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Verdict: The Discover® it Miles travel rewards card is a sterling new credit card for 2015. We think it is the best no annual fee travel rewards card available today - and one of the best reward cards available, period.
You will love this card in the first year, since it offers 3 travel miles as a reward for every dollar spent in that year.
After that, the rewards are 1.5 miles (or 1.5% cash back – your choice) for every dollar spent. When combined with the $30 credit for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases each year, no annual fee, and an introductory APR of 0%, this card provides clear value and flexibility for frequent travelers.
We should point out that other cards offer you a cash back option. Discover's 1.5% cash back option is more generous than most, and makes this card an amazing rewards card, not just a great travel rewards card.
Discover it Miles Key Features and Benefits
The Discover® it Miles credit card offers some significant rewards and benefits, especially for a card that does not carry an annual fee.
Signup and First Year Rewards
New cardholders are entitled to some great rewards and benefits during their first year, namely:
- Double Your Miles. At the end of your first year, Discover® will double all the miles you earned. That is equivalent to giving you 3 miles for each $1 spent in Year 1.
- 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 Months. After the first year, a variable APR applies. This rate currently is 10.99% – 22.99%.
In addition to those first year perks, a Discover® it Miles travel rewards card offers these great benefits:
- No annual fee.
- 1.5 miles for each $1 spent.
- Your miles do not expire.
- Option to redeem your rewards as 1.5% cash back, not just as airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and commuter transportation.
- Annual credit up to $30 for in-flight wi-fi purchases.
- No blackout dates when redeeming miles.
- Flight accident insurance insures you and your covered dependents in the event of a accidental death (up to $500,000).
- Auto rental insurance.
- No late fee for your first late payment, and your APR won’t go up for paying late.
- No foreign transaction fee.
- Free FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statements.
- Access to savings with Discover Deals.
- Freeze it - Discover's on/off switch that lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. Freeze or unfreeze your account in seconds via our website or mobile app.
- Purchase protection - Discover covers your eligible purchases up to $500 if they are damaged or stolen within 90 days of the purchase.
- Extended Warranty - They will extend the terms of an existing warranty for up to 1 additional year on warranties of 36 months or less.
- Price Protection - Discover will refund the difference up to $500 on eligible items if you find a lower price at any store within 90 days of purchase.
- Return Guaranty - Discover will refund the purchase price up to $500 if the original store will not accept your return within 90 days of purchase.
Editor's Note: As of August 1, 2015, Discover cardholders lost "Baggage Delay" insurance, MyConcierge service, and the 24/7 travel assistance benefits that came with Discover cards. The loss of these perks does not affect our review.
Fees and Interest Rates
As mentioned previously, the Discover® it Miles card has no annual fee and an introductory APR for new purchases of 0%.
It's regular fees are as follows:
Charges and Fees
APR for Purchases
0% intro APR for 14 months from date of account opening. After that, your APR will be 13.49%-24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
APR for Balance Transfers
10.99% intro APR for 14 months from date of first transfer, for transfers under this offer that post to your account by August 10, 2018. After that, your APR will be 13.49%-24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
APR for Cash Advances
26.49%. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of the amount of each transfer.
Cash Advance Fee
Greater of $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance
Late Payment Fee
None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $37.
Up to $37.
Discover it Miles vs. Similar Travel Rewards Cards
In preparation of updating our Guide to Travel Rewards Cards (which was produced before the introduction of the Discover it Miles card), we decided to compare the it Miles card to the Chase® Sapphire Preferred and Capital One® Venture cards.
It turns out, Discover® also thinks those cards are good benchmarks, and provides a useful chart that we reprinted below.
Both CreditShout and Discover agree - after putting it through its paces, the Discover it Miles card will be the best travel rewards card of 2015 for most consumers.
Why We Prefer Discover it Miles over Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase® Sapphire Preferred rewards card offers a generous sign up bonus of 40,000 miles, if you spend $4,000 in your first three months.
Besides that, the card's fees are high and the opportunities to accumulate benefits are limited:
- $0 annual fee in Year 1, $95 thereafter.
