Citi Simplicity® Card review: a no-fuss balance transfer card

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Snapshot

3.5

Bankrate rating
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Bottom line

Some of us need more time than others, especially when it comes to balance transfers. If you’re looking for a card that will give you time and flexibility to help you pay off your debt, the Citi Simplicity card may be a great fit for you.

Citi Image
Apply now

on Citi's secure site

Best for balance transfers

Citi Simplicity® Card

Rewards rate

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Citi is an advertising partner.

Citi Simplicity® Card overview

If you have credit card debt to pay off, the Citi Simplicity Card is one of the best balance transfer credit cards available since it offers one of the longest zero percent intro APR periods on balance transfers available. You’ll receive a 21-month zero percent intro APR on balance transfers made within the first four months of owning the card and a shorter 0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening (17.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable APR after that).

With this no annual fee card’s exceptionally long low-interest offer comes a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Though some balance transfer cards don’t charge a balance transfer fee, the Citi Simplicity is unique in that it won’t charge late payment fees or subject you to a penalty APR. These might not save you as much money as waiving a transfer fee would, but they can still provide a valuable safety net in case you occasionally forget your payment due date.

There’s no rewards structure, but if getting one of the longest available intro APRs on the market provides you with the necessary breathing room to pay off your debt, the sacrifice may be worth it.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • The card offers one of the longest low-interest periods available on balance transfers: 21 months
  • You won’t pay any late fees or be subject to a penalty APR if you pay late

Cons

  • There is no rewards structure or welcome bonus
  • The intro APR for purchases only lasts 12 months—much lower than its counterpart balance transfer APR
  • The balance transfer fee is $5 or 5 percent, whichever is greater
  • There’s a 3 percent foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside of the United States

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance transfer intro APR: 21-month zero percent intro APR on balance transfers made within the first four months of owning the card
  • Purchase intro APR: 0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening
  • Regular APR: 17.74% – 27.74% (Variable)

Current welcome offer

The Citi Simplicity card does not have a welcome offer.

Rewards Rate

The Citi Simplicity card is a good option for those trying to tackle their debt over time. Unfortunately, the card does not come with reward options. Considering the Citi Simplicity isn’t a rewards card and doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, you may find its value diminished after your balance is paid off.

How you earn

The Citi Simplicity card does not offer rewards.

How to redeem

Because the Citi Simplicity card doesn’t offer rewards, there are no redemption options.

Other cardholder perks

For a credit card without a rewards rate, welcome bonus or fancy perks, the Citi Simplicity still offers several helpful protections and services.

Liability Protection

The card comes with $0 liability protection on unauthorized charges made to your account through Mastercard. You will not be responsible for fraud charges made in store, online or over the phone. You can also report unauthorized charges through the Mastercard app for a quicker response.

Account activity alerts

You can rest even easier knowing your account is secure with automatic account alerts. Set alerts for withdrawals, password changes, balance transfers and payments.

Identity theft protection

Citi takes extra measures to keep your identity safe, including Citi Fraud Early Warning systems and the CitiManager feature. Accessible through both your web account and mobile app, these features include additional authentication methods, account encryption, and automatic notifications.

How much are the rewards worth?

Unfortunately, despite having other money-saving features, the Citi Simplicity card does not have a way to earn rewards. The main focus is for the cardholder to pay down their debt with 0 interest intro APR, no late fees, and no annual fee.

Rates and fees

While this card does not charge an annual fee, there is a balance transfer fee. The intro APR savings may outweigh the upfront cost of the balance transfer, but the 5 percent ($5 minimum) fee is on the higher end of the typical rate range (usually 3 percent to 5 percent). That was the former fee before the Simplicity’s latest update.

Though some balance transfer cards don’t charge a balance transfer fee, the Citi Simplicity is unique in that it won’t charge late payment fees or subject you to a penalty APR. These might not save you as much money as waiving a transfer fee, but they can still provide a valuable safety net in case you occasionally forget your payment due date.

