Guide to Discover it® Miles: Earning, redeeming, transferring

1
Carl Smith / Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

Discover offers a broad range of rewards credit cards that let you rack up points for travel, cash back and more. Their cards don’t charge an annual fee, nor do they charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made abroad. Discover even offers credit cards that help consumers build credit, including their award-winning secured credit card that offers cash back rewards.

The Discover it® Miles is the issuer’s travel rewards product. It doesn’t come with as many rewards or perks as other travel rewards programs, but Discover’s easy-to-use, flat-rate miles system offers its own advantages—and if you turn your miles into cash back rewards, the advantages get even better.

What Discover miles are and what they’re worth

The Discover it Miles program is extremely flexible, considering there are several ways you can redeem points. In summary, you can redeem your rewards for any type of travel you want, then you just cash in your miles to cover the purchase after the fact.

Discover miles that you earn with the card are worth 1 cent each. This means if you rack up 10,000 in Discover miles, you can redeem them for $100 in travel purchases.

Credit cards that offer Discover miles

The only Discover credit card that gets you access to Discover’s miles program is the Discover it Miles card.

There are quite a few Discover rewards credit cards, all of which are geared toward different types of consumers. Although the issuer offers a number of cash back rewards cards, including the Discover it® Cash Back card, the Discover it® chrome card and the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, Discover doesn’t let cardholders choose from a selection of travel reward cards.

If you want miles, you need to apply for the Discover it Miles card.

Discover it® Miles

Rewards Key features Annual fee
  • 1.5X miles on general purchases
  • Matches the rewards that you earn at the end of the first year
  • Unlimited miles, with no expiration or blackout dates
  • Redemption value of 1 cent per mile
  • No foreign transaction fees
$0

How to earn Discover miles

The Discover it Miles earns you 1.5 miles for each dollar you spend. Your miles never expire, and you can redeem them for travel purchases charged to your account or for statement credits or cash back in your bank account.

Unlike other travel rewards credit cards, you won’t get extra rewards for travel-related purchases. But some of those cards limit the amount of high-level rewards you can earn. Hit the limit, and future purchases will earn a significantly lower reward rate. The Discover it Miles card doesn’t offer levels or limits. Instead, you get the same 1.5X miles rate no matter what you buy.

The real advantage of the Discover it Miles card is the Discover Match program. Any miles you earn during your first year as a cardholder will be matched—that is, doubled at the end of the year.

If you put $2,000 on your Discover it Miles card every month, for example, that gets you 3,000 miles per month or 36,000 miles per year. At the end of your first year, Discover will match that 36,000, bringing the total miles earned to 72,000.

How to redeem Discover miles

When it comes time to redeem your Discover rewards, you’ll find three redemption options available to you. The redemption value stays consistent at 1 cent apiece no matter which option you choose.

Redeem for travel purchases

This is another way in which the Discover it Miles program is different from other travel rewards programs. Instead of using your miles to book travel through a designated rewards portal, you can book travel with any retailer of your choice. Then you can pay off the cost of your travel by turning your miles into statement credits for travel purchases made within the last 180 days.

Discover’s definition of travel is rather broad and offers a lot of flexibility. Eligible purchases include airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, travel website bookings, travel agents, commuter transit and gas stations.

Cash back

Alternatively, you can get cash back deposited in your bank account at any time. This option lets you redeem your miles however you want, whether you prefer to use rewards to cover regular spending and bills or to save them up for travel or some type of splurge.

Pay with rewards

You can also use your rewards to pay for purchases directly on Amazon.com or for things you buy using PayPal. Make sure your Discover it Miles card is linked to your accounts, and you’ll be able to redeem miles at the checkout.

The redemption value of this method is also 1 cent apiece, but sometimes you’ll find special promotions for Discover cardholders on Amazon—for example, you may get an offer to get 20 percent off for redeeming at least one mile.

How to transfer Discover miles

Discover does not let you transfer miles to another travel rewards program. This means you cannot convert your Discover miles into frequent flyer miles or hotel points. Likewise, you cannot turn points or miles you’ve earned through another travel rewards program into Discover it miles.

What to consider before getting the Discover it Miles card

The Discover it Miles is a good option if you want to earn miles and cash back without having to pay an annual fee.

However, if you’re interested in maximizing your travel rewards, the Discover it Miles card might not be your best option. There are other travel credit card options to consider from different card issuers, including credit card rewards programs that let you transfer points to airlines or hotels or book travel through a portal at a better rate.

If you want to have as many ways as possible to redeem your rewards, make sure to also check out other rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.

But if you want a card that will reward you in some way for every dollar you spend without annual fees or complicated loyalty program rules, Discover’s offering is hard to beat—which means it might be the travel card you never knew you needed.

 

Written by
Ana Staples
Credit Cards Reporter and Young Credit Analyst
Ana Staples is a reporter for Bankrate and an expert on all things credit basics and personal finance for the younger generation.