The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Monday, March 4, 2024

Citi Simplicity® Card Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a masters in business administration from New York University and a masters in finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Citi Simplicity® Card Review

Rated 4.5 /5.0 ★★★★★

Credit cards may come with plenty of perks, programs, and rewards, but you shouldn’t discount the fundamentals when looking for an effective financial tool. That’s why Citibank issues straightforward credit cards that focus on low fees, with several of its cards offering new cardmembers introductory 0% APRs on balance transfers.

The Citi Simplicity® Card delivers one of the longest introductory promotion periods for balance transfers — although this could change at any time, and the regular APR will apply once the promotion ends. This review examines the credit card and three of its closest rivals. If you’re looking to consolidate your credit card debt, one of these cards may fit your requirements perfectly.

A Low-Cost Card Ideal For Balance Transfers

The Citi Simplicity® Card is one of the bank’s top balance transfer cards. It carries a potentially high credit limit, which is ideal if you have a lot of high-interest debt you want to transfer. One cardholder posted on a forum that they obtained a $14,600 credit limit on this card.

The card says “No” to fees: No annual fee. No late fees. No penalty APR. It also provides automatic account alerts, 24/7 customer service, flexible payment due dates, contactless pay, and digital wallet compatibility.

The card’s lack of a rewards program is a definite disadvantage, but it helps subsidize its low fees. On the plus side, you receive extensive protection against unauthorized charges, including $0 liability on unauthorized charges. The latter can help you resolve problems arising from stolen or lost cards.

How to Apply & Qualify

You can apply for the card by clicking the green Apply Now button below. You’ll be redirected to Citi’s website where you can learn more about the card and access the card’s terms and conditions:

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is an introductory balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater for balances transfers completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR Period 12 months on Purchases
0% Intro APR Period 21 months on Balance Transfers
19.24% - 29.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

Citi no longer offers to prequalify applicants. You must apply directly for the Citi Simplicity® Card by providing personal and financial information. To qualify, you need to meet the following general criteria:

    • Age and legal residency: You must be at least 18 years old (19 in some states) and have a physical address in the United States.

    • Good to excellent credit score: Typically, you need a credit score in the good to excellent range, which, in this case, translates to a FICO score of 700 or higher. Citi may accept applicants with lower scores based on its assessment of a consumer’s creditworthiness.

    • Sufficient income: You must earn enough to afford the monthly minimum payment. Creditors consider income a key factor when determining approval and credit limits.

    • Tax ID: You must have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number.

Naturally, a clean credit history with a record of responsible credit usage and on-time payments will strengthen your approval odds.

The bank does a hard credit check when you apply for the card. The credit check may slightly impact your FICO score and will remain on your credit report for two years. When applying online, you must agree to receive monthly statements and some legal notices electronically.

The bank may give you the option to transfer a balance with your application. It will take at least 14 days after you open your card account to process any balance transfer payments.

Benefits & Drawbacks

The Citi Simplicity® Card offers a solid balance transfer introductory promotion, and a long list of other benefits to consider. But some of its drawbacks may be deal breakers, depending on your financial needs. Consider them all based on your situation to see if you should reserve a place in your wallet for this card

Benefits

    • Long introductory APR period for balance transfers: The card is known for its 0% Intro APR Period 21 months on Balance Transfers. This perk can be particularly beneficial if you plan to transfer balances from higher-interest cards. The regular APR will apply after the promotion ends.

    • Introductory APR for purchases: The period for this promotion is usually shorter than that for balance transfers. This promotion is useful if you plan to make a large purchase and pay it off over time. Of course, you can avoid interest charges on purchases even after the promotion expires when the regular APR kicks in by paying your entire balance every month.

    • No late fees: One of the unique features of this card is that it does not charge any late fees. This policy will save you money if you occasionally miss a payment due date.

    • No penalty APR: Unlike many credit cards, this card does not increase your variable APR if you miss a payment.

    • Citi® Identity Theft Solutions: The card includes services to help you if you become a victim of identity theft and need specialized assistance. It also provides $0 liability protection to safeguard against lost or stolen cards.

    • Free access to your FICO Score: You can monitor your credit with free access to your FICO Score, which is a handy tool for tracking and managing your credit profile.

