Review of the Citi Simplicity® MasterCard

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Jun 30, 2014 | Updated Apr 02, 2018

Citibank offers two versions of their popular Citi Simplicity® card, a Visa and a MasterCard version. The Simplicity card is loved by people who hate interest, and is often used to help pay off credit cards with a higher rate. There are no points and few fees. It’s meant to be as simple as possible, without many of the issues that sometime plague cardholders.

The only difference between the Visa and MasterCard versions are some details about the secondary benefits provided by these payment processors.

Update: This card is now only available as a Mastercard. You can no longer get a Visa version.
Citi Simplicity® Card
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Citi Simplicity® Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 15.99%–25.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.99% to 25.99%.
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.99% to 25.99%.
  • No late fees - Ever
  • No penalty rate - Ever
  • No annual fee - Ever
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.

The Offer

There are no actual rewards, like points or cash back, for using the Simplicity cards. The real benefits come as you use this card over time, taking advantage of the promotions, the low interest rate, and the fees.

The Benefits

These cards come with quite a few benefits, designed to help out frequent shoppers. They’ll also give cardholders who like point-based rewards plans some usable features to look forward to instead.

Maybe the most interesting benefit is Citi® Price Rewind, a service that helps you save money. When you register a purchase with Price Rewind, it will search the Internet for 30 days, looking for the same product. If it finds that product being offered for at least $25 less than what you paid, you’ll be able to get the price difference back.

Citi Private Pass is another nice feature for cardholders. Private Pass gives exclusive access to sports events and clinics, dining, music, entertainment, and other fascinating experiences.

Visa and MasterCard provide help while traveling, in the form of auto rental insurance and travel/emergency assistance. This assistance includes translation help, as well as medical and legal referrals. The details of this assistance will vary depending on which payment processor you’re using.

Cardholders are also protected from identity theft, and are not held liable for fraudulent charges. The warranty on products you buy can be extended for up to 1 year for most purchases.

The Costs

The costs are where the Simplicity cards really shine. They include a number of features that, while common among credit cards, are rarely seen combined on a single card. There are very few fees, and the low interest offers opportunities to help out the balances in your other accounts.

There is no annual fee, and the introductory interest rates last about as long as they come among credit cards. The APR for both purchases and balance transfers is 0% for the first 18 months after account opening, and then it is 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%, based on your credit score. The introductory rate only applies to balance transfers that are completed within the first 4 months after opening your account.

The APR for cash advances is the same range, without an introductory period. Balance transfers also cost $5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater. Cash advances cost either $10 or 5% of the transaction, and foreign purchases cost 3% of the transaction.

There is no late fee, but returned payments cost up to $35. There is also no penalty APR that could be applied and raise your interest rate dramatically.

These conditions create a very forgiving situation, where you can use the introductory interest rates to make any big purchases you’ve been planning or to help pay off other accounts. The scarcity of fees lets you buy with some security, knowing that your rate won’t suddenly spike if you stop paying attention to your bill.

The Bottom Line

This card is appreciated by many for a reason. It was designed to help you ease the burden from debt you’ve accrued, and is often used by people to pay off other high-interest credit cards.

If you’re sitting on a huge balance with a high interest rate, you can use the Simplicity card’s introductory 0% balance transfer APR to transfer the balance to your Simplicity card, and pay it off at a lower rate. When you combine this ability with the lack of a penalty APR and late fees, you’ll be able to pay off your bills in relative comfort.

Cardholders beware: this is a great card for dealing with debt, but it is almost too good. Don’t be lulled into thinking that it’s ok to carry a huge balance, because it can hurt your credit score and will still be gaining interest.

If you want to use this card to help pay off high-interest debt it needs to mark the beginning of more fiscal responsibility, rather than be a tool to help you accrue even more headaches.

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