Discover balance transfer options: Two cards stand out, but come with risks

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In a Nutshell

Discover’s top balance transfer offers can be found on the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® chrome. Both cards offer solid introductory APR terms — for purchases and for balance transfers — that can help with paying off debt. But be careful of balancing your debt payments with new purchases on either of these cards, because it can lead to headaches down the road.
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Several of Discover’s credit cards offer an introductory balance transfer APR. But a couple of cards are better than the others if you need to pay down debt: the Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® chrome.

While the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® chrome cards are perhaps best known for their cash back rewards offers, each comes with an intro balance transfer offer for new cardholders that may help you save on interest while trying to pay off credit card debt.

Still, there are several risks to using rewards cards to pay down debt. Read on for our look at these cards’ offers, Discover’s other options and some tips on how to make a balance transfer work for you.



Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back is perhaps best known as a rewards card, but its balance transfer offer could carry value for many cardholders too.

This card offers a 0% introductory APR for 14 months for balance transfers (as well as purchases). After the intro period ends, you’ll see an ongoing variable purchase and balance transfer APR of 11.99% - 22.99%.

The introductory period on purchases starts when your account opens, but the introductory balance transfer period doesn’t begin until the day of your first transfer. Though the intro balance transfer offer applies only to transfers that post to your account by a certain date. You’ll pay an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer that posts to your account by that date. After the cutoff, the balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount of each transfer.

Once you pay off your debt, you might also find value in the Discover it® Cash Back’s rewards. The card offers 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating bonus categories that change every quarter. You must activate your categories every quarter to earn that bonus rate, and purchases earn 1% back once you hit the spending cap. All other purchases earn 1% back, too.

From our partner

Discover it® Cash Back

From cardholders in the last year

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Our take: Using the card’s intro balance transfer APR offer period to pay down debt can be a useful way to manage your payments — so long as you pay off your balance before that intro period expires.

We also like that the intro APR offers for purchases and balance transfers run for the same amount of time. While it’s not always a good idea to put new purchases on a card you’re using to pay off debt, it might sometimes be unavoidable. When the duration of the intro periods isn’t the same, it can be confusing to track different types of interest payments. Just be sure to make your first balance transfer close to the day your account opens — you could be in for a lot of headaches if you don’t.

Take a look at our review of the Discover it® Cash Back to learn more.

Discover it® chrome

Discover makes things easy — the Discover it® chrome card offers the same terms for the intro purchase and balance transfer APRs as the Discover it® Cash Back card: an introductory 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 14 months.

After the intro periods for purchases and balance transfers end, you’re looking at a variable APR of 11.99% - 22.99% for each.

The intro period on purchases is from the date of account opening. The intro period for balance transfers is from the date of the first transfer, as long as the transfer happens by a certain date. For each balance transfer, you’ll pay an intro fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer to your account before that date. After that, the balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount of each transfer.

With the Discover it® chrome card, you’ll earn an unlimited 2% back on purchases at gas stations and restaurants and 1% back on all other purchases. There are no rotating categories or activation requirements to contend with.

Our take: The balance transfer considerations for the Discover it® Cash Back also apply to the Discover it® chrome. After all, the intro offers are the same — you’ll get the same length of time to pay off your debt and will have to consider the same factors when it comes to matching the balance transfer and purchase intro APR periods.

From our partner

Discover it® chrome

From cardholders in the last year

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If you’re interested in differences between the cards, we recommend taking a look at our comparison of the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® chrome.

Other Discover balance transfer options

Discover has other credit cards that offer an introductory balance transfer APR, but not at 0%.

The Discover it® Miles card offers an introductory balance transfer APR of 10.99% for 14 months from the date of your first transfer, then a variable APR of 11.99% - 22.99% after that. You’ll pay an intro fee of 3% of the amount of each balance transfer that posts to your account by the cutoff date. After that, the balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount of each transfer.

With Discover it® Secured Credit Card, you’ll get an introductory balance transfer APR offer of 10.99% for 6 months from the date of your first transfer, then a variable APR of 22.99% afterward. You’ll pay an intro fee of 3% of the amount of each balance transfer that posts to your account by the cutoff date. After that, the balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount of each transfer.

These offers could save you money as you pay off debt as long as the intro rate is lower than the APR on your current cards — but we don’t recommend them as your first choice. If you want to do a balance transfer, look into available 0% intro APR offers before considering your other options.

Which Discover balance transfer offer is best for you?

If you’re interested in transferring your existing credit card balances to a new Discover card, we recommend choosing either the Discover it® Cash Back or Discover it® chrome. Both cards offer the same introductory balance transfer APR terms. And the variable balance transfer APR range — as well as the balance transfer fee — once the intro period is up is the same, too.

They’re similar enough, in fact, that it might be hard to choose one. In this case, we recommend picking the card with the cash back offer that interests you most. When you’re done paying off debt, it might be beneficial to have a card that matches your spending habits. You’ll just have to decide if the rotating bonus categories of the Discover it® Cash Back or the gas and restaurants rewards of the Discover it® chrome work better for you.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that using a card to earn rewards while you’re also using it for a balance transfer could create a lot of problems. While you’ll need some way to pay for expenses as you’re dealing with debt, using the same card for both can make complex processes even more complicated. Tracking different APRs, balances and intro periods isn’t easy, and your debt-paying plan is more likely to succeed if it’s as straightforward as possible.


About the author: Eric Freeman is a writer and editor at Credit Karma, specializing in credit cards and credit scores and reports. He strives to make personal finance relatable for readers and to ground c… Read more.