While many travel rewards cards offer complicated redemption schemes and earning categories that are hard to keep track of, the Discover it® Miles takes a totally different approach. This card offers a flat rate of return for all your purchases — 1.5 “miles” for each dollar you spend. However, Discover has also promised to double all the rewards you earn the first year.
While earning 3% back the first year is sweet, the best part about the Discover it® Miles is the fact that it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Redeeming your points is also a simple feat thanks to the way Discover lets you cash in your points to cover travel expenses or turn them into cash in your bank account.
Still, this card is far from perfect. In this review, we’ll go over the biggest benefits of the Discover it® Miles, who it’s best for, and a few potential downsides to consider.
Discover it® Miles
- Earn 1.5 “miles” for each dollar you spend with no limits
- Discover will double all the rewards you earn the first 12 months
- No annual fee
- Redeem your points for any travel expense on your bill
- Get a free FICO score on your monthly statements
Discover it® Miles: Earn 3% Back for Travel Your First Year
We already mentioned how the Discover it® Miles doles out 1.5 “miles” for each dollar you spend and how Discover will double all the rewards you earn the first year. This means that, after twelve months are up, you will have earned a grand total of 3 “miles” for each dollar you spent on your card.
It’s hard to beat 3x points without an annual fee, but it’s even better that Discover offers this generous rate on all your purchases — not just in special bonus categories. Once you sign up for the Discover it® Miles, you can use it for all your regular spending, bills, and shopping and earn 3x points without worrying about special bonus categories or earning caps.
On the redemption side of the equation, the Discover it® Miles opts to keep things simple. Once you rack up points, you can redeem them for travel purchases that post on your credit card statement within the last 180 days or cash back directly into your bank account. In terms of the type of expenses they count as travel for this promotion, Discover lists the following on their website: commercial airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises, tour operators, vacation packages purchased through airlines, travel agents, online travel sites, local and suburban commuter transportation, ferries, passenger railways, taxicabs and limousines, and charter/tour bus lines.
Your points are worth one cent each, meaning that 20,000 points are worth $200 in nearly any type of travel. The same one cent per mile also applies when you redeem your miles for cash-back instead of travel credit.
Additional perks the Discover it® Miles offers aim to help you monitor and improve your credit score. This includes the free FICO score they give you on your statement each month, as well as a “Freeze It” feature they offer that lets you stop your card from allowing new purchases.
To summarize, the Discover it® Miles is a simple travel credit card that’s easy to use and understand. You’ll never have to worry about rotating categories or rewards limits with this card, and you can redeem your miles for nearly anything you want. This is a huge departure from many travel programs that have confusing rules on how you earn and redeem points.
Discover it® Miles: Where It Comes Up Short
While we love the simplicity of the Discover it® Miles, there are a ton of ways it lets cardholders down. For starters, it doesn’t offer a signup bonus like many comparable travel credit cards. Since you can sign up for a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
The Discover it® Miles makes up for the lack of a signup bonus by doubling your miles after the first year, but this is not the same thing as a signup bonus. You don’t get the initial rush of rewards to begin with, and you’d have to spend a ton of money on your Discover it® Miles to earn a sizeable bonus. For example, you would have to spend $20,000 on your Discover it® Miles if you wanted your points to double to 60,000 after twelve months. And even then, your rewards would only be worth $600 in travel or cash back.
Another downside of the Discover it® Miles is the fact you can’t transfer your points to airline or hotel partners. You can only redeem them for travel or cash back at a rate of one cent per point, which is considerably less value than you can get with some competing travel credit cards.
Finally, the Discover it® Miles doesn’t offer many meaningful travel benefits. There’s no airport lounge access, no primary auto rental coverage, and no trip cancellation/interruption insurance like you get with many other travel credit cards. With this in mind, the Discover it® Miles is not much of a travel credit card at all.
The Bottom Line
The Discover it® Miles isn’t the best travel credit card on the market, but maybe it was never intended to be. Most of the popular travel credit cards charge annual fees between $95 and $450, after all. The Discover it® Miles may offer fewer perks, but it doesn’t charge an annual fee, either.
For that reason, we think the Discover it® Miles is best for:
- Consumers who want to earn 3x points with no annual fee
- Anyone who wants to redeem points for any type of travel without worrying over loyalty program rules or blackout dates
- People who want to cash out their points for cash in their bank accounts — or at least have the option
If this describes you, you may be the perfect candidate for the Discover it® Miles. If not, make sure to compare other travel rewards cards and cash-back credit cards to find the right option for your needs and your lifestyle.
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