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Discover it® Balance Transfer Card: 0% APR Can Help You Save Big Bucks

Paying down a hefty credit card balance can take time. But with the Discover it® Balance Transfer credit card, you don't have to worry about interest charges taking you one step back every time you take two steps forward.

The card's lengthy introductory 0% APR promotion on balance transfers alone makes it worth considering. But if you want to use this credit card while you pay off a balance from another card—or after you're done—you can also take advantage of a potentially lucrative rewards program.

Customer service contact info for Discover
1 (800) 347-2683
Discover Financial Services
P.O. Box 30943
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0943
ProsCons
Long intro period for 0% APR on balance transfers for new cardholdersBonus rewards are capped, and the base rewards rate is mediocre
High rewards rate on rotating bonus categoriesBalance transfer fee could be expensive depending on how much you transfer
Cash back match at the end of your first year on all cash back earnedYou may have a hard time using it abroad
No annual feeShort intro period for 0% APR on purchases for new cardholders

Experian Review

The Discover it® Balance Transfer card offers one of the lengthiest introductory 0% APR promotions on balance transfers. You'll get a full 18 months to pay off the balance from another credit card. This card's introductory 0% APR offer on purchases, however, lasts just six months.

The card also offers a substantial 5% cash back on bonus categories that rotate every quarter when you activate them, plus Discover will match all the cash back you earn during the first year. Be aware that the 5% bonus rewards rate applies to a maximum of $1,500 spent quarterly. After you hit the cap, the 1% base rewards rate may leave you wanting more.

Also, make sure you consider the card's balance transfer fee when deciding if the interest savings are worth it.

Here are the card's highlights and how to get the most benefit if you apply.

0% Introductory Period for Balance Transfers

Transferring debt from other credit cards to the Discover it® Balance Transfer card can make a lot of sense, and it may even be worth considering if you need to pay off some new purchases over time.

Here are the details of the card's 0% APR promotions:

  • You'll get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months beginning from the date of the first transfer.
  • You'll get a 0% intro APR on purchases for six months beginning from account opening.
  • After the introductory rate expires, you'll be charged a standard 13.74% - 24.74% Variable for balance transfers and purchases.
  • You'll pay an introductory 3% balance transfer fee (and a 5% fee on future balance transfers).

To give you an idea of how much money you could save, let's say you have $5,000 on a credit card with a 20% APR. We'll run the numbers and see where you'd stand 18 months from now depending on the decision you make.

Scenario 1: If you'd kept the debt where it is, paying it off over 18 months, you'd have made monthly payment of $324, and paid $829 in interest during that time.

Scenario 2: If you had transferred the debt to the Discover it® Balance Transfer card, you'd have had a $150 balance transfer fee added to your bill, but your monthly payment would have been roughly $286 due to interest savings.

In Scenario 2, you'd have $679 more in your pocket at the end of 18 months. That may be tough to pass up.

New Cardholder Sign-Up Bonus

In addition to the card's balance transfer incentive, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year with the card. You don't have to enroll in anything to qualify, and there's no limit to how much you can earn, making it extremely lucrative for big spenders.

The cash back match means you're effectively earning 10% cash back on the card's rotating bonus categories and 2% back on everything else—you'll be hard-pressed to find a card that can beat that for that long.

If you do want to take full advantage of this card, plan to pay your full monthly bill plus the amount you planned to pay toward the transferred balance to avoid keeping the debt beyond the 0% APR promotional period.

Get More Cash Back With Extra Bonuses

On an ongoing basis, the Discover it® Balance Transfer card offers 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories, on up to $1,500 spent in combined purchases in those categories. To qualify, you need to activate the bonus categories each quarter. All non-bonus spending will net you just 1% cash back.

The card's bonus categories can vary from year to year, but the 2019 categories are as follows:

  • January to March: Grocery stores
  • April to June: Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
  • July to September: Restaurants and PayPal
  • October to December: Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com

If you tend to spend a lot in those categories and with those merchants, this card can be a compelling addition to your wallet. But if a large chunk of your budget goes toward other expenses, consider getting a companion credit card that will give you more than 1% back.

