Discover's no-fee travel credit card matches all of your miles in the first year for an unbeatable 3% across the board

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  • With no annual fee and no restrictions on which airlines and hotels earn you travel points, Discover it® Miles provides a lot of flexibility on how to earn miles.
  • The card's rewards rate of 1.5% is matched by Discover for the first 12 months of your account, making it a very competitive rate for general spending (effectively bringing it to 3% across the board).
  • The card comes with an additional $30 in in-flight Wi-Fi credits every year.

The Discover it® Miles card presents an interesting opportunity as a card. With a 1.5% rewards on all purchases, it provides the return rate of a general cash-back card like the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card or the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Yet while you can redeem Discover it Miles for cash, the card is advertised as a travel card, with the primary benefit being the ability to redeem miles on any airline, hotel, or rental car. In essence it earns like a cash-back card, but is treated like a travel card.

In some ways it can live up to that function. Because Discover has no specific travel partners, meaning no blackout dates, and credits for all travel purchases from any airline, hotel, or rental car agency. It's quite flexible in how its points are redeemed, but that point is also its weakness, as the card provides no deals or benefits through partner networks, making "miles" no more valuable than their cash value equivalent. There's also no ability to earn extra miles through booking through a portal, or flying with a specific airline.

The situation changes a bit when you consider the Discover it Miles introductory offer, which promises to match all miles earned at the end of the first year, effectively bringing the rewards rate to 3%. That's a high rate and 3% back on all categories compares competitively with any existing cash-back or travel card. Given the average American household annual spending of $57,000 this could result in 173,000 miles - or the equivalent of $1,729 over the course of a year.

For those who enjoy centralizing purchases to one card, a 3% back shopping spree for 12 months could be a great deal, especially as there is no annual fee, and 0% APR for the first 14 months; then a variable APR of 13.99% to 24.99% applies.

Some people have pointed to the limited acceptance of Discover cards by merchants, and while this true, Discover has worked to increase its acceptance in recent years. Discover is currently accepted at 9.3 million merchants compared to 9.5 million for Visa and Mastercard.

Other perks of the Discover it Miles card

The Discover it Miles has the benefits of other Discover cards, which while not exceptional, make it a solid card.

  • Free FICO Score - Discover offers an easily viewable score on monthly statements, your mobile app, and online for free. But this is an now a service provided for free by many companies.
  • Freeze it on/off switch - If you misplace your credit card, use your mobile app to instantly prevent new purchases, cash advances, or balance transfers, in seconds.
  • $30 in-flight Wi-Fi credit - When you use your Discover it Miles card to purchase wireless internet access on an aircraft, Discover will credit that amount of that purchase to your statement, up to a maximum of $30 each year.

Should I get this card?

It's a little tough to say. As a card that can't make its mind up about being a cash-back or a travel card, it's hard to justify getting this card over Citi Double Cash, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, or the Discover it® Cash Back card.

The case tips in favor of the Miles card when considering their introductory 12-month kicker, which effectively brings your rewards rate to 3%, which is a fantastic rate for a card that can earn that rate in any spending category.

But it should be again noted, that if you are willing to have multiple cards to optimize for purchase category, the card begins to lose value when compared to 2x points on travel and restaurant purchases through the Chase Sapphire Preferred, 5% cash back on rotating categories up to $1,500 once you enroll with the Discover it Cash Back, or any card that earns bonus points when booking travel through their program.

So, ultimately, if you want just one card with no annual fee, where you can spend anywhere, this is a decent option in the short term.

If you want a card for longer than a year, we'd recommend checking out some of our other zero-fee cash-back cards.

Click here to learn about the Discover it Miles from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

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