Some travel credit cards give you the option to redeem points or miles for cash back instead of travel, but that usually means you get less value per point. A notable exception is Discover it® Miles. Every mile you earn with the card is worth 1 cent, whether you use it to pay for travel or convert it into cash back.
Earn 1.5 miles per $1 in Discover it miles — not bad for a $0 annual fee card, but low compared to travel cards that charge an annual fee.
Flexible redemption options and unique sign-up bonuses make it a good and cost-effective option for leisure travelers who want an easy-to-use credit card. But frequent flyers may benefit more from a stronger travel card, especially if they travel abroad frequently.
Discover it® Miles: The Basics
Card Type: Travel.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign Up Bonuses: Unlimited Bonuses: Only Discover will earn you unlimited miles at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 miles, you will earn 70,000 miles. No signup, no minimum spend or maximum reward. Just a mile-for-mile race.
Continuing Rewards: Every 1.5 miles spent on all purchases.
Interest Rate: Initial 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, followed by an ongoing APR of 12.24% – 23.24% variable APR.
External transaction fees: None.
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Benefits of Discover it® Miles
Flexible redemption options
In a way, Discover it® Miles is like a regular travel credit card. Earn 1.5 cents per mile for travel purchased in the past 180 days and redeem 1 cent per mile on your statement. However, you can also redeem your miles for cash by direct deposit at the same interest rate. Converting to cash gives you more flexibility, and there’s nothing stopping you from spending that money on travel later. But for some, it may be more appealing to reserve miles for a major trip.
No minimum payment
Many credit cards require you to accumulate a certain amount of rewards – usually $25 or more – before redemption. Discover it® miles can be redeemed for just 1 point. Obviously, getting a dime back at a time won’t revolutionize the way you travel. But no minimum redemption amount means you can be reimbursed for smaller travel expenses, such as taking a taxi.
Unlimited bonus offers
Discover offers new cardholders the benefits you want. As the publisher describes it, “Unlimited Rewards: Only Discover offers unlimited rewards for all the miles you earn at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 miles, you’ll earn 70,000 miles. Without registration, No minimum spend or maximum reward. Just a mile-for-mile contest.” This effectively gives you 3 miles for every dollar you spend in the first 12 months. For example, if you spend $20,000 on the card in your first year, you’ll earn $300 worth of miles and the bonus will earn you an extra $300. This is not to be laughed at, especially for a card with a $0 annual fee.
Generous period of 0% APR
With Discover it® miles, you’ll earn an introductory APR of 0% on purchases and balance transfers over a 15-month period, followed by an ongoing APR of 12.24% to 23.24% variable APR. Most travel credit cards do not have a 0% expiration date. Over time, you can use this benefit to pay off large purchases, such as an upcoming trip, without paying interest.
No foreign transaction fees
Like all Discover cards, there are no foreign transaction fees for Discover it® Miles. This perk can save you money the next time you travel abroad or make an international online purchase. But it also brings another payment method. Discover is not as widely accepted abroad as Visa and Mastercard.
Disadvantages of Discover it® Miles
Not suitable for larger expenses
Discover it® Miles is a great card for someone who doesn’t plan on spending a lot of money. With no annual fee impacting your premium, you’ll be immediately ahead of the game. But larger consumers are better off with cards that charge but offer higher rewards rates.
For example, if you spend more than $19,000 per year, you’ll benefit from the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card. The card earns you 2 miles for every dollar you spend on most purchases, and miles can be redeemed for every 1 cent you spend on travel. There’s a big sign-up bonus, but there’s also an annual fee to consider.
Limited international acceptance
For a low-cost travel card widely used around the world, check out the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card that operates on the Visa network. Like Discover it® miles, it provides 1.5 points per dollar spent, which you can redeem for 1 cent on travel purchases. It also has the most comprehensive definition of travel purchases among major issuers.
No bonus reward opportunity
Getting the same reward rate on every purchase is certainly the easiest way to know your spend, but it may not be the most profitable. A card that earns more in certain spending categories might be the answer, although you’ll have to put in a little more effort to remember where to use the card. The Citi Premier® Card earns 3 ThankYou points per dollar in a wide range of popular spending categories: air travel and hotels, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.
Also check out NerdWallet’s roundup of the best credit cards for options for all credit card types.
Should you get Discover it® Miles?
Among the free travel cards, Discover it® Miles stand out for their versatility, thanks to their ability to redeem travel and the equivalent of cash back. Not the best option for travelers who spend more time in hotels and planes than at home. But for vacationers looking for a low-maintenance card with flexible rewards, it’s worth considering.
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