Citi Simplicity® Card review: Intro APR on balance transfers
Save on interest payments for up to 18 months.
finder.com’s rating: 4.4 / 5
- Consider this pick if you want a straightforward card that sports a lengthy period on balance transfers.
- Go with something else if you value cash back or travel rewards in your credit card.
- Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
Intro purchase APR
for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
Intro balance transfer
for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
14.74% to 24.74%
Balance transfer APR (variable)
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
The Citi Simplicity® Card’s key feature is its terrific 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months after account opening, then 14.74% to 24.74% variable. Unfortunately, this period was recently reduced from a stellar 21-months, which made this card one of the longest balance transfer intro APRs you could find on the market. Now, the Citi Simplicity® Card falls into the typical timeline on transfers of 12 to 18 months.
On the downside, the card’s 0% intro APR on purchases isn’t as robust: It’s merely 18 months long, after which your APR will be 14.74% to 24.74% variable. This means the Citi Simplicity® Card isn’t as balanced as competitors that offer 18-month intro APRs on both purchases and balance transfers. On top of that, the card doesn’t pay rewards, so you’ll need to apply for another card to optimize your spending.
Ultimately, if you want a well-rounded card, you’ll want to look elsewhere. However, the Citi Simplicity® Card offers an above average intro APR on balance transfers, and is more than worth considering among balance transfer cards.
How to apply for the Citi Simplicity® Card
Here’s how to apply for the Citi Simplicity® Card:
- Click Apply now.
- Complete the application form with information like your name, date of birth, Social Security number, total annual income and monthly mortgage or rent payment.
Review your information. Then, click Agree and submit to complete your application.
What credit score do I need?
For a balance transfer card, you typically need at least a good FICO score of 670 or higher. Consider applying for the Citi Simplicity® Card with a credit score in this range, which will increase your odds of approval.
Pros and cons
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months months after account opening, then 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months after account opening, then 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
- No annual fee.
- No late fees. This is an uncommon benefit among card providers.
- No option to earn rewards like cash back, points or miles.
- You’ll still pay balance transfer fees. Citi’s transfer fee is higher than you’ll pay with other providers.
Case study: Kyle’s experience
In my early 20s, I dug myself into a hole with a few thousand dollars worth of credit card debt that I was struggling to get out of. I didn’t know much about balance transfer credit cards until a friend told me they’d been in a similar situation. After doing some research, I saw that the Citi Simplicity® Card let me transfer a balance with a promotional balance transfer fee of 3% — it’s now 3% — and a 0% intro APR for 18 months.
I applied, got approved and didn’t swipe the card once. I planned a budget and used the card primarily as a tool to avoid being buried in additional interest. The Citi Simplicity® Card allowed me to pay off my credit card debt in full thanks to its extremely generous intro APR period.
Overall, this card might be best for anyone whose objective is getting out of credit card debt they can pay off in less than two years.
Major card benefits
The value proposition of the Citi Simplicity® Card is straightforward: attractive intro APRs with no annual fee. It helps the card stand out among its competitors.
Here’s the breakdown of the card’s top features:
- A long intro APR on balance transfers.
- A solid, but not spectacular, intro APR on purchases.
- No annual fee or late fees.
Deeper dive: The Citi Simplicity® Card‘s claim to fame is its balance transfer intro APR
Citi is consistently strong in balance transfer intro APRs, and the Citi Simplicity® Card is one reason why.
Here are a few benchmarks to show why this card is impressive:
- An 18-month balance transfer intro APR is solid. Some providers offer promotional APRs for a shorter period, but 12 months is typically the floor.
- For a good intro APR, you’re looking at around 15 months — a benefit you’ll find with many 1.5% cashback cards.
- The upper range for credit card intro APRs is typically 18 to 21 months. Citi periodically drops its best intro APRs to the lower end of that range, but more often than not, it stays in the top end.
The Citi Simplicity® Card is optimal if you’re paying high interest on an existing balance, and you want to pay no interest for a long period of time.
Deeper dive: That purchase intro APR? It’s merely solid, but still welcome
There’s a tradeoff to an excellent balance transfer intro APR: You’ll get an intro APR on purchases for a mere 18 months. After that, it’s back to the drudgery of a normal interest rate: 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
You can easily find credit cards offering purchase intro APRs for 15 months — with rewards to boot, which the Citi Simplicity® Card lacks. But 18 months is certainly not bad, considering the upper limit is typically 18 months.
