It’s a busy week. You’re taking your kids to soccer practice, after which you need to go grocery shopping and pick up a few bottles of red. A few more stops follow.
When you get home, you have some time to start planning your family vacation to Yellowstone National Park, which you’ve been excited to work on for the last few months.
Luckily, you’ve used your Discover it Miles Card faithfully on all your purchases so far, and you plan to continue doing so over the next six months so you can get your sign-up bonus!
Card Summary Table
- Card Bonus & Info (Partner Content)
- Card Provider
- Card Type(s):
- Card Focus:
- All Purchases
- Annual Fee
- Rewards CenterRedeem miles through your Discover account center.
- Foreign Transaction FeesNone
- Typical UsersHobby Travelers, International Travelers, Parents / Families, The Average Spender
- Customer Service Number
1-800-347-2683 (Available 24/7)
- Login Link
- PartnersNone with this card; all miles are earned and used directly on the card.
- Interest Rates ?
- 0% intro APR for 14 months
- 11.49%-23.49% Variable APR after that
- Late fees ?
- $0 for your first late payment
- Up to $37 after (no penalty APRs are applied)
- Balance Transfers
- 10.99% intro APR for 14 months
- 11.49%-23.49% Variable APR after that
- 3% fee of the amount of each transfer
- Cash Advance APR
- $10 or 5% of the amount (whichever is greater)
- 25.49% APR
The Ideal Cardholder
Sign-Up Bonus and Earning Miles
Why would that busy parent be concerned with using the card all year? Because after your first year ends, you get your coveted sign-up bonus offer credited to your account: all miles earned are doubled, with no limit!
The typical user may differ from the above picture, but anyone too busy to track a dozen or so credit cards who still enjoys traveling with their family will enjoy the card.
This card’s normal rate is 1.5x on all purchases, making it an easy all-around card. But the first year double miles bonus really sweetens the deal!
Essentially, you’re getting 3x points for each dollar spent as long as you keep your Discover it Miles Card for the whole year.
That shouldn’t be too tough to do, since there’s no annual fee ($0) or any other restrictions.
Additionally, you typically get an intro APR on the card. Useful if you want to free up some cash for something else!
Card Drawbacks: Weak Second+ Year and No Partners
But, drawbacks do exist. After your first year, you’ll simply continue to earn 1.5x points for everything you spend from that point on; lots of other cards can beat this earning rate.
Also, while Discover positions the card as a miles earner, it actually acts more like a cash-back card.
In fact, one option for redeeming your “miles” is to just get straight cash deposited into your bank account. We don’t suggest you do this for tax purposes, however.
Additionally, the “miles” are actually just credits to your statement for anything travel related. Miles cannot be transferred to any frequent flier programs and cannot be used in any other way.
Some Additional Benefits of the Discover it Miles Card
On the plus side, you do get a little love from the $30 WiFi credit per year. That should cover a trip or two’s worth of internet access while flying at 30,000ft.
With no annual fee, there’s really no harm in having the card around. They’ll waive your first late fee payment if you don’t pay off your balance for some reason, and you won’t incur a penalty APR for doing so.
Another fringe benefit of having Discover credit cards is that you get free access to your FICO score, which is tracked in a monthly graph for you (see the picture).
This is a very useful tool when developing your points strategy, so you can see how your credit score is being affected by your activities.
Useful for the Family Shopper
Are there other advantages of having a Discover card? Discover has often been the rogue provider that is not accepted at all merchants, though that has been changing.
However, one unique partnership, Sam’s Club, is no longer exclusive and now accepts all card providers. In January of 2016, Sam’s started accepting Visa.
But warehouse clubs are the outcasts of the points world and do not have many partnerships, so you’ll usually only earn 1x points there. However, the Chase Freedom® has been running a 5% bonus for the last two quarters!
Use your Discover it Miles Card to your heart’s content at your local Sam’s or Costco to quickly rack up points and fill the gap in your points strategy when you can’t use any other card.
One alternate card for wholesale stores is the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, which earns 2% cash-back at Costco, but also 4% in gas at Costco and 3% in dining and eligible travel.
International Travelers: Discover How Difficult It Is
Although no foreign transaction fees are imposed, using your card overseas can be tough since many international merchants do not accept Discover.
Perhaps that will change with the addition of chip technology, but you’d be better off using your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or another overseas travel card.
As we said, the card essentially boils down to a cash-back card that can only be redeemed for travel, so other cards may be more profitable once you’ve collected the first-year bonus.
How To Redeem Awards With the Card
When redeeming miles for your rewards, there’s no minimum limit. Redeeming 1 mile for 1 cent can be done any time with no restrictions. Discover typically likes to keep things easy, and this is no exception.
