Citi Simplicity vs. Chase Freedom

July 23, 2015, Written By Jason Steele

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Credit cards with no annual fees are favorites with many cardholders. While some don’t find any value in these fees, others simply refuse to pay for the privilege of using a credit card when there are so many cards offered at no cost.

Two of the top no-fee cards on the market are the Citi Simplicity and the Chase Freedom, yet both of them are designed to appeal to a different type of cardholder. So let’s take a look at these two cards, and find out which one makes the most sense for your needs.

Citi Simplicity

citi simplicityCiti Simplicity offers two features that make it stand out from the crowd. First, it lives up to its name by having no late fees or penalty interest rate. While this does not mean you should purposely pay your bill late, it does allow you to make an occasional mistake without it costing you dearly. In contrast, nearly all other credit cards will impose a late fee of up to $35, and a penalty interest rate that is often as high as 30% APR.

But in addition to Simplicity’s friendly terms, it also offers the longest promotional financing offer available from any major card issuer. New applicants receive 21 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. And once the promotional rate expires, the standard interest rate is 12.99-22.99%, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness, and applies only to any remaining balance.

Simplicity is a full featured credit card which offers many additional benefits. Cardholders receive worldwide rental car insurance, travel and emergency assistance, and extended warranty coverage. Furthermore, this card is eligible to participate in Citi’s Price Rewind program, which offers cardholders automatic refunds whenever an eligible purchase becomes available for less. Cardholders can register their purchases and receive their refunds automatically, or they can submit lower prices as they find them. Finally, Citi is now providing complimentary FICO credit scores to cardholders each month, based on their data from the Equifax credit bureau.

Chase Freedom

chase freedomChase Freedom takes a different path in appealing to lovers of cards with no annual fee. In this case, Freedom is a rewards card that offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter on purchases from featured retailers. For example, in the third quarter of 2015 (July-September), the eligible retailers include both gas stations and Kohl’s stores. 1% cash back is earned on all other purchases, with no limits and no expiration.

In addition to offering rewards, Freedom also comes with both a sign-up bonus and a promotional financing offer. New cardholders receive $100 cash back after spending just $500 within their first three months of card membership. In addition, they can receive another $25 when they add an authorized user who makes a purchase during that first three months. Finally, new cardholders receive 0% APR financing for 15 months on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. After that rate expires, the standard rate is 13.99%-22.99%, depending on creditworthiness.

Cardholder benefits include auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase protection, and an extended warranty program. When used to purchase travel, cardholders receive trip cancellation and interruption coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, and travel accident insurance. There is even a roadside dispatch service, although cardholders will have to pay for any services or repairs.

Finally, Freedom cardholders can use Chase’s innovative Blueprint program, which allows you to save interest charges by paying off some purchases in full, while carrying a balance on others. Blueprint also offers powerful budgeting and goal setting tools which empower you to pay off your balance on a schedule that you create.

How These Cards Compare

The Citi Simplicity is a great card for those who are struggling with credit card debt, and need to take a break from interest charges for as long as possible. 21 months of 0% APR financing is the better part of two years, and is six months longer than the financing offer provided to Chase Freedom cardholders. Simplicity is also the card for those who may have been burned in the past by late payment fees and penalty interest rates. We all make mistakes, but being late on a single payment should not be extremely costly.

On the other hand, Chase Freedom excels at offering cash back rewards at the exceptional level of 5%. And even though its financing offer is not as generous, it makes up for it by giving new customers $100 in cash back, and another $25 if they just add an authorized user. In fact, Freedom’s Blueprint program makes it a good card for those who would like to save money on interest when they occasionally need to finance a particular purchase.

So in the end, Citi Simplicity is the choice for those trying to control their debt, interest charges, and fees, while Chase Freedom is an outstanding pick when you are more focused on earning cash back rewards.


The information contained within this article was accurate as of July 23, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.