The Bottom Line: Frequent travelers would get more value from a card with a higher rewards rate and more perks (and an annual fee), but this is a solid choice for occasional travelers.
14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months
recommended credit score
Quick FactsView rates and fees
- INTRO OFFER: 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!
- Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
- No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
Pros & Cons
Rewards can be redeemed for travel or cash back at equal value
No annual fee or foreign transaction fee
Flexible redemption options
No luxury perks
Other cards offer higher rewards rates
Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.
Requires good/excellent credit
Alternate Pick: Greater global acceptance
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
1.5 points per dollar spent on everything
Discover's big drawback is that it's not as widely accepted worldwide as Visa and Mastercard. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers the same rewards rate and the same $0 fee, but it's a Visa.Read our review
Most rewards credit cards make you choose between cash back and travel miles, but the Discover it® Miles lets you redeem miles for either travel credit or cash back at the same rate. For an annual fee of $0, it gives you a solid 1.5 miles per dollar spent. In a glut of glitzy travel card options, it's an excellent low-cost alternative.
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.
Card type: Travel.
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 14.24% - 25.24% 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's offer to new cardholders is as lucrative as you want to make it: 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! This effectively gives 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 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 Bank of America 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 a travel purchase.
You’re a bigger 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. For example:
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.
If you spent more than $19,000 a year, you'd get more value from the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. That card offers 2 miles per dollar spent on anything, with miles redeemable for travel expenses. In the first year, you're guaranteed to come out ahead with the Capital One card since the annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95, and there's a big sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
The NerdWallet best credit cards page can also help you see how these travel cards compare against others.
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.
NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.