Also, there’s no minimum spend you must make to activate your rewards. Pretty generous offer!
Your miles won’t expire unless your account is turned off, and they may potentially get disabled if you’re not active on your card for 18 months or more.
Finally, if you’re worried about airline mileage devaluation, this card can help hedge your bets since you don’t actually deal with any of the airline loyalty programs.
Hidden Benefit: the Double Dip
Here’s a somewhat “hidden” benefit of using the Discover it Miles Card: when you’re using the card to make travel purchases with the “miles,” you’re actually still accruing points in those loyalty programs, which is then reimbursed by Discover.
In a typical redemption, you won’t earn miles for your travels because you can’t redeem and earn points at the same time. Another double bonus!
If nothing else, the card is great during its first year and for a newbie to the points strategy world.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
After the first year bonus, this card earns an equivalent of 3x points on everything, which is nearly unbeatable. The drawback is that your miles are only ever worth a standard $0.01.
You do get some fringe benefits of a $30 WiFi credit and free FICO score that are certainly useful, along with the 0% intro APR.
The card doesn’t actually have a downside since it’s free, so opening an account will not hurt you financially. In fact, it may help you improve your credit score.
Finally, the $0.01 per mile value improves a little since you still earn miles for your awards in what is essentially a statement credit system.
Great Card If
- You have a high yearly spend and can put it all on this card
- You cringe at the thought of managing dozens of rewards programs
- You don’t fancy the upgrades and status benefits you could get with loyalty points
- You shop at places where you can’t use your other points cards (like Sam’s Club) and you need a gap-filler card
Don't Get If
- You want to maximize synergy with specific loyalty programs like AAdvantage or Marriott Rewards programs (there is no transfer option)
- You want to earn the maximum possible points (many other cards will offer more value/dollar than this card over time)
- You travel overseas a lot (Discover is not as widely accepted as other card providers)
- You’d like to get as many upgrades and status benefits as possible to travel in style
U.P. Pro Tips
Use the Discover it Miles Card at your local Sam’s Club or other specialized store that does not fall into one of the other common credit card categories.
How To Use Discover it Miles: The Upgraded Way
Best Way To Maximize Points
There aren’t too many “tricks” with the Discover it Miles Card; it’s a simple spend and earn card.
To maximize, use your card for everything in year 1 so that when your anniversary comes around you get double the miles!
A Few Points Earning Ideas
Idea #1: Because this double miles deal essentially makes your first year earnings 3x, you can put bills on your card that you might not otherwise, such as your rent.
Most rental properties charge a 2-3% fee to use your credit card, but since you are earning the equivalent of 3% it will balance out while allowing you to earn all the additional points for your apartment bill.
For instance, at $1,200 rent and 3% fee, you would pay $36 per month in fees, but gain 1,854 points immediately (doubling that is equal to 3,708).
Over the first year, this comes out to 44,496 extra points, which is equal to $444.96. The total in fees is only $432, so you’d profit by over $12, which isn’t much but it’s something.
If your apartment charges a smaller fee or no fee at all, you’ll be making much more!
Idea #2: One potential trick you could use would be to pre-purchase a ton of gift cards within the first 12 months that you’ll save to use afterward.
Of course, you should only do this if you have the spare cash (although the no interest for 12 months will certainly help), but you can essentially “pre-pay” for things to get 3x points.
In general, just put anything you can on the card to earn all the points you can muster!
Hot Tip: You do not get miles for any cash you might get back at checkout, so don’t waste your time pulling lots of cash!
Best Way To Redeem Points
No tricks here either; you only have one option! In true Discover fashion, redeeming miles from the Discover it Miles Card is simple.
Go into your account and select the redeem option. You will see the amount of miles you have available to spend on travel related purchases.
The purchases must have been made within the last 180 days, which is a fair amount of time to plan. And there is a note that if you use NFC to pay, the purchase might not be eligible (we’re not sure why).
So, figure out what you’re going to be doing, rack up points, and apply them toward those purchases on your card within 180 days.
It may be best to wait for the full first year so you can get your doubled points and then spend them on a vacation.
A Non-Recommended Second Redemption Option
You can redeem your points as a bank credit as well if you’d rather have the cash for something else. There will be an option to do this, and you just need to fill in your bank account details.
Again, however, there is a possibility you will have to consider this as income and it could affect your taxes, so we find it easier to simply use the credit toward something travel related.
You cannot transfer miles to other programs with this card.
However, Discover is a partner of Diner’s Club International, JCB, and China Union Pay, which are networks built to help you use your Discover cards overseas.
