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Discover it® Balance Transfer review

This credit card combines an excellent balance transfer opportunity with the chance to earn substantial cash back on your spending. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.

Written by
Brooklyn Lowery
Edited by
Jennifer Doss
Why you should trust CardRatings
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Balance Transfer Card

Discover it® Balance Transfer

  • Balance Transfer Intro
  • APR: 0% Intro APR
    Period: 18 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
  • Regular APR
  • 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR
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5.0
Credit Score: Excellent, Good
Terms and Limitations Apply

Key Features

Editor Analysis:

Pros
  • Cardholders can take advantage of an intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months and on purchases for six months (then, RegAPR).
  • Cash-back rewards are a huge incentive with this card as cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating categories (activation required).
  • As a new card member, you'll enjoy the benefit of having all the cash back you accumulate over the first year matched dollar-for-dollar. That means $150 in earned cash back will become $300 at the end of your first year.
Cons
  • Even though the intro 0% APR for balance transfers could prove an excellent opportunity to save on interest, there is a balance transfer fee to plan for.
ALTERNATE CARD TO CONSIDER

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Discover it® Balance Transfer card benefits

The CardName card offers you plenty in the way of rewards opportunities, but also comes with a sweet balance transfer offer that we normally only see on cards for which that balance transfer offer is the primary selling point. In this case, however, you can earn as much as 5% back on your purchases (on up to $1,500 spent on purchases in categories that rotate quarterly; activation required) and also enjoy a card that offers you an introductory 18 months 0% APR on balance transfers and six months 0% APR on purchases (after the intro periods, the APR becomes RegAPR).

Not bad features for a card that doesn’t come with an annual fee. Here’s a look at more:

  • First class customer service – 100% U.S.-based service available any time
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and purchases for six months (then, RegAPR)
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating categories (activation required)
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year
  • No late fee for your first late payment
  • Paying late won’t raise your APR
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Transferring a balance with the Discover it® Balance Transfer card

Now, about the introductory balance transfer offer part: 18 months is among the longest balance transfer intro periods on the market, so you stand to save some serious dough on interest if you have a balance you need to carry and pay it off over the course of a year and a half.

The 18-month intro period starts when you make your first transfer, and there’s no reason to wait. The longer you wait, the longer you’ll be paying interest on that balance on another card. There is a balance transfer fee to take into account, BalanceTransferFees, but that’s common for these offers so shouldn’t come as a surprise. Remember, too, that your APR jumps to RegAPR when the intro period ends.

Don’t forget: You also can take advantage of an introductory six months no interest on purchases made directly on your card (then, RegAPR).

How long does it take for Discover to transfer a balance?

The timeline to process a balance transfer varies, but Discover states in its rates and fees documentation that “It takes at least 14 days after your account is opened to process payments to your other accounts.”

Given that, it’s important that you continue making payments on your existing balance until you verify the existing balance has been transferred to your new Discover card. You wouldn’t want to incur late fees or a ding on your credit by missing payments on your old card while waiting for the balance transfer to finalize.

Discover it® Balance Transfer card rewards

Often credit cards with excellent balance transfer intro offers are “one trick ponies” in that they don’t offer much in the way of perks or rewards earning – they are very specifically about making a balance transfer and taking advantage of the 0% intro period.

But CardName is different. With this card, cardholders can earn plenty of rewards AND they’re eligible for a Cashback Match bonus (You may have seen this mentioned alongside other Discover it® cards).

Here’s the deal: At the end of your first year, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year. That means that earning $150 cash back in your first year is actually worth $300.

But how do you earn rewards? Well, you earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (you must sign up each quarter, but that’s a quick and easy click of a button). Beyond that you’ll earn 1% back on all your other purchases and on your purchases above the quarterly cap. If you do the math, maxing out the earning in the 5% categories in a given quarter is worth $75 cash back (5% of $1,500 spent). If you do that for each of the four quarters during your first year, you’ll earn $300 cash back in just that rewards earning alone – and that will become $600 cash back after you first year thanks to the Cashback Match bonus.

