Review of the Discover it® Miles Credit Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Dec 18, 2017 | Updated Oct 09, 2018

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The Discover it® Miles is a simple, no-annual-fee travel credit card that offers 1.5 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 you will get a yearly in-flight WiFi credit. It’s also 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 3 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
Apply Now

Discover it® Miles

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 13.99%–24.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Exclusive Double Miles Offer: At the end of your first year-when other Miles cards charge an annual fee-Discover doubles all the Miles you’ve earned.*
  • No annual fee & unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases. 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 11.74%–23.74%.
  • 100 Miles = $1 value. Redeem Miles in any amount toward travel purchases on your statement. Or get cash as a direct deposit to your bank account.*
  • Discover pays you back for your in-flight Wi-Fi fees-up to $30 a year-with an automatic statement credit.*
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • Free overnight shipping of replacement cards to any U.S. street address at your request. And you’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.*
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply Now.” See complete Discover it® Miles details.

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.

For no annual fee you can earn 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase, without being limited to some spending categories. And since Discover will double your rewards after the first year, you’ll be getting 3 miles per dollar for that first year of usage, or the equivalent of 3% cash back.

You’ll get a 0% intro APR for purchases, making it easy to pay for large travel expenses over time, like a nice vacation. A $30 annual credit for in-flight WiFi is available, which should cover one or two trips depending on what airline you’re flying with.

There is a wealth of discounts available in the Discover Deals shopping portal, where you’ll find savings of 5%, 15%, or even 50%. Some basic perks and benefits are available as well, like shopping and travel protections and account management features.

That’s all pretty good for a travel card with no annual fee, especially because you can avoid interest and fees to make this card completely free to use. Even though it’s not very fancy, it should provide quite a bit of value for no cost.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Avoid using your miles to pay directly for purchases with the Pay With Miles program because you won’t earn any cash back when you pay with miles.
  • Pay for in-flight WiFi with your Discover card and you’ll get up to $30 in statement credits per year to offset the cost.
  • Use the Cash at Checkout feature to get cash with your Discover card when making purchases at participating merchants. Discover does not charge any extra interest or fees for this service, but the merchant may have its own limits and fees.
  • Use the 14-month 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.
  • Use the 14-month 10.99% intro balance transfer APR to transfer a balance away from a card with a higher rate onto this one. But take note that there are better balance transfer offers out there before doing so.
  • Explore the Discover Deals shopping portal to find some deep discounts at major retailers, both online and offline.
  • Read the Guide to Benefits that comes with your card to learn about all the benefits you have access to, like shopping and travel protections.
  • Take the Discover it Miles along with you outside the country because you won’t be charged any extra fees for foreign transactions.

The Rewards

You’ll earn 1.5 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 that year, so you would earn 3 miles per dollar — equal to 3% cash back.

Earning

  • 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase
  • Discounts of 5–50% through the Discover Deals shopping portal
  • Miles Match: your miles are doubled after the first year of use

You can earn an unlimited number of miles, and they will not expire as long as your account is open.

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

Additional discounts and miles are available through the Discover Deals online portal, which you can see after you log in to your account. Here, you’ll find specific deals being offered at specific retailers. Many are online-only, but not all. Some current examples are:

  • Target.com: Get $5 off an online purchase of $50 or more
  • Starbucks: Earn 10% Cashback Bonus in-store on up to $50 in total purchases
  • Avis: Enjoy up to 35% off base rates on select SUVs
  • Macy’s: Get 20% off or an extra 10% off select sale and clearance items
  • Wayfair.com: Get $50 off a sofa purchase of $500 or more online

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 cash back when you pay with rewards. Instead, pay with your Discover card as normal to earn cash back, 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

Discover offers a number of additional benefits to help you manage your account as well as shop and travel safely. Check the Guide to Benefits that comes with your card or your online account to learn the exact benefits available to you.

$30 In-Flight WiFi Statement Credit

Every year you’ll get up to $30 in statement credits to pay for in-flight WiFi costs. Just charge the purchase to your Discover card and a statement credit will be automatically issued.

Flight Accident Insurance

You and your family are automatically covered on airline flights, up to $500,000. You must purchase airline tickets using your Discover card to be covered by this benefit.

Auto Rental Insurance Damage Waiver

When you rent a vehicle with your Discover card this benefit provides coverage for collision damage. You must decline the car rental company’s insurance to be eligible for this benefit.

Free Access to One of Your FICO® Credit Scores

Easily keep track of your FICO credit score online, and get alerts if it changes. Discover will use the FICO Score 8 from your TransUnion credit report.

Many issuers today will offer free access to one of your FICO credit scores, but if you don’t have another way to check your TransUnion score this card is a good option for that.

Cash at Checkout

When shopping at participating locations, you can get cash back immediately by charging an additional amount over your purchase. There is no extra fee and this will be counted as part of your purchase, rather than as a cash advance.

You can get a maximum of $120 every 24 hours in this way, but individual stores will have their own cash back limits and in some cases they will charge a fee. Some examples are below.

Take note that you will not earn cash back rewards on any cash you get at checkout.

This is a great feature because it provides a way to get cash directly through your credit card without taking out a cash advance, which is pretty amazing if you’re familiar with the high interest rates that always accompany cash advances. Most credit card issuers other than Discover do not provide this option.

