Best Discover balance transfer cards

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In a Nutshell

If you’re in the market for a balance transfer credit card, it’s important to be in tune with what’s going to work best for you. Two Discover cards with balance transfer offers — the Discover it® Cash Back card and the Discover it® Balance Transfer card — have key differences to pay attention to.

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Are you ultra organized and ready to maximize rewards? Just trying to make a little cash back from your purchases? We’ll dig into two Discover offers that may be a good fit for you if you’re looking to pay down debt.

Both of these cards have potential, but you’ll only love them if you know the best way to use them. The first step is understanding your plan to pay down your debt, and which rewards and perks will serve you best in the long run.


Discover it® Cash Back card

Who’s it for?

The Discover it® Cash Back card is really a rewards card that happens to come with a decent balance transfer offer. You’ll get a big cash back return on some of your purchases, with one catch: You’ll have to sign up for quarterly reward activations.

Learn more about Discover’s quarterly cash back categories

Why we like it

If you’re looking for cash back perks with your balance transfer card, the Discover it® Cash Back card has them. But as far as balance transfer offers go, this one is average.

  • Long introductory APR offer of 0% for balance transfers (and purchases), for 14 months beginning from the date of the first transfer (from account opening for purchases).
  • After that, you’ll be charged a variable APR of 13.74% to 24.74% on both transferred balances and purchases.
  • Your balance transfers have to post to your account by a certain day to qualify for the intro APR offer for balance transfers (the current offer date is December 10, 2018).
  • Note that you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee of 3%.

But if you want cash back perks with your balance transfer card, the Discover it® Cash Back card won’t disappoint. Want double your cash back? Discover will do that for you. They’ll match every dollar of cash back you earn at the end of the first year (12 consecutive billing periods) you have the card.

This card offers 5% cash back on activated rotating categories, on up to $1,500 every quarter. For anything outside of those qualifying purchases, you’ll get 1% cash back.

Watch out for

The Discover it® Cash Back card might not be the right fit for you if you don’t want to deal with the periodic category activation. If you’d rather earn flat-rate cash back rewards, you might like the Citi® Double Cash Card instead, though it’s also pretty standard when it comes to balance transfer offerings. But if you’re strictly looking for a balance transfer card, other cards offer longer intro APRs.

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How to use it

Consolidate and pay off credit card debt within the intro period, and don’t forget to activate the cash back categories every quarter. Just make sure you pay off your card in full and on time every month so that what you earn from cash back isn’t wiped out by interest charges.

Discover it® Balance Transfer card

Who’s it for?

The Discover it® Balance Transfer card is a great choice if you want a card with a longer balance transfer offer plus a cash back incentive to keep it in your wallet long after your balance is paid down.

Why we like it

The Discover it® Balance Transfer card shares many of its features with the Discover it® Cash Back card, with the same cash back matching and earning potential in quarterly categories.

But it offers an even longer balance transfer intro period than the Discover it® Cash Back card.

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months beginning from the date of the first transfer (but only six months for purchases, beginning from account opening).
  • After that, you’ll be charged a standard variable APR of 13.74% to 24.74% for both balance transfers and purchases.
  • Balance transfers have to post to your account by a certain day (currently December 10, 2018) to qualify for the intro balance transfer APR.
  • You’ll pay the same 3% balance transfer fee as with the Discover it® Cash Back card.

Watch out for

If you transfer credit card debt to the Discover it® Balance Transfer card and then use it for any new purchases outside of the six-month intro purchase APR window, those purchases will be charged interest — unless you pay the entire balance by the due date.

Only paying the entire balance — including the one you transferred — will keep you from paying interest on those new purchases.

Read more: What to watch out for with intro balance transfer offers

How to use it

If you do transfer credit card debt to the Discover it® Balance Transfer card, make sure you pay off any purchases while the intro purchase APR still applies. If you don’t, you’ll wind up paying more interest than you planned.


Bottom line

The most important factor in choosing a balance transfer card is knowing why you want one in the first place, and what you plan to do with it after that balance has been paid off.

Make sure you go in with a plan for paying off the debt you’re transferring, and don’t count on swiping your card for any new purchases — not only does this just add to your debt, but you could find yourself in a situation where you’re paying interest you didn’t expect.

Weigh the fees, perks and bonuses of each card to see which is best for you, and you’re likelier to enjoy the benefits of your Discover card long after your balance transfer has been paid.


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