Citi Simplicity Card Review


By now, you’ve probably heard of the “Citi Simplicity Card,” which as the name suggests, is aimed at keeping things simple.

It accomplishes its goal of simplicity by not charging an annual fee, a late fee, an over-the-limit fee, or penalty APR if you miss a payment.

In fact, the only fees they do charge are a 3% balance transfer fee, a cash advance fee, and a returned payment fee of up to $35.

Oh, and there’s no wait time to speak with a representative. Simply call them up 24/7, enter your account number, and say “representative” to speak with a real life human immediately.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

The Citi Simplicity Numbers

  • Because Citi is trying to keep it, well, simple
  • They offer 0% APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • While charging a $0 annual fee
  • And a $0 late fee

The Citi Simplicity Card comes with 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for a full 18 months, perhaps the most appealing aspect of the card.

That’s pretty much as long as it gets these days, making it a good card for both those wanting to offset the cost of a big purchase, and those looking to save money on existing credit card debt.

As mentioned earlier, there is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, so it doesn’t necessarily beat a no fee balance transfer credit card.

After that initial 18 months, the credit card APR will be variable and significantly higher. This is probably one of the reasons they don’t charge any fees and choose to keep things “simple.”

And the credit card grace period is 23 days, despite there being any late fees…

Note that they do charge some other fees, notably a 3% foreign transaction fee, a 5% cash advance fee, and a returned payment fee if your payment method fails.

How Do They Do It?

  • The $0 late fee on Citi Simplicity comes with a catch
  • You have to make a purchase each billing cycle
  • And if you miss two payments in a row
  • They’ll freeze or cancel your card

So you may be wondering how they do it, you know, make those late fees disappear.

Well, for some reason, it’s not in the fine print. But they require that you make a purchase each billing cycle to avoid any subsequent late fees.

In other words, if you don’t use your card and manage to pay late, they’ll come after you.

Additionally, if you miss two payments in a row, they’ll put your card on hold, or possibly cancel it, whereby you’ll need to pay up or face other consequences.

To be honest, who knows what other rules apply, since they don’t seem to include them anywhere easily accessible.

Regardless, you could see your credit score take a hit if you fail to make your minimum payments on time, so you don’t really want to be in the business of missing credit card payments anyways.

If it’s reported to the credit bureaus, which it likely will be, your once good credit score could quickly become a bad credit score.

Citi Simplicity Is Missing Something Major

  • While zero is generally a good thing
  • There is also zero rewards program with Citi Simplicity
  • So you won’t be earning any points with this card
  • Making it really only useful to avoid finance charges

Another big downside to the Citi Simplicity Card is that there is no rewards program. That’s right – no gift cards, cash back, airline rewards, or anything else for that matter.

Just bare bones simplicity, which seems to work both ways here. Heck, sometimes simple isn’t always better folks.

And the 0% APR isn’t even that special – you can get the same deal with other credit card issuers AND earn points on your new purchases.

In summary, if you have trouble paying your credit card on time, you probably shouldn’t be applying for a credit card in the first place.

And if that’s the only draw of this card for you, give it a pass and learn how to spend more responsibly.

[How to avoid late credit card payments.]

But if you like the fact that it comes with a super long introductory 0% APR period without any fees (most of them at least), you can go ahead and apply.

You’ll also notice that excellent credit is required to be approved for the Citi Simplicity Card, which will help you determine if you’re eligible before applying.

By Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.

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