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Citibank seems to be on a mission to be named 2011’s King of Low Interest Credit Cards. Every few weeks it seems like we come across an announcement for a new and improved no-interest offer from them, with the latest being the Citi Simplicity card (announced today).
A quick perusal of their current card lineup shows that the Citi Platinum Select, the Citi Diamond Preferred, and this new card are all offering 0% interest for 18 months on both purchases and balance transfers. And with the ThankYou Preferred offering the same deal for 12 months, the bank now occupies the top 4 out of 5 slots in both our low APR rankings, and our balance transfer rankings.
Low Rates, No Fees, No “Gotcha” Penalties
The Citi Simplicity offer sets itself apart from the pack in a few key ways. Most of these are features you won’t find on any credit cards not offered by Citibank, and there’s not a single bank credit card that offers all of them together:
- 0% interest on balance transfers for 18 months: For those carrying balances on high-rate cards, this will inevitably save them a ton of month in interest charges. Even after the 3% transfer fee, this is a huge savings. And outside of Citibank’s arsenal, you won’t find another card offering no interest for almost two years.
- 0% interest on purchases for 18 months: This might even be a bigger deal, because most balance transfer offers are meant to lure you in with low interest promises, while charging you high rates on anything you buy in the meantime. With the Simplicity, however, you avoid paying interest on anything until the promo period is over.
- No Late Fees: Have you ever been a few days late on a payment and gotten hit with a $35 fee? It hurts. Most banks will try to hit you with the legal maximum for even the most minor infringements, and only credit union cards ever waive these fees. Well, now we can say “only credit union and Citibank cards.”
- No Penalty APRs: The only thing that might hurt worse than a $35 late fee is the sky-high APR that most banks will start charging you on purchases, to penalize you for your discretions. Most of the time, these rates are as high as 29.99%. This is another area where Citibank is bucking the trend and acting a bit more like a consumer-friendly credit union.
Please Guys, Keep the Competition Coming
With the battle for prime credit card customers in full swing, most card companies have chosen to fight with rewards and signing bonuses. There’s the up-front cash payouts like the Chase Freedom; the huge frequent flyer payouts like the British Airways credit card 100,000 mile offer; and new international traveler perks like those being offered by the American Express Platinum. But Citibank, on the other hand, seems to have taken a different approach, with the Citi Simplicity being the most recent example.
Instead of competing primarily for the frequent flyers, the rewards hackers, and the big spenders, Citi seems to be focusing on those who are battling the Debt Demon and need a few months or a couple of years to pay off the load. And just as importantly, Citi seems to be eschewing complicated rewards tiers and redemption options in favor of offering simplicity (hence the name).