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Discover it Miles Review: Flexible Rewards and 0% APR

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Discover it Miles Review: Flexible Rewards and 0% APR

Most rewards credit cards force you to choose between cash back and travel miles, but the Discover it® Miles allows you to redeem miles for either travel credit or cash back at the same rate. For an annual fee of $0, it also gets you a solid 1.5 miles per dollar spent. In a glut of glitzy travel card options, it’s an excellent low-cost alternative.

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • No annual fee
    • 10.99% for 14 months on transfers
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Match Mile For Mile: We’ll match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months
  • Additional Information
    • New! We’ll monitor your Social Security Number. Get an alert if we find your Social Security Number on any of thousands of risky websites.* Activate for FREE.
    • Match Mile For Mile: We’ll match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
    • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
    • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
    • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
    • 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 FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
    • No Annual Fee.
    • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.

Why the Discover it® Miles is a good deal

Credit cards that offer a 1.5% rewards rate are fairly common nowadays, but the Discover it® Miles’s other benefits stand out.

It offers a generous 0% APR period. The Discover it® Miles gives you 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 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. Most travel credit cards don’t have a 0% period. You can use this perk to pay off a big purchase — say, an upcoming trip — interest-free over time.

It offers flexible redemption options. The Discover it® Miles sounds like a travel card, but it’s really a hybrid travel and cash-back card. That is, miles are worth 1 cent apiece whether you redeem them for credit against travel purchases or cash back via direct deposit. Of course, redeeming the miles for cash back gives you more flexibility, and there’s nothing stopping you from later spending that money on travel. But for some, earmarking miles specifically for a big trip might be more enticing.

Like other Discover cards, the Discover it® Miles doesn’t have minimum redemption requirements. If you have 1 mile left over after you use the rewards to cover airline tickets, you could request a direct deposit of 1 cent, if you really wanted.

For some cardholders, the sign-up bonus offer could be especially valuable. Discover promises a generous sign-up bonus: Match Mile For Mile: We’ll match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. This gets you 3 miles per dollar spent on everything in your first 12 months. If you spent $20,000 on it in a year, for example, you’d earn an extra $300 worth of miles. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially on a card with an annual fee of $0.

It has a fee credit for in-flight Wi-Fi. No one likes in-flight Wi-Fi, but sometimes you really need to Google something at 40,000 feet. For emergencies like these, the annual $30 fee credit for in-flight Wi-Fi on the Discover it® Miles can come in handy.

It doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Like all Discover cards, the Discover it® Miles doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. This benefit could save you money the next time you travel abroad, or make an international purchase online. But bring a backup method of payment, too. In many countries, Discover isn’t as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard.

Why you might choose a different credit card

The Discover it® Miles isn’t the best match for everyone. Here’s why you might be better off with a different option.

You want a card with greater international acceptance. If you’re looking for a low-cost travel card that’s accepted by more international merchants, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card, a Visa, is an excellent choice. Like the Discover it® Miles, it also offers 1.5 points per dollar spent, which you can redeem for 1 cent each on travel purchases. Among major issuers, it also has the most inclusive definition of what counts as “travel purchases.”

You’re a big spender. The Discover it® Miles is a great card for people who don’t plan to spend a whole lot, kind of like how above-ground swimming pools are great for people who don’t plan to swim a whole lot. But just as Michael Phelps wouldn’t train for a race in a tiny outdoor tub, big spenders shouldn’t put all of their expenses on a no-fee credit card with a 1.5% rewards rate.

A card with a higher rewards rate and a fee would likely offer more value. Case in point: If you spent more than $5,000 on travel and dining each year and redeemed points with Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ would be a better deal than the Discover it® Miles, even with its $450 annual fee.

Flexible, no-fuss rewards

Among no-fee travel cards, the Discover it® Miles stands out as one of the best and most versatile options. Even in the staunchly competitive cash-back world, it holds its own. It’s not the best option for travelers who spend more time in hotels and planes than at home. But for vacationers looking for a low-maintenance card with flexible rewards, it’s hard to beat.

Information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

This article has been updated. It was originally published Feb. 20, 2015.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.