Updated March 1, 2017
Credit card debt is a burden weighing down the budgets of many Americans. If you’re motivated to unlock the shackles of consumer debt, then a balance transfer may be right for you. But finding the right one can be overwhelming. “Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer” is an excellent option for people with debt. You will have an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.
Key Credit Card Features
For people with credit card debt, the most important feature is the generous balance transfer offer. If you transfer debt from any other credit card company, you will pay a one-time fee of 3% of the amount transferred. But you will then pay no interest for 18 months. You could save hundreds of dollars (and potentially more) during the interest-free period. Just make sure you get your transfer completed as soon as the account is opened and that you make your monthly payments on time. 0% for 18 months is one of the best balance transfer credit cards on the market today.
In addition to charging no interest on balance transfers for 18 months, the card charges 0% interest on purchases during the first six months. You will be able to earn cash back on your purchases as well. However, we strongly recommend using a balance transfer credit cards only for balance transfers so that you can get out of debt faster.
Do You Need a Balance Transfer?
Most people who are paying down credit card are subjected to interest rates north of 15%. Reducing interest rates on debt with a balance transfer can slash both the time and money it takes to pay it all down.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, a balance transfer isn’t right for everyone.
How Do You Qualify For a Balance Transfer?
Banks will only offer balance transfers to people with good credit. Typically, the ideal candidate will have:
- Customers with a good credit score. Your score does not have to be perfect, but your chances are much better if your score is above 680.
- Your debt burden will be considered, and the lower the better. In our experience, it becomes difficult to be approved if your debt burden starts to go above 40%.
- Very few, if any, accounts that are currently delinquent
Note: Your debt burden is calculated by adding up your monthly fixed expenses and dividing that by your monthly income. The expenses should include your monthly rent or mortgage payment, auto payment, student loan payments and the monthly payment on any other credit cards or loans that appear on your credit bureau. If your total payments are more than 50%, you will likely be declined.
Also take into consideration why you’re in debt. Don’t get another credit card if you’re swipe happy and won’t be able to help but spend on the new credit card. A balance transfer credit card needs to go right into the metaphorical (or literal) freezer.
Is Discover It the Balance Transfer Right for You?
Discover It currently offers an introductory 0% APR balance transfer for 18 months. There is a 3% fee associated with this balance transfer, but the fee often pays for itself — depending on your balance.
If you were approved for a balance transfer of $5,000, a 3% fee would equal $150. That shouldn’t sound like a lot, because leaving $5,000 at a 17% interest rate (with a payment of $250 a month), you’d pay the bank $153.16 of interest in just four months.
The Discover It balance transfer would save you $741, including interest and fees.
Should the Discover It be Your First Balance Transfer Card?
While Discover It does offer a competitive balance transfer, there are other option out there.
With Chase Slate®, you can save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.
Citi Simplicity offers 0% with a 3% fee for 21 months, which also tops this Discover deal.
The higher the debt, the more attractive Discover’s balance transfer offer becomes.
Fine Print Alert: What to Watch Out For
If you do complete a balance transfer with Discover, make sure that you:
- Complete your balance transfer as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you can lose the offer.
- Continue to pay on your old credit card until you see that the balance transfer has been completed. It can take two to three weeks for the balance transfer to complete, and you don’t want to be hit with late fees on your old credit card while waiting for the transfer.
- You can only move debt to Discover from another bank. You cannot transfer debt between two credit cards with Discover.
- Make your payments on time, every month. They charge a late fee of up to $37, and a returned payment fee of up to $37. Discover does state they waive your first late payment fee on the Discover It card, but that isn’t a benefit you should plan on using.
How to Complete a Balance Transfer with Discover
We’ve created an entirely separate post featuring screenshots and explanations on how to complete a balance transfer with Discover. You can find it here.