The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card is designed to help people who are struggling with debt
New card holders get an introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months
One big disadvantage is that the card doesn’t have a rewards program or any travel benefits
CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
Our quick take: The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card can help you pay down your debt, with an introductory balance transfer offer that lasts for an impressive 18 months. However, the card doesn’t earn any rewards, meaning you won’t get any cash back or travel points for your purchases. So once your intro period expires, this isn’t a card to keep in your wallet for the long term.
- 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (14.74% to 24.74% variable APR afterward).
- 0% introductory APR on all purchases for the first 18 months (14.74% to 24.74% variable APR afterward).
- No annual fee.
- No sign-up bonus.
- No rewards.
- Limited insurance coverages and purchase protections.
Current sign-up bonus: None.
Best for: People looking to transfer existing high-interest debt from another credit card, or finance a large purchase with no interest for an extended period of time.
The Citi Diamond Preferred is designed for a specific type of person — someone who’s struggling with their credit card bills or who needs to finance some upcoming purchases. And by the way, if that describes you, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Many people are dealing with debt after losing their jobs or income during the pandemic, so don’t feel alone if you need a hand getting out of a hole.
The card has one of the longest introductory periods for both balance transfers and purchases among credit cards on the market today, which can be a huge lifeline if you need some time to get your financial house in order. You can park your debt or upcoming expenses on the Citi Diamond Preferred and use the extended time to start paying off what you owe.
With that said, if you’re looking to earn rewards for the things you buy, this isn’t the card for you. There’s no rewards program tied to the card, which means you won’t earn cash back or travel rewards on any purchase you make — even after the introductory APR has expired.
When it comes to introductory offers, the Citi Diamond Preferred blows many other cards out of the water. First off, new card holders get an introductory 0% APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card, though once those 18 months are over, you’ll pay a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74% depending on your creditworthiness.
This means if you have debt on another credit card and you’re currently paying a lot of interest on it, you can transfer that debt over to the Citi Diamond Preferred and not pay any interest for the first 18 months. But it’s important to figure out a plan during that time, because you don’t want to get caught paying the much higher interest rate once the introductory period ends.
Depending on how much you owe, this could truly save you hundreds or potentially even thousands of dollars. For example, let’s say you have a $5,000 balance on your current credit card, which carries a 16% APR. Over the course of the next 18 months, if you only make the minimum payment, you’ll be paying over $1,000 in interest alone on that debt.
But if you can transfer that $5,000 balance to a card like the Citi Diamond Preferred, not only will you not have to pay that extra interest, you can instead use the money to pay down what you owe, making it easier to become debt-free.
Related: 4 steps to getting rid of your credit card debt.
If you’re trapped under debt, using the balance transfer feature of the Citi Diamond Preferred could save you a ton of money.
It’s important to remember that to be eligible for the 0% introductory APR, you must initiate the balance transfer from your old credit card to the Citi Diamond Preferred within the first four months of being a card holder. There’s also a 3% fee (with a $5 minimum) to transfer your balance. While this will cost you some money initially — $150 on our $5,000 example — it will ultimately save you much more in the long run.
Amazingly, this introductory APR offer isn’t limited to balance transfers — it also extends to purchases made with the Citi Diamond Preferred in the first 18 months as well. This can come in quite handy if you’re looking to make one or more large purchases that you can’t afford to pay for all at once. Instead, you can pay for them over time — up to 18 months — interest-free.
You should never make unnecessary purchases on your credit card that you can’t afford. However, in difficult economic times, an offer like this can be useful as a last resort if you have expenses that you simply can’t avoid, such as a large repair bill. It can also be useful if you need it to make a large once-in-a-lifetime purchase work, such as buying an engagement ring.
But as with the balance transfer option, you’ll want to make sure to pay off everything you owe within the first 18 months after opening the account, as once the introductory period ends, the APR ranges between 14.74% to 24.74% depending on your creditworthiness.
