Starting his career at MC Alger in his home city and after helping the team capture the Algerian league title he moved to France in 1999 at the age of 24 to join Troyes AC. He stayed with Troyes for five seasons, including the 2003-04 season after their relegation to Ligue 2.
Moving back into Ligue 1 with a transfer to newly-promoted FC Istres in 2004, Saïfi played 35 matches before leaving following the club's relegation. In 2005 he joined AC Ajaccio, also newly-promoted, and suffered a third relegation in four years.
Saïfi moved to Lorient, yet another newly-promoted club, in the summer of 2006. Rafik started the 2007-2008 campaign quickly scoring 4 goals in 4 games. He also participated in an exciting friendly between Algeria and Brazil.