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Discover it® Miles review: The card for beginner travelers

The ideal card for people new to the world of travel benefits

 /  12 min
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Snapshot

4.1

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Discover it® Miles card is a flexible no-annual-fee travel card that offers a number of benefits that can help make traveling less expensive. However, frequent travelers seeking premium perks may not receive a ton of long-term value.

Best for first-year value
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
    5 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
    5 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

Discover Match®

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Offer valuation

Info

1.5X

Rewards rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

Discover it® Miles overview

The Discover it® Miles credit card stands apart from every other Discover card as the only travel card in the issuer’s portfolio. Yet, it still works remarkably similar to its cash back siblings. Rather than using your miles to book travel, you can redeem them for statement credits that can cover various travel purchases.

While the Discover it® Miles is a solid low-cost travel card option, its 1:1 value for all redemption options, including cash back, is what gives it a competitive edge over rival cards. If you want a backup plan for your rewards for when your future travel plans are uncertain, this card’s rewards program would be perfect for you.

However, frequent travelers may find that the Discover it® Miles’ streamlined structure can’t make up for the card’s lackluster travel perks.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • Unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • Discover Match®: All miles earned at the end of the first year are matched.

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Apr

    0% intro APR offer

    • 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 15 months
    • 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months
    • 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable ongoing APR

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • $0 annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • No penalty APR
    • No first late payment fee (none the first time you pay late; after that, up to $41).

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Online privacy protection
    • Miles never expire as long as account is in good standing

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

Discover it® Miles pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Because there is no annual fee, there's no cost to carry this card.

  • Checkmark

    It offers unlimited, flat-rate miles and remarkable redemption flexibility for travel purchases.

  • Checkmark

    You have the option to redeem miles for cash back at a 1:1 rate, so none of the reward’s value is lost.

Cons

  • You can’t transfer its reward miles to airline frequent-flier programs, which limits your travel redemption options.

  • The Discover credit card network has fewer international acceptance partners and perks compared to Visa and Mastercard.

  • The card lacks some travel benefits found on other no-annual-fee travel cards, like trip interruption insurance.

Why you might want the Discover it® Miles

While the best perks might come on cards with high annual fees, some competitive no-annual-fee cards like the Discover it® Miles carry a great deal of value beyond rewards earned through card spending.

Welcome offer: Limitless earning potential

Instead of a traditional sign-up bonus, Discover will match all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So cardholders who spend highly in their first year could potentially get more value out of this offer than with a traditional sign-up bonus. 

For instance, spending just over $13,000 by the end of your first year with your Discover it® Miles card would earn you about 20,000 bonus miles, worth at least $200 in rewards. Discover would match those miles, giving you a total of 40,000 miles in your first year, worth $400 in travel.

Rewards rates: Slow but steady earning rate

Given that the Discover it® Miles is a no-annual-fee travel card, its 1.5X bonus mile rate could be hard to beat if you’re sticking to flat-rate rewards. One of Discover it® Miles’ closest rivals is the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (See Rates & Fees), since it doesn’t have an annual fee, but it only earns a flat 1.25X miles. Although other flat-rate rewards cards earn at slightly higher rates, the Discover it® Miles stacks up pretty well as a middle-of-the-road option. 

Rates & fees: Card’s versatility comes with minimal cost

There's no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR and no first late payment fee (none the first time you pay late; after that, up to $41). You’ll also be able to keep interest at bay with a 15-month 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, which can be great if you’re planning a big trip you need extra time to pay off.

You won’t have to worry about the ongoing APR much either since the lower end is below the current average interest rate — clocking in at 18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable. This is a great deal considering comparable cards sometimes have these charges or higher rates.

Why you might want a different travel credit card

Unfortunately, the Discover it® Miles card’s versatility comes without much added benefits. Discover uses its own credit card network, so you won’t receive basic perks — like rental car damage insurance or travel and purchase protections — typically available to Visa and Mastercard members.

Perks: Slim beyond security features

Many of the Discover it® Miles’ benefits focus on card security. Discover it® Miles allows cardholders to opt into free online privacy protection. Approximately every 90 days, Discover searches 10 of the most popular people search sites for your personal information and submits opt-out requests on your behalf.

You're also protected if you ever lose your Discover it® Miles card. Freeze it® is a feature available within the Discover mobile app or online account. With Freeze it, you can lock your card account instantly with an on/off switch. No one is able to use your card unless you turn it back on, rendering it useless if stolen.

However, coveted travel perks like lost baggage or trip delay insurance won't be found on this card. 

Redemption: Consistent but not flexible

Rather than using your miles to book travel accommodations such as flights, hotels, vacation packages or rental cars, you use miles to reimburse yourself for travel purchases via statement credits.

According to Bankrate's latest valuations, Discover miles are worth roughly 1.0 cents apiece across all redemption options, including cash back. This is a great perk since it’s rare to find a travel card that lets you opt for non-travel redemptions without sacrificing point value. However, the Discover it® Miles card may not measure up to other cards that let you transfer points to partnering airlines or hotels to achieve a boosted point value (depending on the issuer and travel partner). The maximum point value you can expect with travel redemptions through Discover is 1.0 cents per mile.

How the Discover it® Miles card compares to other travel cards

The Discover it® Miles card is hard to beat when it comes to versatile and competitive flat-rate miles. However, even though it's accessible to newcomers with a good to excellent credit score (a FICO score of 670 or higher), this card’s major drawback is its lack of cardholder benefits. Other travel cards bring more value to the table, like travel and shopping protections, annual credits or upgrades that make traveling a bit smoother. 

Image of Discover it® Miles
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Discover Match®
Info

Rewards rate

1.5X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Bank of America's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

25,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1.5X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Info

Rewards rate

1x - 5x
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Discover it® Miles

The Discover it® Miles card is a great option, but other cards may offer ways to earn more rewards in specific spending categories or offer more flexible redemptions and better benefits. Pairing several cards together gives you more flexibility and allows you to enjoy the perks of each card.

Who is the Discover it® Miles right for?

This may not be the best card for experienced travelers, but for those starting out or who don’t travel often, this can be a great fit.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Discover it® Miles card worth it?

If you are considering getting your first travel card, then the Discover it® Miles card has the basics to get you started in the rewards scene. Its low rates and fees plus its 1:1 cash back redemption rate make it easy for people to learn the ropes of travel rewards without annual fees or a complicated rewards structure. However, its lack of travel perks might make it a no-go for jet setters and frequent flyers who prefer luxury travel.

How we rated this card

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We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently asked questions

Written by
India Davis
Editor, Credit Cards

India Davis is an editor specializing in credit cards and updates. She believes in putting the reader first and carrying out a brand’s voice to its fullest potential. She has lived and worked in three different countries and hopes to explore more of the world post-pandemic.

Edited by Editor II, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Former Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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