For many travel reward credit card users, the benefits from frequent flier programs are limited. Airlines seem happy to dole out miles for using their co-branded credit cards, but stingy when it comes to providing award seats, especially at low mileage levels.
Frustration with these programs has caused some cardholders to seek alternative rewards programs. One example? The Escape by Discover Card offers 2 miles for each purchase that can be redeemed for travel with no restrictions.
- Earn a sign-up bonus. For their first 25 months after opening an account, cardholders can earn 1,000 miles each month that they make at least one purchase.
- Get double miles. Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, all the time.
- Redeem miles for unrestricted travel. Cardholders can redeem their miles for airline tickets, hotels, or car rentals through any company or travel agent. The award comes in the form of a statement credit. This way, award travelers can actually earn miles and be eligible for upgrades.
- Introductory financing offer. New applicants will receive a 0 percent APR introductory financing offer on both new purchases and balance transfers for six months, but there is a 3 percent balance transfer fee.
- No foreign transaction fees. Discover does not charge a foreign transaction fee on charges processed outside the United States. Many cards charge a 3 percent fee I consider unjustifiable.
- Annual fee. There is a $60 annual fee for this card.
- Limited acceptance. The Discover card is less likely to be accepted by merchants than Visa, MasterCard, or even American Express.
- Slow delivery of sign-up bonus. There are many cards that offer a sign-up bonus of 25,000 miles or more, awarded at the start in a lump sum. Discover requires you make at least one purchase with the card every month for more than two years to receive the full bonus.
Get it if: You want to earn the equivalent of 2 percent cash back on all your purchases.
Forget it if: You are addicted to airline miles and your plans are flexible enough to use them.
Click here to sign up for the Escape by Discover Card.
(Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card comparison page.)
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