Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Discover it Miles Credit Card Review

overall rating
4.4

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The Discover it Miles card's exceptional bonus offer and versatile redemption options make it a solid choice among no-annual-fee cards. It offers 1.5 miles per dollar spent, and cardholders receive a lucrative mile-for-mile bonus match on all of the miles they've earned at the end of the first year, essentially doubling their rewards rate. It’s ostensibly a travel card, according to Discover, but it lacks many of the travel perks that distinguish the category.

Discover it® Miles

overall rating
4.4
Discover it® Miles
On Discover's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 10.99% for 14 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% if completed by October 10, 2020, and up to 5% for transfers made thereafter.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Currently rated one of our

Full Review of Discover it Miles Credit Card

Pros
  • First-year points earned are matched

  • Flexible rewards redemption options

  • Decent 0% introductory offer on purchases

Cons
  • A less-than-ideal card for frequent travelers

  • Mediocre introductory APR offer on balance transfers

Pros Explained

  • Your First-Year Points are Matched: At the end of your first year of owning the card, Discover will automatically match all the miles you've earned—essentially doubling your rewards for that period. For example, if you earn 30,000 miles throughout the year, Discover will match it and increase your rewards balance to 60,000 miles. Few cards without an annual fee offer a bonus are that lucrative.
  • Flexible Rewards Redemption Options: Discover offers an unusually wide range of options for redeeming miles. Indeed, this isn’t really a miles card, since all the options involve redemptions of miles for money, at the consistent rate of 1 cent per mile. (Several travel cards allow you to redeem your miles for cash back, but it's often at a lower value.) One travel-focused feature is the ability to directly redeem points to your account to offset travel expenses, including airline flights and hotel stays. Points can otherwise be received as a statement credit, deposited electronically to a bank account, used as cash at select merchants, given as a charitable donation, or converted to a gift card.
  • Decent 0% Introductory Offer on Purchases: The card offers a 0% APR on new purchases for the first 14 months following account opening. That’s not an outstanding length of time compared with all such offers, but it nonetheless be a money-saver, especially if you plan some major purchases soon after you get the card.

Cons Explained

  • A Less-Than-Ideal Card for Many Travelers: Save for its absence of a foreign-transaction fee, this card has little to offer those who travel a lot and spend big. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for example, offers 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. For a frequent traveler, those richer rewards might soon justify the cost of that card's $95 annual fee. Also, you can't transfer points earned with the Discover It Miles to airlines, hotels, or other companies that have loyalty programs—as you can with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, among other cards. That eliminates the possibility of getting more for your points within those programs, because they might be stretched to deliver greater value. Also, this card, like most others from Discover, falls short on travel-related perks. It joins most no-fee cards in lacking luxury perks found on travel cards with fees, like travel credits, airport lounge access, and free upgrades at hotels. It even lacks some features that are frequently offered by competing cards, such as rental-car insurance coverage, travel insurance, and extended warranty protection. 
  • Mediocre Introductory APR Offer for Balance Transfers: Many cards offer an initial period of 0% APR for balances transferred from other cards to your new one. The Discover It Miles, however, offers only to carry transferred balances at a 10.99% APR; the term for the offer is 14 months from the date of first transfer, as long as the transfer is made by July 10th, 2020. After the intro APR expires, your APR will be 11.99% to 22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. The special rate of 10.99% likely marks a reduction from what you're paying on the other card, since the average credit-card APR is about 17%. But you could still pay thousands in additional interest compared with a 0% APR offer of the same length. And Discover also imposes a balance-transfer fee of 3% for transfers made after your first few months with the card and 5% for those made thereafter.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Minimalist Persona
    Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
    Minimalist
  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for International Traveler Persona
    Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
    International Traveler

The Discover it Miles card is a reasonable fit for those who want an easy-to-use card that pays decent ongoing rewards and delivers a generous bonus, provided you spend heavily on the card in its first year. New cardholders receive double the miles they've earned after 12 months of opening the account, effectively making this card's rewards rate to 3 miles per dollar spent the first year. 

Discover it Miles Credit Card Bonus

This card automatically matches all of the miles you've earned at the end of the first year you own it. There's no requirement for the bonus, and no limit to how much can be earned.

This bonus can be potentially very valuable if you spend even moderately on the card. For example, if you put $2,000 per month on this card, you'd earn 72,000 points total over the course of the year including the bonus. That's a value of $720 when redeemed for travel or cash back.

A comparative downside to the bonus offer is that you won't get a credit to your account until the end of the year. Some other cards, like the Capital One VentureOne, offer cash or points bonuses that you can earn within the first few months of getting the card, and that typically require spending less—no more than a few thousand dollars—than you would with the Discover It Miles to earn the same bonus.  

