About Discover it Miles Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Apr 28, 2017

The Discover it Miles credit card currently offers 1.5% “miles” on all purchases, including a match by Discover for the first year of the card. In addition to these offers, cardmembers also get 0% APR on all purchases made in the first 14 months.

These three perks are enough to get any consumer thinking about signing up for the Discover it Miles, but, like all financial products, the best decisions are made by understanding the card’s:

  • Long-term benefits
  • Fees and penalties
  • Reputation with other consumers
  • Value compared to other cards in its class

We’re going to thoughtfully break down each one of these categories so you can get a clear sense of whether or not this card is right for you.

The Discover it Miles’ Long-Term Benefits

We’ve already talked about what you get up front with this card: cash-back match the first year and a 0% APR for 14 months. With those two up-front benefits in place, let’s examine what you get in the long run with this Discover credit card.

1.5% Rewards Miles on All Purchases

This is the most important perk on the Discover it Miles card. What this means is that every time you use your Discover card to make a purchase, you get 1.5 rewards miles for every dollar you spend. If your bill comes out to $100, then you get 150 miles.

Every 100 miles you earn is worth $1, so 150 miles is $1.50. You can use that cash amount to get a check sent to you in the amount you want, or you can apply the cash value of your points to any travel purchases made to your account.

Plus, Discover will match any rewards miles you accrue your first year, which can be a really lucrative bonus depending on how much you spend on your credit card each month. Here’s a quick chart to help you understand the first-year possibilities:

Spend $1,000 a month:

  • $12,000/year spent
  • 18,000 miles earned
  • Miles match equals 36,000 miles, or $360.

Spend $2,000 a month:

  • $24,000/year spent
  • 36,000 miles earned
  • Miles match equals 72,000 miles, or $720.

Spend $3,000 a month:

  • $36,000/year spent
  • 54,000 miles earned
  • Miles match equals 108,000 miles, or $1,080

Miles redemptions can be done through your Discover.com account or by calling 1-800-347-3085.

Pro tip: Only travel purchases made in the past 180 days are eligible for miles redemption.

What Qualifies as a Travel Purchase?

According to Discover’s fine print, there is no minimum mileage you need to have to redeem them for cash. You can start, they say, with 1 mile ($0.01). The fine print also says that travel purchases include:

  • Airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals
  • Cruises and tours
  • Vacation packages purchased on the internet
  • Transportation: ferries, taxis, passenger trains, limos and charter/tour buses.

Virtual-wallet purchases and POS purchases made with NFC technology may not be eligible.

U.S.-Based Customer Service Call Centers

Whenever you make a call to Discover’s customer service line, the company says you’ll be connected to a U.S.-based call center.

For consumers who’ve had frustrating conversations with representatives from call centers in India or the Philippines, this is a welcomed perk.

According to industry experts Talk Desk, Discover isn’t the only American credit-card company who’s decided to bring their call centers back to the U.S.: Citi has done the same.

In a blog post about the history of call centers, Talk Desk spoke with Mary Murcott, former CEO of outsourcing company Novo 1.

“Brands have done a great deal of damage to their credibility through unsatisfactory customer service,” Murcott said.

Free FICO Score

Cardmembers get free access to their FICO score, although this is a negligible perk since non-Discover customers can get their FICO through Discover’s Credit Scorecard program.

This is a pretty standard perk these days – Chase, Bank of America and American Express offer free FICO scores for their credit card clients.

Related: Making Sense of Your Credit Scores: Your Comprehensive Guide

Security Measures

Discover customers get the standard suite of security measures, including $0 liability on purchases. So, if someone steals your card number and buys 15 iPads with it, you aren’t on the hook for a single penny.

You’ll also get Discover’s Freeze it option, which is a feature in their mobile app that lets you block your card with one tap.

These security features are pretty standard among credit card companies.

The Discover it Miles’ Fees and Penalties

Every credit card you read about has a set of fees and penalties you’ll pay if you make a late payment, bounce a check or other bad financial choices.

Also, you’ll pay what’s known as an “APR”, or annual percentage rate, if you don’t pay your balance in full.

Late Fees & Penalties

Discover won’t charge you a fee the first time you make a late payment, but every late payment after that will cost you, in most cases, $37.

Foreign Transaction Fee

There are no foreign transaction fees on this card, which means Discover won’t charge you an additional fee for using the card outside of the United States.

Annual Fee

You won’t pay an annual fee for the Discover it Miles card.

APR

Credit card companies assign you an APR based on your creditworthiness. The Discover it Miles APR ranges from 11.74% to 23.74% for purchases and balance transfers, which only kicks in if you don’t pay your balance in full every month.

A Quick Lesson on APR

So, let’s say you have a balance of $1,035 and you only pay $35 of it. You’re left with a $1,000 balance. Discover then divides your APR by 365 (number of days in a year), and applies that percentage each day to the balance you carry.

