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Citi Simplicity vs. Barclaycard Ring: Zero Is the Hero

Oct. 11, 2018
Credit Cards, Low Interest and No Fee Credit Cards
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The terms of the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® changed in July 2018, so the information below may no longer be accurate. For current offers, see our Best Balance Transfer Cards of 2018.

Low interest rates are nice, but 0% APR is better.

That’s why the industry-leading 0% APR period on the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever puts it far ahead of the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®. It offers 0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR. By contrast, the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® doesn’t have a 0% annual percentage rate promotional period. 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% Variable APR.

While the crowdsourced Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® might appeal more to those dealing with long-term debt, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever will be more cost-effective for more people.

A victory for the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

When you’re paying down debt, you want to spend as little as possible on credit card interest and fees. Let’s see how these two low-interest cards stack up on that count.

 Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees EverBarclaycard Ring® Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
APR0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

The 0% balance transfer APR rate applies to transfers made within the first four months of opening the account.
0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% Variable APR
Balance transfer fees$5 or 5%, whichever is greaterNone
Foreign transaction fees3%None
Late feesNoneUp to $27

From a cost perspective, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever wins for most people, because:

It offers a long 0% APR period. The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever generally offers more savings for folks paying down debt, compared to the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® — even though it charges a balance transfer fee. That’s because its long 0% period can be incredibly valuable, especially for folks paying off debt over a long period of time.

If you can pay down your debt within the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever’s long 0% APR period, it’s a clear winner. And even if you need a few more months, it’s still likely the more cost-effective choice. You could also transfer your debt to another 0% APR card at the end of the promotional period and save more money than you would with the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®, if you so chose.

It comes with no late fees. Paying your credit card a day late won’t hurt your credit score, but as many of us have found out the hard way, the late fees can be costly. The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever doesn’t charge late fees, making it a more economical choice if you’re ever late. Most cards charge up to $35 in late fees; the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® charges up to $27.

You can qualify with less-than-excellent credit. The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is marketed toward people with both good and excellent credit — that is, people with credit scores over 690. The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is targeted toward people with excellent credit, or scores greater than 720. If you have good-not-great credit, you might have an easier time qualifying for the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever.

» MORE: Full review of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Why you might still want to get the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®

One reason a 0% APR period seems so attractive is that it suggests an ideal outcome: You have debt, you pay it down interest-free, the debt disappears, everything goes back to normal, and debt doesn’t return. But for those dealing with debt long term, things may be less predictable, and the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® may be a better choice. Here’s why:

There are fewer limits on balance transfers. The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® never charges balance transfer fees, and it offers the same low APR no matter when you move your debt. The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, in contrast, offers the 0% APR promotion only for transfers made in the first four months; it also charges balance transfer fees of 5% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever is greater. For someone expecting to make multiple balance transfers who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of jumping from one 0% APR deal to another, the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is the better choice.

You can make suggestions and earn rewards. The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is the only credit card offered by a major issuer that crowdsources suggestions for product improvements. Cardholders can suggest and vote on product improvements, and the product managers choose whether to implement the suggestion.

The card also sends you rewards through its Giveback program every six months, based on your spending levels and the card’s profits. The rewards are relatively small, especially compared with what you might be paying in interest with the card. But nevertheless, it’s a nice perk. The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever offers no rewards.

» MORE: Full review of the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®

Go for the savings

If you’re planning on carrying debt long term and don’t like the idea of switching cards, you might want to go with the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® — even though it might cost you more, at first.

But the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever could help you pay off your debt sooner and for a lot less money. For most, that’s what really matters. In a passage from “Leaves of Grass” that was definitely not about credit cards, Walt Whitman wrote, “Nothing is better than simplicity.” At least in this comparison, that phrase rings true.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.