Rewards Earning Details

You earn unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases. Factoring in the match bonus, which doubles those rewards at the end of the first year of account opening, new cardholders can earn an effective rate of 3% during the first year on this card based on the fact that miles are worth 1 cent each. After the first year the effective rate drops back down to 1.5%.

Rewards Redemption Details

Discover maintains highly flexible options when it comes to how you redeem your miles. Miles can be redeemed at any time for any amount, at a consistent rate of 1 cent per mile, and they never expire.

Like most travel cards, Discover offers the ability to redeem miles for a statement credit to your account, which is often the easiest way to redeem. With travel expenses, you can use your miles to offset eligible charges within 180 days of making them. Qualifying travel purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, and commuter transportation.

Here's a rundown of all of Discover's redemption options:

  • Statement credit: Redeem directly to your account in the form of a statement credit.
  • Electronic deposit: Redeem to any bank account you designate.
  • Pay at select merchants: Use your cashback to pay at select merchants, including Amazon.com.
  • Charitable donation: Redeem your miles for a donation to select charities.
  • Gift cards: Starting at $20, you can redeem miles for gift cards or eCertificates from Discover's partners.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

To make the most of this card's rewards, it's important to fully take advantage of the unlimited bonus offer during the first year. You can do that by using this card for all of your purchases, from airfare to groceries. At the end of the first year of ownership, Discover will match all of the miles you've racked up. After that, you'll go back to earning 1.5 miles per dollar spent.  

Average Case

If you're the average American consumer, we estimate that you can earn more than 50,000 miles on this card within the first year of account opening. Let's say you use this card to purchase everyday items including food, apparel, fuel, entertainment, and personal care products and services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'd spend around $16,000 in all of those categories combined over a year.

In addition, let's assume you take one trip per year that costs a total of $1,500, including airfare, hotels, ground transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.

You would earn a total of 52,500 miles on this card, which would be worth $525 when redeemed. Our calculation includes earning 1.5 miles for every purchase you make and the first-year bonus offer. Without the bonus offer, you'd earn 26,250 miles worth $262.50 when redeemed for cash back.

Aspirational Case

Naturally, if you're sufficiently affluent, you could increase earnings even further by using this card for additional vacations or major expenses. For example, let's use the scenario above and say you take a second $1,500 vacation every year. Let's further assume you charge $10,000 to this card for such major expenses as new computers, home appliances, or landscaping.

 That, plus the original spending from our average case, would earn 87,000 miles worth $870 during the first year of card ownership. Without the bonus, your earnings would be half that, or $435. 

Purchasing more expensive items during the 0% introductory period would provide even more benefit, since you'd effectively be able to finance your larger purchases at no cost while also earning miles. 

Discover it Miles Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits

  • No late fee on your first late payment
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No penalty APR

Standard Benefits

  • Social Security number monitoring
  • $0 fraud liability on unauthorized charges
  • Overnight card delivery
  • 24/7 U.S.-based customer service
  • Year-end summary
  • Free FICO credit score
  • Discover identity alerts and account monitoring
  • Freeze it on/off switch (from app) to prevent unauthorized charges

Cardholder Experience

According to the 2019 J.D. Power Credit Card Customer Satisfaction survey, Discover is most satisfying card issuer out of 11 card companies surveyed. It has a score of 842, compared with the average of 806 in the survey. 

Discover says its customer service is based in the United States. It's available over the phone, on its website, or through the mobile app. Help is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-DISCOVER or you can contact customer service online, including using the issuer's website to message an agent.

Security Features

Discover, as with many other card issuers, allows you to freeze and unfreeze your account as needed and to monitor your credit report online or through the mobile app. The company will notify you if there is suspicious activity, and you’re never responsible for unauthorized charges, which are also standard features. 

Our Verdict

The generous matching bonus and flexible redemption options make the Discover it Miles a strong choice in a miles-earning card that has no annual fee, at least for its first year. It also allows you to carry new purchases during that year (and a little beyond, to 14 months) without interest, through its 0% APR offer. 

After that initial year, though, its appeal drops. The ongoing rate of 1.5 miles per dollar spent is just average among no-annual-fee cards. For example, despite its lack of a bonus, even average spenders might find better long-term value with the Citi Double cash card, which offers 1% + 1% rewards—1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay off those purchases.

Apply Now
For Discover it® Miles
on Discover's Secured Site.
Compare This Card
See how this card compares to similar cards
CURRENT CARD
Discover it® Miles
overall rating
4.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.