Review: The Citi Simplicity card has the lengthiest 0% APR period for balance transfers, making it a great option for paying down debt

Citi Simplicity Card Review 4x3

Business Insider

The Citi Simplicity lives up to its name with a straightforward value proposition: pay down credit card debt with a long intro APR period.

If you're the "average" American, you probably have your share of student loans, home mortgage debt, and credit card debt. While student loans tend to come with low rates (and you used them to earn a college degree) and mortgage debt helped you secure a place to live, finding something nice to say about credit card debt and other high-interest, unsecured debt can be a difficult feat.

After all, the average credit card APR is currently well over 17% - and that's just the average. Many of the top rewards credit cards on the market today charge considerably higher APRs than that, much to the detriment of the cardholders who are stuck carrying a balance.

That's where the Citi Simplicity card comes in. This card lets you secure 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24%. (Note that all balance transfers must be made in the first four months.) You also get 12 months with 0% APR on purchases (then a variable rate of 16.24% to 26.24%), which could help you pay off a large purchase without interest for a limited time.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

Citi Simplicity card details

Annual fee: $0

Introductory offer: 0% APR on purchases for 12 months and balance transfers for 21 months, followed by a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24%

Rewards: None

Foreign transaction fee: 3%

Using the Citi Simplicity card to get out of debt

Since you'll get 12 months with 0% APR on purchases followed by a variable APR of 16.24% to 26.24%, you could theoretically use this card for a large expense and pay it down without interest over time. Just remember that your interest rate will eventually reset, and you'll be stuck paying off any remaining balance at that rate when the time comes.

Since the Citi Simplicity card doesn't offer any rewards, however, the main reason to sign up is to consolidate high-interest credit card debt. Obviously, having 21 months with the introductory APR could help you save considerable sums of money on interest, and that's even after you pay the 5% balance transfer fee.

Here's an example of how you might use this card to get out of debt: Imagine for a moment you have $5,000 in credit card debt, which is about how much credit card debt more than half (54%) of millenials had late last year.

If you were paying 3% of your balance each month, or $150, and your APR was 17%, it would take you 46 months to become debt-free. In the meantime, you would pay $1,815 in credit card interest.

Now let's imagine you transferred that debt to the Citi Simplicity card to secure the intro APR for 21 months. You would pay the 5% balance transfer fee of $250 upfront, but you would have 21 months to pay down your balance without any interest at all.

If you were able to bump up your monthly payment to $250 per month, you could pay off the entire $5,250 balance in 21 months without any interest. You'd have to find another $100 per month to throw at your debt, but you would save $1,795 versus if you hadn't consolidated the debt to a new card at all.

Cardholder benefits

Considering this card is mostly for people who want to pay off debt, it doesn't come with many cardholder perks at all. You will get a flexible due date that you can pick ahead of time, and you'll won't face any liability for fraudulent purchases made with your credit card. Other than that, the only real benefit you'll receive is a free FICO score on your monthly credit card statement.

As a side note, this card is light on fees other than the 3% foreign transaction fee and the balance transfer fee. For example, you won't have to pay a late fee for late payments. This card also refrains from charging a penalty APR if you pay your bill late.

Citi Simplicity Card Compare

Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

How it compares to other balance transfer cards

Other top cards to consider include the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Here's how these options stack up:

Citi Simplicity Card Review Chart

Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

When it comes to balance transfer credit cards, you'll notice that cards with the most perks typically come with shorter 0% APR offers.

As you can see, you can earn a sign-up bonus and/or ongoing rewards on purchases if you're willing to accept an introductory APR for a shorter stretch of time, with cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Citi® Double Cash Card. However, this may not matter to you at all if your main goal is paying off debt. In fact, you're probably better off avoiding using a credit card for purchases altogether if you're in full debt payoff mode.

Still, if you mostly want 0% APR on purchases (and not balance transfers), other cards in this niche are worth considering. Not only can you earn an initial bonus with some of the top cards, but you can rack up rewards for each dollar you spend. That's not a bad deal for a card that offers the prospect of zero interest for a limited time with no annual fee.

The bottom line

If you need to consolidate and pay off high-interest credit card debt and you need as much time as possible to do it, the Citi Simplicity card could be your best bet. This card offers the longest 0% APR period for balance transfers on the market today, and you'll get 0% APR on purchases for a shorter timeline as well.

This card doesn't have a lot of benefits, but it's not really meant to. The Citi Simplicity card is purely for debt consolidation, and not really one you would want to use for purchases beyond the initial introductory period.

If you're still unsure of which credit card you should use for debt consolidation, make sure to compare all the top balance transfer cards out there today. They all offer 0% APR for a limited time, but some tailor their offerings to consumers who want rewards or some basic cardholder perks. There's no "right" or "wrong" way to consolidate debt with a credit card, but it is possible to find a card with the benefits you want the most.

Click here to learn more about the Citi Simplicity card »

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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