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Discover it® Balance Transfer Credit Card Review: 18 Months of 0% APR

Discover it® Balance Transfer Credit Card Review: 18 Months of 0% APR

Great credit card for both cash back rewards and balance transfers.
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
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Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

4.5/5.0

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.

The Discover it® Balance Transfer is quite literally the best of both worlds – an excellent cash back credit card and a top balance transfer card. With this card, you'll earn excellent cash back rewards on your day-to-day purchases, making it one of the best in terms of rewards rates. Where it separates from the rest of the pack is in providing a really long, 18 month, 0% introductory APR period for balance transfers (then a 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR applies) that can give debt relief to those who are currently struggling with other high interest on their other balances.

Don’t get this card mixed up with the other Discover it® Cash Back. The two cards are very similar, but differ in their balance transfer capabilities. The card we talk about in this review offers intro 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers, and 6 months of purchases (then a 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR applies). The other Discover it® Cash Back gives just an introductory 14 months of 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers (then a 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR applies). You should apply for the card that better lines up with what you want to achieve.

Review: Is the Discover it® Balance Transfer the Right Card for You?

The Discover it® Balance Transfer is both an excellent cash back and balance transfer credit card. When you couple that with the Discover’s “double your cash back” promotion, it makes the card better than most rewards credit cards on the market.

Out of the entire Discover credit card lineup, the Discover it® Balance Transfer is the best at helping cardholder's handle old card debt. You can move over old balance from other credit cards to this one and you’ll get 0% introductory APR for 18 months for balance transfers from the time your account is opened (then a 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR applies). The only catch is that you’ll need to pay a 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*. There are better balance transfer credit cards out there, like the Chase Slate®, but those frequently don’t come with any reward program mixed in.

Bottom Line: We highly recommend the Discover it® Balance Transfer for anyone who wants a good cash back card and doesn’t mind keeping track of the rotating categories, as discussed below. The balance transfer functionality is a nice cherry on top, in case you want to get rid of any old credit card debts from other issuers.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Benefits & Features

The two main features of the Discover it® Balance Transfer are its cash back rewards and the balance transfer functionality. We’ll break down each of these benefits in more detail below, to help you figure out if these are something that would be good for your finances.

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Balance Transfer

On Discover's Secure Website
INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent, Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Discover Balance Transfers

The Discover it® Balance Transfer comes with 0% Intro APR for 6 months on purchases and for 18 months on balance transfers (then a 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR applies). While the purchase APR is not impressive, the 18-month balance transfer offer is among the best around. Most credit cards on the market don’t give you reduced interest when transferring balances. Those that do, often give users around a 12-month promo period.

Know that Discover, like many other issuers, has a policy preventing you from transferring balances between two Discover cards. The Discover terms and conditions read: “Balance transfers may not be used to pay any Discover accounts and do not earn rewards.” The last part also means you will not earn cash back on the debt you transfer to your account.

The graph below shows how effective a balance transfer with the Discover it® Balance Transfer can be. We ran a simulation on a sample debt of $16,000 and fixed monthly payments of $1,000. You can see how quickly the balance goes down when you transfer it to the Discover it® Balance Transfer when compared to an average 15% APR credit card.

Note that initially, there is a slight increase to the balance due to the 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)* you must pay with the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

5% Cash Back Rotating Rewards

Discover it® Balance Transfer users can earn 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. You get that bonus rate on the first $1,500 you make in purchases, within the bonus category. Cardholders get just 1% back on all other purchases. How much of your total purchases fall within the 5%-bonus calendar determines how good of a rewards card this card is. As a rule of thumb, if you manage to get at least a quarter of your annual purchases aligned with the calendar, you will come out ahead of most cash back credit cards. Below, we've included the 5% rotating bonus calendar for 2019.

January-MarchApril-JuneJuly-SeptemberOctober-December
Grocery storesGas stations, Uber & LyftRestaurants and PayPalAmazon.com, Target & Walmart.com

One thing to note is that this card is slightly more complicated to use than most other offers. To be used optimally, you will need to stay on top of the card's rotating bonus calendar to know where you can earn 5% throughout the year. You must also remember to activate these categories online. If you can’t manage these things, the card will be actually below average in terms of rewards.

Double Your Cash Back

Discover will double all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year, taking this card from good to great. This effectively transforms the Discover it® Balance Transfer for new cardmembers from a 1%-5% rewards rate credit card to a 2%-10% one for that first year.

The bonus will apply to cash back you earn during the first 12 months of cardmembership, not the first calendar year. Therefore, if you open an account in March 2017, the cash back you earn until March 2018 will be doubled.

How Does the Discover it® Balance Transfer Compare to Other Credit Cards?

To get a better idea of how valuable the Discover it® Balance Transfer can be, it helps to compare it to other available options. Below you’ll find a quick summary of other cash back and balance transfer credit cards and how they relate to the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Discover it® Balance Transfer vs Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® is another cash back credit card with a rotating 5% calendar. Like the Discover it® Balance Transfer, this card provides you with 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. From a cash back perspective, the real distinction between the two cards comes from their bonus calendars. You should pick the card whose calendar aligns better with how you tend to spend your money.

The Chase Freedom® has a balance transfer 0% APR period of 15 months. The Chase card also has a more expensive transfer fee. Therefore, if you’re looking to get rid of old debt, we recommend the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Discover it® Balance Transfer vs Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Chase Slate®
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Chase Slate® has one purpose: balance transfers. Therefore, if you’re not interested in earning any cash back, you will likely benefit most from the Chase Slate®, over the Discover it® Balance Transfer. The Chase Slate® has a strong introductory offer – it has a $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening. Skipping the transfer fee payment can help you pay down your balance faster, than if you had to contend with this additional charge. You could even use the funds that would have to go towards paying the transfer fee and use them to pay down the principal balance.

Discover it® Balance Transfer vs Discover it® chrome

The Discover it® chrome is another cash back credit card, though it is significantly worse than the Discover it® Balance Transfer in that regard. The card awards users just 1% on most purchases, and 2% back on at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter.

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).