Retire Your Credit Card Debt With Citi Simplicity® Card
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The best thing that you can do with your credit card is to always pay your entire balance in full and on time. If you do not pay your balance in full, you will incur interest on the average daily balance of all of your charges. And if your payment is not made on time, you will be charged a late fee, and your card's interest rate will be raised to what is called the penalty interest rate.
But there is one credit card on the market that is designed to help cardholders avoid these problems, at least temporarily. The Citi Simplicity® Card offers new applicants 18 months of interest free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers. In addition, cardholders are never subjected to late fees or a penalty interest rate.
How This Card Works
New cardholders are offered 0% APR promotional financing on new purchases and balance transfers, but there is a balance transfer fee. (Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.) Qualifying balance transfers must be made within four months of opening an account, and cardholders must still make monthly minimum payments.
Cardholders can use the balance transfer offer to pay down existing debt. For example, someone with $5,000 worth of debt on a card that charges 18% interest will incur $657 in interest if paying $314 a month for 18 months. But if that same cardholder transferred the balance to this card, they would incur a $150 balance transfer fee, but then only have to pay $286 a month for the same 18 months. Even after considering the balance transfer fee, that cardholder would be saving a total of $507 in interest. And in addition, new purchases made during that 18-month period can also be paid off interest free during that time.
After the promotional financing terms end, interest will accrue at the regular rate, which will be 12.99% to 21.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
Despite its name, this card is anything but a no-frills product. For example, purchases are covered by an extended warranty program that adds one year to manufacturer's warranties of three years or less. Cardholders also receive a retail purchase protection policy against theft or damage within 90 days of purchase, for up to $1,000. Finally, all purchases are eligible to participate in Citi's Price Rewind program that will refund the difference in price of any purchase that is available for $25 less within 30 days.
There is no annual fee for this card, and there are no late fees. However, there is 3% balance transfer fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee added to all charges processed outside of the United States.
18 months of 0% interest is the longest offer of its kind currently on the market. If a cardholder utilizes this offer as part of a comprehensive plan to pay off as much debt as possible, this can be a fantastic deal. In addition, all of the purchase protection plans can be useful as well. Finally, it is nice to see a bank take a less punitive approach by getting rid of late fees and penalty interest rates.
Customers should not interpret Citi's generosity as an invitation to be irresponsible. Even without late fees and penalty interest rates, making late payments is a bad habit that will hurt your credit score. Furthermore, those who use promotional financing offers to postpone paying off their debt will eventually see this practice catch up with them with devastating results.
Who This Card Is Best For
This is the card for those who realize that they have not been using credit cards as well as they should have. I am talking about those of us with credit card debt — approximately two-thirds of Americans, as well as those who sometimes make a payment late.
I strongly encourage such cardholders to use a card like this as an opportunity to change lax credit habits for good, not as tool to continue the same patterns. Start avoiding late payments today by setting up automatic electronic bill payment with your bank. Create a realistic budget that pays off as much of your credit card debt as possible within 18 months. And then get a card like this one so you can save hundreds of dollars in interest, late fees, and penalties.
It is up to you to get yourself out of debt, but the Citi Simplicity® Card can be a valuable tool to help you do so.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.