To make things easy, we’ll pretend your APR is 365%. Discover divides that by 365 and your daily interest rate is 1%. That 1% is applied daily to your balance of $1,000, which means after the first day you’ll be charged $10, which brings your balance up to $1,010. This continues every day until you pay off your outstanding balance.

Now that you’ve got a decent idea of what the card offers and the fees and penalties, you can expect, let’s talk about what other people are saying about it.

What Other Consumers Say About the Discover it Miles Card

Customer reviews of the Discover it Miles card can be found on sites like Credit Karma and Nerd Wallet, but their reviews are pretty sparse. WalletHub has a decent amount of reviews: 198 people gave the card an average of 4.3 stars.

The Positives

Many of the positive reviews we read focused on consumers who say the miles rack up pretty quickly but, to be honest, this isn’t unique to the Discover it Miles card (more on that in a few seconds).

They also enjoyed how the card has a lack of annual fee and no penalty APR, as well as the helpfulness of information found on Discover’s website.

The Negatives

Many of the 1-star reviews we read were complaints about low credit limits. Basically, people were hoping to get the card so they could spend thousands a month and rack up miles, only to find out they got a $1,000 credit limit.

“Credit limit” is pretty much what it sounds like: you can’t have a balance higher than what your credit limit is.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can only spend $1,000 in a month. It means you have to pay off your balance in order to make room for more purchases.

So, if you spend $600 on a new TV and you want to turn around and use your Miles card to buy a $900 computer, you’ll have to pay off most of your TV purchase before you have enough space for the computer buy.

Customers said Discover’s explanation for the low credit limit was that the company needed to see three months of use on the card before the limit was increased.

In other words, they want to make sure you use the card reliably before they give you more room to spend.

You’ll want to keep that in mind as you apply, especially since several customers who got low limits noted they had credit limits of $5,000 and above on other cards when they applied for the Discover it Miles.

Discover won’t tell you in advance what your limit will be, so remember that when you sign up for the card.

How the Discover it Miles Compares to Other Cards

When we did our Best Travel Credit Card of 2017 article, we included the Discover it Miles card in our rankings because it’s marketed as a travel card.

The truth is, the card didn’t really stand a chance against more popular cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, mainly because the Preferred was specifically created for travelers, whereas the Discover it Miles is more for the average person.

What we mean by that is, at the time of publishing, the Sapphire Preferred was offering customers a 50,000-point bonus if they could spend $4,000 in the first three months of owning the card.

Those points are deposited in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which is basically an in-house travel marketplace where you can use points to pay for flights and hotel rooms or you can transfer the points to Chase travel partners.

So, if you were a member of the Hyatt Gold Passport program, you could transfer your Ultimate Rewards Points to your Gold Passport account.

You can see why, for travelers, at least, the Sapphire Preferred is superior to the Discover it Miles.

However, when you compare the Discover card to other cash back cards, it’s a much better competitor.

For example, the Miles’ 1.5% rewards rate is equal to what you get with the Capital One Quicksilver and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Only the Citi Double Cash card has a better rate (2%).

The Miles also has the lowest APR available among the major cash-back cards (11.74%) and the third-longest intro APR rate (14 months).

While the Discover it Miles card doesn’t really compete with other travel cards, it’s near the top of the list in the cash-back category.

Our Final Thoughts About the Discover it Miles Card

As a cash-back card, the Discover it Miles is a solid choice, especially considering it has such a long intro-APR period and a rewards-match for the first year.

If you spend $3,000 a month on your credit card, then the Miles can give you $1,080 in cash rewards the first year and $540 every year after that.

However, if you’re researching the Discover it Miles as a viable travel card, we think there are other products out there better suited for your needs: Take a look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture – both have a particular set of perks and offers that benefit the traveler.

We also think it’s important to note that the Discover it Miles doesn’t have an annual fee and its lowest published APR, 11.74%, is better than any other travel card on the market and better than all other cash-back rewards cards except the Discover it Cash Card.

At this point, you might be thinking that the Discover it Miles is an easy choice. We’d agree with you, but with one important caveat: You don’t know what your credit limit will be.

Customer feedback indicates that, even if you have relatively high credit limits on other credit cards, there’s a chance Discover could start you out with a rock-bottom credit limit of $1,000 until you show three months of consistent use.

While a low credit limit doesn’t bar you from spending $3,000 a month, it does mean you’ll have to go into your account and pay it down to zero to make sure you’ve got room to make more purchases.

That can be totally annoying, but it certainly does ensure that you’ll have your balance paid off more often than not.

Our verdict? If you’re looking for a great cash back card, the Discover it Miles could be an excellent choice. For travel, not so much.

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