Along with credit cards, Citi provides the opportunity for a few different financing options specifically for Citi credit card users. Citi will occasionally review your credit card account and determine if you’re eligible for its Flex Plans: Citi Flex Loan or Citi Flex Pay.
Both help finance any large purchases you may have planned. For the Citi Flex Loan, you can be approved for a loan up to the amount of your credit limit. Citi decides what amount you’re eligible for, and you get to choose your repayment term.
For Citi Flex Pay, you can choose a single credit card purchase, and then pay it down over a set duration of your choosing.
Each plan will use up your credit card balance, like a typical purchase would.
Need a car to get to work? Maybe a Citi Flex Loan could help finance that. Or perhaps you have a car, but it needs some work done to get back into shape. Citi Flex Pay could provide some extra time to pay.
These plans could be pretty helpful, if you have a large (and necessary) purchase in your sights that you need to make. They could give you the extra time you need, if you can’t immediately pay it off. Just make sure you’re not able to get a lower APR elsewhere.
Read on to learn more, and to see if these financing options could benefit you.
What Is a Citi Flex Plan?
A Citi Flex Plan will present you with two financial paths: a Citi Flex Loan or Citi Flex Pay plan. For both, you’ll have a fixed APR and get to choose the duration of payments. The longer the time period you choose, the smaller your payments will be — but the more interest the balance will accrue, and the more you’ll spend in total.
There are no fees associated with Flex Loans or Flex Pay, aside from what interest the balances accrue over time. There’s also no hard credit inquiry required, unlike most loan and financing applications.
The Citi Flex Plan is your personalized payment plan: how you pay back the amounts you borrow.
Citi Flex Loan
A Citi Flex Loan is a loan distributed by Citi. The minimum amount of the loan is $500, while the maximum is determined by your creditworthiness, your credit limit at the time of loan approval, and other factors like income.
How you receive your funds is up to you. You can choose to have them distributed via mail or by direct deposit. If you choose by mail, you can expect to see your check in up to ten days. For direct deposit, your funds should be available within 1–2 business days.
While there are no fees for accepting the loan, the balance will still accrue interest at a fixed APR.
You won’t have to worry about another payment. Instead, your new loan payment will simply be added to the required credit card payment you have to make each month.
It’s important to note however, if you want to pay off the loan ahead of time, you may need to pay whatever credit card balance you’re carrying first.
Citi prioritizes balances with higher APRs when you make payments in excess of the minimum payment due. So if purchases you make with your credit card carry a higher APR than that of your Flex Loan, you’ll have to pay down your purchase balance before you can apply any extra payments to the loan (the same goes for balances from balance transfers and cash advances).
You’ll be able to make extra payments on your loan, as long as you knock out any other balances with higher APRs first. You can see how all that might play out below.
Another thing to be aware of is that using a Citi Flex Loan will increase your credit utilization because it’s using your credit card’s credit limit. The more of your available credit you use, the bigger the impact it can have on your credit scores.
Looking for an in-depth breakdown of how exactly credit utilization works, and how it affects your credit scores? Read more about it right here.
Citi Flex Pay
Citi Flex Pay is a somewhat simpler option. Rather than providing one lump sum, you can choose a single credit card purchase and then pay it down over a set amount of time.
Like the Flex Loan, there are no fees associated other than the interest that will accrue at a fixed APR. The payment will also be added to your regular required monthly credit card payment, so you won’t have to worry about making two separate payments.
And, the APR prioritization still applies here. So if you have plans to get ahead, you’ll need to pay off any outstanding credit card balances (assuming they carry higher APRs) before you can make additional payments on the Citi Flex Pay balance.
How Does the Citi Flex Loan Work?
Once you’re notified of your eligibility, you’ll be able to choose the size of your loan and how long you’d like to pay it down.
So, let’s say you’re approved for a loan at a fixed APR of 12%. Your loan amounts and monthly payments could look something like this:
|Loan Amount||12 Months||24 Months||36 Months||48 Months||60 Months|
You can choose how much time you’d like to pay your loan back, thus determining your payment amount. Afterwards, it’ll be added to your required monthly credit card payment.
If you’re able to pay the loan down sooner rather than later, we recommend you do so. It could save you a good deal of money on interest.
As described above, payment allocation can get a bit tricky when you accept a Citi Flex Plan. But you can still avoid paying interest on purchases.
So let’s say your credit card has an APR of 16%, and your interest-free grace period is still valid. If you’ve made $100 in purchases during the prior billing statement, you may be responsible for a minimum payment of $15, for example.
Now let’s say you’ve chosen a Citi Flex Loan of $2,000, at a fixed APR of 12%, and want to pay it down in 24 months. That’ll increase your monthly payment by $94, bringing your total monthly payment to $109.
If you wanted to pay your purchase balance in full, you’ll need to pay the remaining $85 in addition to the minimum, for a grand total of $194. This is because the credit card purchase APR is higher than that of your Citi Flex Loan.
