Not everyone wants a credit card to rack up points or cash back. Sometimes, especially if you’re working on getting out of debt or are unable to pay your balance in full each month, a simple credit card with no annual fee and a low interest rate is a better deal.
The Citi Simplicity® Card is one of those credit cards often referred to as “plain vanilla,” offering benefits that are a bit different from rewards.
- Fees. There is no annual fee for the Citi Simplicity card. The charge for balance transfers is $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, and the foreign transaction fee is 3%. The only other fees for this card are the cash advance fee, which is the greater of $10 or 5%, and the returned payment fee of up to $35.
- APR. The Citi Simplicity credit card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 18 months from the date the account is opened. The introductory APR is also 0% on balance transfers for 18 months from the date of the first transfer (when transfers are completed within four months of the account opening). After the introductory period, the APR becomes 12.99%, 17.99%, or 21.99%, depending on your creditworthiness and fluctuations in the prime rate.
- Citi Price Rewind. Citi Price Rewind, a Citibank credit card feature included with the Citi Simplicity card, tracks online prices for purchases made with the card for 30 days. When you register your purchase with the program and a price at least $25 lower than what you paid is discovered, you receive the difference back. However, these refunds are capped at $250 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.
- Long-Term Introductory Rate. The introductory offer of 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months is one of the longest available. For instance, Chase Slate offers 0% on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months, and Capital One Platinum Prestige offers 0% until January 2015. Both are considered “plain vanilla” cards with no annual fee, but their introductory offers are a few months shorter than those of the Citi Simplicity card.
- Very Few Fees. The only fees on the Citi Simplicity card are the balance transfer fee, foreign transaction fee, cash advance fee, and returned payment fee. You never pay an annual membership fee, late fee, or over-limit fee. There is also no penalty APR, which with other credit cards can be as high as 29.99% for paying your bill late, exceeding your credit limit, or making a payment that is returned.
- No Penalty for Late Payments. There are no late fees with the Citi Simplicity, and you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with a huge penalty APR of 29.99% if you make a late payment. However, you are still affected by those late payments when they are reported to the credit bureaus, so it’s in your best interest not to take advantage of this particular no-penalty feature.
- No Rewards. If you regularly pay your balance in full, you may want to instead look for a credit card that rewards your purchases in the form of cash back, points, or whatever else you fancy. Cards like the Citi Simplicity are generally designed for users who carry balances or want short-term financing on large or everyday purchases.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. As with many Citibank credit cards, there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%. These fees often range from 1% to 3%, with Citi cards charging among the highest. If you travel frequently outside of the United States, this is not the credit card you want to use for those purchases. Instead, you may want to opt for Discover and Capital One cards, which have no foreign transaction fees.
- Not the Lowest APR. One of the benefits of a no-rewards credit card is usually a low APR. The introductory APR of 0% does cover a longer period than normal of 18 months, but the minimum APR after the introductory period of 12.99% is not the lowest available. For example, the lowest APR available for the Capital One Platinum Prestige is 10.9% and the lowest APR possible with the U.S. Bank Platinum Visa card is 9.99%.
If you currently have balances on other high-APR credit cards, you could transfer them to the Citi Simplicity and work on paying them off within the 18-month introductory period. The 0% promotional offer on both balance transfers and purchases can help eliminate debt and save you quite a bit of money in interest.
However, the Citi Simplicity is not a great card if you travel frequently outside of the United States, or if you regularly pay your balances in full. In those cases, more suitable cards would be those without foreign transaction fees, and cards that reward you for your purchases.
The Citi Simplicity® Card provides one of the best no-annual fee, low-interest, plain vanilla credit cards on the market. However, there are cards available with lower APRs and no foreign transaction fee.
4.2 out of 5 stars: One of the best plain vanilla cards available, but just below competing cards such as the Capital One Prestige, which offers a lower APR and no foreign transaction fee. There is also a Visa version of the the Citi Simplicity card.