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If you need to pay down high-interest debt, good news—the market is heating up for balance transfer cards, and issuers have been increasing the length of zero-interest introductory offers.
One such card is the Citi Simplicity® Card, which recently increased its 0 percent intro APR from 18 to 21 months on balance transfers made within the first four months (15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable APR thereafter). Although there aren’t any rewards or enhanced benefits to speak of, the card is light on fees—no annual fee, late fees or penalty rates.
If you think this balance transfer card could work well for you, here’s a quick benefits guide that breaks down key perks the Citi Simplicity has to offer.
Citi Simplicity Card benefits
The first thing you might notice is that the card is relatively low on bells and whistles, but don’t let the lack of rewards and benefits deter you. Depending on how much debt you stand to pay off with this card, it could still be worthwhile to own.
0% intro APR offers
First and foremost, the Citi Simplicity offers an exceptionally long 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers made within the first four months. You’ll get a full 21 months to pay off your debt, interest-free (followed by a variable APR between 15.49 percent and 25.49 percent). Compared to other balance transfer cards on the market, this is one of the absolute longest intro periods available—matched also by the no-annual-fee Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card.
The Simplicity also offers a much shorter 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, followed by the same variable APR.
Like many credit cards, you’ll enjoy fraud protection, meaning you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges made to your account. Since this benefit comes through the Mastercard network, you’ll be able to report unauthorized charges through the Mastercard app for a quicker response.
Account activity alerts
With the Citi Simplicity Card, you’ll receive updates with automatic account alerts. Your Citi Simplicity account allows you to set alerts for withdrawals, password changes, balance transfers and payments.
Identity theft protection
There are a few features that can help protect both your Citi credit card account and your identity in general. Citi’s Fraud Early Warning feature informs you of any suspicious activity on your account and will contact you by text, email, phone or mail to confirm account activity or raise concerns with you. Another plus is that, if you’re a victim of identity theft, you’ll receive free support as a Citi cardholder—even if the fraud occurred on a product from another company.
Additional security features
Citi takes special measures to keep your account secure through encryption and additional verification for high-risk or unusual transactions. If your account is compromised in any way, these security features can help you deactivate your card quickly and request a new one.
Low on fees
Aside from the lengthy introductory APR offers, another main benefit of the Citi Simplicity is its lack of fees. There’s no annual fee and no late fees—and if you make a late payment, there’s no penalty APR.
The main thing you need to take note of is its balance transfer fee. The Citi Simplicity charges 5 percent ($5 minimum) on the amount you transfer. Balance transfer fees typically range from 3 to 5 percent, so it’s still in the average range, but on the higher end.
Maximizing the Citi Simplicity’s benefits
The best way to ensure you fully maximize the Citi Simplicity is to transfer your balance as soon as possible. Balance transfers must be made within the first four months of owning the card in order to receive the zero-interest offer—otherwise, you’re stuck with the standard 15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable APR.
Further, prior to applying, be sure that you’re okay with the long-term value the Citi Simplicity has to offer. If you can get away with an 18- or 15-month introductory term, there are plenty of rewards cards out there that might offer more value in the long run.
For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card offers both rewards (1 percent cash back as you buy and an additional 1 percent back as you pay for your purchase) and an 18-month 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers (followed by a 14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR).
The bottom line
As noted, the Citi Simplicity Card is extremely light on benefits and perks, but it could be a godsend for someone who needs a longer period of time to pay down high-interest debt.
All in all, be sure to review all the options available to you, including Bankrate’s list of the best balance transfer credit cards, before you apply.