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Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Discover it Miles: Two Travel Cards Go Head to Head

Sept. 21, 2015
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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They’re two of the top travel rewards cards on the market: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and the Discover it® Miles. Which is best for you depends on your spending habits, fee sensitivity, rewards redemption preferences and preferred perks. Let’s see which card should take you on your next trip.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs.
Discover it® Miles: Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1 point on all other purchases. It has a generous sign-up bonus: 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®.

Ultimate Rewards points are best redeemed for travel. You can use points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.25 cents each or you can transfer them to one of Chase’s partner programs for a potentially higher value. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for partner information.

With the Discover it® Miles, cardholders get 1.5 miles for every $1 spent. Plus, you’ll get a 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. Miles are redeemable for travel or cash back, at a rate of 1 cent per point.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs.
Discover it® Miles: Fees

The annual fee on Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is $95. The Discover it® Miles has an annual fee of $0. Neither card charges foreign transaction fees, but Discover isn’t widely accepted overseas. The Discover it® Miles also has an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

The annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card looks steep, but it could be the better deal if you spend heavily on travel and dining.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs.
Discover it® Miles: Additional benefits

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with access to the Ultimate Rewards bonus mall. You can use it to get extra rewards on purchases from more than 250 online retailers.

The Discover it® Miles offers complimentary access to your FICO score and a way to skip the first late fee.

Bottom line: Choosing the best card for you

If you spend primarily on travel and dining, spend enough each year to justify an annual fee and plan on taking your card overseas, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the way to go. However, if you’re a smaller spender and want an introductory 0% offer, the Discover it® Miles is the better deal. Either way, you’ll end up with a great travel card.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @Erin_Lindsay17.

Image via iStock.