Discover it® Miles review

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Garrett Yarbrough  in  Rewards How we rate our cards  | 

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Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

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Best for earning miles

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
Regular APR:
11.99% - 22.99% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Bankrate Rating

 

Best for earning miles with no annual fee

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: All miles earned within the first 12 months will be matched
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: 0 percent intro for 14 months
  • Balance transfer intro APR: 10.99 percent intro for 14 months from the date of the first transfer (see terms)
  • Regular APR: 11.99 percent to 22.99 percent (variable)

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 cover a wide variety of travel purchases.

This approach to travel miles already makes Discover it Miles a solid low-cost card if you’re looking to dip your toes into travel rewards, but what gives it an edge over rival cards is its 1:1 value for all redemption options, including cash back. A rewards program like this makes it a fantastic option if your future travel plans are uncertain and you want a backup plan for your rewards.

However, occasional travelers may find that the Discover it Miles’ streamlined structure cannot make up for the card’s lackluster travel perks.

Current welcome offer

Instead of a traditional sign-up bonus, Discover will match all miles you’ve earned by the end of your first year.

Patient cardholders could be in luck since this offer has the potential to reward your elbow grease with more miles than similar cards may provide upfront. For example, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card provides 20,000 miles after spending $500 on purchases within your first three months, worth $200 in travel through the issuer. However, spending more than $1,112 each month with your Discover it Miles card would earn you over 20,000 bonus miles, worth at least $200.

Rewards

Although this is Discover’s only travel card, earning and redeeming Discover miles will be familiar if you’re used to flat-rate cash back cards.

Earning rewards

You’ll earn unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases. Given that the Discover it Miles is a no annual fee travel card, this bonus mile rate could be hard to beat if you’re sticking to flat-rate rewards. One of the Discover it Miles card’s closest rivals is the Capital One VentureOne card (also no annual fee), but it only earns a flat 1.25X miles.

Redeeming rewards

Here’s where Discover’s miles differ from those of other travel rewards programs. 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.

Discover’s definition of travel is very broad, and you can earn credit to cover purchases including airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, travel website bookings, travel agents, commuter transit, and gas stations —as long as they’re made within the last 180 days. You can’t get much more flexible than that.

While you won’t have to worry about blackout dates or seat restrictions with the Discover it Miles card, you’ll sacrifice the ability to transfer your miles to other loyalty travel programs for a higher value. For example, Capital One miles have a value of 1 cent each when redeemed through Capital One, but The Points Guy estimates a good transfer partner can boost this value to 1.4 cents per mile.

The upside to Discover’s program is that it offers a unique 1:1 value for all redemption options. With many other cards, your mileage value usually plummets when you redeem for anything outside travel, but with the Discover it Miles card, you’ll still get a value of 1 cent per mile when you redeem at checkout on Amazon.com or PayPal.com and even for as cash back via a direct deposit. Plus, Discover now allows you to pay your credit card bill with your miles—even the minimum payment.

You can’t redeem miles as part of Discover’s unique gift card deal (an additional 5 percent to 20 percent value is usually added to the gift card balance), but the big takeaway is that you can essentially turn your travel card into a flat-rate cash back card if you’re not sure when you’ll travel next. That’s an excellent backup option to have if you’re looking for a starter card.

How much are miles worth?

Discover miles are always worth 1 cent apiece across all redemption options.

Benefits

Unfortunately, the Discover it Miles card’s versatility comes at a price. Discover uses its own credit card network, so you won’t receive basic perks—like rental car damage insurance or travel and purchase protections—available to Visa and Mastercard members. Instead, Discover trims these extras to focus on value, security and customer service.

Customer service

Discover has long stood as a leader in credit card customer service and has proved it with their number-one ranking in the prestigious J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Survey for five of the past seven years.

Along with its 24/7 U.S.-based customer service, Discover also provides the free FICO Credit Scorecard, a recurring charges dashboard and a year-end spending summary.

