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Balance Transfer, Pay Down My Debt, Reviews

Citi Diamond Preferred Balance Transfer Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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A balance transfer is an excellent way to begin digging out of high-interest credit card debt, as long as you can use it responsibly. These deals should only be utilized if you’re going to be aggressively paying off existing debt and not charging new purchases to the card.

The Offer

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card intro balance transfer offer is 0%* for 18 months on Purchases*, then an APR of 15.74% to 25.74%* (Variable). It comes with a balance transfer fee of 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum..

Pros

  • $0* Annual Fee
  • 0%* for 18 months on Balance Transfers*: The long 0% introductory APR period paired with no annual fee is by far the biggest selling point of the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card. Without the power of compounding interest working against you, getting your principal debt balance down becomes much more manageable.
  • The card also comes with Citi® Identity Theft Solutions, which offers protection from fraud with zero liability on any unauthorized purchases.

Cons

  • Balance Transfer Fee: But before you discount this offer due to the fee, do the math. Often times you’ll still end up saving hundreds or thousands even with a balance transfer fee.
  • Limited Rewards Program: The additional perks associated with the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card are limited. The primary purpose of the card however is to utilize the promotional intro rate to save on interest, not to cash in on extras.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Use your Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card outside the U.S. and you’ll get hit with a hefty 3% fee on every purchase.

What Do I Need to Qualify?

First, you need to be rolling your existing credit card debt from a non-Citi card. This option is not eligible for people who already have debt with a Citibank credit card.

In general, people with credit scores of 700 or higher stand the best chance of being approved for a credit card. There are other factors that go into the decision-making process, so a 700 score or higher doesn’t guarantee you a spot. However, you can check to see if you’re pre-qualified for Citi cards to minimize your chance of rejection. You can do this without affecting your credit score by going to this site.

Who is it best for?

If you’re currently carrying debt on cards with high APRs or if your introductory 0% rate is about to expire, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card can provide a solution for extended interest free debt repayment.

Looking Out for the Fine Print 

  • 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
  • Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening to benefit from intro APR promo
  • 29.99% variable penalty APR
  • Late / Returned Payment Fee: Up to $35
  • Cash Advance Rate: Up to 26.74% (variable)
  • Cash Advance Fee: 5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum

Cardholders should note that late, missed, or returned payments, even in the introductory promotional period, can result in a variable penalty APR of up to 29.99% effective immediately. In other words, one payment error can cost you to lose the promotional rate and stick you with a high APR indefinitely.

This penalty policy is not unique to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card. Late and missed payments should be avoided regardless of which credit tool you utilize as the consequences are expensive and cost you the entire benefit of the introductory promotional APR you signed up for in the first place. On top of all of that, late and returned payments are subject to fees of up to $35. Pay on time and in full to avoid those high costs.

The grace period on the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card is 23 days – even after the intro APR expires; that means you have 23 days to pay down your balance to avoid accruing any interest. The only exceptions to the grace period are balances transfers performed after the first four months of account opening and cash advances, which begin accruing interest from the date of the transaction. The variable APR for cash advances is currently 26.74%.

In addition to higher APR, cash advances are subject to a fee of either 5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum. Balance transfer fees are 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. of each transfer, depending on which is greater; and foreign transaction fees come in at 3% of each purchase transaction (in US dollars).

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card

How it Compares to the Competition

While a 21-month intro period is appealing, a 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. balance transfer fee on a large amount of debt can present a significant cost. If you were to roll over $10,000, you’d pay a $300 fee. Keep in mind, if you left $10,000 on a card at a 15% and paid $300 a month, it would cost you $3,016 in interest alone and it would take 44 months to pay off.

Put $10,000 at a balance transfer card at 0% for 21 months with a 3% fee, and you’d only pay $614 in interest and fees. The debt would be paid off in 36 months.

[Use this calculator to compare your options.]

 

If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and would prefer a longer promo period, consider the Sphere® Credit Card from Santander. While the balance transfer fee is a higher $10 or 4% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater, there’s a long 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles if taken within the first 90 days of account opening, (after, 14.74% to 24.74% Variable). However, this card is only available to people who live in: CT, DC, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, or VT.