That’s how you can avoid paying interest on your purchases. And, once you’ve cleared your full purchase balance, you can make additional payments in order to bring down your loan balance (or just add that money to your monthly payment).
How Does Citi Flex Pay Work?
Just like the Citi Flex Loan, once you get word from Citi, you’ll be able to choose a single credit card purchase and how much time you’d like to pay it down.
With a fixed APR of 12%, your options would look something like this:
|Credit Card Purchase||12 Months||24 Months||36 Months||48 Months||60 Months|
You should pick the shortest duration you’re able to afford, saving yourself some money by reducing the amount of overall interest the balance will accrue.
The payment allocation example above will also apply to the Citi Flex Pay plan.
How Can I Apply?
The short answer is, you can’t.
Every now and then Citi will review your account and determine which Citi Flex Plan you’re eligible for, if any. They’ll present you with your options, either via email or a banner on your account page, and you can choose which plan is best for you. You can also call customer support to see if you have any offers.
In the case of a Citi Flex Loan, you’ll be able to choose the amount you’d like, and how long to pay it off.
For Citi Flex Pay, you can choose a purchase you’ve already made and the duration you’d like to pay it down.
In either case, no application fee, hard credit check, or application of any kind is required on your end. Just keep an eye out to see if Citi has reached out.
Pros & Cons of the Citi Flex Plan
While these plans might seem like quick and easy ways to amplify your funds, it’s important to take a look at the downsides as well as the benefits.
- Can be helpful if you have a necessary purchase coming up, particularly via Citi Flex Pay
- Citi Flex Plans are relatively easy to access, and can fund you up to the amount of your available credit.
- You won’t have to worry about two payments as your Flex Plan payment is added to your regular monthly payment.
- Requires no application, hard credit check, or fee
- A Flex Plan balance will accrue interest, leading to a higher overall cost than if it were paid in full right off the bat.
- It’ll affect your credit utilization, potentially having a negative impact on your credit scores.
- You’ll be responsible for a larger minimum monthly payment.
- If you use a promotional 0% APR balance transfer or purchase offer, your Citi Flex Plan can make it harder to pay that balance down.
- You won’t earn any credit card rewards on purchases made with a Flex Loan.
If you have an upcoming large purchase (or a series of purchases) that you can’t afford to pay in full immediately, either one could prove a useful tool. However, they’ll increase your monthly payment and the amount of credit you’ll be using.
How will a Citi Flex Plan affect my 0% APR offers?
Many credit cards come with a 0% APR offer for either balance transfers or purchases (or both).
After taking a 0% balance transfer APR offer, your minimum payments will be allocated to that transferred balance due to its 0% interest rate. Any payments you make in excess of the minimum required payment will be put towards your Citi Flex Plan balance because it’ll carry the higher APR.
The same holds true for 0% purchase APR offers. While the minimum payment will go towards your purchase balance, the excess payments you make will only affect the Citi Flex Plan balance.
So depending on the size of your 0% balance, it may take you quite a while to pay it down. But this isn’t the worst thing in the world, because at least that balance won’t be accruing interest.
Check Out Some Other Options
While the Citi Flex Plans can help if you’re in a bind, you should still take a look at a few different options that could be less expensive.
0% APR Credit Cards
If you’re looking to utilize a Citi Flex Plan to finance some expenses, you might first consider using a credit card with a 0% APR offer. They essentially have the same intent: to give you extra time to pay down a purchase.
The 0% interest rate would obviously be lower than that of your Citi Flex Plan. That means by taking advantage of one of these offers, you’d end up saving yourself money on interest.
Some cards won’t even charge a balance transfer fee to do so. That way, you can pay off a balance at a lower interest rate for no extra cost, saving yourself some money and not just exchanging one high-interest debt for another.
Keep an eye on APRs and payoff schedules, and be sure to compare offers to find what might work best for you!
Financing Programs From Other Credit Card Issuers and Banks
If you have cards from other issuers, you can check out a few different offers. For American Express cardholders, there are the Pay Over Time and Pay It Plan It® financing programs. Chase provides similar programs: My Chase Plan and My Chase Loan.
If these branded programs don’t do it for you, you could research loans through other financial institutions. You can request a personal loan from your preferred bank, for example. Just be sure to check out the APRs (and application fees) and compare them to what you’d get from a Flex Plan.
A Citi Flex Plan could be a good way to make necessary purchases, if you’re in a pinch and can’t afford to pay in full immediately. But you should avoid them otherwise, because you’ll end up paying more than you normally would and could hurt your credit temporarily due to increased utilization.
There are other drawbacks to using either of the Citi Flex Plans too, like impeding payments of balances at 0% rates.
Like most things in the credit world, it’s important to understand all facets of the Citi Flex Plan you choose. They can hinder more than help if you use them improperly, so you’ll need to weigh your options carefully.