Deeper dive: No annual fee and no late fees are nice additions
The first benefit to round out the Citi Simplicity® Card‘s short list of features is a $0 annual fee. That’s not spectacular by any means, seeing as a no-annual-fee balance transfer card is commonplace.
On a more exciting note, Citi Simplicity® Card comes with no late fees. Most providers are usually adamant about charging these fees — even Citi itself.
For other products that charge no late fees, consider the Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card and Apple Card.
What to watch out for
- You must complete your balance transfer within four months of account opening. Transfers you complete after that time will immediately accrue interest at the normal APR of 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
- You’ll pay balance transfer fees. For each balance transfer, you’ll pay the greater of $5 or 3%. Your spending attracts no rewards. You’ll need to pick up another card if you want to earn cash back, points or miles.
- Your spending attracts no rewards. You’ll need to pick up another card if you want to earn cash back, points or miles.
Deeper dive: Watch that balance transfer cutoff date
If you’re approved for the Citi Simplicity® Card, consider marking the last day to qualify for the balance transfer intro APR on your calendar. It’s four months after account opening. Citi says transfers must be completed within four months. That said, allow for plenty of time for each transfer to process, keeping in mind this can easily take 14 days or more.
Deeper dive: Balance transfer fees are pesky
The Citi Simplicity® Card has a $0 annual fee and a market-leading balance transfer intro APR. But there’s one thing you can’t get around: the balance transfer fee.
This will set you back the greater of $5 or 3% of each transfer. This percentage is on the high side, as some card providers charge just 3%.
Here are examples of the fees you’ll pay with the Citi Simplicity® Card versus other credit cards:
|Fee to transfer $1,000:||Fee to transfer $5,000:||Fee to transfer $10,000:|
|Citi Simplicity® Card — 3% balance transfer fee||$50||$250||$500|
|A credit card with a 3% balance transfer fee||$30||$150||$300|
If you’re trying to figure out whether you’d be better served with a card with a long intro APR or one with no balance transfer fees, use our balance transfer calculator to see how much you’ll save
A lack of rewards means the Citi Simplicity® Card is one-dimensional
The Citi Simplicity® Card isn’t a well-rounded product. The one-dimensionality of the card is highlighted by its lack of rewards. In turn, this makes the purchase intro APR a little less appealing.
Meanwhile, there are many other cards that offer strong combinations of intro APRs on top of rewards. Granted, they offer shorter promotional interest periods, but you might find the kickback on purchases a worthy consolation. Also, these cards will still be useful after their intro APRs expire.
What are my preapproval odds?
To check if you fit the credit profile for the Citi Simplicity® Card, get prequalified.
You can do this by visiting the Citi prequalification page and entering information such as your name, address and Social Security number. After submitting the form, you’ll see a list of cards Citi thinks you might be a fit for. If you see the Citi Simplicity® Card in that list, you probably have at least a decent chance of being approved.
Still, prequalification does not guarantee approval for the card. Citi will still pull your credit report, after which it’ll decide whether to give you the Citi Simplicity® Card.
Should I still apply for the Citi Simplicity® Card if I’m not prequalified?
There may be something in your credit report that could make you ineligible for the Citi Simplicity® Card, and you might not want to risk a hard pull to find out if you qualify.
While there’s no definitive answer on what to do if you don’t prequalify, consider these questions:
- What’s your credit score? A low credit score implies you’ve had trouble managing your debt, which will make card providers more hesitant to lend to you. If that’s your situation, you might want to work on your score before applying for a balance transfer card.
- How much debt do you have? Consumers with high debt often look to balance transfer credit cards as a solution. But the truth is, card providers are often leery about taking on customers who are overloaded with debt, due to a higher risk of default. Also, starting limits for balance transfer cards are often much lower than applicants expect, which means they can’t move over the balances they want to.
How does the Citi Simplicity® Card compare to other similar cards?
The Citi Simplicity® Card‘s closest competition are cards that offer 18-month intro APRs. For example:
- Wells Fargo Platinum Card: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months, then 15.49% to 24.99% variable.
- U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 months, then 14.49% to 24.49% variable.
While the Citi Simplicity® Card is the winner for balance transfer intro APR, its competitors offer much better intro APRs on purchases.
Citi offers a very similar card to the Citi Simplicity® Card: the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card. It offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months from account opening and on purchases for 18 months after account opening, then 13.74% to 23.74% variable. The former has the edge, though, as it charges no late fees.
