Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred: It Comes Down to Late Fees
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If you're looking to transfer a credit card balance, you may have considered one of two Citi cards with nearly identical features:
Neither offers rewards, but both offer lengthy promotional APR periods, the same $0 annual fee and the same balance transfer fee. And with either card, you'll get the Citi Entertainment® perk, which offers presale and VIP access to things like live events and dining experiences.
But there's one primary difference that gives the edge to the Citi Simplicity® Card. It offers late-payment forgiveness, while the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card does not.
In fact, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card can impose a penalty APR of nearly 30% that, according to the fine print, can be applied to you “indefinitely.” Yikes.
Citi Simplicity® Card: Forgiveness for the forgetful
Off the bat, the Citi Simplicity® Card comes with a intro APR of 0% Intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 18.99%-29.74% Variable APR. That makes the card a worthy contender for someone who needs a lot of time to pay off a large debt.
Of course, if you're transferring a balance, be sure to factor in the card's transfer fee: 3% of the transfer amount (minimum of $5) on any balances transferred in the first four months. After that, it's 5% with a minimum of $5. This fee will take a bite out of your savings, but it will likely cost much less than interest you'd pay on a card with no 0% offer.
Most balance transfer cards require making at least the minimum payment to maintain the 0% intro APR period. Check your card's terms and conditions for details.
This card's other standout feature is its lack of late fees or a penalty APR, which is fairly uncommon and could be helpful for the occasionally forgetful. Keep in mind, however, that late payments can still affect your credit scores.
There is no rewards program, so there's little incentive to use the card after you've paid off the transferred balance. But since the annual fee is $0, it won't cost you anything to keep it around either.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: 0% intro APR period, but much less forgiving
Similar to the Citi Simplicity® Card, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card charges a $0 annual fee and comes with an intro 0% Intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 17.99%-28.74% Variable APR.
So it, too, is a good option for those who need a lot of time paying down a transferred balance, as long as the amount you'll save in interest outweighs the card's balance transfer fee: $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.
But unlike the Citi Simplicity® Card, this card does charge late payment fees and a penalty APR.
Late payments can cost up to $41 each time and can trigger a penalty APR of 29.99%. There’s no clear path spelled out to shedding that penalty rate either, which can lock you into some very expensive debt.
In short, if you're the forgetful type, you may want to avoid this card.
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