    • Digital wallet compatibility: The card is compatible with various digital wallets and is convenient for contactless payments.

The overriding reason to get this card is to consolidate credit card debt. Without its balance transfer promotion, the card would hardly be competitive. And while it offers several attractive benefits, it also comes with certain drawbacks that you should consider:

Drawbacks

    • No rewards program: One of its most notable drawbacks is its lack of a rewards program. Unlike many other credit cards, you won’t earn cash back, points, or miles on your purchases. This card isn’t for someone who likes to maximize rewards with their credit card spending.

    • Balance transfer fee: Although the card offers a 0% Intro APR Period 21 months on Balance Transfers, it charges a balance transfer fee on each transaction.

    • Foreign transaction fee: The card charges a fee for foreign transactions. This means you’ll pay extra if you travel abroad and make purchases.

    • Regular APR after the introductory period: After the introductory APR period ends, the card’s regular variable APR applies. This interest rate ranges from 19.24% - 29.99% (Variable), based on your creditworthiness. The interest charges may be significant if you carry a balance past the introductory period.

    • Limited additional perks: Compared to other credit cards in the market, the card lacks many other benefits, such as travel or shopping protections.

    • Credit requirements: To qualify for the card, you generally need a good to excellent credit score, which may disqualify you from consideration.

If you’re a consumer who likes to maximize cash back, points, or travel rewards, this credit card may not align with your goals due to its lack of a rewards program. When considering this card, weigh these drawbacks against the benefits to determine if it fits with your financial needs and spending habits.

Other Cards to Consider

The Citi Simplicity® Card includes introductory APR and balance transfer benefits cardholders may find attractive, but it doesn’t go much beyond that. Here are a few credit card options that offer similar balance transfer options and additional features that could tip the scales in their favor.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
  • Your account may not always be eligible for balance transfers. Balance transfer eligibility is determined at Discover’s discretion.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
0% Intro APR for 18 months
17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

The Discover it® Balance Transfer doesn’t necessarily offer high credit limits, which may reduce the usefulness of its introductory 0% Intro APR (18 months) for balance transfers. However, you may receive a robust spending limit if you have excellent credit. Keep in mind, the regular APR applies after the introductory period ends.

The card imposes a small fee on each balance transfer transaction. But the fee is much less than the interest charges from a high-APR credit card. There are no annual or foreign transaction fees, and the card doesn’t charge for your first delinquent payment.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
  • Choose 3% cash back on gas and EV charging station, online shopping/cable/internet/phone plan/streaming, dining, travel, drug store/pharmacy or home improvement/furnishing purchases.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn 3.75%-5.25% cash back on purchases in your choice category.
  • No annual fee and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
$0
Excellent/Good

Additional Disclosure: Bank of America is a CardRates advertiser.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit cardhas a relatively long introductory APR promotion on balance transfers and purchases, after which the regular APR kicks in. The balance transfer offer applies only to transactions you make within the first 60 days after account opening.

The card doesn’t charge an annual fee. You can select a merchant category for bonus rewards. The card charges a foreign transaction fee based on the US dollar amount for purchases you make in a foreign currency.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 18.24% - 28.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • No Annual Fee - our low intro rates and all the benefits don’t come with a yearly charge.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 12 months on Purchases
0% 21 months on Balance Transfers
18.24% - 28.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card provides 0% 21 months on Balance Transfers. The card offers reasonably high credit limits — yours will depend on your creditworthiness.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card delivers automatic account alerts by text or email and allows you to choose any payment due date within the month. This chip-enabled, contactless card lets you tap a card reader to shop in person safely. It is the top competitor among the balance transfer cards.

Cardholder Reviews on Reddit

Several reviewers were surprised to learn that you can’t transfer balances from other Citi cards to the Citi Simplicity® Card. So, make sure you read the fine print (yes, all of it) before sending in your application.

For example, one cardowner wrote:

“I applied, was approved, and when I received the Citi Simplicity® Card in the mail, I called for the balance transfer. They said you can’t do it from one Citi card to another (it’s stated in the disclosure). You have to go to their website and read everything! And way, way, way down there, somewhere, it mentions it. Now I don’t need the card; it’s just an open credit line until they close it for inactivity, because if I close it, it will hurt my credit score.”

