Key takeaways

  • Both the Citi Simplicity® Card and the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card offer industry-leading introductory balance transfer APR periods.
  • Balance transfer cards provide excellent opportunities to manage and pay down existing credit card debt.
  • Neither the Citi Simplicity nor the Citi Diamond Preferred charge annual fees, nor do they offer rewards or welcome offers.

Citi is an advertising partner.

The Citi Simplicity® Card* and Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card* may not offer rewards or a suite of enticing perks, but they are two of the top balance transfer cards on the market thanks to their exceptionally long introductory zero-interest offers.

While the Simplicity and Diamond Preferred are similar, there are a few differences to note. Here’s what you need to know when comparing the Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred cards for your debt-payoff needs:

Main details

Features Citi Simplicity Card Citi Diamond Preferred Card
Welcome bonus None None
Rewards rate None None
Intro APR
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers (made within the first 4 months) for 21 months.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers (made within the first 4 months) for 21 months.
Variable APR 19.24% to 29.99% 18.24% to 28.99%
Balance transfer fee 3% ($5 min.) for transfers made in the first 4 months; then 5% ($5 min.) after. 5% ($5 min.)

Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred highlights

The Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred cards are primarily balance transfer credit cards, so the highlights are not rewards or welcome offers. Not much differentiates these two cards except their ongoing variable APRs, late payment policies and attached card benefits.

To start, here’s a look at how the two cards compare when it comes to intro APRs, fees and more.

Intro APR winner: Tie

Considering both Citi cards offer identical intro zero-interest purchase and balance transfer offers, they tie in this category. Note that for both cards, balance transfers must be made in the first four months of card ownership or else you will pay the regular variable APR on your transferred balance.

The Diamond Preferred card does offer a slightly lower variable APR compared to the Citi Simplicity, which could make a difference if you anticipate taking longer than the intro periods to pay off your balance.

Balance transfer fee winner: Citi Simplicity

The Citi Simplicity offers a lower introductory balance transfer fee: 3 percent with a $5 minimum for the first 4 months. After 4 months, the fee rises to 5 percent with a $5 minimum, matching that of the Citi Diamond Preferred.

As long as you transfer your balance within that time period, the Citi Simplicity comes out on top in this category. However, you have to transfer within that first four-month time period if you want to take advantage of the intro APR offer and the intro balance transfer fee.

Welcome bonus and rewards rate winner: Tie

The Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred do not offer welcome bonuses or ongoing rewards. The main appeal of these cards is their industry-leading, zero-interest balance transfers offers.

Every once in a while, Citi does roll out a limited time bonus on one of these cards, but it’s certainly the exception rather than the rule. If you need a balance transfer to save on interest, don’t wait to apply hoping for a welcome offer.

Annual fee winner: Tie

Neither the Citi Simplicity nor Diamond Preferred charge an annual fee. This is a key perk for cardholders looking to manage debt with a balance transfer card without worrying about an added yearly fee.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

Neither is a good choice for traveling abroad or making purchases in foreign currency. They both charge a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. If you plan to travel or study abroad and want to use a credit card, we recommend choosing from among the best cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Which card is best for balance transfers?

As mentioned previously, the main draw for both of these cards is their industry-leading 0% APR intro offers on balance transfers. So, which card is better? Let’s take a look at an example to see which card might be the best fit for your current situation.

Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred balance transfer example

Both cards offer the same lengthy introductory 0 percent APR for 21 months on balance transfers made within the first 4 months of account opening (19.24 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR after for the Simplicity and 18.24 percent to 28.99 percent variable APR after for the Diamond Preferred). Here’s how much you’ll pay for a $4,000 balance transfer to either of these cards when you complete your transfer in the first 4 months and factor in their balance transfer fees:

  • Citi Simplicity — you’ll pay $4,120 over 21 months, or just over $196 per month ($4,000 + 3% balance transfer fee of $120 = $4,120)
  • Citi Diamond Preferred — you’ll pay $4,200 over 21 months, or $200 per month ($4,000 + 5% balance transfer fee of $200 = $4,200)

Now, let’s say life gets in the way, and you miss a payment.

If you have the Citi Simplicity, you won’t pay any late payment fees or be hit with a penalty APR. However, you will have to increase your monthly payments if you still want to pay off the balance by the end of the 0 percent APR period.

With the Citi Diamond Preferred, however, Citi may apply up to a $41 late fee. But more importantly, Citi may also decide to end your introductory period and apply a penalty APR of up to 29.99 percent instead.

Let’s say you missed a payment after 3 months, meaning your balance at that time is $3,600. Using Bankrate’s credit card payoff calculator, and assuming a penalty APR of 29.99 percent, it’ll take you 25 months to clear your balance — which will also accrue $1,242 in interest if you continue making $200 monthly payments.

So the Diamond Preferred can save you a bit of money due to its 3 percent balance transfer fee when compared to the Simplicity’s 5 percent fee — but that’s only if you never miss a payment. If the Diamond Preferred’s penalty APR has a chance to kick in, you’ll likely cancel out any savings you have from your balance transfer fee with the interest you’ll have to pay.

Why should you get the Citi Simplicity?

The Citi Simplicity comes with an industry-leading introductory balance transfer offer and no annual fees. Here are some more reasons to consider adding this card to your wallet:

Additional benefits

The main benefits of the Citi Simplicity are its lack of late fees and a penalty APR should you miss a payment. That’s a significant divergence from most balance transfer credit cards that often forfeit your intro APR if you miss a payment. Furthermore, Simplicity cardholders have access to the Citi Security Center, zero-liability protection and account activity alerts.

Recommended credit score

Citi doesn’t publish recommended credit scores to qualify for any of its credit card products. However, the balance transfer offer period and lower-than-average minimum ongoing variable APR leads us to recommend applying with at least a good credit score (670 and up).

Why should you get Citi Diamond Preferred?

The Citi Diamond Preferred card may not earn rewards, but it does come with some nice perks for cardholders. In addition to its exceptional introductory rate on balance transfers, here are some other reasons to consider making the Citi Diamond Preferred your balance transfer card of choice:

Additional benefits

Citi Diamond Preferred cardholders have access to Citi Entertainment, the issuer’s experience portal that offers exclusive access to VIP tickets, dining, concerts, sporting events and more. It also comes with zero-liability protection and FICO score access for free.

Recommended credit score

Similar to the Citi Simplicity, we recommend that you have a good credit score (670 and up) before applying.

The bottom line

The Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred are similar, but their differences may be enough to push one card in your favor.

If you want access to shopping deals and social experiences with your balance transfer card, then the Diamond Preferred is the card for you. If it’s more important to you to avoid penalty APRs and late fees no matter what, go with the Simplicity.

Before you make a decision and apply, though, consider Bankrate’s list of the best balance transfer credit cards on the market today. You never know if another option will better suit your needs.

*The information about the Citi® Simplicity Card and Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.