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The BankAmericard® credit card and the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever can both work as get-out-of-debt tools. They can provide breathing room from crushing finance charges and offer relatively low ongoing interest rates after their promotional period ends.
The BankAmericard® credit card gained an edge when Bank of America® updated it with more consumer-friendly terms in May 2017. Its big selling point: an introductory $0 balance transfer fee. That’s in addition to a decent 0% interest period, which applies to balance transfers and new purchases as well. But if you expect to be carrying a high balance for a long time, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever can offer a longer no-interest period.
You’ll want to look elsewhere if you’re interested in sign-up bonuses or spending rewards. These cards offer none because they’re about paying off debt rather than incurring it. Both are low-hassle cards with no annual fee. And both are candidates for people looking into the best balance transfer cards.
Here’s how they measure up side by side.
|BankAmericard® Credit Card||Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever|
|APR||0% on Purchases for 15 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR||0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR|
|Balance transfer fee||A $0 introductory balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for balance transfers is 3% (with a minimum of $10).||5% or $5, whichever is greater|
|Special features||No penalty interest rate||No late fees or penalty interest rate|
Why we prefer the BankAmericard® credit card
No balance transfer fee
Without rewards, sign-up bonuses or annual fees to compare, the focus is on how the cards can save you money on incoming balance transfers.
The BankAmericard® credit card offers a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3%, with a minimum fee of $10.
If you transfer a balance during that two-month window, you save money right off the bat — moving debt without adding to it. For example, you would save a $250 fee on a $5,000 balance transfer, the typical fee of 5% charged by cards like the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever.
relatively low rates
The BankAmericard® credit card also has a slightly better range of ongoing interest rates when the promotional period ends. Your rate will vary depending on what Bank of America® thinks of your creditworthiness when you open the account, so that’s not a clear win. Its official terms: 0% on Purchases for 15 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.
If you have an existing relationship with Bank of America® and want to keep everything under one roof, the BankAmericard® credit card lets you do that.
Overall, its new terms put the card on par with industry-leading balance transfer offer from the Chase Slate®.
When to choose the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever still has redeeming qualities, particularly its extra-long 0% period: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.
An extra three months of 0% interest with the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever could offer time to catch up on payments, but you’ll have to consider the cost of the balance transfer fee.
Besides its longer 0% period, the APR promotion for the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever includes:
- A longer transfer window. You have four months to transfer balances and capitalize on the 0% APR, compared with 60 days with the BankAmericard® credit card.
- No late fees. As its promotional name makes clear, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever doesn’t charge late fees. It also doesn’t impose a penalty interest rate for paying late. That can be worth real money to the absent-minded. Even so, paying late is a bad habit to develop, and it could hurt your credit scores if you pay 30 days late. The BankAmericard® credit card doesn’t impose a penalty APR either, but it does charge late fees. Paying late can cost you up to $38.
- A longer no-interest period on new purchases. That means the card could be ideal for charging an unexpected expense you can’t pay off right away, such as a leaky roof or medical test. Finance charges kick in on an outstanding balance when your introductory period ends. The interest-free period for the BankAmericard® credit card also applies to purchases, but, again, it’s not as long.
Doing the math: A $5,000 example
Which is more valuable to you: avoiding a balance-transfer fee with the BankAmericard® credit card or getting more time at 0% with the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever?
The free balance transfer would save $250 ($5,000 x 5%). Savings from the longer no-interest period would depend on the balance you carry for those extra three months. In other words, what’s your balance at month 15 that you would have to pay interest on through month 18?
For example, an ongoing balance of $5,000 with a 20% annual percentage rate would cost about $243 in interest over three months. Weigh the cost of interest and the balance transfer fee.
Making the choice
Neither of these cards is super exciting, unlike the showy rewards cards. But both offer long balance transfer periods and help you do the dirty work of getting out of debt.
The winner of this face-off is the one that saves you more money — no balance-transfer fee or a longer 0% interest period. That will mostly depend on how quickly you pay down the transferred debt (without adding to it.)
If you’re confident you’ll pay down debt relatively quickly, take the upfront savings of the free balance transfer from the BankAmericard® credit card.
If you’ll probably have a high balance for a long time at a high APR, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever offers more time to pay off debt.