Discover it® Cash Back card vs. Discover it® Miles — Which is better?

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At first glance the Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® Miles cards look fairly similar. Neither offers a welcome bonus, though both will match the rewards you earn in the first year of card membership.

The cards have one key difference, however. Below, we’ll compare both cards and help you decide which one is right for you.

Which Discover card is best for you? (Photo fizkes/Shutterstock)

Best sign-up bonus

Neither the Discover it® Cash Back nor the Discover it® Miles card offer a traditional sign-up bonus like you’ll find with the best credit cards for travel. Instead, after your first year of card membership, Discover will match the rewards you earned during that time frame.

So, for example, if you earn $200 in cash back with the Discover it® Cash Back  in the first year, Discover will give you another $200, for a total of $400 in rewards.

Winner: Tie

Best earning rate

While it may appear that the Discover it® Miles card has the best earning rate, if you’re looking for the card that can earn the most back you should get the Discover it® Cash Back card. That’s because each quarter you enroll, you can earn 5% back (worth $75 back on up to $1,500 in purchases) in rotating bonus categories. The Discover it Miles only earns 1.5x miles, but Discover will match the miles earned at the end of your first year (effectively 3x miles for the first year).  Winner: Discover it® Cash Back (if you make the most of the quarterly bonus rotating categories)

Best redemption value

The value of the rewards you earn with either the Discover it® Cash Back or the Discover it® Miles card (cash back and miles, respectively) is the same because you get 1 cent per mile when redeeming your miles from the Discover it® Miles card.

Winner: Tie

Lowest annual fee

Both the Discover it® Cash Back or the Discover it® Miles have no annual fee. Keeping no-annual-fee cards long term will increase the average age of your accounts, which can help raise your credit score. Here’s more about the best no annual fee credit cards.

Winner: Tie

Lowest foreign transaction fees

Neither the Discover it® Cash Back or Discover it® Miles cards charge foreign transaction fees. So you can take them abroad without having to worry about that extra expense.

Winner: Tie

Best worldwide acceptance

The Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Miles are both Discover cards. So they’ll both be equally accepted around the world.

Winner: Tie

Bottom line

Both the Discover it Cash Back and the Discover it Miles card charge no annual fees or foreign transaction fees. In addition, while neither card offers a sign-up bonus, both cards will match the rewards you earn during your first year of card membership.

The decision, then, comes down to just one aspect of the cards. Anyone who wants the most cash over the long run and will not be maximizing their category bonuses should get the Discover it Miles card, while those of you who will maximize their bonuses will likely earn more back with the Discover it Cash Back card.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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