Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Double Cash

August 3, 2015, Written By Jason Steele

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There are two types of credit card users: those who sometimes incur interest charges and fees by carrying a balance or occasionally making a late payment; and those who avoid interest charges and fees by always paying their statement balance in full and on-time. In fact, the most recent surveys suggest that American credit card users are split roughly in half between these two groups.

Thankfully, the American credit card industry is intensely competitive, and is also split between these two types of cards. So most credit card issuers will offer products that meet the needs of both kinds of credit card users. Citi offers its Simplicity card for those who sometimes carry a balance, and might sometimes make a late payment, while it also features its Double Cash card for those who never pay interest and fees and want to earn rewards.

Citi Simplicity

citi simplicityCiti Simplicity is an ideal card for those who carry a balance on their credit cards, especially if they have been stung punitive rates and fees after making a late payment. This is one of the rare credit cards that doesn’t charge any late fees or impose a high penalty interest rate. In addition, Simplicity offers new applicants 21 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. After the promotional financing period ends, cardholders will only begin to incur interest charges on any remaining unpaid balance. Simplicity’s standard interest is 12.99%-22.99% depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder at the time of application.

Simplicity also comes with a wide variety of benefits including worldwide rental car insurance, travel and emergency assistance, and extended warranty coverage. This card also features Citi’s Price Rewind program, which provides cardholders automatic refunds whenever a qualifying purchase is advertised for less. Citi now offers all cardholders a free FICO credit score each month, which allows them to monitor their credit and detect any problems quickly. Other benefits include automatic account alerts, your choice of payment due dates, and compatibility with Apple Pay. There is no annual fee for this card.

Citi Double Cash

citi-double-cash-credit-cardThe Citi Double Cash card features one of the leading cash back rewards programs. Cardholders have the potential to earn 2% cash back on all purchases in the form of 1% at the time of the transaction, and another 1% at the time of payment. There are no limits to the cash back you can earn, and no bonus categories to worry about.

The Double Cash card also offers all of the benefits of the Simplicity card, including Price Rewind, worldwide rental car insurance, travel and emergency assistance, and extended warranty coverage. But in addition, it features trip cancellation and interruption protection, and purchase protection against damage or theft of covered items. It also includes worldwide travel accident insurance.

While the Double Cash card doesn’t offer the same interest-free financing terms as the Simplicity, it does feature 15 months of 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers, with a balance transfer fee of 3%. After that, the standard interest rate will be 12.99%-22.99% depending on your creditworthiness when you applied. Like most reward credit cards, it does have a $35 late fee and a 29.99% penalty interest rate.

Choosing the Right Card for Your Needs

Citi Simplicity will be an easy choice for many applicants, as it offers the longest promotional financing period of any major credit card issuer. 21 months of interest free financing on balance transfers is a great deal for those who are struggling to pay off an existing debt, and the financing on new purchases can be very useful as well. These applicants will be especially comforted by the fact that they will never have to pay late fees or be hit with a penalty interest rate if they make a small mistake.

At the same time, those who always pay their balances in full and on-time will be overjoyed by the chance to earn 2% cash back on all of their purchases. They can do so with the Citi Double Cash card, and also be covered by its wide range of travel insurance and purchase protection services, which exceeds that of the Simplicity.

In the middle are some credit card users who want to earn rewards, but may occasionally carry a balance. In this case, the Double Cash card could still be the better card, as they will avoid interest charges for their first 15 months of card membership. And even after the promotional financing expires, cardholders will have to balance the opportunity to earn 2% cash back rewards with the possibility of incurring late fees and penalty interest rates.

In an ideal world, we would always pay all of our credit card balances in full and on time, and use the Double Cash card. But since many of us do not live in that world, we are thankful to have the Citi Simplicity card as an excellent alternative.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of August 3, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.