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Review

Review of the Discover it® Miles Credit Card

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Dec 18, 2017 | Updated Jan 22, 2020
Our rating
Min. credit level: Good
Annual Fee: $0
Regular APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Discover it® Miles

Our rating
Good Min. credit level
Apply Now See Alternatives

The Discover it® Miles is a simple, no annual fee travel credit card that offers 1.5X miles per dollar for every purchase you make, no matter where you shop. That will be the equivalent of 1.5% cash back.

It doesn’t have a lot of extra perks and benefits, though it’s quite flexible compared to most travel cards because it provides the full value of 1 cent per mile no matter how you redeem your rewards.

Discover makes this card more rewarding by doubling the total number of miles you earn in the first year to 3X miles per dollar, or 3% cash back, a unique offer that will scale up to fit however much you spend. You can take advantage of the introductory 0% interest rate on purchases to help fund a trip, and you’ll find some basic shopping and travel protections too.

The Discover it Miles is a solid offer when it comes to travel cards with no annual fee. Read on to learn more and see what makes it so good.

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

Although the Discover it Miles card doesn’t have a lot of flashy features and a bevy of luxurious travel benefits, like some travel credit cards, it’s a good offer overall.

Why We Like It

  • 1.5X miles for every purchase
  • Double miles in your first year
  • A lengthy 0% introductory rate for purchases
  • Free FICO Score 8 from TransUnion
  • No annual fee

Why It Could Be Better

  • Limited benefits, no travel-specific perks
  • When redeeming for statement credits, redemptions must be for travel purchases within the past 180 days
  • Balance transfers don’t get a zero APR introductory offer

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • Use it everywhere, or combined with other cards: Use the Discover it Miles to earn the equivalent of 1.5% cash back (or 3% in the first year). If you have multiple cards, use this card whenever you won’t earn more rewards with a different card.
  • Deposit rewards into a bank account: Redeem your miles directly into a bank account for the simplest way to access your rewards. This will let you redeem them even if you don’t have any travel expenses to use them for.
  • Pay off expenses over time at zero interest: Use the 0% intro purchase APR to pay for purchases over time without worrying about interest. Be sure to pay the minimum payment every month or you could lose your intro rate.
  • Be aware of Discover availability abroad: Take the Discover it Miles along with you outside the country because you won’t be charged any extra fees for foreign transactions. But take note that Discover has limited acceptance outside the U.S., especially in Canada and Europe.

The Rewards

You’ll earn 1.5X miles per dollar for every purchase, which is the equivalent of 1.5% cash back.

After your first year of card use Discover will double the cash back you earned, so you would earn 3X miles per dollar in that first year— equal to 3% cash back.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Miles Match: New cardmembers get double miles in the first year (awarded after the first year)

You can earn an unlimited number of miles, and they won’t expire as long as your account is open.

The regular rate of 1.5X miles per dollar is pretty good but Discover will double the miles you earn after one year, meaning you’ll effectively be earning 3X miles per dollar for that first year. That’s a great deal!

Redeeming

You will always get a value of 1 cent per mile, no matter how you redeem. This is a great feature compared to many cards, where you’ll only get the best rate for one or two redemption methods.

Miles can be redeemed in three different ways:

  • By an electronic deposit into the bank account of your choice
  • By a statement credit to pay for eligible travel purchases within the past 180 days
  • By using Pay With Miles at select merchants like Amazon.com (an option will automatically appear where eligible)

The simplest method would be to designate a bank account, and have the rewards redeemed directly into it on a periodic basis. This is a nice feature to have on a travel credit card, because it means you can access your rewards even if you don’t happen to have any travel expenses in a given year.

We recommend that you avoid the Pay With Miles option because you won’t earn any miles when you pay with rewards. Instead, pay with your Discover card as normal to earn miles, and then redeem your miles with a different method.

You can also redeem your miles for statement credits to pay for past travel purchases, which will reduce the balance of your account. To do so, log in to your account, click “Redeem Miles,” then click “Travel Credit,” and then select the travel purchases you want to pay for.

Eligible travel purchases include:

hotel rooms commercial airline tickets car rentals
taxis and limousines cruises some vacation packages
passenger railways local and suburban commuter transportation charter tours, bus lines

The Benefits

  • FICO Credit Scorecard: Access your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Cash at Checkout: At eligible retailers you can get cash at checkout, a handy way to get some money without going to an ATM. The extra cash will be counted as part of your purchase.
  • Refer a Friend bonus: Earn a $50 statement credit bonus for every friend you refer who’s approved, up to 10 friends per year. If your friend makes a purchase within three months of opening the account, he or she will earn a $50 bonus too.
  • $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee: If your card is lost or stolen, you are not liable for any fraudulent charges made to your account. Contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud.
  • Fraud Protection: Discover monitors your account around the clock for suspicious or unusual activity.
  • Free Social Security number alerts: Discover searches for your Social Security number on thousands of risky sites and will alert you if your information was compromised.
  • New account alerts: Get notified of credit inquiries and new accounts on your Experian credit report.

