Discover it® Miles Review: Travel Card with No-Hassle Miles

This card puts Discover squarely in the mix of a competitive travel cards market. Double Miles in the first year make this a compelling travel credit card, as do the generous rewards program and cutting routine fees

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

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Great for: Travel card with no annual fee Discover it® Miles

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Our Bottom Line

A fit for occasional travelers, this card's most valuable perks are unlimited 1.5 Miles per $1, no foreign transaction fees, and double Miles in the first year.

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
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Rates & Fees

Any credit card issuer worth its weight in plastic has at least one travel credit card on offer. As its name implies, Discover it® Miles is Discover’s entry in that large and busy market.

It’s a card that, if cleverly utilized, can reap quite a lot of Miles for certain types of cardholder. Savvy and ambitious travelers using the card can take advantage of a big bonus to score free travel. Ready to fly away? Then read on for more about Discover it® Miles.  

What I like about Discover it® Miles

Double Miles in the first year -- The issuer will match 1-for-1 all Miles you’ve earned in the first year of ownership, as a big one-time bonus. This effectively doubles your earnings in the first year.

No annual fee -- Many popular travel cards charge this once-per-year fee. Discover it® Miles isn’t one of them.

1.5 Miles per $1 --  All purchases earn at this rate, no exceptions. Earned Miles also never expire and they stay in your account as long as you hold the card.

0% intro APR period for purchases for 14 months -- This is a relatively generous intro APR period, allowing new cardholders to fund big purchases without interest (assuming they pay these off within the 14 months). After the promo, the go-to variable rate applies.

No foreign transaction fee -- The better travel credit cards axe this traditional charge, which tends to hover around the 3% mark. Which is good because this could add up; assuming you fund your trip exclusively through a fee-charging card, $5,000 in spend would generate $150 purely in fees.

$30 in-flight Wi-Fi credit -- A small but neat travel benefit of this card is the Wi-Fi credit, which Discover reimburses as statement credit for the purchased amount (maximum: $30).

FICO® Score for free -- Discover makes it easy to monitor your credit profile, including a FICO® Score for free. This is easily accessible via Discover’s app or online account management portal, plus it’s printed in every statement.

Why you can trust me

From the start of my career I’ve written thousands of articles and analyses on nearly every imaginable business topic. This includes coverage of the best credit cards, and many that aren't. On top of that, I have plenty of personal experience as a credit card user. I’ve been a cardholder in good standing of six credit cards divided between two issuers (Chase and Bank of America), and covering all three major card brands (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express).

What could be improved

0% intro APR for balance transfers -- The card could benefit by rounding out its 0% intro APR offer for purchases by also including the same for balance transfers. While rare in the travel category, we can always wish for the best perks in one card.

Travel insurances -- Cards from other brands, notably Visa and Mastercard, typically come with a set of travel perks and benefits like car insurance and coverage for lost/damaged luggage. Discover it® Miles lacks many of these extras.

Suggested credit score

Discover would like to see good and excellent credit in its applicants for Discover it® Miles. In terms of the FICO® Score, an applicant should have a figure of 670 to have high approval odds. Worth noting, not all applicants with a higher score are guaranteed approval, nor are people with lower scores likely to always be declined. The suggested minimum score is one of many factors used in the underwriting process.

What to look for in a travel card

If you’re considering a travel credit card, most likely the key reason is that it offers the opportunity to earn free travel. The idea is very seductive; use the card for purchases, rack up rewards Miles, then book that dream vacation you’ve always wanted.

In a way, this makes evaluating the merits of the many travel cards on the market easy. Can you earn Miles on them quickly? Do they have a big intro Miles bonus when you spend a certain amount of money off the bat?

Travel cards generally come in one of two flavors in terms of earning Miles:

  • Flat-rate rewards cards -- Every purchase, no matter in what product/service category, earns Miles at the same rate.
  • Bonus rewards cards -- Purchases in certain categories -- mainly travel, although not always, and sometimes with caveats -- earn Miles at elevated rates.

There are pluses and minuses to both. The flat-rate cards won’t dump a lot of Miles into your account at once with a strategic purchase, but they will earn at a steady and predictable rate. Flip those two factors, and you’ve got the advantages and disadvantages of bonus rewards cards.

Choosing between these types depends on what kind of consumer you are, broadly speaking.

If you’re a dedicated traveler that spends money constantly on the activity -- either for work or pleasure -- you might be better off with a bonus reward card, particularly one with elevated rewards for travel. If you’re a more general consumer, you’re probably more suited to a flat-rate card.

How to maximize earnings

One nice thing about flat-rate rewards cards is that they require no planning and strategizing about bonus categories. Whatever you spend money on with the card, you’ll earn the same 1.5 Miles per $1.

Now, travel cards are effective earners if you have only a few, or even just one of them. Spreading your earnings among several will take that much longer to result in a tally high enough for a subsidized flight. If Discover it® Miles is that card for you, use it as often as possible for purchases without raising your credit utilization too high.

What will help greatly is the Mile-for-Mile matching program at the end of the first year of ownership -- a potentially massive and quite atypical initiative in the travel card segment. Combined with frequent spending on the card, this program can put you over the top and then some for Miles-funded travel.

Other travel cards to consider

Discover it® Miles is a leading travel card that's worth comparing to other leading travel cards on the market.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a better fit for cardholders preferring both a bigger sign-up bonus and the flexibility of transferring points to airline and hotel loyalty partners to increase the yield. 

On the other hand, Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card doesn't charge an annual fee and packs in one of the best travel bonuses we've seen in a no-annual-fee card: simply spend $1,000 within 90 days to earn 25,000 points (worth $250 for travel statement credits).

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
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4.5 stars Info icon We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Star Review Icon = Poor
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4.5 stars Info icon We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Star Review Icon Star Review Icon Star Review Icon Star Review Icon = Excellent
Star Review Icon Star Review Icon Star Review Icon = Good
Star Review Icon Star Review Icon = Fair
Star Review Icon = Poor
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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent

Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $625 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal. Bonus: 25,000 online bonus points when spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Rewards Program: 2 points per $1 on travel and dining, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal. Rewards Program: Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 on all purchases
Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 billing cycles Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: 17.74% - 24.74%, variable Regular APR: 16.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee: $95, waived first year Annual Fee: $0

Highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Highlights:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • NEW OFFER: 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%

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The card is right for you if…

Discover it® Miles is best suited for someone who’s enthusiastic about travel, but for whatever reason doesn’t necessarily spend much on the hobby. He or she should be an active credit card user, though, as the earnings rate for Miles is good, and effectively doubles at the end of the first year of ownership.

Those who actively spend money on travel expenses can also be served nicely by this card, although they might be better off with one that has bonus earnings for such purchases. Still, that 1.5 Miles per $1 rate and the Mile-for-Mile matching program can also result in meaningful earnings for this type of cardholder.