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Citi Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred: It Comes Down to Late Fees

They offer similar basic features, including a long 0% intro APR period on balance transfers. But only the Simplicity offers late-payment forgiveness.
June 30, 2020
Credit Cards, Low Interest and No Fee Credit Cards
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  • Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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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 - No Late Fees Ever. 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.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best balance transfer credit cards

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Forgiveness for the forgetful

Off the bat, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever comes with a intro APR of 0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR. That’s one of the longest such interest-free promotional periods available for balance transfers, and it 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: $5 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater. Some cards charge no balance transfer fee at all, but those options typically feature shorter 0% intro APR windows.

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.

» MORE: Full review of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever 

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: 0% intro APR period, but much less forgiving

Similar to the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card charges a $0 annual fee and comes with an intro 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 24.74% 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 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.

But unlike the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, this card does charge late payment fees and a penalty APR.

Late payments can cost up to $39 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.

» MORE: Full review of the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card