Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review: Is it the “preferred” Citi balance transfer card?
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Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Overview
Whether you’re looking to pay off debt via a balance transfer or finance new purchases, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card could be a lifesaver. The card comes with a lengthy introductory APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers, charges no annual fee and gives cardholders with good to excellent credit a chance at a relatively low ongoing APR, which could make the card worth it for you.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- The low 12-month 0 percent intro purchase APR (previously 18 months) pigeonholes the already niche Diamond Preferred into a more balance transfer-focused role
- The 5 percent balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is higher) is on the high end of what is typical (3 to 5 percent)
- The potentially low ongoing APR 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent (variable APR) doesn’t provide enough ongoing value low to warrant keeping the card after you complete your balance transfer
- 3 percent foreign transaction fee
- No rewards program or cash welcome bonus
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards Rate: None
- Welcome Offer: None
- Annual Fee: $0
- Purchase Intro APR: 0 percent for 12 months
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0 percent for 21 months
- Regular APR: 13.74 percent to 23.74 percent (variable)
Current intro APR offer
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card is currently offering a 0 percent intro APR on both balance transfers (for the first 21 months) and purchases (for the first 12 months) as a cardmember (13.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR thereafter). Balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening. That gives you more than a year to chip away at transferred debt or cover purchases without paying interest.
Though the Citi Diamond Preferred Card has featured an even longer intro APR period in the past for purchases (18 months, most recently), 12 months is still a solid offer. However, this reduction pigeonholes the Citi Diamond Preferred into a more balance transfer-focused role rather compared to the all-around zero-interest card status it held before. This is a bit disappointing, especially since other prominent balance transfer cards offer matching intro purchase and balance transfer APR periods equivalent to 15 months or more.
For instance, the new Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card provides one of the longest 0 percent intro APR periods on both purchases from account opening and qualifying balance transfers at the moment—up to 21 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro period (then a 12.99 percent to 24.99 percent variable APR)—and is a much better offer than the Diamond Preferred at the moment. In fact, this shake-up may make no annual fee cash back credit cards a more valuable option in the long run for many cardholders.
If you need to pay down debt or strategically carry a balance on new purchases, transferring to the Citi Diamond Preferred Card could be a great option. Just be sure to complete your transfer within four months of opening your account and pay at least the minimum due each month to protect your credit score (and, ideally, pay more than the minimum to ensure you’re not left with a balance when the intro APR period ends).
Other cardholder perks
Without a doubt, the main benefit of the Citi Diamond Preferred Card is its long intro APR period on balance transfers. The card is noticeably thin on perks and carries no rewards program, which severely limits its long-term value. Still, the Citi Diamond Preferred offers a handful of benefits worth mentioning.
Citi Flex Loan
Citi Flex Loans allow you to borrow money against your Citi card credit limit at a fixed rate and pay it back over a set period of time, with no additional fees, application or credit inquiry required. This could be a useful tool should you need a personal installment loan down the line. The catch is you must be targeted for a Citi Flex Loan by the issuer–they’re not available for all cardholders. Cardholders may also have the option to finance Amazon.com purchases with Citi Flex Pay and, depending on the size of the purchase, choose from one to five equal monthly payment plans.
Citi Entertainment can get you early or VIP access to thousands of experiences like concerts, sporting events, dining and more when you pay with your Citi card. While this is not a make-or-break feature of the Citi Diamond Preferred Card, it’s a decent perk if you enjoy live events, special access and unique experiences.
Citi Easy Deals
Citi Easy Deals are a collection of discounts and daily deals on everyday purchases, including local offers from restaurants and retailers. Depending on how much you spend per year, you can also unlock promotions for gift cards, magazines, travel, merchandise and more. Again, this is a minor perk that’s unlikely to save you a ton of money–but it’s welcome nonetheless.
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card also comes with fairly standard features like $0 liability on unauthorized charges, identity theft solutions and contactless payments.
Rates and fees
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card carries no annual fee and could offer cardholders with good to excellent credit a decent ongoing APR; but it may prove costly if you have a big balance to transfer, fail to pay off your balance during the introductory period or can only qualify for its high-end APR. Keep these rates and fees in mind as you consider whether the card is a good fit:
- Balance transfer fee: To take advantage of this card’s balance transfer offer, you’ll need to pay a balance transfer fee of 5 percent of the amount you want to transfer (or $5, whichever is higher). Five percent is on the high side of the spectrum, and since many cards charge 3 percent, a lower fee may make up for a shorter intro APR. Check out Bankrate’s credit card balance transfer calculator and see how the math shakes out for you.
- Foreign transaction fee: The card charges a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent for purchases made abroad, so it’s not the best choice for frequent international travelers.
- Ongoing APR: The Citi Diamond Preferred offers a wide range of potential APRs, depending on your creditworthiness. While the card’s low-end variable APR of 13.74 percent is a bit lower than the average credit card APR, the high-end variable APR of 23.74 percent is very high indeed–almost 40 percent higher than the average credit card APR. In either case, carrying a balance will be costly, so do your best to pay off any new purchases or transferred balances before the end of the card’s introductory APR period.
First-year card value vs. ongoing value
Since there are no rewards or perks packaged with the card that provide monetary value back, any ongoing value to gain from the Citi Diamond Preferred card comes from the time and interest you save with its zero-interest periods—which can be a sizable sum. If your issuer classifies your Diamond Preferred as a World Elite Mastercard, you may be eligible for a $10 Lyft statement credit per month after taking five Lyft rides during that time (up to a $120 value per year). But any eligible Mastercard with World Elite benefits gets that benefit, so it isn’t a Citi-exclusive benefit worth sticking around for.