Sphere® Credit Card from Santander

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Citi Diamond is Competitive, But Not the Best Offer

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card presents a low cost solution for those looking to pay down debt in a 21-month time frame. The rewards are limited and fees on foreign transactions and cash advances are less than ideal, but for the primary purpose of the card, paying down debt without crushing interest, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card offers a good deal with a long, leisurely time frame.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Stefanie O
Stefanie O'Connell |

Stefanie O'Connell is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Stefanie at [email protected]

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Eliminating Fees, Reviews

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Review

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When I initially signed onto Bank5 Connect to check out account options, I was met with a pleasant surprise. In big bold font right next to “High-Interest Checking” was a nice number- 0.76 percent APY. I figured I must’ve been reading it wrong. An interest rate of 0.76 percent seemed like an impossibly good deal. Surely there had to be a catch.

CheckingBut Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking holds up to its advertisement. The only requirement is to keep a $100 balance, but no stress if you fall below that amount – with no minimum balance requirements or sneaky fees, Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking is a safe bet.

Like other online only banks Bank5 Connect doesn’t have to shoulder the expense of pricey real estate, live teller salaries, and other brick and mortar banking expenses – which means more savings and perks passed on to you, the user.

You can open a High-Interest Checking account through the Bank5 Connect website or by calling the customer service number, 1-855-522-2655. The minimum opening deposit requirement is just $10 and can be funded through an online transfer from an external checking account, direct deposit, mobile deposit, check, or credit card.

Pros

Though you need $10 to open account you will not be penalized if your balance falls below. Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking is among the top fee-free accounts.

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • No fees at domestic SUM Network ATMs
  • Reimbursement up to $15 for out of network ATM fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No early closure fee
  • Free first order of checks
  • Free cashiers checks
  • Free incoming wires

The account also comes with a debit card with a sweet perk of its own- a debit rewards program. Earn 1 point for every $2 spent using Bank5’s UChoose debit card and redeem points for various items online- vacation packages, gift cards, electronics, etc. The daily purchase limit on the card is $1,000.

Finally, the Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking account comes with all the staples of online banking convenience- online bill pay, e-statements, e-check deposit, mobile banking, and quick person-to-person payment options.

Bank5 Connect also earned an “A” Transparency Score for creating a simple product with partial ATM reimbursement, disclosure of fees, no minimum requirements and real overdraft protection.

Cons

While you can avoid ATM charges by using your UChoose debit card at any ATM within the SUM Network, you are responsible for fees charged by ATMs outside that network should you exceed the $15 monthly fee reimbursement allowance. The bonus reimbursement ATM coverage is also limited to domestic ATMs. Travel internationally and you’ll be on the hook for all fees.

In addition to checking, Bank5 Connect offers a savings account that can be linked for free overdraft protection. If you find yourself in a position of non-sufficient funds however, you’ll be responsible for the $15 overdraft fee.

High interest and low fees make Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest checking account a top option. Thanks to those features, it is consistently ranked among the best accounts. But further research into the customer experience suggests reason for concern.

Despite an absence of physical branches, many online only banks have exceptionally high rated customer service. I had a hard time finding similarly complimentary reviews of Bank5 Connect, so I called in to customer service to check it out for myself.

While the wait time was minimal, my representative wasn’t particularly well informed. She had a hard time recounting some of the most basic account features I had been reading about online. Her responses to my questions were so dubious and unsure that I actually called back later with the hope of being connected to a more authoritative source. My second representative proved a better experience, but I can still see why Bank5 Connect might not be winning a people’s choice award winner any time soon.

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Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking vs. Simple

Though the interest rate on Bank5 Connect’s High Yield Checking Account blows Simple’s out of the water (with Simple coming in at a weak 0.01 percent), Simple has the top-notch money management tools and excellent customer service representatives noticeably absent at Bank5 Connect. Where Simple provides a user-friendly experience, Bank5 Connect provides yield. Both options are first-rate on the debatably most important checking account features though- freedom from fees and transparency.

Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking vs. Ally Bank Checking

Ally Bank is another online only option boasting low fees. Interest rates on checking start at 0.10 percent, an improvement from those at Simple but a far cry from those at Bank5 Connect. For users with a balance greater than $15,000, the rate jumps to 0.60 percent, but that’s a pretty major requirement considering the small $100 balance required at Bank5 Connect.

Ally customer service is also well rated. Though Ally’s money management tools are not as comprehensive as Simple’s, for basic checking account needs, Ally is consistently a top contender in ratings and customer reviews.

Should You Use Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking?

