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 makes this a compelling travel credit card, as do the generous rewards program and cutting of routine fees.

Discover it® Miles

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 earned in the first year

What we Like:
  • 1.5 Miles per $1
  • Double Miles in the first year
  • No annual fee
  • FICO® Score for free
Key Scores:
2.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
5.0 5 APR
Perks 2.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 5.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0.00%, 14 months Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 14 months
Highlights
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
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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 cardholders. Savvy and ambitious travelers using the card can take advantage of a big bonus to score free travel.

What I like

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.

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, including another valuable card without an annual fee and one travel card with an annual fee.

As of Sep. 05, 2019
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. 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.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. 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.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: 25,000 online bonus points when spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal.
Rewards Program: Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 on all purchases Rewards Program: 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal.
Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 12 billing cycles Balance Transfers: N/A Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: 16.99% - 24.99% Variable Regular APR: 17.99% - 24.99%, Variable
Annual Fee: $0 Annual Fee: $95

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
  • 25,000 online bonus points after 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. After the intro APR ends, 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR will apply
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

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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.