Another reviewer took the long view:

“I had my debt split up and consolidated on the Citi Simplicity® Card. My score took a huge hit. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, so it was worth it for me. The card allowed me to pay down my debt way faster. As you hit the thresholds, your score will jump up. A good deal.”

Generally, there were few complaints about the card, although some reviewers gave low marks to Citi customer service. Many cardholders knew why they wanted the Citi Simplicity® Card, used it for that purpose, and had no problems.

FAQs: Is the Card Hard to Get?

The Citi Simplicity® Card is fairly easy to obtain if you meet its requirements (described above). You may find the process more challenging if your credit score is below 670 or your income is low.

Citi places a mild restriction on the number of its cards that you can own. You must wait at least eight days between applications for a Citi card and can apply only twice within a 65-day period.

You don’t need an existing Citi account to qualify for this card, but it couldn’t hurt. If you are new to the world of banking and credit cards, it’s generally helpful to have an account at the issuing bank before applying for one of its cards. But be sure to manage the bank account responsibly.

What Is the Card’s Credit Limit?

The card offers a minimum credit limit of $500. Citi does not publicly disclose specific maximum credit limits for the card, and the limit can change over time.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the card’s credit limit usually tops out around $5,000. However, one cardowner reported an initial credit line of $14,600, so higher limits are certainly possible.

It’s common for credit card issuers to start you with a modest limit and then adjust it based on your usage, payment history, and changes in your financial situation.

If you want the card to consolidate credit card debt, you may need to ask for a credit line high enough to accommodate the amount you want to transfer.

Instructions for increasing credit card limit

You could negotiate a higher limit with a customer representative if you reveal your plan for transferring balances.

How Do I Transfer Balances?

You can request a balance transfer when you apply for the card or after you receive it. You can enter your information online or call the customer service number on the back of your card to transfer balances. Here are a few more details to keep in mind:

  1. The information required includes the transfer-from-account numbers and amounts.
  2. Citi may give you the option to transfer a balance with your application. It will take the bank at least 14 days after account opening to process any balance transfer payments. During this time, you may cancel or modify your balance transfer request by calling the number on the back of your card.
  3. The total amount of your balance transfer plus fee must be less than your available credit limit or any other limit the bank communicates. Be sure not to transfer any disputed purchase or other charge amount because you may lose your dispute rights. You cannot transfer balances from other accounts issued by Citibank or its affiliates. If you are unsure of the account’s issuer, you can go online for a list of Citi products and affiliates.
  4. Once approved, the bank will pay the amount of the balance transfer directly to the issuer. Continue to make payments on your other accounts until you have confirmed Citi has received your balance transfer. The bank will reduce your available credit limit by the total amount of the transfers, including fees.

If you transfer a balance, the card will charge interest on the purchases made with your card account unless:

  • Your purchases have a 0% APR, or
  • You pay the new balance shown on your statement (including the amount of your balance transfer) in full by the payment due date of each billing period.

If your new balance includes a Citi Flex Pay Plan, the card will charge interest on purchases unless:

  • You pay the adjusted new balance shown on your statement, plus any Citi Flex Plan payment amount, by the due date each month or
  • Those purchases have a 0% APR.

The bank charges a fee for each balance transfer transaction. That could negate some of your potential savings if you plan to transfer too many balances.

How Does It Compare to the Citi Double Cash® Card?

Both cards include beneficial features, but they have enough differences that it is worth a deeper look to see which one fits your financial needs and profile. Here’s a comparison chart for the Citi Simplicity® Card and the Citi Double Cash® Card:

FEATURE Citi Simplicity® Card Citi Double Cash® Card
Interest Rates The card offers a short introductory APR period on purchases and a long one on balance transfers. You must complete transfers within the first four months. The card does not offer an introductory APR on purchases but does on balance transfers. You must complete transfers within the first four months.
Rewards Does not offer rewards on purchases. Offers 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Annual Fee $0 No annual fee.
Balance Transfer Fee Typically, it offers a promotional balance transfer fee during the first four months of the introductory period. Typically, it offers a promotional balance transfer fee during the first four months of the introductory period.
Late Payment Fees No late fees. Late payment fees apply.
Penalty APR No penalty APR. Penalty APR applies for late payments.
Foreign Transaction Fee Foreign transaction fees apply. Foreign transaction fees apply.
Credit Requirement Generally requires good to excellent credit. Generally requires good to excellent credit.