For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card offers 2% cash back on every purchase you make. By using the Discover it® Balance Transfer for its 5% categories and the Citi® Double Cash Card for everything else, you can ensure you're maximizing your rewards wherever you go.

When it comes to redeeming your cash back, you have several options:

  • Get a deposit into your bank account or a statement credit in any amount, anytime.
  • Use your cash back to shop on Amazon.com (simply link your Discover card to your Amazon.com account, and you'll get the option during checkout).
  • Buy gift cards: If you choose this option, you'll get $5 or more in extra value (for example, get a $25 gift card for $20 in rewards).
  • Donate your cash back to select charitable organizations.

Your rewards never expire as long as your account is open, and if you close your account, Discover will credit your account with your remaining cash back instead of requiring you to forfeit it.

One thing to keep in mind, though, as you use your credit card is that Discover doesn't quite have the same level of acceptance in the U.S. as Visa and Mastercard. If you're planning a trip abroad with this card, you'll avoid foreign transaction fees, but you may not be able to use it in many countries.

So, if you plan on carrying this card, consider having a Visa or Mastercard credit card as a backup in case a merchant doesn't accept Discover.

Receive Additional Card Protections With Discover it®

Discover offers cardholders some valuable features that can help protect your card and your personal information.

For example, the Freeze it® tool allows you to lock and unlock your card as you wish. This feature can come in handy if you misplace your credit card or it's stolen. If anyone has the card, they won't be able to make any purchases, cash advances or balance transfers.

You also can request a free overnight card replacement if you know your card has been stolen or lost for good.

Also, Discover monitors your Experian credit report and thousands of websites on the dark web and will let you know whenever a new account is listed on your Experian credit report or your personal information, such as your Social Security number, shows up on one of these websites.

These identity alerts can provide invaluable assists if someone tries to steal your identity.

For more convenience and security with using and managing your account, Discover allows cardholders to tie their credit cards to digital wallets including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

You can manage your account online or on the go with the bank's easy-to-use mobile app. The card issuer ranks highest in overall satisfaction for U.S. credit card mobile apps and online management, according to J.D. Power.

Additional Info

Purchase APR: 0% intro APR for six months, then a 13.74% - 24.74% VariableGrace period: At least 25 days after the close of each billing period (at least 23 days for billing cycles that begin in February)
Transfer APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months, then a 13.74% - 24.74% VariableAnnual fee: $0
Cash advance APR: 26.74% variableBalance transfer fee: 3% initially, then 5%
Minimum interest charge: $0.50Cash advance fee: $10 or 5% of the cash advance, whichever is greater
Foreign transaction fee: $0
Late payment fee: None the first time, then up to $39
Returned payment fee: Up to $39

Authorized-User Policy

Adding an authorized user to your Discover it® account can help you earn rewards faster and help them establish a credit history. You can add an authorized user online, and they can even choose their own card design. There's no cost for doing so.

Keep in mind, though, that as the primary cardholder, you are responsible for any charges an authorized user makes using their card. In addition to making purchases, they can also:

  • Report lost or stolen cards
  • Request additional cards
  • Obtain account information
  • Initiate billing disputes
  • Request copies of statements
  • Make payments
  • Inquire about fees
  • Request a balance transfer or cash advance
  • Remove themselves from the account

Is This Card Right for You?

The Discover it® Balance Transfer provides cardholders with an impressive set of introductory incentives. Between a long balance transfer promotion and the hard-to-ignore first-year Cashback Match feature, this card is worth a double-take.

But just like any other credit card, this one isn't perfect. Cardholders don't have any way of avoiding a balance transfer fee, and while you can maximize rewards on certain purchases, most of your purchases may generate the card's low base rewards rate.

To make sure the Discover it® Balance Transfer is right for you, take some time to compare it with other balance transfer credit cards and cash back credit cards. Consider what your priorities and preferences are and choose the card that provides the best fit.

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