Account security

Beyond the basic $0 fraud liability for unauthorized purchases, account alerts and overnight U.S. shipping for replacement cards, you can instantly lock your accounts from Discover’s website or mobile app—which also ranked highest in J.D. Power’s 2019 survey for credit card mobile app satisfaction.

What’s more, Discover goes the extra mile while monitoring your account by scanning the dark web for your Social Security number. This depth of coverage normally requires a third-party credit monitoring service, but Discover automatically includes it for free.

Rates and fees

There is 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 $40).

You’ll also be able to keep interest at bay with a 14-month 0 percent intro purchase APR if you have big expenses coming up. You won’t have to worry about the ongoing APR much either since it’s far below the current average interest rate for a rewards card—clocking in at 11.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable (depending on creditworthiness). It’s not a zero-interest offer, but there is also a 14 month 10.99 percent intro APR for balance transfers (see terms) then 11.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable.

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 economical flat-rate miles. Considering how accessible it is for newcomers, especially since it’s obtainable with a “good” to “excellent” credit score (a FICO score of 670 or higher), rewards value isn’t the issue.

Instead, the Discover it Miles card’s major drawback is its lack of cardholder benefits. Travel cards are known for offering perks that bring more value to the table, including travel and shopping protections, access to exclusive cardmember experiences, annual credits or upgrades that make traveling a bit smoother.

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is also attainable with a good or higher credit score and carries benefits like auto rental collision and travel accident insurance (benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card) on top of flat-rate rewards that can be transferred to partner programs. If you want to avoid traditional travel miles, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card also earns rewards that can be redeemed for travel purchase credits. The Bank of America card also comes with Visa Signature benefits, earn up to 75% more points if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member and 1.5 points per dollar on all qualifying purchases.

Meanwhile, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card also allows you to redeem your Go Far Rewards points for cash back at a 1:1 value and carries valuable benefits like cellphone protection.

 

Card name Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus Other details
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
  • 1.25X miles on all purchases
$0 20,000 miles after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months
  • Depending on credit limit and Visa or Mastercard tier, you may receive: extended warranty coverage, auto rental collision damage waiver and travel accident insurance
  • 12-month 0% intro APR for purchase (15.49% to 25.49% variable ongoing)
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
  • 1.5X points on all qualifying  purchases
$0 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days
  • Bank of America Preferred Rewards Members can earn 25% to 75% more rewards on purchases
  • 12-billing cycles 0% intro purchase APR (13.99%-23.99% variable ongoing)
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
  • 3X points on dining, gas station purchases, ride-shares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and popular streaming services
  • 1X points on other purchases
$0 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months
  • Cellphone protection (up to $600 for up to two damage or theft claims per 12-month period with a $25 deductible)
  • Purchase and travel protections, including lost luggage reimbursement, car rental loss and damage insurance, retail protection and roadside assistance
  • 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases from account opening plus qualifying balance transfers made within the first 120 days (14.49% to 24.99% variable ongoing)

Information about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card was last updated on 03/08/2021

Best cards to pair the Discover it Miles card with

Cards that earn a higher rate on your biggest spending categories may earn you more rewards than a simple flat-rate card can. And since Discover cash back cards can’t convert rewards to miles, you don’t have to stay within the network to maximize your rewards.

With that in mind, you should first consider how much you spend on specific categories, including travel and dining. You might want to look at cash back cards that offer higher reward rates on groceries or booking with a co-branded hotel or airline card that carries better benefits and rewards.

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

With its low rates and fees and 1:1 cash back redemption rate, the flat-rate Discover it Miles card is the perfect credit card for occasional travelers new to the rewards scene, but it isn’t as rewarding for those looking for benefits beyond the basics.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited, flat-rate miles have remarkable redemption flexibility for travel purchases
  • Miles can also be redeemed for cash back at a 1:1 rate

Cons

  • No travel benefits or other standard card perks
  • Reward miles can’t be transferred or used to book travel
  • The Discover credit card network has fewer international acceptance partners and perks compared to Visa and Mastercard

The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card has been collected by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.