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
0% for 14 months, then 13.49% - 24.49% Variable 10.99% for 14 months, then 13.49% - 24.49% Variable 26.49% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 None
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)* None
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None $0 the first time; up to $39 after that Up to $39

This is a pretty affordable card, with no annual fee to worry about. It can be completely free to use as long as you avoid interest and fees by always paying off your balance in full each billing cycle.

Take note that the introductory offers for purchases and balance transfers are different with this card. Most cards will have the same offer for both, but here you only get zero interest for purchases.

The Discover it Miles has no foreign transaction fee, which is a great feature to have on travel credit cards. This means you can bring it with you anywhere in the world and you won’t have to worry about an extra charge, as long as Discover is accepted.

The Bottom Line

The Discover it® Miles is a contender if you’re looking for a simple credit card that will reward you for traveling. While not the most rewarding card for travelers, its simplicity can be attractive to some.

It’s a general-use travel card, offering its 1.5 miles per dollar for every purchase you make no matter what type. This means you can earn miles at a pretty fast rate, especially because Discover will double the total miles you earn after your first year.

Overall, it’s not the most rewarding travel card but it has no annual fee, and Discover makes it easy to redeem your rewards either for travel expenses or otherwise. This means it’s a good option if you want to optimize your rewards with multiple cards because you can easily earn the equivalent of 1.5% cash back for every purchase with this card, making it good for any spending when you would otherwise only earn 1% cash back.

How to Apply for the Discover it Miles Credit Card

To apply for the Discover it Miles just click the Apply Now button below. You’ll be taken to Discover to apply, who will check your credit reports from the major credit reporting bureaus.

Good credit is required for this card.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number, U.S. citizenship status
  • Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
  • Financial information: Total annual income, monthly mortgage or rent payment
Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Alternatives to the Discover it Miles Credit Card

 

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.49% - 23.49% Variable

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards (Review) is similar to the Discover it miles in many ways, with no annual fee and offering 1.25 miles per dollar (the equivalent of 1.25% cash back).

The VentureOne comes with a 12-month 0% APR for purchases only, and not balance transfers. The Discover it Miles, by comparison, offers 14 months at 0% interest for both purchases and balance transfers.

An important difference between the Discover it Miles and the VentureOne Rewards is the redemption options. With the VentureOne, your best normal option is to redeem for past travel expenses, which will provide a value of 1 cent per mile. But Capital One also provides a set of airline partners to which you can transfer miles, and you can potentially find deals that give you more than 1 cent per mile.

The Miles card is more flexible in a way, allowing you to redeem your rewards at a value of 1 cent per mile for travel expenses, statement credits, or directly into your bank account. But it doesn’t have any airline or hotel partners to which you can transfer miles, so you’re limited to a maximum of 1 cent per mile.

The VentureOne has a signup bonus of 20,000 miles for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, which is pretty good among credit cards. That’s the equivalent of $200. To earn that much with the Discover it Miles during your first year, when Discover will double the rate to 3 miles per dollar, you’d need to spend $6,666.67.

The extra benefits for the VentureOne card are pretty good, particularly because it’s available at the Visa Signature level if you’re approved with a credit limit of at least $5,000. This will provide access to some great travel and shopping perks, like discounts and complimentary services at hotels through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, interesting experiences through the Fine Wine & Food service, and special offers at specific retailers. If you’re approved with a credit limit of less than $5,000 you will get a Visa Platinum version of the card, which only comes with basic benefits.

The Discover it Miles can’t compete with the Visa benefits. Neither of these cards has a foreign transaction fee, so you won’t need to worry about paying extra when outside the country.

These cards are alike in most ways. If you’re wondering between them, the main question to ask yourself would be if you want to earn miles at a slightly higher rate with the Discover it Miles, or get the better benefits with the Capital One VentureOne Rewards.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR17.49% - 24.49% Variable

The Chase Sapphire Preferred (Review) is one of the more popular travel credit cards, coming with a $95 annual fee.

For that price you’ll be able to earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2020) and 2X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases. That’s more rewarding than the Discover it Miles, but only for those travel and dining purchases. If travel and dining will be your primary expenses with the card, you’ll end up earning more with the Sapphire Preferred overall.

The Sapphire Preferred also allows you to transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to a variety of frequent traveler programs, like the British Airways Executive Club or Marriott Bonvoy. You’ll find a wide variety of offers when you do, but this is one of the best ways to use your points because you can often get the equivalent of upwards of 4%, 5%, or even 6% cash back. The Discover it Miles does not allow you to transfer rewards to other programs.

