Eligible Citi cardholders can access Citi Flex Plan to either borrow cash from their available credit, or pay off a large purchase with a fixed monthly payment plan. Here, we break down both Citi Flex Plan options and its features to help you decide if it’s a credit card benefit worth exploring.
What Are Citi Flex Plans?
The Citi Flex Plan is a credit card feature that allows some Citi cardholders to leverage their line of credit in two ways:
- Citi Flex Pay lets you make a credit card purchase, and then pay it back over a period of time with a fixed rate.
- Citi Flex Loan allows you to borrow from your card’s available credit and repay it using a fixed monthly payment.
The idea with both options is to give you a way to make a large purchase or borrow money without having to apply for a new line of credit. You may also end up with a lower interest rate than you would by going other routes, such as taking out a personal loan or carrying a regular purchase balance on your card.
Not every Citi cardholder will be eligible to use a Citi Flex Plan because offers are based on creditworthiness. Those who do qualify will either receive a direct offer from Citi, or they can log in to their account to check if an offer is available.
How Does Citi Flex Pay Work?
Citi Flex Pay lets you choose a specific purchase made with your credit card and pay it off over a set period of time at a fixed interest rate. You get to choose the duration (which will vary from 3 to 48 months depending on the amount of the purchase), and you will know the fixed amount and APR ahead of time so that you can plan your budget accordingly.
The fixed monthly payment will be added to your card’s minimum amount due each month until you reach the full payoff.
Citi Flex Pay also recently partnered with Amazon so that you can choose to use the payment plan right in the Amazon checkout window when using your Citi card.
How Are Card Payments Applied When You Use Citi Flex Pay?
Citi Flex Pay purchases do not have to be paid separately from your regular credit card bill. The way it works is that your fixed monthly payment amount will be added to your regular credit card minimum payment due.
If you make a payment that is higher than the minimum amount due, the extra amount will be applied to the account balance that has the highest APR. So for example, say you have a regular purchase balance of $5,000 (with an APR of 14.99%), and then you have a Citi Flex Pay purchase that requires you to pay $75 per month (and has an APR of 7.99%). If your minimum balance due is $125, that would include your fixed $75 Citi Flex Pay payment and an additional $50 toward your $5,000 balance. However, if you decide to pay $250, that additional $125 would be applied to your regular purchase balance since that APR is higher.
Therefore, if it’s your goal to pay extra toward your Citi Flex Plan balance, you would have to first cover the entire minimum payment for that billing period and the full amount of your regular purchase balance. Then, anything beyond that could be applied to your Citi Flex Plan balance.
How Does Citi Flex Loan Work?
Taking a Citi Flex Loan is a simple process if you’re qualified. There is no special application, no fee, and no hard inquiry made on your credit report. Once you have an offer (more on that below), you can see details in your account online. Citi will list the monthly payment options and repayment terms (including the APR and the monthly payment you would owe), depending on the loan amount you intend to borrow. The minimum Citi Flex Loan amount is $500, while the maximum is based on how much available credit you have, as well as other factors Citi considers such as your creditworthiness.
Once you choose a loan amount, you can request a check by mail or bank deposit in that amount. Direct deposits may arrive in as little as one business day.
While a longer payment duration may lower your monthly payment and give your budget breathing room, it will also cost you more interest over time than a shorter term. Choose the shortest duration you can afford.
How Are Card Payments Applied When You Use A Citi Flex Loan?
Just like Citi Flex Pay, your Citi Flex Loan fixed payment will be added to your minimum payment each month. If you pay more than the minimum owed, the additional payment will be applied first to the balance with the highest interest.
If your account has both a Flex Loan balance and a balance transfer balance (with an APR less than that of the Flex Loan), payments will be applied to your Flex Loan balance before they will be applied to the transferred balance. That means your entire Flex Loan balance must be paid off before your balance transfer will have payments applied to it. You could reach the end of a promotional 0% balance transfer period without having reduced the transferred balance at all.
How Do You Apply For a Citi Flex Plan?
While you can’t apply for a Citi Flex Plan, a direct offer might be sent to you via mail or email, or be listed on your Account Overview page online. You can also contact Citi customer service to ask if you are eligible for Citi Flex Plan or other offers.
Should You Use a Citi Flex Plan?
Using a Citi Flex Plan can be a helpful tool in some situations, but only if used wisely.
Once you have an offer, you’re in
It can save you money
A fixed-rate loan could make budgeting easier
No additional fees
You may be tying up your available credit for longer
You will not earn rewards with a Citi Flex Loan
You could get in over your head
- Once you have an offer, you’re in: There is no separate credit check or application required to use a Citi Flex Plan, which means no hard inquiry on your credit report.
- It can save you money: You can potentially pay a lower APR using Citi Flex Pay than your normal purchase APR.
- A fixed-rate loan could make budgeting easier: Knowing you have a set payment due every month may work better for your budget than having a credit card bill that varies monthly.
- No additional fees: City Flex Loan does not tack on any loan fees like some other loan products do. There are no extra fees for Citi Flex Pay, either.
- You may be tying up your available credit for longer: If one of these plans tempts you to run a bigger balance than you otherwise would, you could be affecting your credit utilization. Utilization refers to how much of your total credit limit is being used, and it’s a major factor in how credit scores are calculated. The more available credit you use, the bigger the negative impact it can have on your scores.
- You will not earn rewards with a Citi Flex Loan: Purchases paid for with Citi Flex Loans are not eligible for rewards. You may still earn rewards on purchases you use Citi Flex Pay for.
- You could get in over your head: Citi Flex Plans may increase your monthly minimum payment amount to a level that strains your budget.
Explore Your Options
Before you commit to a Citi Flex Plan, check out some other options. For instance, you may be able to get a lower rate with a personal loan. The average personal loan rate in the second quarter of 2020 was 9.5% for a 24-month loan, according to the Federal Reserve.
Another option might be getting a new credit card with a 0% introductory purchase rate, and using that card to make your big purchase. You’d pay it off with no interest if you clear the balance within the promotional period.
Or, if you’ve already made the purchase on a Citi card, you may be able to open a balance transfer card and pay off that balance with a 0% APR. Just keep in mind that once the promotional period ends on either of those kinds of offers, you’ll pay a regular credit card interest rate, which may be higher than what you’d pay on a Citi Flex Plan.
- City Flex Pay allows you to pay off a purchase over time with a potentially lower APR than your normal purchase APR. And City Flex Loan provides fast access to cash without having to apply for new credit. Both can be helpful for borrowers who need some wiggle room but don’t want to go through a new loan or credit card application.
- For those who have strong credit and don’t mind exploring new products, there may be better ways to spread out the cost of a purchase. For example, you could apply for a personal loan or open up a new credit card with a 0% introductory APR.
- The bottom line: City Flex Plan can be good in a pinch, but use it sparingly. Borrowing or purchasing items beyond your means will just add to your monthly minimum payment burden, and that can cause trouble down the line.