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Transferring your existing credit card debt to a balance transfer credit card that offers an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) can be a great strategy to pay off debt sooner and save on interest. But the length of your 0% APR period can determine the benefit you'll get: The longer the promotional period, the more time you have to pay off the debt without accruing interest.
At 18 months, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card from our partner has one of the longer promotional periods available, and is a card you should consider if you're thinking about getting a balance transfer card.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
- 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- Get free access to your FICO® Score online
- With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more
- Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion
|No annual fee||No rewards program|
|Long intro 0% APR for balance transfers||Limited long-term benefits|
|Intro 0% APR on purchases|
|Customer service contact info for Citibank|
Citibank Customer Service800-374-9700P.O. Box 6500
Sioux Falls, SD 57117
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card offers a 18-month intro 0% APR on balance transfers, one of the longer promotional periods around. It can be a great option if you'll need a lot of time to pay off your transferred balance. However, the balance transfer fee and lack of ongoing rewards mean it won't be the perfect fit for everyone.
The Big Benefit: A Lengthy Balance Transfer Offer
Balance transfer offers give you a promotional rate on all the balances you move to your new card—0% APR in this case. Because the balance won't accrue interest, you can benefit from moving interest-accruing debts to the card and then paying them down over the course of the promotional period.
Even if you continue paying the same amount every month as before, your entire payment will now go toward the principal balance—allowing you to save money and pay off your debt sooner.
You can take advantage of the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card's 18-month promotional offer by transferring balances from other credit cards or loans or moving money to a linked bank account. However, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
- You can't transfer a balance from another Citi credit card.
- The total of your balance transfers, fees, and purchases with the card can't go above your credit limit.
- For your transfers to receive the promotional rate, the transfer must be completed within four months of opening your account. Transfers can take up to 14 days, so you may want to request them soon after opening your account to avoid missing the four-month window.
After you initiate a balance transfer request, keep making payments on your old accounts until you see the transfer was successful; otherwise, you might be considered late on payment.
Promotional Periods and Balance Transfer Fees
There are three important points to compare when you're considering a balance transfer card: the promotional rate, the length of the promotional period and the balance transfer fee.
- The promotional rate: This is often, but not always, 0% APR. You should aim to find a card that has a promotional 0% APR to avoid accruing any interest while you pay off your balance transfers.
- The promotional period: Its length varies by card and the offer you receive. Many offers last around nine to 18 months, and a longer promotional period lets you make a smaller payment each month while staying on track to pay off the balance without paying interest.
- A balance transfer fee: This fee is often either 3% or 5% of each amount you transfer. Some cards don't have this fee, or may temporarily waive the fee for new cardholders.
Tthe Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card offers a lengthy 0% APR promotional period and a 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) on all your transfers. You'll want to compare its offering to other balance transfer cards to see how the promotional period and transfer fee stack up to other cards.
Here's how it could play out with various cards if you're transferring $5,000, assuming none of the cards have an annual fee and you don't make any purchases or additional transfers:
- No balance transfer fee and nine-month 0% APR promotional period: Your balance stays at $5,000, and you need to pay $556 each month to pay off the balance before the end of the promotional period.
- A 3% balance transfer fee and 15-month 0% APR promotional period: Your balance increases to $5,150, and you need to pay $344 each month to pay off the balance before the end of the promotional period.
- A 3% balance transfer fee and 18-month 0% APR promotional period: With these terms you'd receive with the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, your balance increases to $5,150, but you need to pay just around $286.11 each month to pay off the balance before the end of the promotional period.
Considering your financial situation, you may find that paying a fee to receive a longer promotional period makes more sense, particularly if you weren't able to pay off the balance and wound up accruing interest otherwise.
An 18-Month Promotional Period for Purchases
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card also offers a promotional 0% APR on purchases for 18 months from the date of account being opened.
The promotional purchase rate can be helpful if you want to make purchases and pay them off over time without paying interest. However, if you have both a transfer balance and purchase balance after the 18 months are over, your purchases will start to accrue interest daily.
If you're worried your balance may extend past the 18-month intro period, you may be better off only using the card for balance transfers. Any new debt from purchases could work against your effort to pay down the transferred balance.
Few Long-Term Benefits
The main drawback of the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is that there are few long-term benefits for cardholders. Once you pay off the balances you transferred to the card, you may want to switch to a rewards credit card or low interest card.
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card isn't alone in this shortfall, and some other balance transfer cards have limited long-term use. But that's not always the case.
For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer has an 18-month promotional 0% APR on balance transfers (13.99% - 23.99% variable APR after that), a 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee and no annual fee. You can also earn up to 2% cash back on your purchases with the card, meaning it will provide a good everyday value even after you pay off your balance.
Additional Benefits and Managing Your Account
While it doesn't offer rewards, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card does offer a few cardholder benefits. For example, you can add the card to a digital wallet if you want to use it for purchases, and the card has contactless pay. You'll also get access to special events through Citi Entertainment.
You can set up an online account to manage your card and request balance transfers. Or, you can use the iOS or Android mobile app to manage your account on the go. The app also has push notifications for your customized alerts, and you can use it to lock or unlock your card.
|Purchase APR: 0% for 18 months after account opening, then 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)||Grace period: 23 days|
|Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months for transfers completed within 4 months; otherwise, 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)||Annual fee: $0|
|Cash advance APR: 25.24% (Variable)||Balance transfer fee: 3% ($5 minimum)|
|Minimum interest charge: $.50||Cash advance fee: 5% ($10 minimum)|
|Foreign transaction fee: 3%|
|Late payment fee: Up to $40|
|Returned payment fee: Up to $40|
You can add an authorized user to your card without paying any fees. You'll be responsible for all of the transactions from your card and the authorized user's card. Both of your purchases may also start to accrue daily interest if your account no longer has a promotional 0% APR for purchases.
While authorized users aren't responsible for any of the debt on their card, Citi may report your account to the credit bureaus under the authorized user's name. Becoming an authorized user on someone else's card may help you build credit.
However, having a card with a high balance on your credit report could hurt your credit. As a result, you might not want to add someone as an authorized user to your balance transfer cards if you worry they may overspend.
Is This Card Right for You?
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card's long promotional period makes it a good option if you want to transfer large balances and pay them off over an extended period. However, if you don't need as much time, a balance transfer card with a lower fee and shorter promotional period may save you more money.