A minimal fee structure paired with shockingly high interest makes Bank5 Connect High Yield Checking an option worth considering, but I would recommend taking customer service for a test run before singing up. Even when you bank online, you need to feel secure in where and with whom you leave your money.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Stefanie O
Stefanie O'Connell |

Stefanie O'Connell is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Stefanie at [email protected]

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Life Events, Strategies to Save

How to Pay Quarterly Estimated Taxes as a Freelancer

Tax return check

Transitioning to self-employment and a full-time freelance workload has been liberating. No more rushed mornings or pushing through crowds on the AM commute. I leisurely roll out of bed, brew my coffee, and sit down at my desk- slowly waking up as I browse through the top stories of the day.

As much as I love the perks of working on my own terms, self-employment doesn’t come without its own set of headaches. Not only am I responsible for the projects I’ve been hired to complete, I’m also my own support system – marketing, HR, and accounting all rolled into one. That means keeping track of folders full of contracts, updating spreadsheets with invoices and payments, and of course, taking care of my own tax liability.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Employees have the luxury of having their taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks. As sad as it is to see $1,000 gross dwindle down to around $700 in take home pay, at least it’s done. As long as all of your income comes from W2 work, you’re pretty much free from having to stress over your taxes – beyond filing your return each year.

As an independent contractor or someone who is self-employed however, you don’t have the luxury of that same kind of hands-off, once a year approach. As great as it is to bill someone for a $1,000 and actually get the full $1,000, it’s kind of a tease. You’re still responsible for paying taxes on that income, but you’re the one who has to set it aside and make the requisite contributions. This is what’s called Estimated Taxes, and it is due each quarter.

Do You Owe Estimated Taxes?

Even if you get paid a consistent, regular income, if you are not an employee (and if you didn’t fill out a W-4, you’re probably not), you must take responsibility for your own tax payments. If you’re working under a 1099-MISC, if you get cash from one-time gigs like babysitting, if you side hustle online, if you get prize money from a game show, if you receive investment gains- pretty much any income that doesn’t already have taxes taken out becomes part of your quarterly estimated tax responsibility.

If you owe more than $1,000 and fail to file quarterly, the IRS can hit you with penalties and interest. Waiting to cover your annual tax liability in one lump sum can also present other challenges, like not having enough to cover your total amount owed. Know what your quarterly responsibilities are and stay on top of them to avoid a real IRS headache.

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Quarterly Tax Deadlines 

For income received January 1st through March 31st, estimated tax is due April 15th.

For income received April 1st through May 31st, estimated tax is due June 15th.

For income received June 1st through August 31st, estimated tax is due September 15th.

For income received September 1st through December 31st, estimated tax is due January 15th.

How Much Should You Pay?

Calculating your quarterly estimated taxes means figuring out your expected adjusted gross income, taxable income, deductions, and credits for the year. The more organized you are, the easier this will be. Keeping separate spreadsheets, even separate accounts and credit cards for all business and freelance income and expenses can simplify the process when it comes time to file.

Form 1040-ES. The Form 1040-ES, used to pay estimated taxes, can also help in calculating your quarterly estimated payments. The form includes a worksheet to give you a clear picture of how much you owe.

Use Historical Reference Points. If you’ve been running your own business for a while, you can also reference your tax returns from previous years to estimate projected income and deductions for the current year and your respective tax liability.

What Forms Do You Need?

Unfortunately, paying your quarterly estimated taxes isn’t as simple as a few clicks on Venmo or a swipe of your credit card. You’ll need to send in a Form 1040-ES, which includes quarterly payment vouchers to accompany your payment. In addition to estimated federal taxes, you’ll also need to pay your quarterly estimated state income taxes, getting the appropriate forms from your states’ tax office. 

Storing Your Temporary Savings

Once you get a handle on the basics- filing deadlines, forms needed, and organizational systems to help you streamline the process – the biggest challenge in self – employment taxes becomes separating and saving your quarterly payments.

It’s far too easy to dip into what should be your designated tax payment if you leave all your earnings sitting in a checking account. Set up a system of transferring a portion of each paycheck into a high yield, no fee savings account. That way the money is accessible when you need it come quarterly tax time, but not so accessible that you spend it all before fulfilling your tax liability.

Check out MagnifyMoney’s savings account comparison tool to find an account with solid returns and low/no fees, maximizing your money for every penny it’s worth before turning over whatever you owe to Uncle Sam.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Stefanie O
Stefanie O'Connell |

Stefanie O'Connell is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Stefanie at [email protected]