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3 Reasons Families Want the Discover it Miles Card in Their Wallet

Nov. 26, 2018
6 min read
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When it comes to maximizing my rewards on family purchases, I like to utilize as many strategies as possible. This ensures my family's travel is subsidized to the maximum extent possible. Earning airline miles is great, transferable points are better but — often — cash back equivalents can be king.

The Discover it Miles card has no annual fee, awards 1.5x miles on purchases on an ongoing basis, matches all of the miles earned at the end of the first year. The miles earned can be used to cover travel expenses of any amount charged to your card or redeemed for cash back, all at a value of one cent per mile. (Here's how to redeem Discover it Miles). With the basics of the card in mind, let's look at why your family should want this card in your wallet.

1. Buy Points and Miles While Still Making Cash Back

When hotels and airlines put their points and miles on sale, you can buy currencies anywhere from 0.7 to 2.1 cents per point or mile. For the first year of card membership, you're going to earn the equivalent of 3% cash back on all purchases. When earning Discover it Miles at this rate, you can take your rewards and buy the points and miles you need for an award trip and still have Discover it Miles to pocket as cash back.

In August, United put miles on sale for the lowest price ever at 1.88 cents per mile. American has sold miles for as low as 2.25 cents each. Earlier this year, you could buy IHG points for 0.5 cents each, meaning every dollar you spend on your Discover it Miles in the first year would have allowed you to by six IHG points. The most predictable and potentially most valuable miles buying opportunity is with Star Alliance program Avianca LifeMiles. Sales this year have had the miles on sale for 1.4 cents each equating to earning 2x LifeMiles on all purchases in your first cardmember year with the Discover it Miles card (and still pocketing 0.2 percent cash back).

You do have to wait until the end of the year in order to receive your first year miles match. That means you need to be sure you can float any expenses you incur while buying different loyalty currencies until the end of your first cardmember year. This strategy makes your Discover it Miles card a tool capable of earning outsized value with hotel and airline award redemptions even though it doesn't earn miles in the traditional sense.

Portugal, Lisbon, Humberto Delgado Airport, competing car rental counters, Avis, Budget, Europcar. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

2. Stack 1.5 to 3% Cash Back for Added Family Savings

I've taken saving on every single family purchase a bit to the extreme. I now have a hard time paying full price for anything. At a minimum, I need to earn credit card rewards on every purchase, but typically I look for stacking opportunities by combining credit card rewards with a shopping portal or a merchant's own loyalty program; ideally all three. The Discover it Miles makes savings compound easily by earning, at a minimum 1.5 miles per dollar, and 3 miles per dollar during the first cardmember year once miles are matched. Here are a couple of quick examples of stacking savings on what you may think of as mundane family purchases:

I earn fuel rewards when we fill up our car which drops the price of fuel per gallon every time I fill up. I currently have 30 cents off per gallon saving me ~10% on fuel costs. When I pay with my Discover it Miles card during the first year, those savings increase to 13% off my fuel costs (after miles are matched).

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Lots of restaurants also have loyalty programs, so I'll use those to earn free pizzas, burritos, or whatever and then also tack on miles by paying with the Discover it Miles Card.

For my regular family purchases, stacking opportunities by picking the right card out of my wallet is a no brainer.

Image by Peter Zelei Images / Getty Images

3. Diversify Where Your Family Banks

I thrive on fighting groupthink and proverbially swimming upstream, sometimes to a fault. This thought process means when readers approach me and tell me they're only considering cards from a handful of national banks, I ask them what they think about the Discover. 90% of the time, they look at me perplexed and wonder why I'd recommend such a bank and product. Besides 3x miles on all purchases after the match occurs at the end of the first year, which can be used to fund the purchase of whatever hotel or airline currency they're after, you simply need to diversify who has your business.

As we've previously covered here at TPG, attempting to do too much business in a short amount of time with a single bank can put you on the wrong side the ability to earn rewards. Be cognizant about spreading out your credit business and be responsible with your credit application and use. Discover gives us a great opportunity to earn maximum rewards while diversifying our loyalty portfolio.

Bottom Line

If you are a fan of traditional points and miles, the Discover it Miles allows you to earn rewards that could cover the cost of buying hotel or airline miles. This opens the pathway to outsized value redemptions. However, hotel and airline award availability is not always going to be there when your family needs to travel and will never cover all of the expenses required of family vacations. These situations, like cruise fare, rental car costs and award taxes and fees, make it necessary to have the ability to earn cash equivalents that cover those ancillary travel expenses. The Discover it Miles card makes covering those expenses possible.

At the end of the day, this card is a simple, no annual fee tool that adds savings to my family purchases and opens the door to any kind of trip my family wants to take.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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