One reminder: balance transfers do not earn rewards and therefore won’t count toward your Cashback Match total.

All this and there’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees to worry about eating into those sweet rewards.

Discover makes it easy to redeem your rewards as well. Instead of tracking a convoluted points system, you can use Discover’s website to watch your cash-back bonus balance grow. You can redeem rewards in any amount for statement credit, an electronic deposit to your bank account or even donations to select charities. Discover also maintains a list of merchants with which you can use your rewards to pay for purchases. In some cases, you can also redeem rewards for gift cards or eCertificates with select Discover partners.

Potential downsides of the Discover it® Balance Transfer card

It’s important to point out that with this card, your account may not always be eligible for balance transfers. In fact, balance transfer eligibility is determined at Discover’s discretion.

As with other rotating category cash-back credit cards, CardName requires you to use a bit of strategy to reap the full benefits of the card, and you have to remember to sign up each quarter to take advantage of the bonus. Though Discover posts the quarterly cash back categories ahead of time, if you’re not someone who wants to keep up with using your card in the quarterly bonus categories, you instead might want to consider a flat-rate credit card.

Since you’re looking at a balance transfer credit card, the other, perhaps more important downside is that you will pay a balance transfer fee with this card: BalanceTransferFees. It isn’t at all out of line with what you’re likely to find on other cards, but it is something to keep in mind. That said, if you have a balance on one card that’s racking up interest charges each month, even paying that fee likely means you’ll come out ahead.

How do cardholders rate the Discover it® Balance Transfer card?

CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results for the Discover it® Balance Transfer card:

  Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 71.7 N/A
Features Satisfaction 6.6 N/A
Customer Service 7.6 N/A
Website/App Usability 7.8 N/A
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 N/A
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 N/A
Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

How the Discover it® Balance Transfer card compares to other cards

CardName vs. CardName

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These cards are identical in terms of their rewards offering and the Cashback Match bonus opportunity. Where they differ is in the intro 0% APR department.

As we’ve already discussed, CardName offers you an intro 18 months 0% APR on balance transfers and an intro 0% APR for six months on purchases (then, RegAPR).

CardName, on the other hand, offers an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases (then, RegAPR).

Your decision could come down to whether you have a balance to transfer and need the extra time offered by the balance transfer version of this card in order to pay it off without interest; however, it’s important to keep in mind that balance transfers don’t earn rewards.

If you have a purchase you’re looking to make, you could earn rewards on it by putting it on CardName and then you could still take advantage of the intro 15 months 0% APR on purchases to pay it off. Sure, there’s some strategy involved here, but when the cards are this similar, it’s going to take some critical thinking about your finances and options to make the best decision.

CardName vs. CardName

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Let’s get this out of the way first: The CardName offers a shorter intro balance transfer 0% period at 15 months (balance transfer fee applies), but its intro 0% APR on purchases is longer at 15 months (after the intro periods, the APR jumps to RegAPR). Basically, if you need a longer period to pay off an existing balance, CardName card is likely better, but if you’re looking to make a purchase and pay it off over time, the CardName could be a better fit.

Neither card charges an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, but their reward structures are different. Instead of rotating categories like the Discover card offers, CardName holders earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase without any caps or categories to think about. Plus, there’s a more traditional welcome offer as well: earn a one-time $200 bonus when you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months.

If you’re looking for a simple rewards earning structure and don’t need the full 18 months to pay off a transferred balance, you might consider the CardName.

Is the Discover it® Balance Transfer a good card?

CardName is a solid option for someone who needs a lengthy introductory 0% APR offer, but also wants the card to be a long-term, rewards earning champion in their wallet.

Our Methodology

Survey methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September 2023 to conduct surveys among 1,869 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2023 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents’ scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to “How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?” was double weighted. Current Scores reflect scores from the most recent survey (2023); “Past Scores” reflect scores from the 2022 survey.

Disclaimer:The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.


This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.


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