Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Review: A Generous Balance Transfer Card to Help You Pay Off Debt

You’ll get 0% interest on balance transfers for 21 months -- one of the longest intro periods out there.

Best for: Balance transfers Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

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Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
Our Bottom Line

Simply put, it's the longest balance transfer offer on the market, making it a solid pick for cardholders tackling their debt balances.

Credit Rating Requirement: excellent

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness*
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%%, based on your creditworthiness*
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balance, are paid in full
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • $0 liability on unauthorized purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
  • No annual fee*
  • Free access to FICO® Scores*

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If you’re looking to pay off your debt faster and avoid interest fees, there are a lot of options available for balance transfer credit cards that will help you do just that. The Citi® Diamond Preferred® stands out from the rest because of its long introductory period, giving you extra time to pay down your balance at 0% interest. However, this card does come with a higher balance transfer fee than other options, so you’ll have to weigh that against the longer introductory period.

Why you can trust me

As a personal finance writer, I regularly research credit card offers and spend a lot of time poring over terms and conditions to make sure I account for every last detail. In my personal life, I’ve gone from being in thousands of dollars of credit card debt to using balance transfer credit cards to become debt free in just over a year without paying any interest. Then I got into applying for travel rewards credit cards, and after several years of doing that, I accumulated nearly a million hotel points and airline miles through credit card offers.

What I like about the Citi® Diamond Preferred®

0% introductory APR for 21 months on balance transfers -- One of the longest introductory periods on balance transfers. You’ll get a 0% APR on the balance transferred for a full 21 months, which gives you nearly two years to pay off your balance.

0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases -- You’ll also get a 0% APR on new purchases for the first 12 months. This is a helpful perk if you plan on buying anything with the card, although if you’re trying to pay off debt, it’s wise to focus on repayment and not make any new purchases.

No annual fee -- This card comes with no annual fee, which is an important feature if your goal is to pay off debt.

FICO® Score for free -- The Citi® Diamond Preferred® card provides you with access to your FICO® Score for free. If building or rebuilding credit is important to you, this feature is helpful.

Choose your payment due date -- A little flexibility can go a long way when it comes to managing your finances. The card lets you choose from any available payment date, whether it’s in the beginning, middle, or end of the month. That way, you can set up automatic payments that are aligned with your paycheck.

What could be improved

Balance transfer fee -- The balance transfer fee is 5% or $5, whichever is higher. This is higher than the 3% balance transfer fee charged by many other balance transfer cards with shorter introductory periods. If you were to transfer a balance of $5,000, you’d be charged an additional $250 as a balance transfer fee. Depending on your former interest rate, you can end up paying more in balance transfer fees than you would have in interest.

Rewards -- The card doesn’t offer rewards, but that is typically the case with this type of card, aside from a select few balance transfer cards that offer rewards. If your focus is paying off credit card debt, rewards probably shouldn’t be a priority anyway.

Suggested credit score

As long as you have a good or excellent credit score, usually a FICO® Score 670 or above, you will have a good chance of approval for the Citi® Diamond Preferred®. If your score is in the mid 600s, you may still be approved. A credit score below 630 will make it very difficult to receive approval, though not impossible.

How to do a balance transfer on the Citi® Diamond Preferred®

You can do a balance transfer with Citi easily. It’s important to know that you can’t transfer a balance from one Citi credit card to another. Keep in mind that you have to wait 14 days from card opening to initiate a balance transfer, and then it can take another seven to 10 days to process. Once you’ve been approved for the card, you’ll want to complete the following steps.

  1. Sign on to your account, and look at your current offers. You should see a balance transfer offer. Select “view offer.”

  2. You’ll need to fill out a form including the balance amount you would like to transfer and the account information from which you’d like to transfer the balance.

  3. Confirm that you have put in the correct information and press submit.

You must complete the balance transfer within four months of card opening to qualify for the 0% introductory APR, but you should complete it as early as possible to take advantage of the offer. Once the balance is transferred, set up automatic payments. Your monthly payment amount should be enough that you’ve paid the balance in full before the end of the 21-month introductory period, which starts when you open the account, not when you complete the balance transfer.

What you need to know about Citi’s application rules

In order to receive approval for any Citi credit card, there are restrictions regarding how many recent credit card applications you have on your report. The 8/65 rule prevents applicants from applying for more than one Citi card every eight days or more than two Citi cards every 65 days. You also can’t apply for more than one business Citi card every 90 days.

Is the Citi® Diamond Preferred® right for you?

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® doesn’t have many perks, and the ongoing interest rate isn’t impressive. Its best feature, and main function, is the balance transfer offer.

If you have debt that you’d like to pay off more quickly and at a lower price, then the card may be a good option for you.

Of course, there are plenty of balance transfer cards on the market right now. The Citi® Diamond Preferred® stands out as one card with a long introductory period, but it also has some of the highest balance transfer fees.

On the other hand, the Chase Slate® has a much shorter introductory period of 15 months, but as long as you complete your balance transfer within 60 days of account opening, the fee is $0.

If you’re looking for some middle ground, the Discover it® Balance Transfer has a lengthy introductory period that’s shorter than the Citi® Diamond Preferred®, but it has a lower balance transfer fee of only 3%.

Choosing the right balance transfer offer is all about balancing the fees with your monthly payments. While you want to minimize fees, selecting a card with no balance transfer fee but a shorter introductory period will result in higher monthly payments you might not be able to afford.

To illustrate the differences between the three cards, the following table shows what your monthly payments would be and your net savings gained from transferring the balance from a card with an 18% APR and paying it off by the end of the promotional period, with the balance transfer fee subtracted.

Credit Card $1,000 balance $5,000 balance $10,000 balance
Citi® Diamond Preferred® $48 monthly payments, $158 net savings $239 monthly payments, $796 net savings $477 monthly payments, $1,596 net savings
Chase Slate® $67 monthly payments, $141 savings $334 monthly payments, $705 net savings $667 monthly payments, $1,413 net savings
Discover it® Balance Transfer $55 monthly payments, $146 net savings $278 monthly payments, $721 net savings $556 monthly payments, $1,442 net savings

Data source: The Motley Fool credit card debt repayment calculator

As you can see, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® allows you to make the lowest monthly payments and still saves you a great deal of money as compared to paying off your balance at a high interest rate in the same time frame. However, if you know you can easily repay your balance in a shorter time period, it makes more sense to go for a credit card with a lower balance transfer fee and make higher monthly payments.

If you’re transferring a balance from another Citi card, you won’t qualify for the Citi® Diamond Preferred® balance transfer offer, so you should consider balance transfer cards from other issuers.

How to apply

Applying for the Citi® Diamond Preferred® is a simple process that should only take a few minutes. You will need to provide the following information:

  • Your name, date of birth, and address

  • Your social security number and citizenship

  • Your annual income and monthly rent or mortgage payments

You may receive instant approval, but many people are told to wait for an answer by email or mail. If that’s the case, you can always call the issuer to check on the status of your application.

You may also be approved for the card but not receive a credit limit high enough to transfer your full balance. Consider requesting a credit limit increase with Citi -- although, keep in mind that this can result in a hard pull on your credit report, and if you’ve never banked with Citi before, your chances might be slim.

Final take

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® is easily one of the best balance transfer cards on the market. Despite its higher balance transfer fee, the card offers a generous 21-month introductory period during which you don’t have to pay any interest on balance transfers. If you’re looking to pay off a significant amount of debt and want to minimize your monthly payments, this card is the way to go.