Now that we’ve done the Discover it Miles Card review, it’s on to the fun part: the Card Math. Always essential to understanding how a card fits into your points strategy, the math for this card can be shown quite easily.
Here, we’ll do a case study of the card’s potential over the year as well as show a comparison with another card.
A Quick Card Recap
Here are the card stats pertinent to the card math. It’s a simple 1.5x points, doubled after the first year, with no annual fee.
|Annual Fee||Points Earned (Base)||Bonus Points|
|Free ($0)||1.5x on all qualified spending*||After the first 12 months, all points earned to date are doubled|
*As with all cards, qualified spending excludes fees, interest, cash-back, etc.
Reviewing Spending by Model Family
Looking at our 3 example families, the following is the amount of points they could earn each year as well as the total number of points by the end of year 1, after the double points bonus kicks in.
This assumes that all spending is put solely on the card. We’ll exclude the ‘other’ category in this calculation, assuming there are always things we just can’t put on the card.
We’ll also assume that they travel only to places where Discover is accepted in the case of international travel (which may not be realistic).
|Family||Total Annual Spend||Total Yearly Points Accrued||Total Points After Year 1 Bonus is Added|
|Kennedys||$22,600||33,900||67,800 ($678 value)|
|Jetsons||$36,400||54,600||109,200 ($1,092 value)|
|Hartnells||$45,100||67,650||135,300 ($1,353 value)|
*Total model family spending over the first year with the card.
The Value of Miles Earned
As you can see, the families will earn between $678-$1,353 in travel redemptions! That’s a pretty incredible deal if you think about it.
Imagine being handed $600 for simply going about your everyday business!
While you won’t be using this to nab yourself a business or first class upgrade, it certainly pays for a flight or a hotel room. But is the card worth it over the long run versus another card?
Discover it Miles Card Compared to Other Cards
To check this, we will take the Kennedys and do an analysis against the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card over the course of a couple years. Their total spend in a year on the card as shown above will be $22,600.
The total on travel and dining related expenses (which Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card users get 2x pts for) is $13,000, and they take a trip once every quarter.
For this scenario, we assumed that the whole first year was spent accumulating points. In the second year, the family redeemed rewards for their 1st and 3rd quarter trips.
|Card Used||Total Spend||Travel/Dining||Total Points Accumulated||Total Out of Pocket Trip Expenses|
|Discover it Miles Card||$22,600||$13,000||101,655||$2,362|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||$22,600||$13,000||117,023||$1,930|
*Based on an analysis done with equal monthly spending over 2 years and 3 trips, taken once per quarter.
At the spending level of the Kennedys over the course of 2 years, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the clear winner in overall points and least money spent out of pocket.
This is comparing the redemption of points for normal flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal, and not the use of points to transfer to airline loyalty programs.
If the latter was the case, it is possible to get even more value out of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card by using points to purchase international travel rewards, which are typically a much better value for points redemption.
For someone like this, having the simple card may be much more valuable in terms of time and effort.
Determining a Break-Even Point for Advanced Users
If you’re someone who has other cards and is looking for a new card to get some value from, then this may be a good choice for you.
We were curious to see at what spending level the Discover it Miles Card might actually beat the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This gets into the math behind earning miles while redeeming rewards.
Is that really more valuable at all?
With the Discover it Miles Card, you’ll always put the expenses onto your credit card and therefore earn points.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll actually use the miles to purchase the flights, etc. at 20% off. You don’t earn additional points in these cases.
In both cases, you’ll earn miles on the airline you chose, so we will call that a wash in our calculations.
Scenario Results: A New Winner?
After re-running the scenario under the numbers from the Jetsons and the Hartnells, we found that in each case the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ended up winning the battle, even taking into account the annual fee.
In the case of the Hartnells, however, it was closer. This suggests that the Discover it Miles Card is better at higher spending.
Tweaking the numbers a little more, we found that it would take high yearly credit card spend along with much lower spending comparatively in the travel and dining categories for the Discover it Miles Card to beat the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
One set of numbers that worked was a yearly spend of $40,000, of which $3,000 was spent on trips and $5,000 on dining out. As always, you must determine what scenario you will have and calculate it appropriately.
Card Math Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Hopefully this review and our model families helped you determine what the value of the card is for your own situation.
Regardless of the math, we still find the Discover it Miles Card to be a very solid competitor for those looking to get a new card.
Many beginners don’t want the hassle of juggling multiple cards and learning all there is to know about points.
With a potential $600+ in first year value and over $300+ per year at the level of spending of the Kennedys, this card definitely has value to provide.