You’ll get a nice bonus of 60,000 points with the Sapphire Preferred for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. To earn that much with the Discover it Miles in your first year, when Discover will double your earnings to 3 miles per dollar, you’d need to spend $25,000.

The Sapphire Preferred has the definite edge on extra benefits, and also provides extra points at select retailers through the Shop Through Chase program.

Overall, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will cost more per year than the Discover it Miles, but you’ll be able to earn rewards at a higher rate for certain purchases and transfer them to more valuable frequent traveler programs. We’ve found that if you spend at least $10,000 per year, you’ll end up earning more with the Sapphire Preferred even after you deduct the annual fee. These cards are meant for different overall purposes — which would fit your lifestyle and spending habits better?

 

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$89, $0 first year
Regular APR18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% Variable
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is not currently available for new applicants.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (Review) is a bit like a more expensive version of the Discover it Miles, coming with an annual fee of $89 that’s waived the first year.

The Arrival Plus offers 2X miles per dollar for every purchase you make, which ends up being the equivalent of 2% cash back, beating the 1.5 miles (1.5% cash back) you’ll get with the Discover it Miles. You can also earn an introductory bonus of 70,000 miles for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days, equivalent to $700 when redeeming for travel.

With the Arrival Plus, you’ll need to redeem your miles to pay for travel expenses if you want to get the full value of 1 cent per mile. If you get a regular statement credit or redeem in a different way, you’ll only earn .5 cents per mile or less. The Discover it Miles has an advantage here because it always provides 1 cent per mile, no matter how you choose to redeem.

When it comes to the extra perks and benefits the Arrival Plus definitely takes the cake, coming with all the standard protections along with some others to help make your trips more relaxing and enjoyable. These include the Mastercard luxury concierge and travel services, which provides discounts and special offers on a variety of travel expenses, including credits for airfare and hotel rooms, upgrades, and complimentary services.

So, for the higher price of the Arrival Plus you will get a more valuable card, offering somewhat better rewards and benefits. But is it worth the price of the annual fee compared to the Discover it Miles? If you’re going to spend at least $4,450 per year you’ll be able to offset the annual fee, although you’ll want to spend more than that to actually get a positive expected value from this card. If you spent that much with the Discover it Miles you’d earn $66.75, and that would be all profit.

If that sounds like the kind of spending you typically do, the Arrival Plus could definitely be worth the cost. Keep in mind that this doesn’t factor in any of the other benefits, which can help you save money and have a better time when traveling.

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRN/A
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American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) is a luxury travel credit card, coming with an annual fee of $550 . For that price you would expect to get some great rewards and benefits, so the Discover it Miles can’t really compete. But if the Discover it Miles is on the low end of travel cards, it’s good to see what the high end looks like.

The Platinum card is designed for frequent travelers only, who will use it enough to make the fee worthwhile. That will require about $8,000 worth of spending per year, as you earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked through airlines or Amex, and 5 points per dollar on hotels booked through Amex.

You’ll be earning rewards at a pretty fast rate as long as you travel often enough, and those points can be transferred to a variety of frequent traveler programs where they might be even more valuable. The value of your points will vary quite a bit when you transfer them, depending on where and how you use them, but we’ve found that you can get the equivalent of at least 7% cash back when you transfer points (when earning at the 5X rate).

There are a host of benefits to take advantage of with the Platinum card, in particular the several credits you’ll get for various travel expenses:

  • $200 annual airline fee credit, good for expenses like checked bags and in-flight meals
  • $200 in yearly Uber credits, limited to $15 per month and $35 in December
  • Application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PRE✓

You’ll also have access to a wide variety of discounts and special offers at airlines and hotels, coming to an average value of $550 per year. These include perks like a daily breakfast for two, room upgrades, more convenient check-in and check-out times, and many other amenities.

Platinum cardholders get complimentary access to airport lounges all over the world, including Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges, and Priority Pass™ Select lounges. Up to two guests are allowed per visit.

Cardholders are also given upgraded member status at two major hotel brands: Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status. These provide even more benefits when staying at these particular hotels, like free nights, bonus points, and complimentary services.

This covers most of the valuable benefits with the Platinum card, but there are even more to be had. It’s head and shoulders above the Discover it Miles in just about every way, but remember that this card is only good for people who travel quite often — otherwise it will just be an expensive piece of plastic in your wallet. If you’re an infrequent traveler, the Discover it Miles, which you can use to earn rewards completely for free, may be the better option.

Looking for some more rewarding cards to take with you around the world? Check out our picks for the Best Travel Credit Cards.

Have you used the Discover it Miles credit card? How do you like it? Let us know by leaving a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

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