Discover it® Miles review: Earn 1.5X miles on all purchases
Discover it® Miles
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Cardholders earn 1.5 miles/$1 spent and Discover MATCHES all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year. This pro alone makes this no-annual-fee card a stronger rewards earning contender than cards with substantial annual fees.
- Miles redemption is easy – just make your travel purchase and then request your redemption in the form of a statement credit.
- You'll save money when you travel abroad since you won't pay foreign transaction fees.
- The match the first year that effectively means you earn 3 miles/$1 is fantastic, but it ends. After that first year, it's back to the 1.5 miles/$1 rate, which is still decent but you'll definitely want to maximize your rewards earning match in the first year.
WHAT DISCOVER SAYS ABOUT THIS CARD
- UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
- Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
- Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
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 35,000 miles your first year– you’ll actually walk away with 70,000! 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:
- You can redeem rewards in any amount for travel credit or cash back.
- Regardless of how you redeem your rewards, it’s a simple conversion: 100 miles is always worth $1.
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.
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
- Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion
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.
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.
Discover it® Miles vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another no-annual-fee card. This card, though, earns cash back (or, technically Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that can be redeemed for cash back) instead of miles and offers 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and 3% at drugstores. It also has a nice welcome bonus of $200, earned once spending $500 in the first three months of card membership; plus, earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 in grocery store purchases during the first year (excluding Target and Walmart). 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, 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 also accumulates rewards as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which are among the most sought-after travel rewards currencies out there. 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.
Discover it® Miles vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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 signup bonus of 100,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months – a bonus that is worth up to $1,250 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®.
Discover it® Miles vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you’re looking for more immediate gratification, you might appreciate the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card intro bonus offer: enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel. 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. 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.
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.