Discover it Balance Transfer Card Review 2022: Helping You Reduce High-Interest Debt

GOBankingRates Score

4.5
Quick Take: For anyone looking to pay off high-interest debt, the Discover it Balance Transfer card provides a low introductory interest rate on transfers. The card's value is boosted with a cash back match offer for one year and robust rewards program.
  • Balance Transfers
    5.0
  • Rewards
    4.0
  • Fees and Interest Rates
    4.0
  • Security Features
    5.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • 18-month introductory 0% APR
  • Generous 5% rewards on up to $1,500 of purchases quarterly Excellent security features
  • $0 annual fee

Cons

  • Limited rewards categories that change by the quarter
  • No introductory APR on purchases
  • 3% balance transfer fee

Overview of the Discover it Balance Transfer Card

Running up credit card debt is all too easy these days. Paying off that debt can be a challenge that lingers for years. For those caught in the high-interest credit card debt trap, a balance transfer card can ease the financial pain and quickly lower the outstanding balance. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, balance transfer offers found widespread acceptance and popularity. But the economic downturn that followed prompted some major issuers, including Citibank and American Express National Bank, Member FDIC, to lessen their introductory periods or eliminate good balance transfer offers altogether.

Introductory Rate: 0%

The Discover it Balance Transfer card is an excellent way to reduce high-interest debt. For 18 months, you’ll pay an introductory interest rate of 0% on all balance transfers. That means the entire monthly payment directly reduces the same debt that on older accounts was costing you 20% to 30% in interest each year. 

Nearly unique in this card category, the Discover it Balance Transfer account also offers rewards amounting to 5% on purchases up to $1,500 per quarter. There’s a match offer on cash back in the first year, as well.

Credit Scores

It’s important to note that a good credit score is usually required to qualify for a balance transfer card. A typical range for successful applicants starts at about 670. Although a lower FICO may reduce your chances, applications are handled on an individual basis and also take into account income, housing expenses and other metrics that make up an overall portrait of creditworthiness.   

For all of its cardholders, Discover provides tools and information useful in handling credit scores and credit card accounts. Cardholders’ FICO scores are freely available on the Discover app, through the Discover.com website, and on monthly statements.

Customer Service

Strong customer service is a hallmark of the Discover credit card family. Operators are based in the U.S. and typically respond to queries and offer assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This issuer also replaces lost or stolen cards using free overnight shipping.  

This issuer also offers a year-end summary of spending to its customers. This convenient data can ease the confusing burden of keeping track of money, bills and monthly payments. 

Features of the Discover it Balance Transfer Credit Card

Here’s a closer look at some of top features of the Discover it balance transfer card.

Balance Transfers

With a 0% rate on balance transfers, full payments go straight to the principal for the first 18 months. After that period, the interest rate on any outstanding transfer balance runs from 12.24% to 23.24% variable APR. 

Competitor balance transfer cards typically offer fairly long introductory rates, too. One example is the , which offers zero interest for 18 months from account opening on purchases as well as balance transfers, and extends that period to 21 months if the customer keeps up with minimum payments. After the intro period a applies.

There are a few caveats on balance transfers with the Discover it Balance Transfer card. The account must be open for 14 days before the issuer will process a transfer. The issuer levies a 3% fee on each balance transfer transaction during the introductory period, and 5% thereafter. 

Also, cardholders can avoid paying interest on purchases only if the entire balance transfer is paid off. 

Rewards

It’s not common for balance transfer cards to offer a rewards program since the main idea behind these cards is to catch up on credit card debt. For those that do offer rewards, the rate is usually minimal. But the Discover it Balance Transfer account offers 5% rewards on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. 

On top of that, all cash earned back in the first year is matched by the card issuer, effectively rewarding you with 10% on up to $6,000 in purchases spread over the year. After the $1,500 limit is reached, there are still rewards to be had at the modest rate of 1% — also matched by the issuer. 

The rewards don’t expire and can be redeemed at any time. They work on a rotating category system. That means each quarter the user must “activate” new categories of purchases to qualify for the big 5% reward and match. 

If your goal is to minimize credit card use and get balances paid off, the rewards might not be an important consideration. If you do find the card useful for certain purchases, though, a 10% return on money spent is nice to have.

Fees and Interest Rates

The Discover it Balance Transfer card charges no annual fee. The card charges a 3% fee on balance transfers during an introductory term that ends in June 2022. After this term, the balance transfer fee goes to 5%.   

There’s an introductory APR of 0% on the first six months of purchases, and a variable APR afterward ranging from 11.99% to 22.99%, a range lower than many competitors set for their cards.  

As with any credit card, it’s smart to set up automatic payments to avoid the dreaded first late or missed payment. Many credit cards will swoop in on the first late payment to charge a penalty and bump the interest rate to the maximum set for the account. Discover it Balance Transfer won’t penalize you for that first slip but will assess late fees costing as much as $40 on any subsequent late payments. 

There are no foreign transaction fees and no penalty APR, the higher interest rate charged by some other credit card issuers after the first late payment. 

Security Features

The Discover it Balance Transfer card incorporates Discover’s standard guarantee of no liability for fraudulent use of the card. In addition, the issuer offers credit monitoring through the Identity Alerts feature, which notifies cardholders of any data breach or suspicious changes to the holder’s Experian credit report account. 