The Citi Diamond Preferred card also comes with a free FICO credit score online and allows you to choose your payment due date, which is extremely helpful for those who pay their credit card bills around their paycheck schedule and need maximum flexibility.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: The Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t have a rewards program or many of the benefits that other credit cards come with, which is a huge disadvantage. With many other no-annual-fee cards, you’ll earn cash back or loyalty points on every purchase you make, which typically ranges between 1% and 2% of your purchases. That can put some “free” cash back into your pocket.
But with that said, if you normally don’t pay your entire credit card bill in full every month, you’re already paying more in interest than you’ll earn in rewards with any credit card. So earning a few extra travel miles or cash back isn’t worth it if you can save a lot more money by getting rid of the interest you’re paying for those purchases.
The Citi Diamond Preferred also won’t provide you with insurance coverage or protection when it comes to travel or shopping purchases. While we wouldn’t expect any fancy perks on a no-annual-fee card, even the very basic protections are mostly missing here.
And although it’s common to be charged a fee for transferring an existing balance from one card to another — and the 3% fee on the Citi Diamond Preferred is pretty standard — it’s still something to keep in mind when considering whether a balance transfer is worth it, especially if you already have a low APR on your current card or think you can pay off your balance in another month or two.
CNN Underscored has chosen the Citi® Double Cash Card as our current “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market; rather, we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better, and where they’re worse.
Here’s how the Citi Diamond Preferred scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that’s better than our benchmark, red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.
When reviewing other credit cards, we use this format and these criteria to compare them with our benchmark. You can read our credit card methodology for more details on what we take into account when it comes to perks, protections and redemption value.
Although the Citi Diamond Preferred offers one of the longest introductory APR offers on both purchases and balance transfers, there are a few other cards with similar benefits.
The Wells Fargo Platinum® Card also offers a similar 18-month introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, and you’ll have a similar 120 days to transfer your balances and get a 0% APR on them (which climbs to a variable APR of 16.49% to 24.49% afterward). You’ll also be charged the same 3% fee ($5 minimum).
Like the Citi Diamond Preferred, the Wells Fargo Platinum doesn’t offer any rewards on the purchases you make, but it does have some benefits, including auto rental collision coverage, travel accident insurance and roadside dispatch. Plus, if you pay your cell phone bill with the Wells Fargo Platinum, your phone will be protected if it’s damaged or stolen, up to $600 with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims per 12-month period.
Related: Protect your cell phone from theft or damage with these credit cards.
And if you’re looking for an even longer introductory period than the Citi Diamond Preferred, you can look to the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card, which comes with a 0% introductory APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers for a full 20 billing cycles after you open the account (a “billing cycle” is roughly a month). Once the intro period ends, the APR jumps to a variable 13.99% to 23.99%.
Again, you’re not going to earn any rewards with the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, and you’ve only got 60 days after you open the card to make any balance transfers and have them qualify for the introductory offer. But the card does come with cell phone insurance, so if you pay your cell phone bill with the card, you’ll be covered for damage or theft to your phone for up to $600 with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims per 12-month period.
If your main goal is to consolidate your existing debt, the Citi Diamond Preferred is an excellent choice.
This question truly depends on what you’re looking for in a credit card. If you want a card that earns rewards on your everyday purchases or offers perks when you’re traveling or protection on your purchases, then this isn’t the card for you.
But if your main goal is to consolidate your existing debt or finance your new purchases without paying interest on any of it for up to 18 months, then the Citi Diamond Preferred is an excellent choice, and a great way to start repairing the damage the pandemic may have wreaked on your finances.
If that describes you, our recommendation is to apply for this card, use it during its introductory offer period, then store it away in your sock drawer once you’re done with it. At that point, you’ll hopefully be in a better position financially to get a credit card that offers the chance to earn extra rewards, or one that provides fun travel perks.
Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as its best balance transfer credit cards of 2021.
Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.