About Discover it Miles Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Aug 13, 2018

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 13.74% to 24.74% 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.

How the Discover it Miles Compares to Other Travel Credit Cards

In our 2018 ranking of best travel rewards credit cards, the Discover it Miles finished as the second best travel card of the seven we reviewed.

Here’s a chart showing how the card compares to the three best cards in our rankings:

Discover it Miles U.S. Bank FlexPerks Chase Sapphire Preferred Capital One Venture
Sign-Up Bonus Value $375 Up to $400 $500 $400
Yearly Rewards 37,500 32,864 29,650 50,000
APR 13.74% - 24.74% 15.74% - 25.74% 17.74% - 24.74% 14.74% - 24.74%
Annual Fee None $0 for the first year, then $49 $0 for the first year, then $95 $0 for the first year, then $95

There are a few things to notice in this table. First, the Discover it Miles’ APR is a full percent lower than the next card and 4% better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This is an important fact because our research of available stats indicates that, if you carry balances on your credit card, the average is about $16,000 overall and between $4,000 and $5,000 per card.

That means that a 4% advantage in APR could save you $160 in interest payments per year.

Second, the other cards on this list have better up-front bonuses and yearly rewards. The Capital One Venture will give you $500 worth of rewards per year, based on $25,000 in spending, and the Sapphire Preferred has the 50,000-point sign-up bonus.

Finally, what this chart doesn’t show is that Discover is perennial #1 or #2 in J.D. Power’s rankings for the credit card companies with the best customer service.

Picking the best travel card is a tough job because a lot of it has to do with your spending habits. When we took everything into account, we believe that the Discover it Miles is the second-best card out there, mainly because it combines low fees and average rewards along with great customer service make it a strong choice.

If you don’t carry a balance and are comfortable getting into the complexities of transferring travel points and/or booking through an online portal, then the Chase card is the better choice and you can find out why in our review of the Sapphire Preferred.

Our Final Word: Pros and Cons of the Discover it Miles

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.

We also think it’s important to note that the Discover it Miles doesn’t have an annual fee and its lowest published APR, 13.74%, is better than any other travel card on the market and equal to the mainstream cash rewards card with the best APR: Discover it Cash Card.

The downside to the card is that the “miles” that you earn aren’t true miles in the sense that you can’t use them in an airline’s frequent flyer program.

If that’s the type of card you’re looking for, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred is probably the better choice because you can transfer the points you earn to United, Southwest and five other airline partners.

With these positives and negatives in mind, we think that the Discover it Miles card is a good fit for those who tend to carry balances and travel often. This card’s low APR will temper your interest payments while earning some excellent rewards the first year.

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