The Discover it® Miles isn’t so much a travel rewards card as a cashback card. Although you can use your miles to pay for travel purchases, you can also convert them to cash at the same rewards rate, which is unusual for these types of cards. The flexibility of the Discover it® Miles makes it an appealing option for those seeking an affordable rewards card.
Discover it® Miles Review
As a hybrid type of rewards card, the Discover it® Miles may appeal both to customers looking to accumulate travel rewards and those seeking cash-back. The ability to earn a flat rate of miles on every purchase is attractive, as you won’t have to deal with signing up for rotating cashback categories to earn the top rate.
Unlimited the same rate of miles on every purchase
With the Discover it® Miles, you can earn 1.5 miles on every purchase. These miles also never expire as long as the card remains open. This type of rewards structure is unique, as many rewards cards pay bonus miles or points in certain categories but revert to a flat 1% rewards payout on the majority of spending categories.
Although the Discover it® Miles doesn’t offer bonus categories, the card's flat rate of miles on every purchase is an enhancement over many rewards cards. You can use this card to get a better return on day-to-day spending for things like insurance, medical bills or auto repairs that typically don’t earn bonus miles with traditional rewards cards.
Discover it® Miles match for first year
For new cardholders, Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of 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. This effectively doubles your earnings rate for the first year to 3.0% in all categories, and this bonus is unlimited. For example, if you spend $20,000 in your first year, you’ll earn 30,000 miles just from your own spending. Discover will then automatically credit you with an additional 30,000 miles, bringing your total haul to 60,000. As miles can be redeemed at a rate of 1 mile = $1, your $20,000 spend will translate into $600 in rewards cash in your first year.
In some ways, this is even better than the traditional sign-up bonus offered by many other cards, as there is no minimum spend requirement on the Discover it® Miles. Rather than having to charge $3,000 or more in the first three months of card ownership, as many travel rewards cards require, you can spread your spending out over the entire year with the Discover it® Miles and still earn a significant bonus.
Flexible redemption options
Since the Discover it® Miles isn’t an airline-specific credit card, you don’t redeem the miles you earn for flight awards. Essentially, you can liquidate those miles at a rate of $0.01 per mile. You have the flexibility to redeem your miles either for a statement credit to offset travel purchases or as cash back. The card advertises this redemption feature as "no blackout dates," meaning you can "fly any airline, any time," but in reality the cardholder can simply apply miles to cover airline or other travel purchases made with the card. Still, it makes for an easy way to get "award" flights without having to deal with mileage redemptions and award seats directly with airlines.
The Discover it® Miles doesn’t pay the highest rewards rates in the travel card world, nor does it have the highest cashback rates. What it does have is above-average miles-earning potential.
Typically, rewards cards offer bonus miles or points in categories such as hotels, dining and airfare but pay just 1% for other categories. With Discover it® Miles, the Discover it® Miles can prove rewarding for many day-to-day spend categories. The first-year match on all earned miles makes for an interesting first-year sign-up bonus (this is for new cardmembers only), adding to the attractiveness of the card for at least the first year of card ownership.
Alternatives to the Discover it® Miles
The Discover it® Miles does a good job for a travel rewards card, but it does have competitors in the space. One thing to note is that Discover is not as widely accepted on a global basis as cards from other issuers like Visa and Mastercard. You may want to check on Discover’s website where the card is accepted. Here are three alternative choices:
Discover it® Cash Back
The Discover it® Cash Back is very similar to the Discover it® Miles, but with a gimmick. For most purchases, the card simply acts as a 1% cashback card, which isn’t a great earnings rate. However, every quarter the card lets you Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. For 2021, the categories include grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (January-March), gas stations, select streaming services and wholesale clubs (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com (October-December). As with the Discover it® Miles, the Discover it® Cash Back offers a first-year match of all of the cash back you’ve earned for new cardmembers.
While not ideal as a primary credit card for daily purchases, the Discover it® Cash Back can provide a nearly unprecedented rate of return for purchases in the quarterly bonus categories.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is a competitor that is very similar to the Discover it® Miles. Both cards earn rewards on every purchase, with no bonus categories. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card earns at a rate of 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, which is less than the 1.5 miles per dollar spent offered by the Discover it® Miles.
In terms of sign-up bonus, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel. Unlike the Discover it® Miles, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers the ability to transfer miles to 15+ travel partners. Depending on the value you can get out of your mileage redemptions with these airlines, the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card points might prove more valuable.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
You may want to consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn Ultimate Rewards points, offering true flexibility on cashback and travel rewards. Thanks to its new earning categories, you'll Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. These bonus categories edge out the Discover it® Miles.
The sign-up bonus for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a bit different: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. This contrasts with the Discover it® Miles’s first-year matching program for new cardmembers, which can prove more lucrative if you’re a heavy spender.
The information related to Discover it® Miles and Discover it® Cash Back has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.