Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Discover it Miles

Learn about two travel rewards cards – the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Discover it Miles. You'll get all the information you need to choose which card is best for you. The Chase Sapphire Preferred gets the recommendation for its travel-friendly features.

The Verdict

Chase Sapphire Preferred offers more rewards points for people who love to travel

If you travel a lot, you can't really go wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

All the money you already spend on travel and restaurants can earn you a high rate of travel miles.

Big bonus points are a gift for signing up. When you sign up there is already a big head start with 50,000 bonus points.

Then you can redeem all those miles for more travel at a 25% higher value.

The Discover it Miles card falls short with a lower rate to earn points on travel.

Why One is Stronger than the Other

Chase Sapphire Preferred is stronger than Discover it Miles because the points you earn and redeem for travel are worth more

Get rewarded for your traveling lifestyle. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card rewards people who travel and eat out a lot with double the points for their purchases.

That's a rate of 2% cash-back on all travel and restaurant spending.

Then, if the cardholder redeems their points by booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, the points are worth 25% more.

Chase Sapphire Preferred gets the win over the Discover it Miles card because it's more rewarding for people who really love to travel.

Discover it Miles only lets you earn 1.5% points whether you're spending on travel or not.

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People love the Chase Sapphire Preferred because of the massive introductory bonus points offer

You'll pay for your next trip even sooner with the intro offer. The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives its cardholders an additional 50,000 bonus points if they spend $4,000 in the first three months. You can earn a flight in no time.

That could work out to $625 in travel funds if you redeemed your 50,000 bonus points for an additional 25% through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

The biggest customer complaint about Chase Sapphire Preferred is the annual fee

People don't like to pay to earn points. The one thing that is a turn-off for some customers is the $95 annual fee charged by the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Although Chase gives you a break in year one by waiving the annual fee, after 12 months cardholders have to suck it up and pay $95 a year.

Which is another reason why this card is ideal for people who spend a lot on travel. Once you've spent $4,750 on dining and travel you'll have earned enough points (at the 2X rate) to cover the $95.

The takeaway

If you travel a lot, the chance to earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining is an appealing feature of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

When you add the 50,000 bonus points for signing up, and the extra 25% you get when you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred gets the win for travelers.

Counter Argument

The Discover it Miles has no annual fee

Not just a tempting intro offer. A lot of travel cards (including the Chase Sapphire Preferred) waive the annual fee for the first year. But then, most charge you a $95 fee every year after that.

No fee, year after year. The Discover it Miles card is one of the few travel cards that doesn't charge an annual fee.

So if you're a person who doesn't spend a lot on your credit card the Discover it Miles card could work for you.

People love the Discover it Miles because they get their points doubled in the first year

Not the usual bonus points offer. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Discover it Miles card doesn't give you an intro bonus of 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

In fact, its introductory bonus points offer is much different than those of most other travel rewards cards.

Discover will double your year-one points. Instead, after one full year of using the card, Discover will match every point you've earned.

For example, if you spend $30,000 on the Discover it Miles card in the first year you'll earn 45,000 points.

That's because points are earned at the rate of 1.5 points per dollar spent on anything.

At the end of the first twelve months, Discover it Miles will automatically turn that 45,000 points into 90,000.

And there are no limits on what you can earn or how many points can be matched.

The biggest customer complaint about the is that they don't give you a chance to earn more miles for travel and dining

No bonus points. It's hard to complain about earning 1.5 points for every dollar spent on everything with no limits.

But if you spend a lot more on travel and dining than you do on other things, you should be looking for a card that rewards your high-flying lifestyle.

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The takeaway

Choose according to your habits. The Discover it Miles card has no annual fee. It also gives you the chance to have the miles you earn in the first year matched.

But if you're a heavy traveler, you can be rewarded at a higher rate with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

How the Chase Sapphire Preferred compares to Discover it Miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred Discover it Miles
How high of credit score do you need?

>646

>601

Average APR?

17.49%–24.49%

17.99%

Annual fee?

$95

$0

How big of sign-up bonus do you get?

50,000 points

All points earned in year one are doubled

How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?

$4,000 in the first 3 months

All year 1 spending earns the bonus

How many points do you get for every dollar?

2 points for spending on travel and restaurants

1 point for everything else

1.5 points for everything

Any restrictions?

No points earned for balance transfers or cash advances

No points earned for balance transfers or cash advances

If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?

$2 for if the spending is on travel and restaurants (worth $2.50 if redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards).

$1 if the spending isn't for travel or dining (worth $1.25 if redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards)

$1.50

How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?

$4,750 if spending only on travel & dining.

