When you’re stuck trying to pay down credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card can be a valuable tool. Cards in this niche let you secure zero percent APR on transferred debts for a limited time, and most don’t even charge an annual fee.
But there are plenty of variables between balance transfer credit cards that are worth paying attention to, including the fact that some offers last longer than others. The Discover it® Cash Back and the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card are two of the top balance transfer cards on the market today, so keep reading to learn how they compare.
Discover it Cash Back vs. Citi Diamond Preferred: Details
Card name Discover it Cash Back Citi Diamond Preferred
Intro APR 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, followed by a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99% 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74%
Rewards Rate Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating bonus categories, then 1% (activation required), as well as 1% back on other purchases None
Welcome offer Discover will match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first 12 months None
Annual fee $0 $0
Discover it Cash Back vs. Citi Diamond Preferred highlights
Both of these credit cards offer intro zero percent APR for a limited time, but it’s easy to see why you might want to choose one over another based on your specific goals. The following categories have a clear winner, explained below.
Intro APR winner: Citi Diamond Preferred
The Citi Diamond Preferred stands out in this category due to the fact that you get a zero percent intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR after), versus just intro 14 months with the Discover it Cash Back (11.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR after). Having an additional four months to pay down debt without any interest could be of tremendous benefit if you have a lot of high-interest debt you need to consolidate. After all, a longer zero percent APR timeline could let you pay down a larger balance in its entirety before the introductory rate expires, or you could pay a lower amount each month during the introductory period and still become free of debt.
Rewards rate winner: Discover it Cash Back
The Discover it Cash Back lets you rack up 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating bonus categories like restaurants and shopping on Amazon.com, after which you’ll earn 1 percent back (activation required). Meanwhile, you’ll also earn 1 percent back on all other purchases you make with your credit card.
By contrast, the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t offer any rewards at all. With that in mind, the Discover it Cash Back is a better option if you want to earn rewards on your spending now or later on.
Welcome bonus winner: Discover it Cash Back
The Discover it Cash Back doesn’t offer a traditional welcome bonus, but Discover will match all the rewards you earn at the end of the first year. This means that if you rack up $300 in cash back rewards, Discover will match that amount and add another $300 to your rewards balance once the first 12 months are up.
Since the Citi Diamond Preferred doesn’t offer any rewards, it also doesn’t come with a welcome bonus of any kind. This makes the Discover it Cash Back the clear winner in this category despite the fact that you have to wait 12 months to have your rewards balance matched.
Annual Fee winner: Tie
Neither one of these cards charge an annual fee, which is good news for consumers who want to consolidate debt while minimizing all out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, both cards charge the same 3 percent balance transfer fee, yet the Citi Diamond Preferred lists a minimum balance transfer fee of $5. The Discover it Cash Back is offering an introductory 3 percent balance transfer fee, after which it can be up to 5% of the amount of each transfer.
Discover it Cash Back vs. Citi Diamond Preferred balance transfer example
How much difference can four additional months with zero percent APR make in your debt payoff plan? Imagine you have $5,000 in credit card debt and are approved for a balance transfer credit card with an introductory 18-month 0 percent APR.
If you decided on a balance transfer with Citi and opted for the Citi Diamond Preferred, you would pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee of $150 and would have 18 months to pay off your debt at 0 percent intro APR (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR after). This means you would start off with a balance of $5,150 and would need to pay $286.11 per month to become entirely debt-free before your offer ended.
With the Discover it Cash Back, on the other hand, you would pay the same balance transfer fee and have just an intro 14 months to pay off your debt before your offer ends (11.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR after and up to 5% fee for future balance transfers will apply. (See Terms). In that case, you would have to pay $367.86 each month for 14 months to become debt-free before your credit card’s interest rate would reset to the regular variable APR.
Why should you get Discover it Cash Back?
There are several reasons to pick the Discover it Cash Back over comparable balance transfer credit cards. Here are the main factors to consider:
The Discover it Cash Back offers some additional benefits that may be worth considering if you can’t decide between these two cards. Some of the best perks include Social Security number and dark web monitoring, the ability to freeze and unfreeze your credit card and a free FICO score on your credit card statement.
This card also offers rewards, which Discover matches after the first year. If you are hoping to earn cash back on all your purchases, you should know this card lets you rack up rewards good for statement credits, gift cards or even purchases made on Amazon.com or with PayPal.
Why should you get the Citi Diamond Preferred?
If you’re not huge on rewards and are mostly interested in paying off debt, the Citi Diamond Preferred might be a better option. Here are some of the main reasons to pick this card:
The Citi Diamond Preferred does come with a few benefits worth noting. One example is Citi Entertainment, which can help you get special access to concert tickets, presale events, exclusive experiences and more. You also qualify for Citi Identity Theft Solutions if you’re a victim of fraud and can choose your own payment due date.
Lengthier balance transfer offer
The main reason to sign up for this card is the fact that you get zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for a full 18 months (14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR after). That’s a year-and-a-half you can use to consolidate and pay down debt or make a large purchase and pay it off without interest over time.
The bottom line
Before you craft a plan to get out of debt with a balance transfer credit card, your best bet is comparing all the top offers on the market today. Some cards in this niche give you rewards while others extend zero percent APR for a much longer timeline. By comparing cards and their unique details side-by-side, you can wind up with the best balance transfer credit card to suit your needs and goals.