Which Is Better: Discover it® Cash Back card or Discover it® Miles?

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Now that Discover has introduced the new Discover it Miles card, many folks are wondering whether they should get it over the Discover it Cash Back card.

Which Is Better Discover It Cash Back Card Or Discover It Miles
Which Discover it Card Is Best for You?

Let’s compare both cards.

Discover it Cash Back

Link:   Discover it Cash Back

With the Discover it Cash Back card, you get 1% back on every purchase and 5% back (up to $1,500 in purchases) every 3 months on rotating categories (when you register) with no annual fee.

And you pay NO foreign transaction fees when you use the Discover it Cash Back card outside the US.

Currently, you can get a $100 Amazon digital gift card when you spend $500 in purchases in the 1st 3 months of account opening.

Note:   This offer is for 1st time cardholders and NOT available on the Discover home page.
Which Is Better Discover It Cash Back Card Or Discover It Miles
$100 Amazon Gift Card Sign-Up Bonus on the Discover it Card

Emily and I don’t earn a commission for this card but we always tell you about the best offers because of the mother-in-law rule!

Discover it Miles

Link:   Discover it Miles

Link:   My review of the Discover it Miles card 

You get 1.5 miles (or 1.5% back) on all purchases (doubled the 1st 12 months).

This is a great card because it is the only card that earns effectively unlimited 3% back on everything for the 1st 12 months!

And you can redeem miles against travel purchases made within the past 180 days.

Which Is Better Discover It Cash Back Card Or Discover It Miles
Reimburse Your Hotel Room Costs Using Discover it Miles

Which Discover it Card Is Right for You?

Both cards:

  • Earn cash back, or miles that can be redeemed for cash
  • Have no annual fees
  • Have no foreign transaction fees
  • Give you a free FICO Score

Although, there are a few slight differences between the two cards:

CardSign-up BonusHow You Earn Cash BackDouble Miles - 1st YearUp to $30 Back Each Year for In-Flight Wi-FiRedeem Cash Back for Any Amount, Any TimeRedeem Miles Against Travel PurchasesUse Cash Back at Amazon.comOverlimit FeeFree FICO Credit ScoreAnnual FeeForeign Transaction Fee
Discover It Cash$100 Amazon digital card1% on all purchases; 5% on rotating categories every 3 months (registration required)NoNoYesNoYesNoYes$0$0
Discover It Miles$01.5% on all purchasesYesYesYesYesNoYesYes$0$0
But folks who want to earn the most back should get the Discover It Cash Back card.  That’s because each quarter you can earn 5% back (worth $75 back on up to $1,500 in purchases) in the bonus categories.

So if you spend $10,000 a year with your Discover It Cash Back card and maximize your 5% cash back each quarter, you’ll earn $340 back. (Because you get $300 back for spending $1,500 in the 5% bonus categories each quarter.  Plus $40 for earning 1% back on the other $4,000 you spent.)

Which Is Better Discover It Cash Back Card Or Discover It Miles
The Discover it Cash Back Card Is Good for Folks Who Will Take Advantage of the 5X Bonus Categories Each Quarter

Using the same example of spending $10,000, with the Discover it Miles card, you’d get $300 back your 1st year (3% back the 1st year).  But only the regular 1.5% back in the 2nd and subsequent years ($150 cash back in years 2 and onward).

Although, you’ll get less back, the Discover it Miles card is better for folks who don’t like to fuss with remembering the rotating 5% back categories.

So if you’re NOT going to maximize the 5% quarterly bonus categories with the Discover it Cash Back card, then the Discover it Miles card might be the better option for you.   Because you get 1.5% back instead of the 1% back with the Discover it Cash Back Card.

Which Is Better Discover It Cash Back Card Or Discover It Miles
The Discover it Miles Card Doubles Your Miles at the End of Your 1st Year, for Effectively 3% Back on All Purchases

Another Alternative

Link:   Chase Freedom

However, I prefer the Chase Freedom over the Discover It Cash Back and Discover It Miles card.

That’s because you can get a $100 sign-up bonus, 5% cash back (or 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) rotating bonus categories, and can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to partner airlines and hotels:

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners
Aer LingusBritish AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)
IberiaJetBlueSingapore Airlines
SouthwestUnited AirlinesVirgin Atlantic
Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners

when have 1 of these cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold.

Or you can use the Chase Freedom as a cash back card if you want.  Plus with no annual fee, it’s a great card to keep to build your relationship with Chase (which has lots of great miles & points cards).

Of course, you could get both a Chase Freedom AND a Discover it card!

But I would NOT recommend trying to get the 2 Discover cards at once.  Because usually banks will only allow you to get 1 new personal card at a time.

Bottom Line

Both the Discover it Cash Back and the Discover it Miles card give you free FICO scores with NO annual fees or foreign transaction fees.

Folks who want the most cash over the long run and will NOT be maximizing their 5% category bonuses should get the Discover it Miles card.  While folks who will maximize their bonuses will likely earn more back with the Discover it Cash Back card.

However, I prefer the Chase Freedom card over both cards.  That’s because you get a better sign-up bonus, earn 5% back on bonus categories each quarter, and earn cash back or Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

And Chase Ultimate Rewards points are transferrable to certain airlines and hotels if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold.

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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