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Discover it® Balance Transfer: review

If you’re in the market for a balance transfer credit card that offers a long introductory APR period and charges no annual fee, you’ll typically have to sacrifice extras like rewards programs, cardholder perks and sign-up bonuses.

But that’s what makes the Discover it® Balance Transfer card such a game-changer. This card offers the best of both worlds, giving you not only an impressive 18 months to pay off a transferred balance without accruing any interest but also a generous cash back program and unique first-year promotion that matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Pros & Cons


  • No annual fee, foreign transaction fees, penalty APR or fee on your first late payment (then up to $40)
  • Intro APR period
  • Bonus categories
  • 5 percent cash back after activation on rotating categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1 percent), 1 percent for all other purchases
  • All cash back earned within your first 12 months will be matched, essentially doubling your first-year rewards


  • Requires good/excellent credit
  • The intro purchase APR is short for a balance transfer card, which works against this card’s rewards spending advantage
  • Barebones features outside rewards (which isn’t uncommon for balance transfer cards)
  • The rotating category rewards program requires tracking quarterly activation periods and spending limits

Rates, fees & offers

  • Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Rewards rate: 1% – 5%
  • Bonus offer: Automatic Cashback Match: All cash back earned in the first 12 months will be matched
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months
  • Ongoing APR
    APR: 11.99% – 22.99%  Variable APR
    Penalty APR: None
    Cash Advance APR: 24.99%, Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers
  • Foreign transaction fee: None


Lengthy balance transfer period

The biggest feature distinguishing the Discover it Balance Transfer card from other balance transfer rewards cards is its balance transfer promotion. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another rewards card that gives you so much time – a full year and six months – to pay off your transferred balance at a 0% intro APR before the card’s standard rate of 11.99% to 22.99%  variable kicks in.

Most competitors with similar promotions don’t offer any kind of rewards program and so they typically aren’t useful after you’ve finished paying off your debt. Most people just stow their plain vanilla balance transfer cards away in a drawer until they pay off the transferred balance and then either cancel them or let them linger in their wallets.

Affordable balance transfer fee

The Discover it Balance Transfer card also gets high marks for its intro balance transfer fee, which is on the low end for a balance transfer card. You’ll pay an intro balance transfer fee of 3% (or up to 5% on future transfers; see terms), which is tacked on to your total balance and subject to the same intro APR.

Many competitors charge higher fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars in extra charges. Plus, the few cards that come with this perk typically don’t offer any rewards either.

Cash back program

One of the best-known 5% cash back bonus cards, the Discover it Balance Transfer card offers terrific variety and flexibility via its quarterly rotating categories. Upon activation, you’ll earn a whopping 5% back on purchases in rotating categories like grocery stores and gas stations based on Discover’s cash back calendar (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1% back), making this a great card to have on hand for both everyday errands and seasonal extras. You’ll also earn 1% back on general purchases.

To maximize your earnings, you’ll also need to plan ahead and shift your spending to correspond with the quarterly bonuses. For example, you may decide to delay certain purchases until they earn more cash back.

How to request this card

Applying for a credit card is very simple and you can do it through the app or website. But you need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Gross income
  • Employer name (if applicable)
  • Rent/mortgage amount

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