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|Exceptionally long intro balance transfer APR period||Mediocre intro purchase APR period|
|Longer-than-normal window to make a balance transfer at the intro rate||High balance transfer fee|
|No annual fee||No rewards|
The Citi Simplicity® Card offers a best-in-class balance transfer period, but that’s about it
Balance transfer credit cards are a great way to create some breathing room for your finances, allowing you to save money on interest while paying off a balance.
Two of the most important characteristics to consider when looking at a balance transfer card are …
1. The length of the 0% intro APR period
2. The balance transfer fee
A long intro balance transfer period
At 21 months from date of first transfer, the Citi Simplicity® Card offers one of the longest 0% intro APR balance transfer periods. This means you can move existing credit card debt onto the Citi Simplicity® Card and go without paying interest on that debt for 21 months from the date of your first transfer. Many alternatives offer an intro period of only 15 or 18 months on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After the intro period on balance transfers, the variable APR on the Citi Simplicity® Card jumps to 16.24% - 26.24%. All transfers must be completed within four months of account opening in order to qualify for the 0% intro APR balance transfer offer.
An expensive balance transfer fee
When you make a balance transfer on this card, Citi will charge you 5% (minimum $5) of the amount of debt transferred. So if you were to move $1,000 of credit card debt onto this card, you’d have to pay a $50 balance transfer fee.
Some alternative balance transfer cards have fees of 3%, and others waive this fee. For example, the Chase Slate® has an intro $0 balance transfer fee on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, it’s 5% of the amount transferred ($5 minimum). And the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has no balance transfer fees.
Heads up: How to avoid surprise purchase interest
The Citi Simplicity® Card also offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening. This means you won’t need to pay interest on purchases for a full year. After the intro purchase APR period, the card’s variable APR on purchases will be 16.24% - 26.24%.
But there’s a “gotcha” to watch out for here: If there’s any outstanding balance transfer debt to pay off, purchases made on this card after the first 12 months begin accruing interest immediately. This essentially means the grace period doesn’t apply until the balance transfer is paid in full.
Here’s an example. Imagine that you’re in month 15 of paying off your balance transfer. The intro 0% APR on purchases no longer applies. You buy a $5 cup of coffee on your Citi Simplicity® Card, and that’s your only purchase on the card for the month. Even if you pay off your purchase in full by the payment due date and make a payment toward your balance transfer, you’ll still owe interest on that $5 coffee. You’ll continue owing interest on any purchases you make — even if you pay purchases off in full and on time every month — until you’ve finished paying off the balance transfer.
Citi’s not the only issuer with this balance transfer “gotcha,” so it’s definitely one to watch out for. Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid: Use this card only for its balance transfer offer and avoid purchasing anything until your debt is paid off.
No late fees and other considerations
If you’re considering getting the Citi Simplicity® Card, there are a few additional points to consider.
- This card offers a rare perk that helps if you need some flexibility when it comes to paying your credit card bills: It has no late fees and lets you choose your own payment date. This can help because, even though this card offers intro APRs on balance transfers and purchases, you’re still responsible for making minimum monthly payments, which can be a little tough to do when all your bills come due at the same time. One thing to note: Just because there aren’t any late fees doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to pay late. There could still be consequences to your credit with late payments.
- This card has no rewards program, so it’s not going to add value to your wallet once its 0% intro APR periods have expired.
So who is this card good for?
Balance transfers can provide much-needed breathing room if you’ve accrued credit card debt and want to work on paying down your debt while avoiding the credit card interest charges.
I used balance transfer offers like this when I started my family, since I was finishing college. I had good enough credit to qualify, and I was confident that I’d make good income once I graduated. The 0% intro APR balance transfer offers let me spread my credit card debt over the first couple of years of my career, interest-free, saving me hundreds of dollars in fees.
That said, these offers aren’t ideal for everyone. Balance transfers can be a great tool to manage your debt, but they don’t erase it. Before applying for a balance transfer card, make sure you have a game plan to pay off your debt.
Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.
Although the Citi Simplicity® Card offers an exceptionally long 0% intro APR balance transfer period, there are some good alternatives to consider.
- Chase Slate®: If you need to transfer a lot of credit card debt, this could be a good option to consider if you want to save on fees.
- Citi® Double Cash Card: For people who want a good long-term card beyond the balance transfer, this cash back card could be a good fit.