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Making the Most of Discover it Miles: Use Everything It Offers

Nov. 28, 2018
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The Discover it® Miles has a lot going for it: $0 annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, free FICO score, an unlimited 1.5 miles per $1 spent on every purchase, and maximum flexibility in rewards redemption. But you can squeeze even more value out of this travel card if you use every feature it offers.

Earn your miles

Newcomers to the Discover it® Miles can grab one of the best promotional offers available. As Discover puts it: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!

To take full advantage of Discover’s matching bonus, pay for everything you can with your new card to earn as many miles as possible in the first year. Here’s why: Say you spend $1,000 a month in that first year, or $12,000 total. You’ll earn 18,000 miles. But with the match, that becomes 36,000 miles, worth $360. That’s a whopping 3% rewards rate in the first year. There’s no limit on the number of miles you can accrue, and they never expire.

The card’s introductory APR — 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR — makes this card an option for financing a large purchase in the first year, which will boost your bonus. The Nerds advise that you never spend money you otherwise wouldn’t just to claim credit card rewards. But if you have a large expense looming, such as a new refrigerator, the Discover it® Miles lets you pay it off over the course of a year without paying interest, with 3% back as rewards.

Enjoy in-flight Wi-Fi

Most travelers decide whether to buy Wi-Fi access on a plane based on how long the flight is and how much they’ll use it. The Discover it® Miles makes it easy for you to stay connected in the air: You get a statement credit worth up to $30 for in-flight Wi-Fi fees each year.

Redeem your way

As a general travel card, the Discover it® Miles gives you a lot of flexibility. You can redeem your miles for credit against any travel purchase made with the card — flights on any airline, stays at any hotel, car rentals from any company. But if you’d rather have cash, Discover it® Miles won’t let you down. Whether you redeem for travel or for cash back (as a direct deposit into a bank account), each mile has the same 1-cent value. This gives it an advantage over many other travel cards, where you often get less than a penny per point or mile if you redeem for cash.

how to redeem rewards on the Discover it® Miles

You redeem your miles by logging into your card account online. Unlike with many other rewards credit cards, you can redeem in any amount, with no minimums.

Manage your credit

A lot of credit card issuers offer free credit scores for their cardholders, and Discover was one of the first to offer free FICO scores. You can track your score month to month on your credit card statement or online. Keeping close watch on your credit score and credit report will help you manage your credit and alert you to any problems like identity theft.

While no one wants to pay a credit card bill late, Discover gives you a break if you do it once. There is no charge for the first late payment, and a single late payment won’t raise your APR. But if you do it again, it’ll cost you up to $37.

If you misplace your card, Discover has you covered. Discover’s Freeze It feature lets you turn your card off in case you misplace it or lose it or it’s stolen. If you find it, you can reactivate it using the Discover app or website. If it’s stolen, the thieves won’t be able to use it because Discover will decline most charges while your card is in Freeze It mode. If your card is lost or stolen, Discover will replace the card within 24 hours.

With no annual fee and a potentially sky-high sign-up bonus, it’s easy to get started with Discover it® Miles. Be a power user in the first year, and you’ll be the master of this card.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.