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Sizing Up Citi Cards: ThankYou Preferred vs. Simplicity

Oct. 11, 2018
Balance Transfer Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
Sizing Up Citi Cards: ThankYou Preferred vs. Simplicity
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This page is out of date

The terms on the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever changed on Oct. 11, 2018, so this page is no longer current.

On the surface, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever and the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card seem similar — they’re both issued by Citi, and they both have lengthy introductory 0% annual percentage rate periods and an annual fee of $0.

But that’s where the similarities end — which is why the two cards appeal to different consumers. One is a “nuts and bolts” card while the other is a “night on the town” card.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card offers unlimited double points on dining out and entertainment. If you spend a lot in those categories, it might be worth considering. Otherwise, it has few advantages over the competition and is a poor choice if you prefer cash rewards. You’ll need excellent credit to qualify.

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever doesn’t offer rewards, but it is easy to manage, has a long 0% APR period and doesn’t charge late fees.

Here’s how the two cards stack up side-by-side.

 Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees EverCiti ThankYou® Preferred Card
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 APR0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR
Balance transfer fee5% or $5, whichever is greater3% or $5, whichever is greater
Rewards/special featuresNo fee or interest penalty for paying late2 points per $1 spent on restaurants and entertainment; 1 point on everything else
Credit requiredGoodExcellent
Annual fee$0$0

Here’s how to decide which Citi card is best for you.

Motivated by 0% APR? Go with the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has an APR of 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.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card has an APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.

Both charge a balance transfer fee. The fee is 5% on the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, which has a longer interest-free period, and 3% on the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card.

Looking for rewards? Go with the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card — or something else

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever doesn’t offer rewards for spending — but the fact that it doesn’t charge late fees or a penalty interest rate for paying late is worth real money to the absent-minded. Still, paying late is obviously a bad habit to develop, and it could hurt your credit scores if you pay 30 days late.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card earns an unlimited 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on restaurants and entertainment and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Points never expire. The somewhat unusual bonus category of “entertainment” is fairly broad and includes spending on concerts, sporting events, theaters, zoos and even on-demand internet streaming media. You can spend ThankYou Points in a variety of ways, including on travel, merchandise and Amazon purchases.

It’s not a good cash-back card, though, because ThankYou Points are worth a measly half-cent apiece when redeemed that way. Even the most bare-bones cash-back cards give you double that rate. If cash rewards are your goal, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a better choice. It has an intro APR of 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR. The rewards rate is 1% cash back on all your purchases, then another 1% back when you pay them off. The annual fee is $0.

Making the choice

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has a lengthy introductory 0% APR period and doesn’t punish you for paying late. That makes it one of the better cards for paying down debt. Meanwhile, the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card pays double rewards on dining and entertainment. That makes it a niche card and, frankly, harder to recommend, given the competition — even among its Citibank brethren.

Gregory Karp is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart.