Key takeaways

  • If you're looking for a new balance transfer card, the Discover it® Balance Transfer card should be on your list.
  • In addition to a long introductory APR offer on balance transfers, the card comes with rotating bonus categories that offer long-term value.
  • However, if you need a longer intro period for balance transfers or purchases — or if you don't want to keep track of activating quarterly bonus categories — a different balance transfer card may be a better choice for you.

For consumers looking to pay down existing debt while also earning rewards, the Discover it® Balance Transfer card is a solid choice. For no annual fee, you’ll get access to an introductory zero-interest offer on balance transfers, as well as a shorter offer on new purchases, while also earning cash back rewards on rotating categories.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the Discover it® Balance Transfer’s 18-month 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers (17.24% to 28.24% variable APR after the fact), it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons of this balance transfer card to determine if it’s a good fit for your spending style. Read on to learn whether or not the Discover it® Balance Transfer card is worth it for you.

When is the Discover it® Balance Transfer card worth it?

The Discover it® Balance Transfer credit card has a few benefits that can make it worth it for the average consumer looking to pay down debt. Here’s a look at the card’s top features, including its introductory APR offers, cash back rewards and a unique welcome bonus.

You need a long 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers

This Discover card offers one of the longer introductory balance transfer periods available — 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR between 17.24% to 28.24% — as well as a shorter 0 percent intro APR on new purchases for 6 months, followed by the same 17.24% to 28.24 percent variable APR.

For those looking to pay down existing balances over time while avoiding costly interest rates, this card is certainly worth it. Especially since there is no annual fee for owning the card, and the money you’ll save on interest can easily offset the card’s 3 percent balance transfer fee (up to 5 percent on future transfers; see terms).

What’s also notable about this card is that the variable APR (or the interest rate you’ll be charged after the introductory period ends) is quite reasonable compared to other balance transfer cards on the market. If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to pay off your balance within the first 18 months of opening the card, the lower variable APR could further pique your interest in this card.

A rotating cash back rewards structure excites you

The benefits of the Discover it® Balance Transfer extend beyond its introductory APR offers. With this card, you’ll receive 5 percent cash back, after activation, on rotating categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1 percent). You’ll also earn 1 percent cash back on all non-category purchases. This ensures the card will continue to bring value to you long after your debt is paid off.

Just be sure to activate your 5 percent category each quarter, or you’ll automatically earn 1 percent cash back for those purchases.

Your cash back rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways: electronic direct deposit to an eligible bank account, statement credits, gift cards, charitable donations or as a payment toward your Amazon.com or PayPal.com purchases.

You don’t want to be limited by your welcome bonus

The Discover it® Balance Transfer card offers a distinctive welcome offer for new cardholders. At the end of your first year, Discover will match all the rewards you earned throughout the year (also known as the Cashback Match™ program). So, if you rack up $150 in cash back rewards, Discover will award you an additional $150 in cash back, bringing you to a total of $300 in cash back rewards.

While other cash back welcome bonuses typically have a set limit on how much you can earn (and how much you need to spend to earn them), you’re in control with the Discover it® Balance Transfer card.

When is the Discover it® Balance Transfer card not worth it?

Overall, the Discover it® Balance Transfer may not be worth it if you need even more time to pay off debt, or if you aren’t positive you can complete your debt payoff within the 18-month window.

You need even more time to pay off debt

While 18 months is a very good offer, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, for example, provides a 0 percent intro APR for 21 months on qualifying balance transfers, followed by a variable APR of 18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99%. The catch is that you must initiate the balance transfer within your first 120 days of card ownership, or you lose the offer. There are also no additional rewards associated with this card (though this is often the case with balance transfer cards).

You prefer an intro APR on purchases

Further, the Discover it® Balance Transfer’s intro offer on purchases is incredibly short compared to other cards’ offerings. So, if you need help paying off an upcoming large purchase and aren’t looking to take advantage of the balance transfer offer, you may be better off with a different card. The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card* offers a fantastic introductory 0 percent APR on new purchases for 18 billing cycles, followed by a 19.74% to 29.74% variable APR. Again, you won’t earn any additional rewards with this card.

Rotating rewards structures aren’t your thing

Lastly, if tracking (and activating) rewards categories isn’t something you’re interested in doing, you’ll likely be better off in the long run with a flat-rate rewards card.

The no-annual-fee Citi Double Cash® Card, for example, offers an unlimited 1 percent cash back as you buy, plus another 1 percent back when you pay for your purchases (effectively making it a flat-rate 2 percent cash back card). This Citi card offers a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a comparatively higher variable APR of 19.24 percent to 29.24 percent. Note, the Citi Double Cash also doesn’t offer an introductory purchase APR whatsoever.

Should you get the Discover it® Balance Transfer card?

Overall, you should apply for the Discover it® Balance Transfer if you’re looking for long-term value, and you prioritize paying off debt over paying off a large purchase.

Further, while the card does offer a solid zero-interest period on balance transfers, if you’re uninterested in earning cash back rewards, you should opt for a card that has a slightly longer intro offer.

You might also consider whether or not you’ll need a longer introductory offer on new purchases, as well.

The bottom line

Overall, the Discover it® Balance Transfer card is one of the best balance transfer credit cards around. Not only does it offer a lengthy intro APR period on balance transfers, but it allows you to earn cash back rewards in rotating categories and provides a way to effectively double your first-year cash back earnings.

The information about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.