Review of Discover IT Miles

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Editor's Rating: 4.0/5.0
Wow - Discover has come out with their new travel rewards card called the IT Miles and it does not disappoint. Will this challenge established players in the space? Well, we are about to find out.
Intro Purchase APR Regular APR Intro Balance Transfer Annual Fee Issuer Credit Needed
N.A. $0 Discover Excellent Credit
Discover has streamlined their credit card portfolio and introduced their new travel rewards card called the IT Miles. Prior to this, they had 2 travel cards - the Miles Card and Escape Card. They have stopped issuing the Escape card and have changed the reward structure of the new IT Miles. Here is what it looks like now.

Rewards And How To Redeem Miles

With this card, you will earn 1.5 miles for everything dollar that you spend on the card. There are no special categories in which you earn extra miles or points. So it is a flat 1.5% card. The miles that you earn will not expire as well.

This is in contrast to the old Miles card where you only get to earn 1 miles per dollar. So this is definitely an improvement over the old version.

The miles that you earn can be redeemed for travel rewards. According to Discover, these include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and commuter transportation. You will have up to 180 days to claim these travel expenses and have get a statement credit.

Alternatively, you can choose to get cash back that will be deposited into your bank account. So it looks to me that even if you miss the 180 day deadline or what you consider to be a travel expense was not considered to be oe by Discover, you could still technically get around that by redeeming points as cash back rather than a statement credit.

In Flight Wifi Credit

One of the unique features that this card offers is that that every year, you will get a $30 credit for any in-flight wifi purchases that you make. So the true question is, is this worth it? Or rather how much value is there to this feature? To answer that, we really need to look at the cost of in-flight wifi access that the carriers charge.

American Airlines and US Airways, for example, charge $16 for an all-day pass. They have a $45.95 monthly subscription pass for unlimited use. For international flights, they have a $12 pass for 2 hours, $17 for 4 hours and $19 for unlimited use during international flights.

Delta charges $16 for a 24 hour pass, $49.95 (monthly subscription) for unlimited pass and $479.95 for unlimited pass if you pay annually rather than monthly.

So just by eyeballing a couple of wifi fees, it appears that $30 in credit could get you a couple of 1-day pass.

Free Fico Score

As with all Discover Cards, you will get access to your FICO score (TransUnion) with every statement. You will can also access it via a mobile app and online in your account as well.

Peer Comparison

There are a couple of cards that we should compare with before we rate this card. The first obvious card is the Capital One QuickSilver, which also gives cardholders 1.5% cash back as well. So in terms of cash back features, these two cards are identical. The QuickSilver also has no foreign transaction fee, but has no sign up bonus and access to FICO scores. In that sense, the IT Miles comes out ahead. However, Capital One is a Visa and more accepted than Discover. Furthermore, the Quicksilver is a card that is more likely to approve you if your scores are merely average whereas you do need really good scores to get a Discover Card.

Another card worth mentioning is the new Citi Double Cash, which pays 2% cash back in the following way. Firstly, you earn 1% cash back for your purchases and 1% when you pay your bills. So if you are pay in full, you get back 2%. On paper, this appears to be the better card. However, if you surf around forums, it appears that Citi gives very little credit limit for this card (and I would not be surprised about this since they will not be profitable if everybody pays in full and they do not make money from the interest charges). It appears that you only get a decent credit line for this card if you convert an existing Citi card.

We also have to compare this card with the Barclays Arrival card (the one with double points and the $89 annual fee). The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Elite World MasterCard has an annual fee of $89. But it lets you earn double miles and when you use your miles for travel, you will get 10% of the miles you used credited back into your account. Therefore, you actually get 2.2% return on this card. The real question is, is there a breakeven point where it makes sense to get a 2X card with an annual fee. It turns out that the break even spending is $15,000 a year. At that spending level, you will get back $225 in cash back/rewards value. Barclays also has no foreign transaction fee and also gives you a free TransUnion FICO score.

Is This A good Card?

After looking at the various comparisons, I would say that this is a pretty good card to consider if you are looking for either cash back or a travel rewards card with no frequent flier miles restrictions. 1.5% rewards across the board for all spending types is good value. Discover is well known for it's customer service and as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard (from my experience).

This is also a great card to combine with other cash back cards. For example, you could get this card together with the Discover IT. You could use the IT card for 5% rotating categories and their shopdiscover online shopping mall and for everything else, you could use the IT miles for 1.5% (which beat the regular 1% on other cash back cards). You could also combine this card with the AMex Blue Cash Everyday (earn 3% cash back on groceries, 2% on gasoline and department store)n and then use the IT miles for the rest of your spending and get 1.5% cash back versus the regular 1%.

You could save yourself the hassle and just use this card alone and get 1.5% cash back regardless.

The most important factor in deciding where to get this card is really your spending level and your credit score. If you spend $15,000 or less every year on your card a year and you only want to carry one card, then this would be a great card to consider. You might want to check out the Citi Double Cash first to see if you could get a decent credit limit.

However, if you spend more than $15,000 a year on your card, and you want to use points for travel, then you should consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Elite World MasterCard because even though you have to pay an annual fee, you still get more value. Furthermore, there is a 40,000 sign up bonus which means you get $440 in value right off the get go.

If your credit is just average, the Capital One Quicksilver is a good alternative if you want to earn 1.5% cash back.