$9,500 if spending only on non-travel & dining

$0

About the Companies

Both Chase Sapphire Preferred and Discover it Miles are part of a shift away from rewarding "mileage" towards rewarding spending

Things have changed. Up until recently, "frequent flier" reward programs were based on rewarding people based on the number of miles they logged on flights.

Today most travel rewards programs have changed to reward people for the amount of money they spend on travel.

This has resulted in people sometimes earning five times as many points for the same flight as they would have before.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred is a Visa designed to reward people who spend a lot on travel and dining.

You get rewarded for spreading it around. It's also designed to reward people who can recruit their friends and family to sign up for the card.

Cardholders who add another authorized person to their existing account get 5,000 bonus points.

If they get another person to sign up for a card, they are rewarded with 10,000 bonus points (up to 50,000 per year).

If you spend enough on travel and dining, then the annual fee will be worth it!

If you spend a lot the fee gets covered. If you easily spend a lot more than $4,750 on travel and dining every year the $95 annual fee shouldn't be a problem. That's because Chase Sapphire Preferred customers earn 2X the rate of points when they spend on travel purchases and dining.

About Discover it Miles

It's fairly unique. Charging no annual fee is a rare feature for a travel credit card.

It's also unique to offer new cardholders the chance to have their points matched after the first year.

You're the perfect customer for Discover it Miles if you don't spend a lot on travel but still want a good rate to earn rewards

Earn 1.5X on everything. For people who don't spend a lot on travel purchases but still want to earn some good points, the opportunity to earn at the rate of 1.5X for everything is a solid one.

It doesn't matter if you're at the gas station, grocery store, or airport – you're always earning 1.5 points for every dollar you spend.

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How the Services Compare

What are the core services offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Discover it Miles?

Travel rewards are their thing. Both of these cards are designed to provide rewards that can be redeemed for a travel purchase. For both programs, 100 points equal $1.

For Chase Sapphire Preferred there's an extra incentive to redeem points at a 25% higher value by booking through the Ultimate Rewards program.

For Discover it Miles, you book your travel purchase yourself on the card and then redeem your available points for a statement credit. You can also redeem your points for cash.

The good and the bad about the Chase Sapphire Preferred's core services

Good credit lets you earn big. Chase Sapphire Preferred is a Visa for people with an excellent credit rating.

Their impeccable credit score earns them the chance to collect travel points at a nice high rate.

It's got a high APR. Chase Sapphire Preferred offers an APR between 17.49%–24.49%. That's on the high side compared to the Discover it Miles.

As a result, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is most suitable for people who aren't planning on carrying a balance.

No intro rate. Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn't offer an intro APR rate for purchases or balance transfers.

The good and the bad about Discover it Miles's core services

The APR is reasonable. The Discover it Miles card has a purchase and balance transfer APR between 11.99-23.99%.

So if your creditworthiness qualifies you for the lowest APR rates and you plan to carry a balance this would be a better choice.

14-month intro APR deals. The Discover it Miles Visa card also offers some attractive intro APR rates, unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

There is a 0% APR for the first 14 months on purchases. And for balance transfers, the intro APR is 10.99% for the first 14 months.

The takeaway

Pay off your balance and you're fine. If you have a great credit rating and don't plan to carry a balance then the higher APR offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will not be an issue.

But if you do need to carry a balance or transfer a balance, especially in the first 14 months, then the lower APR and the APR intro offers from Discover it Miles could save you some money in interest.

Rewards and Bonuses

What are the types of rewards and bonuses offered by Chase Sapphire Preferred and Discover it Miles?

The same, but different. Both of these cards have sign-up bonuses, but they are very different from each other.

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You also get to choose between a card that offers rewards for absolutely everything at 1.5 points per dollar, or a card that gives you 2 points per dollar when you spend on travel and restaurants.

The good and the bad about Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards and bonuses

Double earnings for travel. The best feature of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the 2X rate for earning rewards points when you spend on travel and dining. And for all other expenses and purchases, you earn a point for every dollar spent.

You also get to transfer points at a value of 1-for-1 from many airline and hotel loyalty rewards points programs.

A big bonus also helps. The sign-up bonus of 50,000 points (good for $625 if redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards) is very generous. But make sure you can afford to qualify by spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months.

The good and the bad about Discover it Miles rewards and bonuses

It's really straightforward: you earn the same for everything. Discover it Miles doesn't let you earn double points on travel like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

But it does let you earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on absolutely everything.

Points are fully matched in year 1. That could really add up, especially after the first year when Discover it Miles matches any points you've earned.

