Discover it® Miles

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An excellent choice as a cash-back card. Skip the miles and take the cash!

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If you want a credit card used for earning travel awards, you can do better than Discover it® Miles. In that regard, this card is fairly unremarkable.

But as a card for earning cash-back, Discover it® Miles is tops with a rate of 1.5% back for every $1 spent. And, since it’s a Discover card, they’ll match your rewards at the end of the first year, effectively turning that 1.5% into a whopping 3% Year 1 rewards rate.

Review

The Discover it® Miles card is a cash-back credit card with identity issues. Although Discover calls it a travel credit card — and calls its rewards points as a travel card might —  it really behaves more like a cash-back card. The only real travel perk with this card is the ability to apply your reward earnings as a credit toward airline purchases.

You also get an interest-free period of 14 months on purchases, so if you’re going to splurge on a trip that includes pricey airline tickets, this card could save you some money. Discover it® Miles charges no foreign transaction fees, so it could be a good choice to use if heading abroad.

As a stand-alone cash-back card that charges no annual fee, the 1.5% is about average. The end-of-year match makes it a top choice among cash-back cards – at least during your first year of ownership. The only other card that pays 3% back the first year is the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card, but that has a $59 annual fee (waived the first year) and you have to be a member of Alliant Credit Union to be eligible.

Travelers who are big spenders and road warriors might be better off with a card that pays bigger rewards on travel. There are cards that pay as much as 3% to 5% back on travel purchases and come with other plush perks like hotel upgrades.

The best plan with this card is to skip the miles and take the cash.

Who should own this card

Ignore the fact that this card has “miles” in its title, Discover it® Miles performs best as a cash-back card. If you’re looking for a high return without having to pay an annual fee, you should consider this card.

Advantages
  • Cardholders receive unlimited 1.5% rewards back on every purchase.
  • At the end of the first year your account is open, Discover will automatically match all the miles earned, earning you 3x miles or cash back in total.
  • There’s a 0% introductory APR offer for 14 months on purchases.
  • Redeem rewards in any amount for cash-back or airline miles.
Disadvantages
  • As a travel card, there are other cards that offer better rewards.
  • You can transfer balances and pay a lower rate than your purchase APR, but many cards offer a 0% introductory balance transfer rate.
  • There’s a 3% balance transfer fee.

Fees and APR

  • This card charges no annual fee.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the United States.
  • On balance transfers, you’ll pay 10.99% APR for 14 months from the date of the first transfer. After the intro APR expires, you’ll pay a variable 13.74% to 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • On purchases, you’ll pay a 0% intro APR for 14 months from the date of account opening. After the intro APR expires,  you’ll pay a variable 13.74% to 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • See Rates & Fees

Extras, perks and using rewards

There is no minimum amount required for redemption, and there’s no fee to redeem points for cash or airline miles.

Miles redeemed for cash can be electronically deposited into a bank account of your choice, starting at one mile. Miles redeemed for cash are paid at the same rate as they are when you redeem them to reimburse travel purchases.

Redemption is available for travel purchases only if the purchase was made within the last 180 days.

Discover warns that purchases made using mobile wallets, like Apple Pay, may not be eligible for reimbursement.

How this card compares

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • New Offer: 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles

Balance Transfers Intro APR

N/A

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card includes some intriguing perks available to cardholders who have a banking relationship with Bank of America, but those extra goodies aren’t enough to make this a first-tier travel rewards credit card.

On the other hand, this is a good pick for any travel fan who wants to earn points, but doesn’t want to pay for the privilege.

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card
  • Earn 3% cash back in year one & 2.5% cash back after.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our 0% apr category page.

Credit Needed

Excellent

Regular APR

10.74% to 23.74% based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Annual Fee

$59, waived for the first year

Balance Transfers Intro APR

The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card pays 3% back during the first year of card ownership, then 2.5% thereafter. You have to be a credit union member to be eligible for the card.

Citi® Double Cash Card
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% - 25.24% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

15.24% - 25.24%* (Variable)

Annual Fee

$0*

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% for 18 months*

When it comes to rewards value, the Citi Double Cash Card ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards that charge no annual fee.

The card earns an unlimited 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay for those purchases. Big spenders may find this nets more cash-back overall as there’s no ceiling on what you can earn back.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

16.74% - 25.49% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Chase Freedom Unlimited is a solid, straightforward cash-back rewards card that’s ideal for cardholders who just don’t have the time or energy to track spending categories. It ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards we track.

There are other cards that offer better rewards, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash-back on everything is an excellent reward coming from a no-annual-fee credit card.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.