How to do a Discover balance transfer
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Struggling with a mountain of credit card debt? Is your credit card charging you 18 percent or even higher interest on your debt? This can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there is a way to pay off this debt without worrying about high interest rates: you can transfer it to a new credit card that offers 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for a limited time. Many credit cards offer 0 percent interest on transferred debt for 12 to 18 months, making it easier to pay off debt quicker.
After the introductory period ends, though, your new card’s interest rate will revert to its standard APR. If you fail to pay off this debt before the 0 percent offer ends, the amount you still owe will accrue interest at this regular APR.
You can choose from many credit card providers when looking for a balance transfer. Discover is one of your options, as this issuer offers 0 percent interest balance transfers on several of its cards.
So how do you make a balance transfer with a Discover credit card? Balance transfers take just a few quick steps to complete, whether you prefer to handle the process online or over the phone. Here’s what you need to know.
How to do a Discover balance transfer
Ready to transfer your balance? Here’s how:
How to do a balance transfer online
Step 1: If you’d like to do your Discover balance transfer online, log in to your Discover account. Look for the drop-down menu labeled “Manage” and select the “Balance Transfer” option.
Step 2: From there, depending on which Discover credit card you have and what special offers are currently associated with that card, you might be taken to a page that asks you to choose between two options for a balance transfer. Discover will try to estimate how much money you’ll save with each option, but make sure you use the “Customize savings calculations” button to determine which option would be better for the balance you plan to transfer to the card.
Step 3: Tell Discover where you’re transferring the balance from—have your credit card or loan account number ready—and how much you plan to transfer to your new card. Then, accept the terms and conditions to complete the balance transfer process.
How to do a balance transfer on the mobile app
If you’re using the Discover mobile app, the process is nearly identical. Select “Account” on the left-hand drop-down menu to locate the balance transfer link, then follow that link to review any special offers and complete your balance transfer.
How to do a balance transfer by phone
You can also complete a Discover balance transfer over the phone. Call the number on the back of your card and follow the steps provided by Discover customer service.
How long does it take to process a Discover balance transfer?
According to Discover, most balance transfers are processed between seven and 10 days. For any individual balance transfer, Discover cannot guarantee that it will be processed within that time frame, so yours might take longer—but the odds are that it’ll process in a week or so.
Discover also suggests checking back on the accounts you transferred balances from to ensure you don’t owe any additional interest that may have accrued between when you started the balance transfer process and when it was completed. It could take up to 30 days for that interest to appear in your credit card accounts, so keep track of those accounts and make sure you pay off any interest charges.
Which Discover cards are best for balance transfers?
The popular Discover it® Cash Back card offers 15 months of 0 percent interest on balance transfers and new purchases. Discover also offers a lower introductory 3 percent fee on balance transfers, after which the balance transfer fee will return to 5 percent on the amount you transfer. After the intro period ends, the standard APR shifts to a variable 13.49 percent to 24.49 percent (depending on your credit). This card also comes with a generous cash back program: You’ll earn 5 percent cash back when you spend in Discover’s rotating categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent; activation required). The card also offers 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
The Discover it® chrome card offers 0 percent interest on balance transfers and new purchases for 15 months. It, too, offers a balance transfer fee of 3 percent for a limited time, after which this fee will return to its standard 5 percent of the amount transferred. Once the intro period ends, the card will revert to its variable APR of 13.49 percent to 24.49 percent. This card provides 2 percent cash back on purchases you make at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent. It also earns 1 percent cash back on all other purchases, plus all cash back earned within the first 12 months will be matched.
Finally, the Discover it® Balance Transfer is perhaps the best of the lot, offering a 0 percent APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months of card ownership, after which a variable APR of 13.49 percent to 24.49 percent applies. In addition, you’ll earn the same great rewards rate offered by the Discover it Cash Back—5 percent back on rotating quarterly bonus categories, after activation, on up to $1,500 in qualifying purchases per quarter (then 1 percent back).
Can you transfer balances between Discover cards?
If you carry a balance on a Discover credit card, you can’t transfer it to another Discover card. Instead, if you’re looking to do a balance transfer, you must transfer this debt to a credit card offered by another issuer.
Is a Discover balance transfer worth it?
If you have a large credit card balance that you’re hoping to pay down, a balance transfer is a good way to make payments on that balance without paying interest. You can also transfer multiple balances from different cards. As long as you don’t go over your Discover card’s credit limit, you can keep transferring balances, consolidate your debt and get that debt paid off within the introductory period.
Some people wonder whether a balance transfer will affect their credit score. Balance transfers can hurt your credit score in two ways.
First, if you transfer a balance to a new card and close the old card, you’ll have both a higher credit utilization ratio (the amount of credit you’re using versus the amount of credit available to you) and a shorter age of credit. This could cause you to lose credit score points. However, you can transfer a balance to a new card and still keep the old card open (maybe don’t keep it in your wallet, though, if you’re tempted to keep spending on it).
Second, if you keep transferring the same balance from card to card without ever paying it off in full, you create what’s called a revolving balance. This can also lower your credit score. However, if you’ve been trying and failing to pay off a credit card balance for a while, you already have a revolving balance—so why not transfer it to a balance transfer card and get it paid off? Just make sure you pay it off before the interest-free grace period runs out, so you don’t have to transfer it to a second balance transfer card.
However, balance transfers can also improve your credit score. By opening a new balance transfer card, you increase the amount of credit available to you, which lowers your credit utilization ratio and could therefore raise your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio will continue to increase as you pay down your balance—and if you pay everything off and get out of credit card debt, your credit score may end up being higher than it’s ever been.
See related: Credit card balance transfer calculator