The Smart Investor has collected card information independently. Issuers did not provide the details, nor are they responsible for their accuracy. The review is not a recommendation, the actual rates/fees may be different.
The Citi Simplicity Card markets itself as the premier choice for the occasionally forgetful customer who still maintains good credit (660 or above). The card never charges late fees for any late payment, ever.
Although you should always strive to pay your bills on time, this card can take you a long way if you’re prone to slip up every now and then. While most cards waive the fee on just the first late payment, the Citi Simplicity Card waives fees on all late payments. It also provides the freedom to choose payment due dates in order to accommodate any kind of financial situation.
Despite its exceptional forgiveness policy, the card has no kind of rewards program enticing customers to swipe. There’s also a sizable difference in duration for the card’s intro 0% APR periods on purchases and balance transfers, which, as you’ll see, can come into conflict with the card’s seemingly generous interest policy.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of the Citi Simplicity Card – and determine if it’s right for you…
Citi Simplicity Card
On Citi’s Secure Website
Our Bottom Line
Forgiveness and Not Much Else
Credit Rating Requirements
Average – Good
Here’s a summary of the main pros & cons (click to see explanation or scroll down):
Citi Simplicity Card – Benefits
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of the Citi Double Cash Card – and whether or not it’s right for your wallet…
The Citi Simplicity Card is the only card on the market that doesn’t charge penalties on any late payments or raise interest as a result. This is the card’s most appealing benefit, as all lenders can charge fees as high as $27 on the first late payment and $38 on all subsequent late payments. The generous forgiveness policy also beats out dozens of competitors that only forgive the first late payment, such as the Citi Double Cash Card.
As with most other Citi options, this card doesn’t charge an annual fee, which means you don’t have to worry about swiping enough to cover a fixed yearly payment. No annual fee is a highly competitive perk since the average annual credit card fee is around $147.
The Citi Simplicity Card’s other attractive perks are the exceptionally long interest-free periods for purchases. New customers enjoy 0% interest on all purchases for the first 12 months.
However, the two lengthy zero-interest periods can backfire on your credit if you’re not diligent with your payments…
Citi Simplicity Card – Drawbacks
The card doesn’t offer any rewards on purchases, leaving customers with little incentive to actually use it. Most credit cards, on the other hand, typically offer rewards for either specific spending categories (e.g. the Capital One Savor Card, which offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment) or general spending (e.g. the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which provides 1.5% rewards on all purchases).
Customers can actually be charged interest earlier than expected since the intro 0% period on balance transfers is 9 months longer than the period for purchases.
For instance, let’s say you transfer a $3,000 balance over to your new Citi Simplicity Card and pay it down over the 21-month interest-free period. Once the 12-month interest-free period on purchases expires, you’ll still be carrying some of that transferred $3,000 balance. That means your card’s grace period becomes worthless and you’ll start accruing interest on every purchase as soon as you make them.
If you plan to transfer a balance to this card, be sure to pay it off entirely within 12 months to avoid interest on all of your purchases. Or, alternatively, don’t swipe the card for any purchases after the first 12 months.
The Citi Simplicity Card’s high APR range between 15.99% and 25.99% leaves little incentive for customers to swipe after the intro 0% APR periods. The range is above the national average near 15.96%, not to mention it’s extremely high for the majority of American customers who carry a balance from month to month.
Alternatives to Citi Simplicity Card
Though the Citi Simplicity Card stands alone when it comes to exceptional late-payment forgiveness, many other cards still boast either strong forgiveness policies or generous intro 0% APR periods.
The discover cash back card generously waives the fee on your first late payment and charges $37 for every subsequent one, just below the federally mandated maximum of $38. Despite forgiveness that pales in comparison to the Citi Simplicity Card, the Discover it Cash Back Card makes up for it with a smorgasbord of other perks. These include 5% rewards in rotating categories (e.g. dining, shopping) every quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases and an intro 0% APR period of 14 months for purchases and balance transfers.
Though it doesn’t offer any late-payment forgiveness, this option counters it with a long 20-month intro 0% APR period on both purchases and balance transfers. Those matching periods ensure you’re not left with a gap that could result in accidental interest accruement on purchases. The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card also boasts a highly competitive variable APR range between 12.24% and 24.24%.
Not only does the PenFed Promise Visa Card waive late-payment fees, but it waives all fees, including balance transfer fees, annual fees, foreign transaction fees, and cash advance fees. The variable APR range is also strong between 11.74% and 17.99%, but the card offers no intro 0% APR periods. You must also already be a PenFed Credit Union member to sign up for the card.
Is the Citi Simplicity Card Right for You?
The card may seem a good option for the type of customer privy to slip up on payments from time to time. But with a high interest range, mismatched intro 0% APR periods, and a dearth of rewards, the Citi Simplicity Card leaves much to be desired by the average payment-conscious customer.