Review: Citi Diamond Preferred Card
By Peter Andrew
Gosh, I hate this time of year. This is the time when my friends who were running up debt with their credit cards in December must face up to some harsh realities. It's not that I'm judgmental or possess a bah-humbug approach to gift giving -- I'd probably be doing something similar if I had young kids and was struggling to cope with the recession's hangover. It's just that I know I'll be witnessing those friends enduring some hard times (two Dickensian allusions and we're still in the first paragraph!) and horrible stress well into the New Year.
What would I suggest, were those pals to ask me for advice? I'd recommend they check out zero interest balance transfer credit cards, provided their credit scores were still good enough for them to stand a reasonable chance of getting approved. And at or near the top of the list I'd give them would be the Citi Diamond Preferred Card.
Escaping interest charges
It's easy to forget just how much high credit card rates cost you: If you carry a balance of $5,000 throughout year, and are paying the average APR for a rewards credit card, you're probably having to find more than $900 a year in interest. The Citi Diamond Preferred Card could give you a break from this burden -- both for balance transfers and new purchases -- for a whopping 18 months. And that could be a big help in balancing the books after a seasonal shopping binge. Just don't forget you have to pay a 3-percent fee on balances you transfer (minimum charge $5).
Once that 18-month interest-free period is over, the card reverts to its standard variable rate, which can vary depending on your credit score. Obviously, it's important to make sure you're in a position to pay the standard rate -- or churn forward into another zero-percent deal -- when the time comes.
No rewards but loads of perks
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card comes without either a rewards program or an annual fee. But it does deliver a whole lot of goodies:
- Google Wallet, which allows you to look cool when you make card payments to enabled merchants using your smartphone or tablet.
- A 24/7 concierge service that can book your travel and accommodation, and find you tickets, among other things.
- The Citi Private Pass program, through which you are eligible for various privileges, including access to VIP packages, ticket pre-sales, preferred seating and exclusive entertainment experiences.
- Citi Price Rewind, which allows you to register your purchases on a website. The bank will then monitor hundreds of merchants and automatically alert you if the same product or service is advertised at a lower price within 30 days. If it is, and it's at least $25 cheaper, you stand to get the price difference refunded.
- Purchase protection cover and extended warranties.
- Many different forms of insurance cover for when you're traveling.
Actually, writing this has cheered me up a bit. Maybe my friends -- providing they're lucky enough to be eligible for a Citi Diamond Preferred Card and wise enough to use it responsibly -- can have both a good Christmas and a happy New Year.
Peter Andrew has over 25 years of experience writing about marketing, advertising and management. He regularly covers consumer credit card topics for IndexCreditCards.com and other personal finance publications including Fox Business, TheStreet and MSN Money. He also writes frequently about mortgages and auto loans. Peter has spent extended periods living overseas, in the UK, France and Africa. He lives with his partner of 20+ years, and wastes too much of his time on cryptic crosswords.