Citi Simplicity® Card reviews and complaints
Citi has been in business for more than 200 years but it was never accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). As of October 2020, more than 200 customer complaints on the BBB site give the bank a score of 1 out of 5. And because Citi failed to resolve customer complaints on the site, BBB has rated the bank with the lowest F rating.
Citi is rated slightly higher at 1.8 out of 5 on Trustpilot where customers mostly complain about poor customer service.
While Citi receives its share of negative reviews, the Citi Simplicity® Card generally earns positive sentiment online from consumers and experts alike.
Customers consistently give the Citi Simplicity® Card high marks as a balance transfer card — and with the card’s excellent intro APR on transfers, it’s easy to see why.
Customers often report receiving starting credit limits around $4,000 with good credit scores. That could be too high or too low depending on what you’re looking for.
Your starting limit can vary depending on your credit profile. If you’re not happy with the amount, consider asking a Citi representative about your options for a credit limit increase.
Many customers say Citi constantly sends them balance transfer checks, which can be annoying if you’re done with transfers. If you experience this and don’t want to receive checks, call Citi support and ask to opt out.
Consider other cards if…
- You want a longer purchase intro APR. The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is the new champ when it comes to balance transfer period length, offering a 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 20 months — then 14.49% to 24.49% variable.
- You want rewards and an intro APR. The Citi® Double Cash Card offers a balance transfer intro APR that’s almost as good: 0% for 18 months, then 13.99% to 23.99% variable. The key difference is you’ll earn fantastic flat-rate rewards for a no-annual-fee card: 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% as you pay them off. Also, consider cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which offer the formidable combo of flat-rate cash back as well as an intro APR on purchases.
- You don’t want to pay balance transfer fees. Some cards offer promotional $0 fees on balance transfers, along with intro APRs and $0 annual fees.
Compare other balance transfer cards
Cards to pair with the Citi Simplicity® Card
The Citi Simplicity® Card‘s biggest weakness is its lack of rewards. Luckily, there are plenty of excellent rewards cards that can help cover that shortcoming. Here are a few cards that might complement the Citi Simplicity® Card:
- Citi® Double Cash Card This is one of the very best flat-rate cashback credit cards on the market. Since it’s offered by Citi as well, you can save time by managing two cards with the same provider.
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. This is a great card if most of your spending goes toward everyday purchases. Earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%. Earn 2% cash back at US gas stations and some US department stores, and 1% on all other purchases.
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. If you’d like to earn miles, Capital One’s flagship travel card is an excellent choice. You’ll earn 2x miles on every purchase. If you’d like, you can transfer your miles to travel partners for even more value.
How to make the most out of your card
- Complete all of your balance transfers. You have four months after account opening to take advantage of the Citi Simplicity® Card‘s lengthy balance transfer intro APR. Mark your calendar and consider initiating all of your transfers well before the deadline.
- Leverage the purchase intro APR. You can give yourself a break from interest you might have to pay with other cards if you purchase within the into APR window. However, you could find your purchases accruing high rates of interest once the promotional APR expires, unless you’re able to entirely pay them off beforehand.
- Calculate how much you’ll save. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to make a truly no-cost balance transfer, because the Citi Simplicity® Card has transfer fees. Still, the card can save you money you’d otherwise spend paying high interest on your balance elsewhere.
How to upgrade or downgrade your card
The Citi Simplicity® Card could be considered a one-trick pony — it’s mostly good for its intro APR and little else.
If you’ve squeezed all you can out of your intro APR and you’re now thinking about closing your card, there may be another option available. Instead of closing your card and taking a hit to your average account age, consider asking Citi for a product change.
Here’s what to do:
- Take your time to browse Citi credit cards. Then pick the one that best aligns with your current needs.
- Call Citi support and request a product change to the card you’ve selected. You can ask the representative about annual fees and other features for the new card.
You won’t be able to transfer your existing Citi balance to your new Citi card. However, your new card can give you perks you couldn’t get with the Citi Simplicity® Card, such as rewards or travel credits.
Importantly, while Citi is usually very accommodating with product changes, users have reported mixed results getting a product change from the Citi Simplicity® Card. Your mileage may vary. If a product change isn’t possible, you always have the option to close your card — or simply keep it in your wallet as a no-annual-fee product that keeps your credit utilization low.
Though the Citi Simplicity® Card is valuable for only one feature, it’s hands-down one of the best balance transfer credit cards on the market. The reason is simple: It consistently possesses one of the longest intro APR on transfers on the market.
Strongly consider pairing it with a card that offers rewards. With the extensive options out there, you can easily take your time and find the perfect pick.
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