Otherwise, the Diamond Preferred card doesn’t provide any ongoing value after your intro APR ends. The minimum ongoing variable APR isn’t much lower than average, so the Diamond Preferred isn’t necessarily the best low-interest credit card to hold onto after paying off your balance.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Perks (of monetary value)||N/A||N/A|
|Total value of balance transfer (if applicable)**||
*Based on the following estimates for annual expenditures by category: groceries ($4,600); dining ($3,500); household utilities, fuels and public services ($4,000); household supplies, furnishings and home improvement ($2,800); apparel and services and department stores ($1,800); gas and gas stations ($2,000); transit and rideshares ($800); entertainment ($3,000); personal care products and services, household operations and other miscellaneous spending ($3,300); travel ($2,000); pharmacies and drugstores ($1,300); online shopping ($1,800).
**Pre-transfer card data based on the average credit card debt, average credit card interest rate (at time of writing), minimum ongoing variable APR and the minimum monthly payment to pay off the balance within the transfer card’s intro APR period factored into Bankrate’s balance transfer calculator and credit card payoff calculator for comparison.
How the Citi Diamond Preferred Card compares to other balance transfer cards
While balance transfer offers can be tough to come by these days, a handful of cards match or may exceed the Citi Diamond Preferred Card’s intro APR offer, with a few offering additional benefits like cash back rewards or a lower ongoing APR.
Citi Diamond Preferred Card vs. Citi Simplicity® Card
In fact, its sibling, the Citi Simplicity® Card, is nearly identical to the Citi Diamond Preferred, but it doesn’t charge a late payment fee or penalty APR if you miss the payment due date. In exchange, the Citi Diamond Preferred carries a slightly lower ongoing APR (13.74 percent to 23.74 percent, variable) compared to the Citi Simplicity’s rate (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent, variable).
If you practice good credit habits and you plan on paying off your balance before your intro APR period ends, neither of those two trade-offs will matter, but it’s worth considering which perk you’ll be more likely to need if worse comes to worst.
Citi Diamond Preferred Card vs. Citi Double Cash Card
Since the Citi Diamond Preferred Card is primarily suited for balance transfers, it doesn’t carry much value after you’ve paid off your balance. It may be worth choosing the Citi® Double Cash Card over the Diamond Preferred since it earns an excellent cash back rate on top of its competitive 18-month 0 percent intro balance transfer APR (balance transfers must be within the first four months). After your zero-interest period ends, the Double Cash also provides a similarly low 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent (variable) ongoing APR.
Since the Double Cash earns up to 2 percent flat-rate cash back—1 percent when you buy, plus 1 percent when you pay—its rewards potential can easily outweigh the savings and three extra months of intro balance transfer APR you would get with the Diamond Preferred. For instance, paying off a $3,000 balance in 21 months with a $150 monthly payment using the Diamond Preferred card would cost you $150 due to the 5 percent balance transfer fee. Just the Double Cash card’s lower 3 percent balance transfer fee would result in a lower cost—$90—even though the same balance and payment schedule would add $5.35 in interest to that transfer fee.
However, let’s say you earned 2 percent cash back on the estimated yearly grocery expenditures in the “Cost vs. value” table above with the Double Cash card. Spending $384 in groceries each month would not only recoup those fees and interest after 21 months but put you ahead by $65.35—making the Citi Double Cash a better option for many cardholders.
|Feature||Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card||Citi Simplicity® Card||Citi® Double Cash Card|
|Welcome Offer||No cash offers.
0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months and balance transfers for 21 months
|No cash offers.
0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months and balance transfers for 21 months
|No cash offers.
0% intro APR balance transfers for 18 months
(then 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR; balance transfers must be made within the first four months)
Best cards to pair with the Citi Diamond Preferred Card
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card offers no rewards program, so pairing it with a no annual fee rewards credit card could be a great way to earn points or cash back on some of your spending. Depending on your spending habits, you can opt for a card that offers outsized rewards in a specific category or stick with a flat-rate card to earn rewards on every purchase you make. However, whittling down your balance should be your top priority.
The Citi Double Cash Card is a great flat-rate option, offering up to 2 percent cash back on every purchase (1 percent when you buy and 1 percent when you pay off those purchases). This card is ideal if you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to earn rewards, without worrying about whether your purchases will qualify.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠, meanwhile, requires a bit of work, as you’ll have to enroll in a bonus category each quarter to earn rewards. The card may be worth the trouble, though, as it gets you 5 percent cash back in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, then 1 percent). Plus, you’ll also earn a consistent 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and 3 percent on dining and travel.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Citi Diamond Preferred Card worth it?
If you need to pay down debt or finance purchases, the Citi Diamond Preferred Card should be a good fit. Though it carries a high 5 percent balance transfer fee and comes with little in the way of rewards or cardholder perks, the Citi Diamond Preferred Card should get the job done if your goal is to tackle debt, avoid interest charges as long as possible and enjoy some room to breathe.
That said, its shortened intro purchase APR and limited long-term value may make no annual fee rewards cards with slightly shorter intro APR periods a more worthwhile option before and after you’ve paid off your balance. If you need the longest period possible to pay down your balance, the Diamond Preferred is still solid, but other balance transfer-focused cards offer matching (and longer) intro purchase APR periods as well.