The Discover it® card with an 18 month introductory balance transfer offer arrived on the market with heavy fanfare, including lots of television ads and billboards touting personal service and a new rebate structure that frees customers from most cash back traps. This card’s critics have pointed out that other lenders extend far more generous signup offers, dangling hundreds of dollars in bonus rewards for new customers. If you’re carrying no debt at all, those credit card deals might fit better for you. However, Discover’s 18 month balance transfer deal hits a sweet spot if you’re among the millions of Americans trying to shed an “average” credit card balance. Plus, free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement to help you stay on top of your credit.*
You could save hundreds of dollars with Discover’s balance transfer deal
According to TransUnion, the typical American consumer carries $4,878 in credit card debt. Down from $5,122 the year earlier, the figure shows that we’re making a little headway on our monthly balances, but not much. Using this figure and a 15 percent APR for our example, a $100 monthly payment will zero out your balance in about seven years, costing you $2,700 in finance charges along the way.
Instead, Discover’s deal includes a balance transfer fee of just 3 percent. Buckle down with Discover’s offer by making a $280 monthly payment and you’ll clear your $5,025 balance before the promotion expires. That’s like earning an extra $2,420 over eighteen months.
Even if you can only budget $100 each month toward your balance, you’ll still clear your debt within about four years, paying $1,077 in fees and finance charges. Either way, this deal could save you at least $1,600 if you get serious about your budget — a much bigger haul than sliding a few thousand rewards points into your virtual wallet.
Shifting gears from spending to saving
This deal bucks a trend where major credit card issuers separate their rewards cards from their balance transfer cards. Even though you can find similar balance transfer offers from Discover’s competitors, it’s rare to see this kind of opportunity extend to a card with a minimum 1 percent cash back rebate. That’s important, because if you pull off your “get out of debt” plan with a Discover it Card’s help, you’ll already be in position to start enjoying the benefits of a decent cash back program.
In addition to everyday rewards, you can sign up each quarter to participate in Discover’s quarterly promotions that can score up to 5 percent cash back up to the quarterly maximum spend in purchases on featured purchase categories. Booking travel and shopping through Discover’s online portal can earn you even more bonus rewards.
Can a credit card company ever really be nice?
That brings up one of the key messages this lender wants to project with the Discover it Card. Discover has consistently earned high ranks for customer loyalty and cardmember service from organizations like J.D. Power and Brand Keys. Instead of shipping call center jobs overseas, Discover has hired veterans and military family members to handle inbound phone calls from their home offices.
Furthermore, those customer service agents have received training on how to help callers get through tough life events, like job losses, illness and workplace injuries. Instead of shutting down accounts and imposing penalty rates, Discover has empowered team members to authorize hardship programs with lower rates, lower monthly payments and other forms of assistance.
Of course, they’re not just doing all this to be nice — Discover hopes that you’ll bring other business their way, through savings accounts, student loans and home loans. However, it’s refreshing to see a major lender ditch penalty fees and adjust its approach to add-on services in favor of offering products that can help us manage our financial lives much more effectively.
Discover also offers other variations of this card that may better suit your needs. Be sure to read these additional reviews:
Discover it card
The Discover it® card makes a habit of saying no. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no overlimit fee, no APR hike for a late payment, and in fact, no late fee on your first late payment. Discover’s latest incarnation of cash back cards aims to simplify the relationship between cardholder and card issuer into one of easy cooperation. Plus, free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement to help you stay on top of your credit.*
Discover it for Students
Discover’s made strong inroads into student borrowing over the past few years. Discover it® for Students represents the bank’s latest foray onto college campuses, with pricing and features that resemble full-featured credit cards more than the typically watered-down student accounts on the market.
Discover it for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus
The Discover it® for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus is a great way to get a taste of what credit card signup bonus are all about — without getting in over your head. After making your first purchase on your new Card within three months of approval you’ll receive a promotional award of $20; that’s in addition to the cash back bonus you’ll earn on all purchases.
*Click the link on the card name or click the card art to see rates, rewards and other information.
Updated August 9, 2014 and originally published June 1, 2013. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.