Depending on how much you spend that unlimited offer could be extremely lucrative.

The takeaway

The best rewards come from Chase Sapphire Preferred. The chance to earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining and the hefty sign-up bonus are the reasons the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa takes the win in this category.

If you're a frequent traveler – for example, if you fly so much you've signed up for Global Entry and TSA Pre-check – this is a great card for you.

Benefits

Show us the travel benefits. Travel credit cards should also logically include some benefits for cardholders when they're traveling. Only the Chase Sapphire Preferred lives up to this expectation.

The good and the bad about Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits

Beneficial for travelers. Chase Sapphire Preferred has several services to support people who travel frequently.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburse up to $10,000 per trip. The card includes a damage waiver for car rentals in case there is a collision.

Chase Sapphire Preferred is also there for its customers when they are experiencing problems while traveling.

You can call a Benefit Administrator who can make referrals for legal or medical services.

The phone support can also help you with travel and emergency assistance.

You can also shop with confidence with purchase protection for 120 days against theft or damage (max $500 per incident and $50,000 per account).

Extended warranty protection adds an extra year to warranties that are 3 years or less.

The good and the bad about Discover it Miles benefits

Impressive security features. The Discover it Miles mobile app has a feature called Freeze It that lets you freeze your account if you lose or misplace your card.

Cardholders are never held responsible for unauthorized purchases. And every purchase is monitored for suspicious activity.

Always know your score. Everyone who signs up for a Discover it Miles card gets access to free monthly FICO score statements.

Few travel benefits. The Discover it Miles card only has one benefit for travelers. It will pay back your airline Wi-fi fees up to $30 a year.

The lack of travel benefits is surprising considering many people will redeem the points they earn for travel.

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The takeaway

Most beneficial for travelers. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has significant benefits and services for people who travel.

Since these are both travel rewards cards, we think that's pretty important.

Costs and Fees

What are the costs and fees associated with Chase Sapphire Preferred and Discover it Miles?

You don't need to pay a fee to earn travel points. Having no annual fee is the biggest advantage Discover it Miles has over Chase Sapphire Preferred. In fact, it's a feature that gives it an advantage over most of the travel rewards cards out there.

The good and the bad about Chase Sapphire Preferred costs and fees

The annual fee is an issue. The $95 annual fee is the biggest problem with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa. Sure, it gets waived for year one, but the honeymoon is over pretty quick.

Then you might feel pressure to earn the points you need just to cover the fee for this travel reward card.

There are no foreign transaction fees with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is yet another reason it is really good for travelers.

The good and the bad about Discover it Miles costs and fees

The best thing about the Discover it Miles card is the $0 annual fee. Not just for the first year. Forever.

As a travel reward card, it's great that the Discover it Miles card has no foreign transaction fee.

But the problem is that the Discover credit card is not accepted very widely overseas so it's not a great choice for non-domestic travel to begin with.

The takeaway

No fee for the win. This is the one category that the Discover it Miles card wins handily over the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

A travel rewards card that doesn't charge an annual fee is a rarity.

The $95 annual fee charged by Chase Sapphire Preferred after the first year hurts the points bottom line.

It means that your first $4,750 in travel spending will just earn enough points to cover the annual fee.

Customer Service

What kind of customer service can you expect with these cards?

When you're choosing a travel rewards credit card it's not a bad idea to look into the quality of customer service.

Chase offers phone support for travelers, which puts it over the top compared to Discover.

The good and the bad about Chase Sapphire Preferred customer service

Anywhere, anytime. Chase gives its cardholders 24/7 access to a Customer Service Specialist anywhere in the world by calling 1-800-432-3117.

The reps will even help you with travel related concerns such as referrals to legal or medical services.

You can also set up security alerts to protect your account against fraud.

Customers aren't feeling it. However, the customer reviews on ConsumerAffairs.com average a one-star rating for Chase.

Several of the negative ratings talk about how disputing incorrect charges with the customer service reps was frustrating.

The good and the bad about Discover it Miles customer service

Good security is welcome. Customers appreciate how the Discover it Miles monitors for suspicious behavior.

If there is a problem with an unauthorized payment the customer service reps cancel your card, immediately send you a new one, and erase the charge.

Customer reviews are not glowing. However, ConsumerAffairs.com also has an overall one-star rating for Discover.

A lot of the negative customer service reviews talk about botched transactions and errors that are not corrected by the customer service reps.

The takeaway

Customer service for travelers is key. It seems that customers who submitted reviews for Chase and Discover on ConsumerAffairs.com aren't fans of the customer service.

The chance to call a Customer Service Specialist 24/7 from anywhere in the world is a plus for Chase Sapphire Preferred, especially for travelers.

Key Digital Services

Fairly standard offerings. Neither the Chase Sapphire Preferred nor the Discover it Miles offers ground-breaking digital services. Both offer standard features including online banking and a mobile app.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred digital services

It's got a fairly standard website and app. Chase Online is the secure online portal for Chase customers to manage their accounts with their computers via the Internet.

The Chase mobile app lets cardholders check their balances, make payments, and transfer funds using their smartphone. The Chase mobile app also lets you link your card to Apple Pay.

Discover it Miles digital services

Not a lot of innovation, but the app and web portal are handy. The Discover Mobile App lets you manage and monitor your Discover it Miles account.

That includes redeeming and getting reports on the rewards points activity.

The app also lets users check their FICO credit score every month.

There's also an online portal for your Discover credit card account that lets you keep track of your balances and transactions as well as pay your bills.

And like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can link it to Apple Pay.

The takeaway

This one's a tie. It's more or less standard for credit card companies to have online portals and mobile apps for cardholders to manage their accounts.

Both cards also give you the chance to connect your account to Apple Pay.

We'll call it a draw when it comes to comparing digital services.

Getting Started

Make the most of the intro offers

Since both cards have significant sign-up bonuses you're going to want to think about how you can max them out.

Best way to begin with Chase Sapphire Preferred

Make sure you can spend enough to qualify. In order to qualify for the 50,000 sign up bonus offered by Chase Sapphire Preferred you need to spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Make sure to sign-up when you know you'll spend that much in the first quarter.

Add a partner. Also, keep in mind the chance to earn an additional 5,000 points for adding a second authorized user to the account.

You can add your partner after you've signed up and get the extra points.

You can apply online for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or call 1-800-432-3117 24/7.

How best to begin with the Discover it Miles

Timing is everything. If you've got a big expense coming up that you will need financing for, take advantage of the 0% APR offered by Discover it Miles over the first fourteen months.

Move your debt over. If you've got existing debt on a high-interest credit card, you can also take advantage of the 10.99% APR on balance transfers for the first 14 months.

Make the most of year 1. Since Discover it Miles matches the points you earn in the first year, making the most of your first year of card use is a good idea.

You can apply for Discover it Miles online or by calling 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683).

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How to Cancel

Canceling Either Card

Give them a call. Although it hurts your credit score to close an existing credit card account, sometimes you have to do it.

For both travel reward cards, the easiest way to terminate your account is over the phone.

Canceling with Chase Sapphire Preferred

Contact customer service. To cancel with Chase you should call the 24/7 Customer Service number at 1-800-432-3117.

Once it has been confirmed that you've paid off your balance in full you can close the account and get a letter of confirmation.

Finishing with the Discover it Miles

Pay it off and call it in. Discover has posted instructions for canceling your card. Pay off your balance and then call customer service at 1-800-DISCOVER.

The representative will confirm that your balance is zero. You provide your name, account number and the date you'd like the cancellation to be effective.

Double check. Request a confirmation letter for proof of the cancellation, and check your credit report the next month to make sure it was reported accurately.

If you still have unredeemed travel reward card points when you close your card Discover will give it to you as a statement credit on your statement.

That's pretty much as good as cash.

FAQ

Will paying late raise my APR?

No, a late payment doesn't raise the APR for either of these cards.

Are there blackout dates for flights or limited airlines for redeeming rewards?

No, when you redeem points for travel with either of these rewards programs there are no blackout dates and you can fly anytime.

Will I lose my points if I close my account?

With the Discover it Miles you will get your points redeemed as a credit on your final statement. You lose your unredeemed points when you close your Chase Sapphire Preferred account.

Do my miles ever expire?

As long as your account is still active then your miles don't expire for either of these providers.

Do either of these cards charge a foreign transaction fee?

No, neither of them charges a fee for foreign transactions.

What kind of credit score do I need to qualify for these cards?

Typically, the lowest score required for a Chase Sapphire Preferred is 646. The average FICO score for cardholders is 736.

For the Discover it Miles card the lowest score typically approved is 601. The average credit rating for cardholders is 733.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is better than the Discover it Miles, especially when it comes to earning and redeeming reward points for travel

For people who are fortunate enough to live a life full of travel and dining experiences, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the standout choice for a travel rewards card.

Spending on travel and restaurants is rewarded handsomely.

When you redeem for travel the points are worth even more. And many of the other features, like benefits and customer service, are geared to support people who travel.

Do you use either Chase Sapphire Preferred or Discover it Miles travel rewards cards?

How has it worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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