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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

Apply for Discover it cardThe 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

Apply for Discover it for StudentsDiscover’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

Apply for Discover it for Students
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.

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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.

Loading up your wallet for the long haul

For years, student credit cards earned bad reputations for locking college kids into high-APR, low credit line accounts with few added benefits. Discover it for Students, like many of today’s new-look student cards, offers an experience that more closely matches the kinds of cards for which you’ll qualify after a few solid years of professional work.

Your initial credit line may feel a little constrained, especially if you’ve been an authorized user on a relative’s or a partner’s account. However, you’ll have plenty of room to maximize your rewards by swiping your card and paying down your balance as if you were using a debit card.

With 1 percent cash back rebate on all purchases, you can start racking up rewards redeemable as statement credits or on Amazon.com. Quarterly promotions can boost your rebates to 5 percent on purchases up to the maximum quarterly spend in rotating categories, as long as you sign-up each quarter. Shopping online or booking travel plans through Discover’s web portal can earn you even bigger rebates.

A student card that doesn’t feel like bumper bowling

Discover has promoted its new flagship credit card as a revolution in customer service, going beyond the requirements of recent federal regulations into territory that might make you question whether a major bank’s really capable of “being nice.” Other student credit cards have experimented with benefits that expand over time, as a way to prove your worth to a potential long-term lender. Instead, the Discover it for Students card includes all of the card’s perks and privileges from day one.

This card assumes you’re capable of running your financial life, while making some concessions for occasional mistakes and hardships that affect us all. For example, Discover will waive your late payment penalty the first time you miss a minimum monthly payment. In addition, your APR won’t automatically spike to the higher penalty rate common on most credit card terms sheets.

Features that fit both student and post-grad lifestyles

At a point in your life when adventure can pop up anywhere, you want a credit card that can help you accomplish your goals. With no foreign transaction fees and a growing merchant presence in Asia and South America, Discover it for Students makes a great travel companion for both spring break and study abroad trips. The lack of an overlimit fee can also prevent you from crashing your budget if you spend a little more than you intended.

Even though a late payment won’t tank your account, Discover’s flexible payment options reduce the likelihood that you’ll miss a deadline. As long as you submit your payment by 11:59 P.M. Eastern time on your due date, you’ll avoid late payment fees and any potential damage to your credit report. Just watch out: getting this spoiled with customer service at this stage of your financial life can set you up for disappointment if you eventually start dealing with some of Discover’s competitors later on.

Discover also offers other variations of this card that may better suit your needs. Be sure to read these additional reviews:

Discover it for Students – with $20 cash back offer

Apply for the Discover it for StudentsThe Discover it® for Students with $20 cash back is a great way to get a taste of what credit card signup bonus are all about — without getting in over your head. After you make your first purchase using 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.

Discover it card

Apply for the Discover it cardThe 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

Apply for the Discover itThe Discover it® 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. Discover’s 18 month introductory 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.*

*Click the card name link to see rates, rewards and other information.

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Once upon a time, applying for a student credit card got you a cheesy T-shirt, or a hat, or a beer koozie. Often, that same card saddled you with a higher-than-average APR and a bare bones set of features compared to regular credit cards. Instead of spiking your finance charges, the folks behind the Discover it® for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus card want to set you up with 1 percent cash back and competitive finance charges. And, rather than stick you with a promo, they’re just going to give you twenty bucks.

Kicking off your cash back with a $20 balance

Although you can easily find an application for the regular Discover it for Students card, hunting for this special offer earns you a $20 bonus after you make your first purchase with your card within three months of approval. You’ll see your reward show up in your Cashback Bonus balance about eight weeks later. After that, you can cash it out as a statement credit, or pay with Cashback Bonus at Amazon.com, iTunes, and a handful of other major online retailers.

