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Citi Simplicity vs. Discover it Balance Transfer

Summary

While the Citi Simplicity card offers a long intro period to pay down a transferred balance, the Discover it card’s lower balance transfer fee and rewards may work out in your favor.

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With all of the benefits of credit card usage, it can be easy to let things like interest sneak up on you when paying your bill. If you’re struggling with high-interest debt, balance transfer cards are helpful when it comes to forming an attack plan. Two solid balance transfer card options are the Citi Simplicity® Card and the Discover it® Balance Transfer. Which one is better? It comes down to some key components. Let’s take a closer look:

Citi Simplicity vs. Discover it Balance Transfer

Citi Simplicity
Citi Simplicity® Card
Discover it
Discover it® Balance Transfer
0% Balance Transfer Period21 months

18 months

Balance Transfer Fee$5 or 5% (whichever is higher)

3% intro fee, then up to 5% (see terms)

0% Purchase Period12 months6 months
Regular APR16.49-26.49% (variable)13.74-24.74% (variable)
Pros
  • One of the longest 0% introductory periods for balance transfers currently available
  • Fairly long 0% introductory purchase period
  • No late fees or penalty fees
  • Fairly long 0% introductory period for balance transfers
  • Lower balance transfer fee
  • Generous rewards program, including a cash back match in your first year
Cons
  • The fee for transferring a balance is high and usually wipes out the gains from the card’s longer introductory period
  • No rewards program
  • 0% period for new purchases is very short
Who Should Get This Card?
  • Cardholders who are prone to missing payment deadlines
  • Cardholders who want to finance a new purchase
  • Cardholders who want to save the most on a balance transfer
  • Cardholders who want a card with a good rewards program

Let’s compare the 3 most important features:

0 percent intro balance period

Advantage: Citi Simplicity

The Citi Simplicity boasts one of the longest introductory offers with 21 full months of 0 percent interest on balance transfers. That’s six months longer than what many of the other top balance transfer cards are offering. If you’re trying to pay down a large existing balance, this offer gives you almost two years to build savings.

This is key when you consider the Citi Simplicity’s regular APR at a variable 16.49 to 26.49 percent. Having one of the longest 0 percent intro periods will definitely help to balance one of the higher regular APRs.

By contrast, the Discover it offers an 18-month 0 percent intro balance period, which is still good. But being three months short of Citi’s offer while having a similar regular APR puts it at a slight disadvantage.

Balance transfer fee

Advantage: Discover it Balance Transfer

The Discover it card charges a low introductory balance transfer fee of just 3 percent. However, after the intro period, the fee will adjust to 5 percent. The average fee among similar cards is usually 4 to 5 percent. You could find balance transfer cards that don’t charge a transfer fee at all, such as the Chase Slate card. But such cards don’t typically carry rewards like the Discover it Balance Transfer does.

Citi’s balance transfer fee of 5 percent or a $5 minimum can add up quickly – especially if you end up transferring a large balance. For instance, if you want to make a balance transfer of $5,000, doing so with Discover will cost you $150, while Citi will charge $250.

Additional rewards/perks

It’s a draw

One big advantage that both of these cards share is that neither charges an annual fee. That helps you focus on knocking out your high-interest balance. But that’s not all. Each has their own list of benefits as well.

The Citi Simplicity card offers you some grace with late payments – meaning any number of missed payment deadlines won’t result in any penalty fees or a penalty APR. However, interest on late payments can get high, and you’ll see a ding on your credit report if a payment is made 30 days after it’s due. The card comes with some additional perks, such as car rental insurance, an extended warranty program and the shopping assistance program, Citi Price Rewind.

The Discover it Balance Transfer card allows you to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter in rotating categories (must enroll each quarter), and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. This card can also be used to supplement other rewards cards during months when some categories aren’t earning 5 percent cash back. On top of that, Discover promises to match the rewards you earn at the end of your first year with the account. Additional perks include fraud protection, free FICO credit score, no penalty for first late payment, instant account freeze, 100 percent U.S.-based service and free social security number alerts.

Choose Citi Simplicity if:

  • You’re looking for a simple balance transfer card that doesn’t penalize you for missing a payment deadline.
  • The longer 0 percent balance intro period somehow outweighs the card’s 5 percent balance transfer fee for you (be sure to do the math first).
  • You want to finance a large purchase at 0 percent for 12 months with no annual fee and additional perks.

Choose Discover it Balance Transfer if:

  • You want to transfer a balance while earning cash back for everyday spending.
  • You want the card that is likely to save you the most on a balance transfer.
  • You want a balance transfer card with no annual fee and a large sign-up bonus.

Bottom line

If the 0 percent intro period is a balance transfer card’s bread and butter, both the Citi Simplicity and the Discover it Balance Transfer are generous. The main differences will come when you start strategizing for the regular APR periods and transfer fees. If those aren’t big determining factors for you, decide which card’s benefits might tip the scale.

See related: Citi balance transfer guide, Discover balance transfer guide, Why a no-fee balance transfer card can save you more money

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