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Discover Miles

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What are Discover Miles worth? 1.00 cent per mile. We applaud Discover for not nickel and diming consumers with sliding scale redemption values - many other banks require you to redeem at least 10,000 points or more before your points are actually worth 1 cent each. That’s not to say that they’re the best rewards cards around: the Motiva and More both require you to spend $3,000 before the full rewards rate kicks in.

A major only knock on this point program is that if you come up short on airline miles, you can’t transfer miles to airline partners the same way you can with American Express Membership Rewards. Plus, if you’re a traveler, Discover isn’t accepted as widely as Visa and MasterCard, and tends to have coverage in, say, Slovakia rather than France.

Redemption Options.

  • Cash – 5,000 miles can be exchanged for $25 deposited into your bank account. (point value: 0.5 cents)
  • Travel – 10,000 miles offsets $100 in travel expenses charged to your card. (point value: 1 cent)

Expiration.

Miles do not expire, as long as you use your credit card. However, per Discover’s website:

“…if your account is closed for any reason or inactive for 18 consecutive months, or if you fail to make the Minimum Payment Due for two consecutive billing periods, you may forfeit your Miles.”

How best to earn them:

Your best choice is the Discover Escape, which earns 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. It also has a pretty good signup bonus, though it has a catch: it gives 25,000 miles, worth $250, but they’re paid out at a rate of 1,000 per month to keep you using your card. You have to wait 2 years to get your full bonus. And unlike the Capital One Venture, its $60 annual fee is not waived the first year.

That said, as of October 2011, it’s got the best bonus of all the 2% rewards cards: $150 more than the Venture, and the Fidelity credit card doesn’t have a bonus at all.

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  • Jeff

    How are travel miles calculated. I assume it's flying miles and not driving miles as well.

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/nerdwallet nerdwallet

      Yep, you can think of them just like frequent flyer miles, except that they are redeemable on multiple airlines, as well as other travel partners like hotels and rental cars. Because of this, they function more like "points", or even cash, than like "miles".

      And in this case, the method of calculation depends on the card. The Discover Miles card earns one mile per $1 spent, while the Discover Escape earns two miles per $1 spent.

  • Wendy

    I've had a Discover card for years. How do I redeem the miles earned? Do I just use the Discover card when I purchase an airline ticket?

    • nerdwallet

      Hi Wendy, you actually have to call them and tell them to use your miles to offset travel expenses on your bill. You earn rewards by using your card to purchase tickets, but then you have to call them and tell them when to redeem them.

      The number is 1-800-DISCOVER (easy enough to remember), or you can use this link to redeem for gift cards and such online.