Citi Simplicity® Card Review – What Makes this a Good Value

citi-simplicity-mc-bigAfter a multi-year hiatus, the Citi Simplicity® card has been retooled and relaunched. The new Citi Simplicity® card retains many of its former features – it has no annual fee, no late fees, and no over the limit fees – while incorporating a few new benefits, the most notable of which is an interest rate that will not increase when consumers miss a payment or spend beyond their credit limit. These features are complimented by an ultra-long 0% introductory rate on both purchases and balance transfers that lasts 18 months* – presently the longest 0% APR promotion being offered by any credit card company.

Who Can Benefit from the Citi Simplicity® Card?

The Citi Simplicity® card is clearly targeted towards consumers who want a no frills credit card that offers protection against late fees and the interest rate increases that often accompany them. The Citi Simplicity® card’s terms and conditions are very much in line with the card’s name. A low variable interest rate that only increases with the Prime Rate is offered to all approved applicants as is the aforementioned 18 month 0% introductory period that covers balance transfers and new purchases*. This is a departure from other cards, all of which reserve the right to raise interest rates on future purchases.

Citi Simplicity® vs. Other Citi Credit Cards

The Citi Simplicity® card is extremely similar to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card. Both cards offer industry leading 0% rates on purchases and balance transfers that last 18 months* and carry no annual fees. With the Citi Simplicity® card, however, consumers get the added benefit of direct access to customer service representatives. This quality of life feature – also available on the high end Chase Sapphire ® Card – is one that any consumer who regularly needs to speak to a live person should appreciate.

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Final Thoughts on the Simplicity® Card

As far as value credit cards go, the Citi Simplicity® card is an industry leader. Citibank is the only credit card company currently offering  generous, 18 month 0% rates on both purchases and balance transfers*. And, although they do offer an interest rate that can potentially be 1% lower on the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Citi Simplicity® card is the only offer on the market that waives late fees and provides protection against interest rate increases.

Ultimately, choosing between Citi’s two value cards is like flipping a coin. If you have excellent credit and want a marginally lower interest rate, then the Diamond card is the best option. However, if you want protections against fees, direct customer service access, and don’t want to risk getting a potentially higher rate in the future, then Citi Simplicity® is likely the best bet.

For additional information, please see the online application here.

About the author

Jeff Weber

Jeffrey Weber has been following and blogging about the credit card industry since 2004. He has also written for Forbes and been cited in a wide range of major media outlets including USA Today, Time, MSN Money, The Christian Science Monitor, The Detroit Free Press and numerous other prestigious online and print publications.

Jeffrey resides in Easton, Connecticut and enjoys spending his free time chasing after his two year old son, watching films with his wife and occasionally taking a holiday to go snorkeling.

– has written 338 posts.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael October 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Balance Transfer Helper

Thank you. I appreciate the courteous and professional way that you’ve responded. I’m now trying to protect everything I have with auto pay. I set up my electric bill for it yesterday. It’s hard to believe how easy it can happen until it does. Thanks for the opportunity to express my views on your site.

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper October 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Thanks to you as well. Conversations like these are immensely helpful to other readers and I appreciate your willingness to share and discuss. Have a great weekend.

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Michael October 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Yesterday I got a letter from Citi saying that I was “pre approved” for their Diamond Preferred card. This is just a week after they raised me to 29.99% and lopped $20,000 off the card I already have. So, I’m just shaking my head as I toss it in the can. Actually none of the cards that Citi offers have such a great rate. Yeah, I’ve had a problem lately which was of my own making, but I had already almost stopped using the card even before the late payment inciident. They raised ny rate to 23.9% about 2 years ago. That was with excellent credit (836), no late payments and no reason given. I have a Bank of America Platinum Plus Visa with 8.24% on purchases.

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper October 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm

The Bank of America card you have is a great deal. Nobody is offering rates that low anymore, so that’s definitely a card worth hanging on to and setting up auto-pay for.

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Michael October 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Balance transfer Helper

I understand what you are saying and you are absolutely correct. The late payment was my fault. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t live without auto pay. I actually found the statement with the payment coupon torn off, so I know I put it in an envelope with a check. Maybe I mailed it without a stamp or dropped it somewhere. I don’t know. What bothers me so much is not that there were consequences to my own actions, but that it was so severe and seemingly so inappropriate. It was like forgetting to come back and put coins in the parking meter and your driving license is revoked for life. The other things is, I read reviews that say this is the card that you don’t have to worry about rate increases etc. It’s not so. Make a mistake and Citi will bring down the axe on you hard and quick, just like other cards do. My credit score 2 years ago was 836. Last May it was 740. I’ve had the Citi card for 13 years. I’ve never been late on any other card in my life. With Citi it was 3 days late on a payment of $20 and 5 days late on a payment of $126. I realized it when I got an email from them and I immediately called and gave them a phone payment of $1,000. You are right, I’m now on auto pay for all the cards and Citi goes in the drawer forever.

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper October 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Michael,

I’m not sure why the last poster heckled you and apologize for the way I defended my review of the Citi Simplicity card. The whole issue came down to a misunderstanding and I totally understand why you were angry. I also really appreciated your post script about auto pays and wrote about it here http://www.smartbalancetransfers.com/blog/2011/10/credit-card-auto-payments-the-late-fee-safety-net-442/

At the very least, this discussion we’ve had will help other visitors who never realized the benefits of auto-pay.

Thanks for coming back and being an absolute gentleman.

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Maggie October 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Michael, stop telling people your story on various pages. One was enough.

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper October 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

Maggie,

I’m not sure where else Michael has told his story, but his misunderstanding of the terms and the discussion it created adds value for other visitors and is constructive, even though I was incorrectly accused of botching my review, which is not in the least bit true. Nevertheless, I don’t like to suppress comments and hopefully my explanation of his situation was beneficial to him.

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Michael September 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm

It says Citi Simplicity on the front of the card. This happened two days ago ( 9/25/2011 )

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper September 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Michael,

I just re-read your initial comment and think I now have a better understanding of what happened. After the CARD Act, banks are no longer allowed to raise rates on existing balances. However, they can raise rates on future purchases and they are also very quick to cut credit limits. Consequently, the rate increase should only be applicable to new purchases and was likely triggered by the late payments. Paying late makes you appear to be a credit risk and this response is typical to what every credit card issuer is doing (my wife recently missed a payment for the first time on an American Express card she had for six years and was hit with a 29.99% rate on future purchases.

Thus, while I understand your frustration, you would have had the same problems with just about any credit card company. I would stop using your Simplicity card and stick to your low rate card.

And lastly, I forgot to mention the great PS you included in your first posting. Setting up auto pay is an absolute must.

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Michael September 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

Article is very misleading. I’ve had this card for 12 years. They raised my rate to 23% a couple of years ago and would give me no reason for doing it. My credit score was 830. Recently I’ve been late a couple of times because I misplaced the staement and forgot about it. The payments were minscule. One was $20 with a $41 balance on a credit limit of $27,680. Thgey just whacked 20,000 off my limit and raised my rate to 29.9% Citi is a joke. I’ve got a chase platinum that’s 8% PS always use autopay as a backup.

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper September 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Michael,

What happened to you with a prior version of this card was a result of changes made prior to the CARD Act. Now that the CARD Act is in place, no credit card company can raise your rate, so while I absolutely understand your frustration, the points I believe you are in disagreement about are no longer applicable to this or essentially any other credit card today.

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Jeff Weber Balance Transfers Helper June 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

I agree. I was hoping there would be no balance transfer fee on this card when I heard it was coming out, but it does. The 0% balance transfer deal is much better than what was offered on the old Simplicity card though.

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