Choosing between the Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® Balance Transfer credit cards can be tough. Both cards feature the exact same rewards rates and sign-up bonus, so the main difference lies in their introductory APR periods.
Both cards offer a great option for balance transfers, depending on your budget and timeline. The Discover it Balance Transfer offers an introductory 18-month 0 percent APR on balance transfers while the Discover it Cash Back offers a 0 percent intro APR for 15 months (both have 12.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR thereafter).
The biggest difference between the two is the promotional APR for purchases. The Cash Back offers an introductory 0 percent APR for 15 months on purchases, while the Discover it Balance Transfer only has a six-month 0 percent APR on purchases (again, both cards have 12.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR after that).
Card comparison overview
|Features||Discover it Cash Back||Discover it Balance Transfer|
|Introductory APR||0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months||0 percent APR for 6 months on purchases and 18 months on balance transfers|
Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it Balance Transfer highlights
With the exact same rewards structures and Discover’s fantastic Cashback Match welcome offer, the Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Balance Transfer credit cards will have some fierce competition for a place in your wallet. Here’s a breakdown of the two cards:
Sign-up bonus winner: Tie
Both the Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Balance Transfer benefit from Discover’s Cashback Match offer. This means Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year with no limit. You don’t even have to worry about activating or requesting the match at the end of the year. Discover will add it to your account automatically.
Rewards rate winner: Tie
Both cards feature the same ongoing rewards rate. Each quarter, you’ll be able to activate rotating bonus categories that earn you 5 percent cash back up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 on purchases, then 1 percent.
These categories include things like groceries, restaurants, gas stations, gyms and online retailers. And thankfully Discover’s 2022 cash back calendar has already been released all at once. If you forget to activate or make purchases outside the rotating categories, you’ll earn 1 percent back on every purchase with no limit.
Annual fee winner: Tie
Even though both cards offer a decent rewards structure and reasonable APR offer transfers, there’s no annual fee. You can rack up rewards while saving money with no worries about an annual fee.
Balance transfer fee winner: Tie
Both credit cards come with a 3 percent intro balance transfer fee, with an up-to-5-percent fee on future balance transfers (see terms). The Discover it Balance Transfer could be a better choice for its longer introductory APR period for balance transfers.
Introductory APR period winner: It depends
If you have a balance on another card that you want to transfer, the Discover it Balance Transfer is the better option. Offering a 0 percent introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers (12.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR after that), this card will give you more time, compared to the 15 months on the Discover it Cash Back, to pay off your balance without paying interest. It’s easy to see why the Discover it Balance Transfer ranks as one of the best balance transfer credit cards.
However, if you’re looking for a card that will give you plenty of time to pay off a large purchase without paying interest, the Discover it Cash Back will work better. You’ll have a 15-month 0 percent introductory APR after you open your card (then 12.74 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR thereafter), a timeframe that blows away the six months on purchases offered with the Discover it Balance Transfer Card.
Which card earns the most?
The Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Balance Transfer both earn exceptional rewards for no-annual-fee credit cards. You can’t lose with either card because they have the exact same rewards rates and welcome bonuses. Using either card exclusively for at least the first full year will guarantee that you earn a big cash back bonus after your first year of card ownership.
Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it Balance Transfer
Let’s say you use your credit card for $3,000 in purchases each month. If you completely forget to activate the bonus category each quarter, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back on every purchase automatically. This sends you home with $360 in cash back, annually.
However, you’ll boost your rewards significantly if you activate and maximize your rotating bonus categories each quarter. Using the same $3,000 monthly spend (or $36,000 yearly), you’ll earn $300 in cash back annually from your 5 percent rotating bonus category spending (up to $1,500 on purchases per quarter, then 1 percent). That leaves $30,000 left in a year that earns 1 percent, giving you another $300 in cash back. That brings you to a total of $600 in cash back earned each year. Plus, with Discover’s first-year Cashback Match welcome offer, you could get double that.
Why you should get the Discover it Cash Back
The Discover it Cash Back is great if you want a low-cost rewards card with the option to earn big rewards on everyday spending. With no annual fee and a 0 percent introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, your cost to carry this card will be next to nothing, giving you ample time to rack up cash back rewards (as long as you’re willing to activate the bonus categories every quarter).
If needed, you can freeze your account from either the mobile app or website. Discover will also monitor your credit and provide credit score updates at no charge. If you ever have a problem or question with your account, you can chat with Discover’s U.S.-based customer support team.
You can redeem your cash back rewards as statement credits or an electronic deposit into a bank account. Or you can use them to make purchases at select merchants, donate to an eligible charity or redeem for gift cards (gift cards range from $5 to $200, in increments of $5).
Recommended credit score
The Discover it Cash Back requires a good to excellent credit score to qualify (between 670 and 850).
Why you should get the Discover it Balance Transfer
If you’re trying to knock out your credit card debt from a different high-interest credit card, the Discover it Balance Transfer can help you achieve that with its 0 percent introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers. This is among the longest intro APR periods for balance transfers. This means you’ll have plenty of time to pay your balance in full before you start accruing any interest.
Just like the Discover it Cash Back, you’ll be able to freeze your account from the mobile app or website and have access to free credit monitoring, FICO credit reports and Discover’s U.S.-based customer support team.
You can redeem your rewards for gift cards and eCertificates, statement credits, merchandise, an electronic deposit to a bank account or donate to select charities.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need either a good or excellent credit score (between 670 and 850) to qualify.
The bottom line
There is no clear-cut winner between the Discover it Balance Transfer and Cash Back Credit Cards. Instead, the better choice for you will depend on how you plan to use your card.
If you want to pay off your existing credit card debt with a balance transfer, the Discover it Balance Transfer will suit you best. But if you need to make a big purchase and pay it off over time, the Discover it Cash Back is a better choice.