Discover balance transfer: A step-by-step guide

1

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

This page includes information about the Discover it® Balance Transfer product which is no longer offered by Discover. This page includes information about Discover products that are not currently available on bankrate.com and may be out of date.

Earlier this year, Discover had some of the best credit cards offering 0 percent interest for people who transferred a balance to them. For example, the Discover it® Balance Transfer offered an 18-month 0 percent intro APR window on balance transfers if you transferred your balance within a specific time frame after opening the account (followed by a variable APR of 13.49 percent to 24.49 percent).

Unfortunately, that offer—and many of Discover’s other 0 percent balance transfer offers—are no longer available as of December of 2020. That doesn’t mean, though, that Discover won’t bring these offers back. And if it does, transferring your existing credit card debt to a Discover card that comes with an introductory 0 percent APR on transfers might help you pay off this debt without worrying about accruing interest on it. The key is to pay off that debt before any 0 percent introductory offer expires.

But how do you make a balance transfer with Discover? 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 about balance transfers.

Which Discover cards are best for balance transfers?

If you already have the popular Discover it® Cash Back card, you might not be aware that it offers 14 months of 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers when you make a transfer before March 10, 2021. You do have to pay a 3 percent intro balance transfer fee and a fee of up to 5 percent on future balance transfers (see terms). After the intro period ended, the standard APR shifts to a variable 11.99 percent to 22.99 percent.

The only other card from Discover that currently comes with an intro APR on purchases is the Discover it® chrome. More notably, the Discover it Balance Transfer card is no longer available for new applications—though previously a favorite for a generous introductory period.

It’s worthwhile to keep an eye out for the return of the 0 percent intro offer, though. Even if the Discover it Cash Back or Discover it chrome cards don’t suit your needs, you might be able to score an introductory APR on another Discover card in the future.

Can you transfer balances between Discover cards?

If you are carrying a balance on a Discover credit card, you won’t be able to transfer that balance to another Discover credit card. Instead, you’ll want to transfer it to one of our other top balance transfer credit cards.

How to do a Discover balance transfer online

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.

From there, depending on which Discover credit card you have and what special offers are currently associated with that card, you might get taken to a page that asks you to choose between two options for 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.

Finally, all you need to do is 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 the card. Then accept the terms and conditions to complete the balance transfer process.

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.

You can also complete a Discover balance transfer over the phone. Simply 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 7 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 to check back on the accounts you transferred balances from, to make sure you don’t owe any additional interest that may have accrued between when you started the balance transfer process and when it completed. It could take 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 right away.

Is a 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 multiple cards. As long as you don’t go over your Discover card 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:

  1. 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 vs. the amount of credit available to you) and a shorter age of credit. This could cause you to lose credit score points.
  2. 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.)

Balance transfers can also improve your credit score. By opening a balance transfer card, you increase the amount of credit available to you, which lowers your credit utilization ratio and raises 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 before.

Be sure to check out our list of best balance transfer credit cards and read the rest of our experts’ balance transfer advice.

The information about the Discover it® Balance Transfer has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. This post contains references to our partners, and Bankrate may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on certain links posted on this website.