Editorial Review

Citi Simplicity Review: 21 Months of 0% to Whittle Down Debt

Although it's not as good for balance transfers as it once was, this card still delivers value with an interest-free period and money-saving forgiveness for late payments.

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Our Take

3.6

NerdWallet rating

The Bottom Line: It has a great 0% intro APR period for balance transfers, but be aware that the transfer fee is on the high side. Late-payment relief is a plus.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Citi Simplicity<sup>&reg;</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever

on Citibank's secure application

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No late fee
  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers
Cons
  • No rewards

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: 0% PERIOD PLUS REWARDS

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

This card has offers a lengthy 0% period for balance transfers and a lower transfer fee (3% or $5, whichever is greater). It also gives you 2% cash back on every purchase: 1% when you buy something + 1% when you pay it off. That's quite an incentive to keep the card long-term.

Read our review

Full Review

The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has undergone a number of changes over the past few years. What was once a top-of-the-line card for paying down debt or financing a big purchase is now a pretty good choice for the former and only a middling option for the latter (and you’re better off not using it for both at the same time, as we’ll explain).

The latest incarnation of the card has an extra-long 0% intro APR period for balance transfers, but also a fairly high transfer fee. The 0% period for purchases, meanwhile, is shorter than you can get on many rewards cards (and this card has no rewards).

For the chronically forgetful, though, this card is full of forgiveness.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Benefits

  • A long 0% intro period for transfers. The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever used to offer the best 0% intro APR deal of any card from a major issuer (21 months for both purchases and transfers). That’s since been pared back, but you still get 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. That’s a lot of time to pay down transferred debt without interest.
  • No penalties for late payments. With this card, you’ll never be charged a late fee, and your interest won’t go up because of late payments. Yes, you should always strive to pay your bills on time every month. And yes, paying late is a terrible habit: Most accounts aren’t as forgiving as this card, and your credit scores can suffer if you’re 30 days behind. But sometimes people get overwhelmed; if you do, this card can save your bacon.
  • You can choose your due date. If money is tight, being able to pick exactly when your payment is due can help you avoid overdrafts.

» MORE: Citi credit cards mobile app review

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Drawbacks

  • A 5% balance transfer fee. Most cards charge you a fee to transfer a balance. A 5% fee is at the high end of the typical range. For every $1,000 you transfer, the fee amounts to an additional $50 you’ll have to pay off. Some cards charge 3% or less, and a handful have no transfer fee at all. (The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever used to charge only 3%.)
  • Mismatched 0% periods. The 0% intro APR period for transfers is longer than that for purchases — and that can be a problem. With a typical credit card, you can avoid interest charges on your purchases if you pay your balance in full every month. This is a result of your card’s grace period. If you don’t pay in full, though, you don’t get a grace period, and interest starts accruing on your purchases as soon as you make them.

    Now, say you transfer $5,000 in debt to the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever and pay it down over 21 months. Once the 0% period for purchases runs out, you’ll still be carrying some of that transferred balance. Therefore, you’ll get no grace period, and you’ll be charged interest on your purchases.

    In other words, if you plan to transfer debt to this card and don’t want interest charges, either pay off that debt within 12 months, or don’t use the card for purchases after 12 months.

  • No rewards or sign-up bonus. This card’s value lies in its interest-free period and its forgiving nature. If you want rewards, look elsewhere.
  • Limited long-term value. Once the 0% intro period ends, there isn’t much incentive to keep using this card. The ongoing APR range is about average and, again, the card offers no rewards.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Alternatives

For a lower transfer fee and a long 0% intro period: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card  

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card charges a 3% fee for transfers, and it gives you an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 20 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 20 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. The annual fee is $0. It doesn’t have the late-payment forgiveness of the Citi card, but if you’re the type who always pays on time, you won’t miss it.

For rewards along with a 0% intro period: Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® gives you 5% cash back in categories that change quarterly, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. You get an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Plus, there’s a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Looking for other options? NerdWallet can help you compare and determine the best credit card to get based on your needs.