The Miles by Discover Card is designed for those who want complete flexibility with the usage of their travel reward points, and don’t want to ever pay an annual fee for their credit card.
The Miles card offers travel credits (“Miles”) that can be used for any type of travel (airline, cruise, vacation package, hotel, or car rental) and can be booked through multiple channels including; direct with the travel provider (i.e. the airline, hotel, rental car company, cruiseline, etc.), through a travel agent or through a travel website.
All you have to do is book and pay for your airfare, hotel, cruise, etc.. with your Miles Card and redeem for travel credits within 90 days after the date the travel purchase posts to your account.
Here’s how it works – Lets say you have 20,000 Miles available to redeem and you purchase a $300 airline ticket or hotel room. Once the transaction posts to your account you can call 1-800-DISCOVER and redeem the miles for a $200 credit to your account for your travel purchase (miles are worth 1 penny each, so 20,000 miles = a $200 statement credit). It does not matter what airline or hotel you use – any qualified travel related purchase will be eligible for a statement credit.
Sign up Bonus, Rewards and Transfer Options
The Miles by Discover Card does not offer a traditional sign up bonus where you get a certain number of miles after your first purchase. However, there is the opportunity to earn 12,000 bonus miles within the first year of having the card. As a new Miles by Discover cardholder you will earn a 1,000 mile bonus for each month you make a purchase in your first 12 months. This is on top of the 1 mile for every $1 you spend on the card. You will also get another bonus of Double Miles on your first $3,000 in travel and restaurant purchases* each year.
* Eligible travel purchases include commercial airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, cruises, tour operators and vacation packages purchased through travel agents, and online travel sites. Eligible restaurant purchases include those made at full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast food locations.
Points earned in the first year with the Miles by Discover Card
Assume you spend $3,000 per month on the Credit Card in the first 12 months.+ 12,000 Bonus Miles – Earn 1,000 miles each month you make a purchase on the card
+ 36,000 Bonus Miles – 1:1 ratio of points per dollar charged on the card
+3,000 Bonus Miles from Spending on Travel & Dining – Assume you spend $3,000 in travel & restaurant purchases throughout the year
= 51,000 Miles earned in the first year. That’s enough for travel credits worth $510.
Additional Benefits of the Miles by Discover Card
The Miles by Discover Card comes with a set of benefits exclusively available to cardholders. These benefits include:
- Primary Auto Rental Insurance: No need to pay for Collision Damage Waiver insurance when you book your rental with your card.
- Travel Delay Insurance: Protection from unexpected food and lodging expenses should your travel be delayed.
- Lost or Damaged Luggage Insurance: Reimbursement for lost or damaged luggage up to $2,500 per year.
- Trip Cancellation Insurance: Recover your costs should the unexpected occur and interrupt your travel plans.
- Emergency Roadside Assistance: 24-hour roadside assistance, towing and locksmith services for one low, flat fee.
- Purchase Protection: Automatic protection for your Discover Business Card purchases against damage, fire or theft for 90 days.
- Extended Product Warranty: Use your Discover Business Card and automatically double the original manufacturer’s warranty up to 1 year.
- $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee: You’re never responsible for any unauthorized charges on your account whether online, offline, anytime, anywhere.
- 0.0% Intro Balance Transfers and Purchases APR for 6 months:
Our Take on the Miles by Discover Card
Is it right for you?
While the Miles by Discover Card does not have a strong sign up bonus like some of the other card offers right now, it does have some definite benefits and will provide the opportunity for 12,000 bonus miles in the first year (more like a 1st year bonus rather than a sign up bonus). The primary reasons someone should consider this card are:
- If you want to earn points toward free travel, but don’t know how you want to use the points yet (i.e. for a cruise or a hotel or airfare…) and don’t want to be committed to a given program with a co-branded airline or hotel card.
- If you like the idea of the statement credit approach rather than booking free travel through the card company’s travel services or the partner provider. This would also allow you to receive points or miles for your travel because you would have paid with cash not miles or points and then will receive a credit on your statement for the amount you have available to apply to the purchase.
- If you want to use the travel credit in a travel category that is not covered by another offer – for example, a boutique hotel that is not part of a chain or other rewards program. This is another example of the benefit to the “statement credit” feature.
- If you want the flexibility to use you miles toward travel or non-travel related items.
- If you want a travel credit card with no annual fee, and 0% APR for the first 6 months on both purchased and transfers.
For a complete list of all Travel Credit Cards go to our Travel Credit Card Page. On this page you will find all of the best travel credit cards including the best Travel Reward Cards, Airline Mile Cards, Hotel Point Cards and the latest sign up bonus offers.
Know your Credit Score
Before you apply for any credit card, you should make sure you have an understanding of your credit score and credit history. Most Travel Credit Card Companies require you to have a strong credit score, ideally they will prefer a FICO score of at least 700.
Once you apply for a credit card, the credit card company will perform a credit inquiry. Be aware that credit inquiries will affect your credit score. Each time you apply for a credit card (or any type of loan for that matter), the inquiry will reduce your score anywhere from 2-5 points.
By law, you are allowed to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus once a year. The free annual copies of your credit report will give you all of the data that provides the foundation for your credit score, but the Credit Reports don’t provide the Credit Score itself. You will need both your Credit Report and Credit Score to get the full view of your credit situation.
Here are four links to get your Free Credit Score: (Note: CreditReport.com and TransUnion will ask for credit card information to participate in a trial offer, but will not charge you until after the 7 day free trial period. After 6 days you can either continue with the service or cancel and keep your credit score for free. The third and Fourth options, CreditSesame and CreditKarma do not require a credit card and truly are Free.)
- CreditReport.com Free Credit Score
- TransUnion 3 Bureau Credit Report and Free Score
- CreditSesame (no card required – provides Experian Score)
- CreditKarma (no card required – provides TransUnion Score)
Here is the link to get your Free Credit Report:
Finally, please only apply for any travel credit card if you pay your bills in full each month. Carrying a balance on any travel credit card will eliminate the benefit of the travel rewards due to the higher interest rates associated with these cards.