Key takeaways

  • The Discover it Miles is a great travel card for beginners thanks to its lack of annual fee and simple, flexible rewards.
  • The card also features Cashback Match where the issuer matches all the cash back you earn in the first year with the card after your first account anniversary.
  • At the same time, frequent travelers and those who travel internationally might find the card’s benefits and acceptance abroad lacking.

Earning an unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases, the Discover it® Miles is a great streamlined rewards card for occasional travelers. Since the card offers a 1:1 value for all redemption options, it still has the potential to bring value to cardholders in between travels.

That said, there are better cards for some people. If you travel often, you might miss out on better value and perks other cards can offer.

Read on to learn when the Discover it Miles is worth adding to your wallet — and when you might want to look into a different card.

When is the Discover it Miles worth it?

If you’re looking for a no-fuss way to earn and redeem your rewards for travel purchases or cash back, you might love the Discover it Miles. It offers flat-rate rewards on your spending, meaning you don’t have to keep track of bonus categories or go through activation each quarter to start earning rewards. There’s no cap on how much you can earn back, and your miles never expire. Plus, there’s no minimum amount of miles you can redeem. The card also has no annual fee, unlike many other cards in the travel category.

With that in mind, you might like this card if:

You want simple, flexible rewards

Earning rewards with the Discover it Miles is simple — you’ll rack up 1.5X miles for every purchase you make.The miles are worth 1 cent each, no matter how you redeem them.

Redemption options are flexible. You can redeem miles for cash back sent directly to your bank account, Amazon or PayPal purchases and even to cover your card’s minimum payment. You can also redeem for statement credits toward past travel purchases.

So, while the card is marketed as a travel card, the flat-rate rewards and redemption possibilities make it flexible enough to use as a standard cash back card. This is a good option for those who aren’t necessarily traveling often.

My friend who goes on road trips two to three times a year and stays at hotels asked me for a starter travel card recommendation. Since she didn’t want to pay annual fees, I suggested the Discover it Miles — exactly because of how simple it is.  For someone who’s not a frequent flier, this card can offer plenty of bang for their buck. Those new to the travel card space might also appreciate not having to think about maximizing the mile value. It’s always 1 cent apiece. You can always worry about the best transfer partners later when you feel ready for it.

— Ana StaplesLead Credit Cards Writer

You want a welcome bonus without a spend requirement

The Discover it Miles’ generous Cashback Match welcome bonus brings stress-free added value to cardholders during year one. All the miles you earn in the first year of opening your Discover it Miles card will be matched with no limit after the account’s first anniversary, even if you’ve redeemed a portion of them before the year is through.

If you earn 15,000 miles in the first year, for example, Discover will match that — meaning you’ll end the year with 30,000 miles (worth $300 in cash back). This welcome bonus is unique as it allows you to space out your spending over the course of a whole year as opposed to the span of a few months. There’s also no minimum spend requirement. You’ll earn the match regardless of how much you charge on the card.

You’re planning a trip or large purchase

With this Discover credit card, you’ll receive an introductory 0 percent APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. The ongoing variable APR after the introductory period is over is between 17.24 percent to 28.24 percent.

This perk is exceptionally beneficial to travelers looking to book a vacation they plan on paying off over a period of time. Because of the intro APR offer, you won’t have to worry about paying off interest accrued for travel expenses or balances you know won’t be paid off right away. If you’re planning on maximizing the Cashback Match, the zero-interest offer can be very helpful.

When is the Discover it Miles not worth it?

You often travel internationally

Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted outside of the United States when compared to other card issuers. If you’re planning on using the card for purchases around the globe, you may want to consider a card on the Visa or Mastercard network.

However, if you’re set on opening a Discover card and are planning travels abroad, you can at least rest easy knowing you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees (wherever the card is accepted).

You want to use a travel portal or transfer partners

As noted above, the Discover it Miles card allows you to redeem miles for statement credits toward past travel purchases — like hotel stays, flights and rental car purchases. But, unlike other major card issuers, Discover doesn’t have a travel portal where you could spend your miles directly.

In the same vein, Discover doesn’t offer a list of hotel or airline transfer partners, meaning you won’t be able to transfer miles to a partner program for a potentially higher value.

If you want flexible redemptions options and the ability to use an issuer’s portal or transfer partners, look into the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. The card earns 1.25X miles on all eligible purchases which you can redeem for travel through the Capital One portal at 1 cent per mile. You can potentially get even better value if you transfer your rewards to one of the Capital One transfer partners. Plus, you still have the option to use miles to get reimbursed for past travel purchases at a 1-cent-per-mile value. The card also doesn’t have an annual fee.

You want card perks

The low cost of ownership with this card is a plus, but it also means many common travel credit card benefits are lacking. There aren’t any travel protections like trip delay insurance, rental car coverage or special concierge services with your Discover it Miles. You also won’t get perks like annual statement credits, airport lounge access or other benefits common with more premium travel credit cards. That said, you’re also more likely to encounter annual fees with such cards.

Should you get the Discover it Miles?

The Discover it Miles card can definitely be a good card for travel, but it’s not necessarily suited for every traveler. Overall, the Discover it Miles will be most valuable for people who don’t travel very frequently or those who only plan on spending modestly for travel.

Because there’s no annual fee, cardholders won’t have to worry about losing money or offsetting a yearly fee. Also, because there’s a 1:1 value for all redemption options, you can use this card as you would a cash back credit card.

If you know you’re going to pay off a vacation over time, or carry a balance for your travel expenses, this card can definitely be a valuable choice.

At the same time, more frequent travelers could probably benefit more from opening a travel card with a higher rewards rate and the ability to transfer rewards to partner programs. Other cards may also offer better benefits and travel protections.

The bottom line

If you’re vying for a respectable yet decent entry-level travel card, the Discover it Miles card is worth a look. While the card isn’t the most luxurious travel credit card out there, it does have some pretty neat features, like the first-year miles matching, that make it great for someone starting out on their awards travel journey. On the other hand, frequent travelers and experienced rewards card users can find better value with a different card.