With the addition of no annual fee, a free FICO score, $30 in WiFi credits, and a 0% into APR, there isn’t much downside to having the card on hand.
The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know
Your double miles get credited to your account after your one year anniversary, and it may take a few weeks to get the deposit.
While we discuss the value of the card being 3x, you won’t actually see your extra points until then.
Everything else about this card is straightforward, and there are no real tricks or tips to discuss.
Below are the rest of the benefits you get as a card holder. You don’t get some of the insurances you might see with other cards, but that’s OK as long as you spend smart and plan well.
Other Unique Features
With these benefits, Discover makes no guarantee that they will be available continuously and they may pull them at any time. That being said, we don’t see that happen often.
Free FICO credit score – In your account, there will be a section dedicated to your FICO score. This is only one of the 3 credit bureaus and the others may differ, but knowing your credit score for free is a pretty solid benefit.
Use it to track when you should get new card and determine what cards you might be able to get. You will only be able to see the last 12 months.
$30 in-flight WiFi credit – Each year, you will be able to get credit to your account when using WiFi services on airplanes. This is automatically applied, which is nice.
Freeze It – This is a new tool offered via an app to turn your account on and off.
If your card is lost or stolen, you can immediately go into the app and turn your account off to prevent any charges being made until you find it or decide you need a new card.
If you find it, simply switch your account back on for instantaneous reinstatement.
No first late fee, no penalty APR – If you forget to make that first payment (maybe you forgot to set up your autopay…we’ve all done it), you won’t get charged a fee for the first time.
You will get charged interest if it’s outside of your interest-free period.
In fact, there isn’t language specifically stating that your interest-free period will be waived if you forget to make the payment, although we’d still caution against it.
Free overnight card replacement – If you do need a new card, Discover will priority ship you a new one anywhere in the U.S., excluding PO box addresses.
Price protection – All Discover cards are able to get a price reimbursement for any item up to $500 purchased on the card.
Purchase protection – All Discover cards have purchase protection, which gives you up to $500 if the item is damaged or stolen.
Photo Credits/Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Busy Mom with Kids: CREATISTA/Shutterstock
Warehouse Shopping: Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock
Couple With Gift Cards: Tom Wang/Shutterstock
The Winner Is: sondem/Shutterstock
It is a great beginner card for those who want an easy card that earns points across all categories. It's also a card with no annual fee, so there is no downside of owning it even if you don't use it.
With this card, you'll earn 1.5x points per dollar, and after the first 12 months all the points you've earned will be doubled.
This means that essentially, your first year you are earning 3x points per dollar! That's higher than most cards when you can spend them on anything.
In addition, the rewards you redeem ("miles" which accrue into an account for use like cash-back toward travel purchases) have no blackout dates. Also, you get $30 of in-flight WiFi credits each year.
It's a fairly basic card with no partnered rewards portal, but if you need something easy, it's a very good beginning card.
$0, the card has no annual fee.
Yes. The card has a 14 month 0% APR. After that, the APR goes to the normal rates shown in the card summary table above.
No. The card accrues "miles," which work like cash-back, onto the card account. Once you want to redeem, you simply redeem for a travel related expense on your card.
You will earn 1.5x points for every dollar spent in all categories. All miles accrued over the first year are doubled. Accrued miles can be used for any travel purchase you make with no minimum redemption.
You'll also get $30 in in-flight WiFi credits each year. Simply pay for the service with your card and it will be credited back.
Next, you get access to the "Freeze It" account feature that allows you to turn your card off immediately via smartphone if you lose it, and then turn it back on if you find it.
Finally, the card offers a free monthly FICO credit score tracker.
The login is the same as any other standard Discover card login.
While they both accrue rewards points in one form or another, there is one big difference between the two cards.
Discover it Miles Card rewards can only be used for statement credit on travel purchases directly on the card, whereas the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card accrues points in Chase Ultimate Rewards to be used in a number of ways.
The Discover card has no other partners, but Ultimate Rewards gets you access to a number of shopping portals, the 20% Chase travel portal discount, and the ability to transfer your points into loyalty accounts of travel partners.
Once you start making purchases, you will begin to accumulate "miles" in your account at 1.5x per dollar.
After making travel purchases, you can go into your account and click on the button to redeem your miles. Then you apply those toward travel purchases in order to offset the cost.
In essence, the miles are like cash-back that can be applied as statement credit. There is no minimum limit to the redemptions, so any time you want to offset your balance, just go into your account and redeem your miles.
0%, there is no foreign transaction fee for this card.
The value is 1 mile for 1 point; therefore 100 miles is $1.00. Check out our miles and point valuation page for more valuation details.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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