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So you’re the travel-loving type with an adventurous streak that embraces freedom, flexibility and choice as you explore your country and the world? Adventurous you, meet Discover it® Miles.
This is one travel rewards card that offers some serious bang for very little buck – there’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, you earn 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend on the card AND, new cardholders take note, Discover will MATCH all the miles you earn during your first year as a card member.
Go ahead and do that math – that means new cardholders will effectively earn three miles for every dollar they spend on the card during their first year. Say you earn 40,000 miles your first year– you’ll actually walk away with 80,000! Look out across the travel rewards credit card landscape and you’ll see that this is a hard offer to beat.
Here are a couple of other features that make Discover it® Miles worth a look:
Because it doesn't lock you into a co-branded airline or hotel, Discover it® Miles gives you considerable latitude in travel brand choices. And its lack of an annual fee will make you feel all the freer to jet up, up and away.
There’s a lot to like about Discover it® Miles, but knowing that Discover will match all the miles you earn during your first year for new card members – effectively meaning you earn three miles for every $1 spent – is definitely near the top of the list.
That said, choosing a card based strictly on an introductory offer is rarely the best idea. The good news with Discover it® Miles, however, is that the flat earning rate of 1.5 miles for all your purchases presents a respectable opportunity to consistently rack up rewards even after your first-year match period has passed. There’s no cap on the number of miles you can earn and your miles never expire. Plus, it’s a flat-rate card which means there’s no need to keep up with tiers or rotating categories.
When you want to redeem those miles, you can either request a statement credit to cover travel purchased within the past 180 days or you can redeem your miles for a cash deposit directly into your checking or savings account. Whichever option you choose, your miles are worth $.01 each – 100 miles always equals $1.
If you need to frequently use your card for purchases abroad, a foreign transaction fee could cost you hundreds of extra dollars. Foreign transaction fees on credit cards are usually around 3%, with dynamic currency conversion fees (DCCs) sometimes as much as 7%. This means that if you use a card with these fees outside of the U.S., you would be looking at paying an extra 3% on however much you spend in a foreign currency.
The Discover it® Miles does not charge foreign transaction fees, so it can help to save you money next time you travel abroad.
|Rewards||Bonus Rewards||Annual Fee|
|Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.||Discover Match™ UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.||See Terms|
Discover does not specifically mention the credit score needed to qualify for this card, but it does note that the Discover it® Miles is designed for those with “good” to “excellent” credit scores. According to the credit scoring agency Experian, a FICO score of 670 would be the bottom of the “good” range. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically qualify if your score is in this range and also keep in mind that different scoring models could offer different scores and ranges.
Many travel cards offer cardholders a one-time bonus in which you can earn a certain sum of miles or points after meeting an initial spending threshold when you first receive the card (for example, earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within your first three months of opening an account). Discover it® Miles is different in that you have to wait until your account anniversary to receive your bonus.
If it's likely you will spend a great deal with your card in the first year of ownership, this card’s matched-miles offer leads to a rich reward and can provide the rationale to apply. But if you don't anticipate buying much with the credit card in that first year, or you can’t wait a year to receive your reward, you may be better off selecting a card that features an up-front bonus.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another no-annual-fee card which earns 1.5% on each purchase. This card, though, earns cash back instead of miles. It also has a nice (almost) immediate welcome bonus of $150, earned once spending $500 in the first three months of card membership. Additionally, it offers 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months (then 14.99 - 23.74% Variable).
Though it's not specifically a travel card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® does come with some travel benefits that are worth mentioning. Most notably: trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, auto rental collision damage waiver, and roadside assistance. It does charge foreign transaction fees though, so if you're looking for a credit card to use internationally, you might be better off with the Discover card.
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a tiered travel rewards card with which cardholders earn two times the points for travel and dining purchases and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. It also offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months – a bonus that is worth up to $750 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. It does, however, charge a $95 annual fee.
The key with this comparison is to assess where you most often do your spending. Do you spend enough to make Disover’s match offer pay off or are you someone who would rather spend a few thousand dollars within the first couple of months and then reap your reward? Once your “match year” is over with Discover it® Miles, you stand to earn more with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you regularly spend on dining out and travel, but Discover it® Miles is likely a better bet if you find your spending is more varied since you’ll earn 1.5 miles per $1 on all your purchases as opposed to just one mile per $1 on most purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
One other thing to keep in mind between these cards is that Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders enjoy 25% more value when they redeem their points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
If you’re looking for more immediate gratification, you might appreciate the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card intro bonus offer: 50,000 miles (equal to $500 in travel) after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. That said, with Discover it® Miles, if you put all your purchases on the card it’s not hard to see how you could equal or surpass that offer thanks to Discover’s match after the first year.
Similar to Discover it® Miles, you won’t pay foreign transaction fees with Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, but you will pay a $95 annual fee after the first year. You will earn slightly more, two miles per $1 spent with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, but you also have that annual fee to offset after the first year.
If you’re looking for simplicity and don’t want to worry about earning enough to offset an annual fee, Discover it® Miles is likely a better choice.
Discover it® Miles is an excellent card for the non-brand-loyal credit card user who values simplicity along with travel flexibility. Do keep in mind, however, that Discover isn’t quite as widely accepted overseas as Visa and MasterCard, so plan for that accordingly. And If you do take Discover it® Miles with you abroad, you’ll be relieved to not have to face any foreign transaction fees.