There are a few dozen participating stores, but they include:

ACME Dillons Dollar General Glenn’s Markets Kroger Meijer
Randall’s Sam’s Club Shop ‘n Save SuperValu Village Super Market Walmart

Although Safeway is listed as a participating merchant on Discover’s site, we were informed by Safeway that they no longer offer this cash at checkout service.

Here are some current cash back limits and fees:

Retailer Cash Back Limit Fee
Dillons $100 per purchase $3 for any amount over $100
Dollar General $40 per purchase $1.50
Kroger $100 per purchase $3 for any amount over $100
Meijer $50 per person, per day None
Sam’s Club $100 per purchase None
Walmart $100 per purchase None

Shopping Protections

Discover provides Price Protection when using this card, to reimburse you for the price difference if you find an item you bought being advertised for less.

Other Benefits

These are the most interesting benefits of the Discover it Miles card, but this list does not cover everything it offers. Read more about the benefits, and check the Guide to Benefits that comes with the card.

The Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Intro APR for Purchases Intro APR for Balance Transfers Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 0% for 14 Months 10.99% Variable for 14 months 13.99%–24.99% Variable 26.99% Variable None
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None $0 the first time; up to $37 after that Up to $37

This is a pretty affordable card to use, 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. You’ll get 0% APR for 14 months for purchases, but 10.99% APT for 14 months for balance transfers. Most cards will have the same offer for both.

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.

The extra perks and benefits are pretty basic, but be sure to take advantage of the $30 yearly credit for in-flight WiFi. And if you have an issue with a purchase or while on the road, Discover has a few benefits that could help out.

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.

Discover it® Miles
Apply Now

Discover it® Miles

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 13.99%–24.99% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Exclusive Double Miles Offer: At the end of your first year-when other Miles cards charge an annual fee-Discover doubles all the Miles you’ve earned.*
  • No annual fee & unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases. 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 11.74%–23.74%.
  • 100 Miles = $1 value. Redeem Miles in any amount toward travel purchases on your statement. Or get cash as a direct deposit to your bank account.*
  • Discover pays you back for your in-flight Wi-Fi fees-up to $30 a year-with an automatic statement credit.*
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • Free overnight shipping of replacement cards to any U.S. street address at your request. And you’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.*
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply Now.” See complete Discover it® Miles details.

Alternatives to the Discover it Miles Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards

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 that the VentureOne is more strict about how you can redeem your miles. The only redemption methods require you to either pay for past travel expenses or future travel expenses, so you are somewhat limited and out of luck if you don’t have any travel expenses to redeem for. The Miles card is more flexible, allowing you to redeem your rewards for travel expenses or directly into your bank account.

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 only offers some basic shopping and travel protections, so it can’t really compete overall compared to the Visa Signature benefits. But it does provide access to special offers at retailers through Discover Deals, which are comparable to or even better than the discounts you can get through Visa Signature. 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

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

For that price you’ll be able to earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, which is the equivalent of 2.5% cash back when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards, their shopping portal. 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 Rewards®. 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 50,000 points with the Sapphire Preferred for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, which comes to $625 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 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 almost $21,000.

The extra benefits are pretty similar between both cards, each one coming with some standard shopping and travel protections. Each card provides access to a shopping portal where you’ll find discounts at certain retailers, Discover Deals and Chase Ultimate Rewards, respectively.

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?

Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

The Barclays 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.

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 60,000 miles for spending $5,000 in the first 90 days, equivalent to $600 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.

Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express

Unlike the Discover it Miles, a general-use card offering 1.5 miles everywhere you shop, the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express (Review) is designed for spending with one particular merchant: Starwood Preferred Guest, including all the brands within it. That means it’s only suitable for people who travel somewhat often and like to stay at SPG locations, spending at least $1,000 per year at them.

The Starwood card provides up to 5 points per dollar at SPG properties, though most cardholders will earn 4 points per dollar. You can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, which could be worth at least $750 depending on how you redeem them. You’d have to spend $25,000 to earn $750 with the Discover it Miles during the first year, when Discover doubles the reward to 3 miles per dollar.

Those Starpoints have the potential to be very valuable and you can redeem them in a variety of different ways, like free night stays, getting your 5th night free, SPG Flights, and exclusive SPG Moments. We’ve found that you can earn the equivalent of up to 13% cash back with this card, depending on how you redeem your points. You can also transfer your points to frequent traveler programs, where you can get valuable deals of the equivalent of at least 8% cash back.

The Starwood card also has a lot of great benefits, like discounts and complimentary services when staying at hotels and resorts, and a fast track to upgraded Guest status which comes with even better perks. There are a variety of ways to use this card, and a lot of value to gain if you stay at SPG properties often.

The Discover it Miles has something different to offer because it’s made for all-around spending, rather than just with SPG. It also has no annual fee so you never need to worry about getting enough use out of it. If you don’t travel much and rarely stay at hotels or resorts, all the great features of the Starwood card won’t do you much good.

So check your spending habits: if you usually spend at least $1,000 per year at hotels and you could spend that time at SPG locations, the Starwood card could be a great addition to your wallet; otherwise, the Discover it Miles would probably be the right card.

Platinum Card from American Express

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. That’s the equivalent of 5% cash back.

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.

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
  • $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PRE✓®, available once every 4 years

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, complimentary WiFi, 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: Starwood Preferred Guest Gold 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, is 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 by leaving your own review of the Discover it Miles card, we’d love to hear from you!

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