Cardholders can freeze and unfreeze their accounts when necessary through the Discover app installed on their mobile phone. This comes in handy when the card goes missing, saving the cardholder the time and trouble of contacting the company. 

Good To Know

With any balance transfer card, it’s essential to know the balance transfer fee — or the flat percentage charged on every balance brought over to the new card. Some of these cards kick that rate up if a balance transfer is not made within an introductory window, which is usually the first two to three months.

Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Competitor Cards

Credit card users who sign up for a good balance transfer program can save a lot of money. Getting $6,000 of debt transferred from a 20% rate to an account offering 0% will knock $1,200 off your interest expense in a year.

Not all good balance transfer accounts are built the same, though. Pay close attention to the APR charged on purchases after the introductory period ends. A good rewards program is a sweetener, especially if you plan to continue using the card after that old balance is paid off.

Here are some of the market’s more popular balance transfer cards to compare against the Discover it Balance Transfer card.     

Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Citi Double Cash Card

Both cards offer an 18-month introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers. As for rewards, Citi pays 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% when the purchase is paid off. This represents a lower rate but one that avoids Discover’s complicated rotating system. 

Citi’s Double Cash card sets a slightly higher range of variable interest rates, from 14.24% to 24.24%, and carries a foreign transaction fee if used abroad. There’s also no introductory APR offered on purchases. These features make the Citi Double Cash card most useful simply as a credit account that gets older balances paid off.  

Discover it Balance Transfer vs. BankAmericard

While BankAmericard lacks the rewards or the first-year match that make the Discover it Balance Transfer card appealing, it does have an 18-month introductory APR of 0% and extends that rate to purchases as well as balance transfers. Once the introductory period is over, the interest resets to 13.24% to 23.24%, roughly equal to Discover’s.  

BankAmericard, which doesn’t have an annual fee, also offers a $100 bonus credit after $1,000 of those interest-free purchases are made in the first 90 days.

Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

When it comes to the all-important introductory APR, the Discover it Balance Transfer offers three months more than the Chase card’s 15-month period. The Chase Freedom Unlimited does set the same 0% rate on purchases (then ), though, and offers 5% rewards on travel purchased with the card. The rewards are set at 5% for gas station purchases, 3% for dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5% for all other purchases. 

The rewards paid by Chase Freedom Unlimited are enhanced by 1.5% in the first year of use on a maximum of $20,000 in purchases. Discover beats this with its matching offer, with the downside of rotating categories that limit the range of purchases eligible for the high rewards rate.  

Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Wells Fargo Reflect

The offers an 18-month 0% introductory rate from account opening on balance transfers and purchases that are extended to 21 months if on-time minimum payments are made throughout the introductory period.

The interest rate that kicks in after the introductory period is higher than Discover’s, between a . There’s a rewards program that returns a percentage of the purchase price in the form of statement credit for eligible purchases.  

These terms make the suitable for those mostly interested in paying off an old high-interest balance as quickly as possible.

Discover it Balance Transfer vs. U.S. Bank Visa Platinum

U.S. Bank has entered the credit card market with branded cards that compete well on introductory rates. For its Visa Platinum card, the bank advertises a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers as well as purchases for 20 billing cycles, giving you more than a year and a half to get that old balance paid. 

The interest rate can rise anywhere from 14.74% to 24.74% after the introductory period. No annual fee is charged for the card. 

U.S. Bank backs its accounts with a full range of high-tech perks, including mobile pay, contactless payments and a digital wallet. Be aware that as of April 2022, the 20-month introductory rate is advertised as available “for a limited time.”

Is the Discover it Balance Transfer Card Right for You?

Discover it Balance Transfer is a solid choice if you’re eager to pay down high-interest credit card debt. With a generous rewards rate and a match in the first year, the card also keeps its value after the balance transfers have been paid down.  

Discover It Balance Transfer FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Discover It Balance Transfer Balance credit card.
  • How do the rotating quarters work?
    • For the 5% cash back rewards, the categories are set up on a rotating quarterly basis: January through March: Fitness clubs, gyms, and groceries; April through June: Target in-store and online, gas; July through September: PayPal purchases and restaurants; October through December: Digital wallets and Amazon purchases.
  • How can I redeem rewards?
  • How about gift card redemptions?
    • Rewards can also be redeemed in the form of gift cards with partner merchants. These are available in denominations from $5 to $200, and some partners sweeten the rewards with a bonus rate of up to 20%.
  • Do other Discover cards offer a balance transfer deal?
    • Yes, Discover it Cash Back has an introductory 15-month, 0% rate on balance transfers. This period begins on the date of your first transfer, not on account opening. The Discover it Chrome card has a similar intro rate on balance transfers, but both these alternative cards carry a different schedule and rate for rewards.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Discover. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Discover.

This article was republished on April 26, 2022. Information is accurate as of April 1, 2022.

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About the Author

​​A writer and editor with more than 100 book credits in the juvenile and young adult non-fiction format, Tom Streissguth has mastered the craft of explaining complex, difficult subjects clearly. His books have covered history, geography, economics, media and current affairs; he's also written biographies of historical figures for Lerner, Enslow, Facts on File, Greenhaven and other major educational publishers.

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