The Discover It Miles Card is a lesser known alternative to the issuer’s flagship Discover It card. However, that does not mean it’s a better alternative. The Discover It Miles is one of the few remaining “travel cash back cards” in the industry. The Barclays Arrival + was discontinued again and the Capital One Venture became a transferrable points card.
The Discover It Miles is not a card that I would recommend to most travelers. However, some people like simplicity in every facet and this Discover card caters to those people.
Like all Discover cards, the Discover It Miles has no annual fee. It earns a flat 1.5x miles on all purchases instead of 5% cash back. Don’t be fooled by the name of the currency. Discover’s miles are not airline miles or transferrable points. They are equivalent to cash back. In other words, the Discover It Miles is a 1.5% flat rate cash back card.
Instead of a normal sign-up bonus, Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first year of card-membership. In other words, you will earn 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year. Not many other cards will get you that much value in rewards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a similar promotion going on. However, Chase’s promotion is targeted while Discover’s is open to those who get approved.
As a travel card, redemption on the Discover It is not complicated. Discover only gives you one way to redeem your miles. That’s by “erasing” travel purchases made on the card with a statement credit. Having a statement credit as the card’s only redemption option makes redeeming quite limited. This is like the Capital One Venture card before Capital One started their transfer partner program.
I am unimpressed by the sole redemption option. But I understand Discover’s vision to have cardholders redeem their miles for travel expenses. Most travelers would be better off with either a transferrable points card or a cash back card.
The silver lining with “travel cash back” cards in general is that miles could be used to “erase” non-traditional travel expenses. Expenses such as AirBnBs, hot air balloon tours, and even safaris could be covered with the Discover It Miles.
The Discover It Miles has a few perks for its cardholders, despite having no annual fee.
Monthly TransUnion Score
Everyone can use their credit score. Discover gives you your official TransUnion score every month for no additional cost.
This feature lets you see how much you have spent on your Discover card. You can also break down your expenditures by categories or view a specific time period. For example, if you want to know how much you spent at restaurants in 2018, the Spend Analyzer will tell you.
US Based Customer Service
US Based customer service is becoming increasingly rare. Many issuers want to save money and outsourced customer service is usually one of the first ways large companies do so. Discover prides itself on keeping their customer service in the United States and it’s paying off for them and cardholders.
Discover won the 2019 JD Power US Credit Card Satisfaction Survey primarily because of its customer service.
Rules & Regulations
Discover has one rule about product changes and one about getting another Discover card:
You can’t product change your Discover It Miles to a regular Discover It unless you’ve had your card open for at least 12 months.
Furthermore, you cannot get a second Discover card unless you’ve had your first one open for at least 12 months. This means that you need to choose between the Discover It and the Discover It Miles wisely.
Check out these alternatives if the Discover It Miles is not for you:
Chase Freedom Unlimited
This card is Chase’s version of the Discover It Miles. Both cards earn at a 1.5x flat rate on non-bonus purchases. However, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the more flexible card. It earns Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points instead of Discover Miles.
The Freedom Unlimited is the better card if you also have either Chase Sapphire card or a Chase Ink Business Preferred card. That’s because all points earned can be transferred to Chase’s transfer partners or redeemed using their portal. Without the premium Chase cards, UR points can only be redeemed for cash back.
Furthermore, the Freedom Unlimited has a more traditional sign-up bonus. You will receive 15,000 UR points ($150 cash back) after spending just $500 within the first three months. The Freedom Unlimited has the better bonus for the short-term. However, the Discover It Miles wins for the long-term.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash is one of the best alternatives to the Discover It Miles for cash back lovers. You can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases. The first 1% comes when you make the purchase and the second comes when you pay your bill.
The Double Cash gives you multiple options to redeem your cash back. You can redeem for a statement credit, cash back, a gift card, or a check in the mail. Discover should give It Miles more options for redemption like Citi does.
However, the Double Cash does not have any significant perks because Citi Dropped them from all their cards. The Discover It Miles is the better card for perks, despite not having that many of them.
The regular Discover It card is the best of the issuer’s card lineup. It earns 5% cash back (not miles) on purchases from rotating categories.
The It and the It Miles both come with the same sign-up bonus. Discover will double all cash back earned with the Discover It during your first year. That means the 5% categories become 10% categories for the first year. Furthermore, non-bonus spend earns 2% for the first year. That’s equivalent to the Citi Double Cash!
The Discover It also comes with the same perks as the Discover It Miles. However, you can choose your card design from over 140 designs when you first get your card. The It Miles comes in just three colors.
The Discover It Miles is a decent option for those who want a no annual fee travel card. However, many travelers would be less restricted with either a cash back card or a transferrable points card. Such restrictions come from having a statement credit as the sole redemption option.
But those who want simplicity in all facets would love the Discover It Miles card. This is also true for those who want a potentially large sign-up bonus. Just be aware of the two Discover rules before deciding between the regular Discover It and this card.