the Double Cash beat with its introductory 0% APR on new purchases for a full year. Double Cash does not have an introductory APR for new purchases.

If you’re trying to decide which Citi card is the right choice for you, here’s a quick rundown of some of the key features to help you decide:

Card CharacteristicCiti SimplicityCiti Double Cash
Introductory Period for 0% APR on Balance Transfers21 months18 months
Balance Transfer Fee5% of balance amount (minimum: fee $5)3% of balance amount (minimum fee: $5)
Introductory Period for 0% APR on New Purchases12 monthsNone
Cash Back RewardsNoneUp to 2% on all purchases
Annual Fee$0$0

Final Thoughts

Are you considering adding the Citi Simplicity card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:

Citi Simplicity Card: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months Only have a 4 month window for 0% balance transfers
0% APR on new purchases for 12 months No rewards or cash back program
No annual fees, late fees or penalty rates Balance transfers carry a $5 or 5% fee

Bottom Line: If you have an existing credit card balance that is damaging your finances with an exorbitant interest rate, taking advantage of the 21 months worth of 0% APR the Citi Simplicity Card offers on balance transfers could be a real game changer for your payoff plan.

However, you must first do the math to see if the transfer is worth paying up to a 5% transfer fee on the balance. Based the exercise we did earlier in the article, there’s a good chance this card works out in your favor if you pay near or more than the national average in APR.

Finally, if you’re looking for a credit card that serves as an everyday spender, you’re likely better served applying for a cash back credit card that could give you some perks with your purchases.

Do you have experience with the Citi Simplicity Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!

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