- 2x miles for each $1 spent on travel and dining, but only 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere.
- No balance transfer or introductory purchase offer.
- Less flexible payment options.
The added flexibility of the Discover® it Miles card to earn rewards in more places, redeem them for cash, and get all first year miles doubled, plus the lower cost of ownership, make the it Miles card the clear winner here.
Discover it Miles vs. Capital One Venture: Winner Depends on the Consumer
The Capital One® Venture card also is a great travel rewards card. It offers these key benefits:
- 2x miles on all purchases.
- 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
- $0 fee in Year 1; $59/year thereafter.
Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Capital One Venture card lets you earn double miles everywhere. And you only need to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to earn the 40,000 bonus miles.
For consumers spending $1,000/month on their credit card (and taking advantage of the 40,000 mile bonus offer), they can expect to earn 64,000 miles from Capital One in Year 1. But only 36,000 miles from Discover. That $1,000/month spend also is the magic number where you earn more miles every year to justify the Venture card's $59 annul fee.
5,900 miles ($59)
However, if you are spending less than $12,000/year, you need to take these factors into account:
- The Discover it Miles card has no annual fee.
- Discover offers 0% APR financing on new purchases during the first year.
- Discover it Miles rewards can be redeemed as cash back!
- The Capital One VentureOne Card - which is also a no annual fee card - only offers 1.25 miles per $1 spent; and does not all you to redeem your rewards as cash.
We think it will be up to each consumer to decide which card will work best for them. Ask yourself which is more important: earning more miles, or the greater flexibility and lower cost of the Discover it Miles card?
Frankly, we prefer the flexibility to earn cash back and to take advantage of the 0% APR on new purchases. This makes the it Miles card the best no annual fee travel rewards card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- 40,000 bonus miles if spend $4,000 in 3 months
- 2x miles on travel and dining only
- $99 Fee after Year 1
Capital One Venture Rewards
- 40,000 bonus miles if spend $3,000 in 3 months
- 2x miles on all purchases
- $59 Fee after Year 1
Discover it Miles
- Double Year 1 Miles Earned
- 1.5 miles on all purchases
- 0% APR on new purchases for 1 yeat
- Redeem Rewards for 1.5% Cash Back
Discover it Miles vs Capital One VentureOne
- 20,000 bonus miles, if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
- 1.25x Miles
- No Annual Fee
- 0% APR financing on new purchases thru April 2016
- Visa Signature benefits (if you qualify)
Credit Required: Good
- Double Year 1 Reward Miles (Get 3x Miles for Year 1)
- 1.5x Miles after Year 1
- No Annual Fee
- 12 Month of 0% APR financing on new purchases
- Discover benefits to all consumers
- Redeem miles as cash with no penalty
Credit Required: Excellent
We prefer the Discover it Miles over VentureOne for its superior rewards and greater flexibility:
- You will always earn more miles with Discover after the first year.
- Discover guarantees doubling your Year 1 miles - and does not require heavy spending over the first three months to earn a bonus.
- You get benefits with Discover that only accrue to Venture One cardholders who qualify for a $5,000 or more credit limit.
- it Miles reward miles are easily converted to cash on a 1-to-1 basis.
The potential 20,000 mile bonus in Year 1 from the CapitalOne VentureOne card sounds tempting, but over time the Discover it Miles card wins out.
Editor's Note: For those with less than excellent credit, the VentureOne travel rewards card is a great alternative.
The Bottom Line
There are a number of appealing benefits of the Discover It Miles card, which the original Discover it card doesn’t provide. Discover It Miles is ideal for people that travel regularly, but want the flexibility to take advantage of the generous cash back program.
It's combination of flexible rewards and low fees makes the Discover it Miles card a winner!
However, customers that do not see themselves as big travelers may want to consider the original Discover It card instead. While the regular Discover It card only offers a 1% cash back on regular purchases, it provides a 5% cash back on purchases of goods with certain rotating categories throughout the year. As well as the great consumer friendly features Discover is known for.