Very few student credit cards offer cash-back rewards. However, Discover helps you maximize your earnings with a 5 percent cash back on a series of promotional categories that rotate every three months. All you need to do is sign-up each quarter and you can start earning 5 percent cash back up to the quarterly maximum in purchases in the promotional categories. So far, scheduled promotions have included restaurants, home improvement stores, movie theaters, gas stations, department stores and online shopping. All of your other purchases rack up 1 percent cash back.

Get spoiled early in your financial life with few fees

Where other student credit cards, like offerings from Citi and Capital One, reward you for financial responsibility over time, Discover unloads its whole arsenal of perks and privileges on new cardholders from day one. With no annual fee, no overlimit fees, and no foreign transaction fee, the Discover it for Students card can shield your budget from unexpected expenses. In fact, Discover will even waive your late fee the first time you miss a minimum monthly payment. (Don’t let it happen again, okay?) It’s hard to find this set of privileges on a typical rewards credit card, let alone a student card.

The Discover it for Students card even has a narrower APR spread than its standard-issue sibling. Although its lowest variable rate is just two percentage points higher than the standard card’s, the student card’s maximum rate is actually a few points lower. Considering that you may want to hang on to this card for a while, you’re still getting a decent deal even if you get stuck at the high end of the rate spectrum.

Strong phone support from friendly voices

At a time in your life when you’re thinking about your career, it’s nice to do business with a company that’s made a public commitment to keeping jobs in the United States. When you call for help with any aspect of your Discover it for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus, you’ll have access to a customer service agent based in the United States. To keep that service available, Discover hires members of military families who answer your calls from their home offices.

And, as you’re figuring out how to use a credit card for the first time, you can call Discover’s agents for help with any aspect of your account. Discover set the bar very high for their competitors, and a card like this could help win your loyalty for decades to come.

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 Apply for the Discover it cardDiscover 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

The Discover it®Apply for Discover it® 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. Discover’s 18 month introductory 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.*

Discover it for Students

Discover’s made strong inroads into student borrowing over the past few years. Apply for Discover it for StudentsDiscover 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.

*Click card name link to see rates, rewards and other information.

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Barclays has enjoyed a long and storied history as a financial industry leader in the United Kingdom. While those of us in the United States often consider a financial company to be historied once it passes its centennial, Barclays was founded in 1690. As an organization, the bank is older than our country.

The brand made its entrance in the United States recently. During the collapse of the financial industry, Barclays acquired the remnants of the failed Lehman Brothers. The bank also primarily backed store-branded credit cards, like the Best Western Credit Card, until last year. The BarclayCard division of the company developed its own credit card products, such as the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard, which featured crowdsourced rewards. By using questionnaires and online voting, the cardholders can determine the card’s features.

Click here to open a Barclays Deposit Account

Barclays, like many financial services companies, has been under scrutiny. Last year, the company was fined $450 million for its involvement in the Libor scandal, allegedly manipulating how intrabank lending rates were determined, either to make a profit or to appear more financially secure than the company might have been.

Increasing its presence in the United States, Barclays is now focusing on its retail banking division, offering online savings and certificates of deposit. I opened a Barclays Online Savings account to see if the bank would be competitive with some of the best online savings accounts, like Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) and Ally Bank.

Applying for the account

The Barclays Online Savings account application requires the same type of information all banks in the United States require. The application conveniently asks up front whether you would like to create the account as a Payable on Death account, where you can designate a beneficiary. This will come in handy as it the option might be difficult to change later or you might forget.

The bank requires a Social Security Number and a street address in the United States. You will need to choose one security question from among three standard choices. If you ever need to call the bank for customer service, the representative will challenge you, asking you to answer your chosen security question with the answer you provide on the application.

As with all online banks, creating a new account requires an electronic link with an existing checking or savings account. Barclays ask for your external bank’s routing number and your account number. Within a few days, Barclays will initiate a test deposit. New customers must verify the amount of the test deposit in order to successfully use the external bank for depositing and withdrawing money to and from the Barclay’s account. The application notes that the bank will hold new customers’ initial deposits up to five business days.

