Posted by William Charles on February 19, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on February 19th, 2015 | by William Charles


Discover it Vs Discover it Miles – Which Card Makes More Sense?

In case you didn’t know, Discover has launched a new credit card called the Discover it Miles card. The main feature of this card is the fact that it earns 3x miles on all purchases for the first year. I was just having a discussion with Milenomics on Twitter about whether this card was better than the regular Discover it card. I thought it would be worth comparing the two cards.

Assumptions we’re going to make:

  • Miles are worth 1¢ each
  • You’ll max out the 5% rotating categories every quarter with the Discover it card
  • You’ll use a 2% cash back card on all other purchases instead of only earning 1% cash back with the Discover it

The Math

If you spend $1,500 every quarter in the Discover it 5% rotating categories you’d earn a total of $300 cash back. If you put that same $6,000 in spend on the Discover it Miles card you’d earn a total of $180 cash back. That’s a difference of $120 cash back.

Now to work out how much you’d need to spend to make up that difference we need to keep in mind we’d now be comparing a 2% cash back card and a 3% cash back card. You’d need to spend $12,000 or more to make up that difference.

Some Issues

There are a couple of issues we need to keep in mind:

  • The Discover it Miles card also comes with a $30 inflight WiFi benefit. If you got the full value out of this then you’d only need to spend $9,000 or more.
  • The Discover it card regularly comes with a sign up bonus of $150. This bonus is not currently being offered, but it often is. If this bonus was around this would add another $15,000 in spending required.
  • You’re not always going to max out the 5% categories. I usually max out most of them, but not always. This is especially true if you have cards with high category bonuses already. To give you some idea we’ve listed the category bonuses below:


  • Discover it Miles double mile bonus is paid out at the end of the card member year. This means you’ll be missing out on the money for up to twelve months. It also gives Discover a chance to add in spending caps or anything else that could cause you to forfeit your points.

Final Thoughts

Personally this is my plan:

  • Sign up for new Discover it Miles card. I’ll put all my non bonus category spend on this card for the first year.
  • I’ll then try to downgrade it to another Discover it card, that way I’ll have two cards that can earn 5% in rotating categories. Doing product changes with Discover has not been an issue in the past.

I think I am an exception to the rule though. Most people would be better off not signing up for this card. How much do you really spend in non bonus categories? Keep in mind you’re often meeting minimum spend requirements and the like.

If you currently don’t have any Discover cards, wait until the $150 bonus comes around again and sign up for the Discover it. That is great value. To me this new Discover it miles card really only makes sense if you do manufactured spending and even then the more I think about it the less I like this deal. What are your thoughts on this new card? You can read our full reviews of other Discover products below:

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Justin H.
Justin H.

Discover it (Dit) caps your potential earnings at $450 ($150 sign up bonus, $75 per quarter if you maximize the 5% categories) which can be achieved optimally after $9k MS. If you prefer cash to miles, this is certainly worth pursuing over Discover it Miles (DiM).

DiM’s biggest potential is unlimited potential earnings… for the first year.

Assuming Arrival+ (at 2.2%) and Dit (w/ signup bonus) vs DiM, minimum spend break-even for the two sides is $33,750. Anything more and to DiM it goes. Personally, I’d wait until there’s a signup bonus for DiM before considering.

The more interesting question remains… would DiM be churnable? Because I see little value for it after the first year.

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