Both cards offer introductory balance transfer promotions, but only the Citi Double Cash® Card provides rewards. Also note that the Citi Double Cash® Card includes late fees and a penalty APR on late payments, something to consider if you’ve ever missed a payment.

Is Citi a Good Bank?

Citi (formally Citigroup Inc.) has roots going back more than 210 years and was a pioneer in ATM usage and online banking. Citi’s headquarters is in New York City, and it is America’s third-largest banking institution, with annual revenue exceeding $75 billion.

The Better Business Bureau has not accredited Citi. Customers give Citi a BBB score of around 1 out of 5 and have lodged more than 2,500 complaints in the last 12 months.

Trustpilot rates Citi’s customer service as “Bad,” with a score of around 1.5 out of 5. Despite its global presence, product range, technology, and accessibility, Citi suffers from a poor reputation among many of its customers.

In fairness, the Citi credit card operation deserves respect for delivering several cost-efficient products that have helped make the bank one of the world’s largest issuers.

Would I Be Better Off With a Personal Loan to Consolidate Card Debt?

Balance transfers are not the only way to pay down your credit card debt. You can accomplish the same goal through a personal debt consolidation loan, in which you use the loan proceeds to pay off your credit card balances.

Here’s a comparison chart that outlines the key differences between balance transfers using the Citi Simplicity® Card and a personal consolidation loan:

FEATURE BALANCE TRANSFER PERSONAL CONSOLIDATION LOAN
Interest Rates Offers an introductory APR on transfers for a specified period, after which a regular APR applies Fixed or variable interest rates, typically higher than 0% but may be lower than standard credit card rates
Fees Balance transfer fee applies (usually a percentage of the transfer amount) Origination fee may apply; varies by lender
Repayment Term Introductory period usually lasts well over a year, and then a higher standard APR applies Fixed repayment term, often ranging from two to five years or more
Credit Impact Requires a credit card application and impacts your credit utilization Requires a loan application; can positively impact credit if it leads to lower credit utilization
Loan/Transfer Amount Limited by your credit limit on the card Based on your creditworthiness and the lender’s policies, potentially higher than a credit limit
Flexibility Loan available for balance transfers only You can use it to consolidate diverse types of debt
Ease of Use Relatively easy to arrange if you already have the card Involves a separate loan application process
Speed of Debt Reduction It can be slower due to the potential for lower payments during the introductory period Structured repayment plan can potentially lead to faster debt reduction
Credit Requirements Generally requires good to excellent credit for approval Varies by lender; some may accept lower credit scores with higher interest rates

Personal loans are more versatile than credit card balance transfers and easier to obtain if you have poor credit. But if you need only to consolidate credit card debt, 0% APR balance transfers are much less expensive — provided you pay off your balances before the promotion ends.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • You’re looking for a balance transfer option: This card is an excellent choice if you have existing credit card debt and want a long introductory APR period for balance transfers. Citi designed it to give you plenty of time to pay off your debt without accumulating additional interest.

    • You want to avoid late fees: If you’re concerned about occasional overdue payments, you’ll appreciate that it doesn’t charge late fees. In addition, the card does not impose an APR penalty for overdue payments. These features can save you money and provide peace of mind.

    • You’re seeking a simple card without rewards: You may want this card if your primary goal is to have a straightforward credit card without the complexity of tracking points or cash back. It’s a no-frills card focused on fundamental credit functions.

Credit card fundamentals are important, especially if you are looking to get out of debt by taking advantage of a balance transfer promotion. The Citi Simplicity® Card offers that, and takes a basic approach to helping you satisfy your financial needs.

Before applying for the card, consider the three alternative cards reviewed above. In particular, the Discover it® Balance Transfer card is similar to this card but also provides cash back rewards.

About the Author

Eric Bank
Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a masters in business administration from New York University and a masters in finance from DePaul University.

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Eric Bank