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Benefits of Discover it Cash Back and Balance Transfer Cards

Both cards offer rich ongoing rewards in popular categories, potentially lucrative sign-up bonuses and lengthy intro APR periods.
Nov. 1, 2019
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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The Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® Balance Transfer offer the same primary rewards benefits: a standout welcome offer and a high ongoing cash-back rate on popular spending categories that change every quarter (activation required).

Either card would pair nicely with a flat-rate cash-back credit card that earns a decent rewards rate on all purchases. The main difference is in the length of their introductory APR periods.

Here’s a list of the benefits these cards offer.

Discover it® Cash BackDiscover it® Balance Transfer
Annual fee: $0.Annual fee: $0.
Rewards: 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in spending per quarter) each quarter you activate. 1% back on everything else.Rewards: 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in spending per quarter) each quarter you activate. 1% back on everything else.
Intro APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.Intro APR: 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best cash-back credit cards

Spending rewards

1. Cash back in popular areas

The Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® Balance Transfer earn 5% back on rotating quarterly categories up to a maximum of $1,500 in purchases per quarter (requires activation); 1% after that. All other purchases earn 1%. Previous bonus categories have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and others.

Discover bonus rewards categories for 2019 and 2020
2019 categories2020 categories
Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)• Grocery stores.• Grocery stores.
• CVS.
• Walgreens.
Q2 (April 1 – June 30)• Gas stations.
• Uber and Lyft.
• Gas stations.
• Uber and Lyft.
• Wholesale clubs
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)• Restaurants.
• PayPal.
• Restaurants.
• PayPal.
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)• Amazon.com.
• Target (in store and online).
• Walmart.com.
• Amazon.com.
• Target.com.
• Walmart.com.

» MORE: Which 5% cash-back credit card should I choose?

2. Redemption flexibility

You can redeem your cash back in any amount whenever you like, and into any bank account you choose.

Other redemption options include gift cards, instant eCertificates, donations to charities, statement credit or Amazon.com purchases. (Gift cards and eCertificates do have a minimum redemption requirement of $20.)

» MORE: How to make the most of the Discover it® Cash Back 

Eye-catching introductory offers

3. A long 0% intro APR period

Both credit cards offer lengthy introductory APR promotions that can help you finance a large purchase or pay down debt.

The Discover it® Cash Back offers the longer interest-free window on purchases, while the Discover it® Balance Transfer offers the lengthier promotion on balance transfers.

  • Discover it® Cash Back: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.
  • Discover it® Balance Transfer: 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

4. A valuable sign-up bonus for new cardholders

Both cards offer a potentially lucrative sign-up bonus, depending on how much you spend. Discover describes the offer this way, for both products:

Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit card bonus offers

A considerate late-payment policy

5. No late fee the first time you pay late

You also won’t have to worry about a penalty APR raising your interest rate.

Light on fees

6. No foreign transaction fees

You won’t pay extra to use either card abroad. However, Discover’s international acceptance isn’t as widespread compared with Visa’s or Mastercard’s.

Consumer-friendly features and benefits

7. An account-freezing function

If you misplace your credit card, you can use Discover’s “Freeze it” feature to prevent new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers. Access the website or mobile app to turn the switch on or off. (Some recurring bills and other transactions may remain active.) If you need a new card, Discover offers free overnight shipping for replacement cards to any U.S. street address. Terms apply.

» MORE: Card lock: What it does, who offers it, how to use it

8. Social security number alerts

Discover monitors the web and your Experian credit report to protect you against identity theft. The issuer notifies you when your Social Security number is found on the dark web or if a new account is opened and listed in your credit report. You have to opt in to this feature.

9. Cash at CHECKOUT

This benefit can save you a trip to the ATM when you use your credit card at a qualifying register to get cash. You won’t pay a transaction fee, ATM fee or a bank fee, but your regular purchase APR will apply to the cash you request. You can get up to $120 per 24-hour period at certain stores.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best Discover credit cards

More about the cards

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