Fees and Interest Rates
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 Citi® and American Express National Bank, Member FDIC, to lessen their introductory periods or eliminate good balance transfer offers altogether.
Citi has since reinstated its introductory balance transfer period of 0% APR for 21 months, followed by rates of , on its Citi Simplicity® Card, but American Express National Bank isn’t offering 0% APR balance transfers on its credit cards at this time.
The Discover it Balance Transfer card is an excellent way to reduce high-interest debt. For 15 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. After 15 months, the rates increase to which allows you a good period to pay off your existing debt.
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 also a cash-back match offer in the first year.
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 your 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 website and on monthly statements.
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.
Another perk is the year-end summary of spending that is provided to 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.
With a 0% rate on balance transfers, full payments go straight to the principal for the first 15 months. After that period, the interest rate on any outstanding transfer balance runs from APR.
There are a few caveats on balance transfers with the Discover it Balance Transfer card. The account must be open for 14 days before Discover will process a balance transfer. Discover also levies a 3% fee on each balance transfer transaction during the introductory period and 5% thereafter.
It’s not common for balance transfer cards to offer a rewards program because 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. At the 5% cash-back rate, which applies to quarterly categories you activate, you can earn up to $75 per quarter. After the $75 limit is reached, there are still rewards to be had at the modest rate of 1% — also matched by the issuer. At the 1% cash-back rate, you can earn unlimited rewards.
The rewards don’t expire and can be redeemed at any time.
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 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 October 2022. After this term, the balance transfer fee goes to 5%.
There’s an introductory APR of 0% on the first 15 months of purchases, and an APR afterward ranging from which is 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 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 $41 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.
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 up that rate if a balance transfer is not made within an introductory window, which is usually the first two to three months. Discover’s balance transfer fee increases from 3% to 5% for transfers made after Oct. 10, 2022.
Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Competitor Cards
Credit card users who sign up for a good balance transfer program can potentially save a lot of money. 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
This card offers an 18-month introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers, followed by rates of . 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 , 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. Bank of America BankAmericard
While BankAmericard® lacks the rewards or the first-year match that make the Discover it Balance Transfer card appealing, it does have an 21-month introductory APR of 0% and extends that rate to purchases as well as balance transfers made within the first 60 days. Once the introductory period is over, the interest resets to which is a bit higher than the starting APR of Discover’s.
BankAmericard also doesn’t have an annual fee or a penalty APR.
Discover it Balance Transfer vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card does set the same 0% rate on purchases for 15 months as Discover does. After the introductory period, this Chase card’s rates are and the card also offers 5% rewards on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®. The rewards are set at 3% for dining and drugstore purchases, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% for all other 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 interest rate that kicks in after the introductory period is higher than Discover’s, between . 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 Wells Fargo Reflect card 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 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 July 2022, the 20-month introductory rate is advertised as available “for a limited time.”
Final Take: 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 an ongoing generous rewards rate and a cash-back match in the first year, the card also keeps its value after the balance transfers have been paid down.
Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
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.
Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of July 26, 2022.
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