The bottom line: Frequent travelers or bigger spenders would probably 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 budget-minded occasional travelers.
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months
Recommended Credit Score
Quick FactsView rates and fees
- UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
- Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
- Redeem for Travel or Cash. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases or get cash.
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: higher rewards rate + perks
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
2 miles per dollar on all purchases
This card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on anything, and you can redeem miles for any travel purchase. There's an annual fee — $95 — but you get a fantastic sign-up bonus, a credit of up to $100 for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, the ability to transfer miles to a dozen airline programs, and worldwide acceptance on the Visa network.
Some travel credit cards give you the option of redeeming your points or miles for cash back rather than travel, but doing so usually means getting a lower value per point. The Discover it® Miles is a noteworthy exception. Each mile you earn with the card is worth 1 cent, regardless of whether you use it to pay for travel or convert it to cash back.
The Discover it® Miles earns 1.5 miles for every dollar spent — pretty good for a card with a $0 annual fee, but low compared with travel cards that charge an annual fee.
The flexible redemption options and unique sign-up bonus make this a good low-cost alternative for occasional travelers who want an easy-to-use credit card. But frequent fliers may get even more value out of a more robust travel card, especially if they travel overseas often.
Discover it® Miles: Basics
Card type: Travel.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
Ongoing rewards: 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases.
Interest rate: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.
Foreign transaction fee: None.
Free access to FICO score.
Access to Discover's free Social Security number monitoring service.
Benefits of the Discover it® Miles
flexible redemption options
One one level, the Discover it® Miles works like a general travel credit card. You earn 1.5 cents per mile, and you can redeem miles at a value of 1 cent apiece for credit on your statement against travel purchases. (Eligible expenses include plane tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and commuting costs; charges must have been made in the past 180 days.) However, you can also convert your miles to cash at the same rate, in the form of a direct deposit. Redeeming for cash 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.
No minimum redemption amount
Many credit cards require you to accumulate a certain amount in rewards — often $25 or more — before you can redeem. The Discover it® Miles allows redemptions as small as 1 point. Getting a penny back at a time is obviously not going to revolutionize your travel style. But the lack of a minimum redemption amount means you can reimburse yourself for smaller travel expenses, like cab fare.
A bonus offer with no limit
Discover's offer to new cardholders is as lucrative as you want to make it. The issuer describes it this way: "UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match." This effectively gives you 3 miles per dollar spent on everything in your first 12 months. If you spent $20,000 on the card in the first year, for example, you would earn $300 worth of miles, and the bonus would kick in $300 more. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially on a card with an annual fee of $0.
A generous 0% APR period
The Discover it® Miles gives you an introductory APR of 0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% 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.
No 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. Discover isn’t as widely accepted abroad as Visa and MasterCard.
Drawbacks of the Discover it® Miles
not good for bigger spenderS
The Discover it® Miles is a great card for people who don't plan to spend a whole lot. Because there's no annual fee to eat into your rewards, you come out ahead immediately. But bigger spenders would be better off with a card that charges a fee but offers a higher rewards rate.
For example, if you spend more than $19,000 a year, you'll get more value from the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. That card gives you 2 miles per dollar spent on anything, with miles redeemable for travel expenses at a penny apiece. In the first year, you're guaranteed to come out ahead with the Capital One card since the annual fee is $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.
Limited international acceptance
For a low-cost travel card that’s widely accepted around the world, check out the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, which operates on the Visa network. Like the Discover it® Miles, it 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.
No bonus rewards opportunities
Earning the same rewards rate on every purchase is certainly the simplest way to make your spending count, but it may not be the most lucrative. A card that earns more on specific spending categories can be the answer, although you’ll have to put in a little more effort remembering where to use the card. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card earns 3 points per dollar on a broad range of common spending categories:
Dining, including restaurants, fast food, bars and ordering in.
Transportation costs, including gas stations, parking, commuter trains, taxis, limos, ferries and tolls.
Travel costs, including flights, train tickets, cruises, car rentals, hotels, timeshares, campgrounds and travel agencies.
Streaming services, including Apple Music, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Sirius XM Radio and Spotify.
New cardholders can also get this sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value. The annual fee is $0.
Also see NerdWallet's best credit cards for options across credit card types.
Should you get the Discover it® Miles?
Among no-fee travel cards, the Discover it® Miles stands out for its versatility, thanks to the ability to redeem for travel and cash back at equal value. 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 worth consideration.
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