The card mainly serves as a tool to pay off large purchases with a 12-month 0 percent introductory APR on new purchases, and the 17.74 percent to 27.74 percent (variable) ongoing APR is below the current average interest rate to boot. Unfortunately, this 12-month intro APR length is much lower than the card’s previous 18-month intro purchase APR period before the card’s latest update.

There’s no rewards structure, but if getting one of the longest available intro APRs on the market provides you with the necessary breathing room to pay off your debt, the sacrifice may be worth it.

Balance transfer example

Say you have $5,000 in credit card debt and transfer your balance to the Citi Simplicity. With the 21-month zero percent intro APR balance transfer offer, Bankrate’s credit card balance transfer calculator shows that you’ll pay around $239 a month for 21 months without owing additional fees in interest (17.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable APR thereafter). You will owe a balance transfer fee of $250, though.

Though this fee is high, it may be significantly lower compared to the interest you’ll pay without the card. If you attempt to chip away at your debt on a card with a variable 16 percent interest rate at the same $239 monthly payment, according to Bankrate’s credit card payoff calculator, it’ll take 25 months to pay off and you’ll take on an extra $901 of interest.

How does the Citi Simplicity card compare to other Balance Transfer Cards?

The Simplicity card is now once again one of the leading options if you need a long balance transfer APR, but another card may offer a more balanced choice if you have big purchases coming up, want to earn rewards or need to shield yourself from interest.

Citi Image

Citi Simplicity® Card

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3.5
Apply now

on Citi's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Bank of America Image

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200

Rewards rate

1.5%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Citi Image

Citi® Double Cash Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200 Cash Back

Rewards rate

2%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Citi Simplicity vs Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

If you prefer a card that has a welcome bonus and earns rewards, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card may be a better fit for you. Not only does it have no annual fee, but it also offers a (See Terms) intro APR on balance transfers (made in the first 60 days) for 18 billing cycles (then (See Terms) variable APR), and offers a $200 welcome bonus (after spending $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening). It also has a 1.5 percent cash back rewards rate on all purchases. However, the Unlimited Cash Rewards card’s balance transfer fee can be slightly higher than the Citi Simplicity (3 percent fee, minimum $10) and the intro offer is six months shorter. If you need more time to pay off your debt, the Citi Simplicity card could be a better fit.

Citi Simplicity vs Citi Double Cash card

If earning rewards for your purchases is a top priority for you, a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card offers both an 18-month 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers (then 16.99 percent to 26.99 percent variable APR) and the opportunity to earn up to 2 percent cash back on every purchase (1 percent as you buy and an additional 1 percent as you pay for your purchase). If you want more long-term value from a balance transfer credit card, this is one of the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market, so it’s definitely worth hanging onto.

Best cards to pair with Citi Simplicity

To get the most out of the Citi Simplicity card, it’s best to pair it with a card that earns rewards while not charging an annual fee. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card lets cardholders earn unlimited 1.5 cardholders earn unlimited 2 percent cash back on all purchases. It also has no annual fee, so all the rewards go directly to the consumer and can earn a $200 bonus when you spend $500 on new purchases within three months of account opening.

If you want a higher rewards rate and don’t mind a spending cap, the Citi Custom Cash can be a good fit. With this card, you earn 5% cash back on your top spend category every billing cycle for up to $500, then 1 percent cash back after. Plus, you earn 1 percent on all other purchases. You can earn the $200 welcome bonus when you spend $750 within three months. However, this will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points, which you can then redeem as a $200 cash back.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Citi Simplicity Card worth it?

The Citi Simplicity is a great option for those who need a longer introductory period for balance transfers, but the comparatively steep balance transfer fee may be enough to sway you in the direction of another card. The lack of rewards may not make this a card to keep in your wallet forever, but it will help build your credit history and lower debt.

If you’re forgetful or have a history of occasionally missing credit card payments, the Citi Simplicity’s lack of late fees or a penalty APR may make it a fitting option for you. You have the option to choose your payment due date as well, which can be helpful for those who are more dependent on their paycheck schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions