With the recently updated introductory APR period for balance transfers and purchases on the Citi Simplicity® and Citi® Diamond Preferred® cards, Citi has pushed itself to the front of the balance transfer card industry.
An increase from 18 months to 21 months means that cardholders have several more months than most balance transfer cards to pay off balances before the ongoing APR kicks in.
While the Simplicity and Diamond Preferred are extremely similar, there are a few drawbacks and advantages to either one. Here’s what you need to know when comparing the Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred.
|Cards||Citi Simplicity||Citi Diamond Preferred|
|Intro APR||0 percent for 21 months on balance transfers and 0 percent for 12 months on purchases (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR thereafter)||0 percent for 21 months on balance transfers and 0 percent for 12 months on purchases (13.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR thereafter)|
Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred highlights
The Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred are incredibly similar Citi balance transfer credit cards. Not much differentiates these two cards except their ongoing variable APRs, recommended credit score for qualification and attached card benefits.
Welcome bonus winner: Tied
Neither the Citi Simplicity nor the Citi Diamond Preferred have welcome bonus offers for new cardholders. In fact, these credit cards are recommended largely for consumers who want to transfer credit card balances to a Citi card.
The main appeal of these cards isn’t in the welcome bonus, it’s in the industry-leading 21-month intro APR period for balance transfers and purchases. The only other card that compares to these is the newly launched Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card.
Rewards rate winner: Tied
Again, the Simplicity and Diamond Preferred cards are best used as balance transfer cards and don’t come with any rewards in cash back, miles or points. In this, both cards are tied in the rewards rate category.
Annual fee winner: Tied
Because these two cards are so similar, both the Citi Simplicity and Diamond Preferred boast no annual fee. Cardholders who just completed a balance transfer can enjoy that extra-long no interest period without worrying about extra fees piling on top, as long as they make on-time payments.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tied
As Citi’s top balance transfer cards, it’s not recommended to take them abroad for spending as 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 a card with no foreign transaction fees.
Which card is best for balance transfers?
Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred balance transfer example
With Citi’s latest update on the Simplicity and Diamond Preferred’s low interest offers, both cards offer the same lengthy, 21-month balance transfer APR offer (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR after for the Simplicity and 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR after for the Diamond Preferred).
If you want to transfer a balance to one of Citi’s credit cards, the issuer will also tack on a 3 percent ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee. Keep in mind that the Simplicity has no late fees or penalty APRs, while the Diamond Preferred charges a late fee of up to $40 and up to a 29.99 percent penalty APR.
Here’s how much you’ll pay for a $4,000 balance transfer to either of these cards:
- With the Citi Simplicity, you’ll pay $4,120 over 21 months by paying about $196 per month.
- With Citi Diamond Preferred, you’ll also pay $4,120 over 21 months with $196 monthly payments.
Let’s say life gets in the way and you miss a payment. Here’s what you’ll pay:
If you have the Citi Simplicity, you won’t pay any extra fees or be hit with a penalty APR. Your monthly payments will just increase slightly if you still want to pay off the balance by the end of the 0 percent APR period.
With the Citi Diamond Preferred, the issuer may apply a $40 late fee and a penalty APR of up to 29.99 percent. Let’s say you missed a payment after three months. Using a credit card payoff calculator, the remaining $3,572 will be assessed at a rate of 29.99 percent. It’ll take you 25 months to clear that balance (at the same $196 monthly payment) while paying $1,254 extra in interest.
Why should you get the Citi Simplicity?
The main benefit of the Citi Simplicity is no late fees or penalty APRs when you miss a payment. That’s a significant divergence from most balance transfer credit cards. Furthermore, Simplicity cardholders have access to Citi Identity Theft Solutions, contactless payment and industry-standard zero liability protection on fraudulent and unauthorized purchases.
You can also access Citi’s Flex Plan, which allows you to borrow money against the card’s credit limit, much like a personal loan or cash advance, but without the hard credit check or exorbitant fees.
Because there’s no welcome bonus or rewards rate attached to this card, there are no redemption options to speak of. If you want a balance transfer card that has rewards, you’ll have to do a little more research into other issuers.
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 interest rate leads Bankrate to recommend a minimum credit score of 670.
Why should you get Citi Diamond Preferred?
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. Additionally, with the Diamond Preferred, you can use the Citi Easy Deals program for online deal shopping with retailers. It also comes with standard liability protection, identity theft protection, contactless payment and Citi Flex Plan access.
Again, like with the Simplicity card, there’s no welcome bonus, points, miles or cash back to earn with this card.
Recommended credit score
Citi doesn’t advertise recommended credit scores for its credit cards, but with the added benefits of the Diamond Preferred, we recommend that you have a good credit score—at least 670 with FICO.
The bottom line
The Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred credit cards are extremely similar, and both have their pros and cons. If you want access to shopping deals and social experiences with your balance transfer, then the Diamond Preferred is the card for you. But if you want to avoid penalty APRs and late fees no matter what, then check out the Simplicity. Other than the added benefits for cardholders with these two cards, they are almost identical.