The next step in the application is to agree to Barclay’s terms and conditions. The terms make it clear that for the first thirty days, Barclays will hold all deposits will be held for five business days before making the funds available for withdrawal. After that, ACH transfers will be available immediately (but keep in mind ACH transfers are usually processed overnight) while all other deposits are subject to a hold for five days.

In the terms, Barclays makes it clear that it is under no obligation to reduce fees for insufficient funds:

If we receive a withdrawal, transfer, electronic transaction, or other item drawn on your Account, and there are insufficient funds in your Account to pay the item, we will return the item unpaid and you may be charged an Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fee. We will process withdrawals, transfers or related requests received on the same day in the order we choose. You understand that we have no obligation to minimize the NSF fees charged as a result of having insufficient funds in the Account, and that the processing order we select may result in your incurring more fees than you would if we were to process the withdrawals, transfers or related requests in a different order.

This has been a significant problem with banks; Bank of America and several other banks recently settled a lawsuit that alleged they ordered withdrawals in such a way that the bank could maximize insufficient funds fees. The bank expects that including this clause in the terms would prevent customers from being able to successfully take action against the bank for the same shady practice. The good news is that the NSF fee is only $5 per item.

I discovered that actually taking the time to read the terms and conditions creates an online delay long enough for the application to time out, requiring the applicant to start from the beginning.

The final step is to verify your identity using questions taken from information on your credit report. This is a common method of identity verification used by the financial industry at large. If everything is as the bank expects, you’ll immediately be granted an account number and Barclays will begin processing your initial deposit from your funding bank.

Barclays Rates & Review

  • Savings
    Updated: 2012-05-25 13:01:01
  • APY

    0.90%
    Min to Earn APY: $0

Using the Barclays Online Savings account

Logging in to your account for the first time, the website will ask you to create a SafeKeys phrase. The bank will display this phrase and a selected image each time you access your account online. Also, you will need to provide answers to five security questions. These are different from the security question and answer created during the application process. Normally, you would need to answer one of these five questions every time you access your account online, but you can register your computer (or other device) to skip this part of the log-in process. That’s not recommended for security reasons.

The website interface won’t win any awards for innovation, but it gets the job done. All the necessary features are present. You can view a list of recent transactions in your account, transfer funds to and from your linked accounts, and sign up for remote deposit. You can read your statements online; Barclays does not send any statements via the mail.

Once my account is fully funded, I intend to test the speed of withdrawals. All other things being relatively equal, this is what I frequently see as the most annoying aspect of online bank accounts. For savings, you expect the money to be accessible when you need it; if it takes an unexpected long time for your linked bank to receive a withdrawal from the online bank, the funds held there are useless for small emergencies. (This is a good reason to consider a tiered emergency fund.

Interest rates and fees

Initially, Barclays is offering one of the top interest rates among online banks. This is a normal tactic for a bank that’s currently in a stage where it wants to generate deposits and new customers. Some banks offer competitive rates for a short time, enticing new customers, only to later lower the rates to be more like brick and mortar banks, while others hold onto their position among their competitors. Barclays is currently advertising that its rate are ten times the national average, and it will be interesting to see if that continues to be an enforced marketing message.

Online banks tend to be a commodity. Prospective customers generally shop on price, not on customer experience. Brick and mortar banks usually attract customers through customer service and location, but without a face, online banks are generally similar enough that customers may not always care about the identity of the company behind the account. Since price is an important factor, interest rates and fees tend to be important points for comparison.

I’ve already mentioned that the Barclays Online Savings account has a low insufficient funds fee of $5. There are no minimum balance requirements, and no monthly account fees just for the benefit of owning an account. You may be charged a small fee if you make over six withdrawals during a calendar month, but this comes from a government regulation for all savings accounts. There are no other fees with Barclays to speak of.

If you choose to open an account, or if you have had previous experiences with Barclays, please share your thoughts here. Continuing a conversation about the bank will help other readers decide whether the Barclays Online Savings account could be a great choice for a primary high-yield savings account.

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Discover it card Review

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Capital One 360 Logo

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