Last Reviewed: 7/17/2010
The Discover Escape credit card (aka Escape by Discover) masquerades as a travel credit card, but is really falls into what I believe is a unique class of cards which I would dub “restricted cash-back credit cards”. Restrictions aside, this piece of plastic is a heavy hitter, and is frequently at the top of the GetDebit Ranking Engine. You can apply directly for Discover Escape, or continue reading this review for more insights into why even Clint Eastwood would have wanted this card in his back pocket when he popped out of the Bay soaking wet.
|Rank||4 (out of 46 cashback cards tracked by GetDebit|
|Net card earnings*||$1,123|
|Value of rewards for top card (Amex Blue Cash Preferred)||$1,441|
*Based on GetDebit’s standard spending profile for 3 years of card usage
|Rewards||2 miles for every $1 spent, no spend category restrictions|
|Sign-up Bonus||25,000 miles, earned 1,000 per month (must use card for at least one purchase that month) for first 25 months.|
|Miles expiration||Never expire; however, if your account is closed or inactive for 18 months or you fail to make the minimum payment due for 2 months in a row, your miles will be lost.|
|Redemption requirements||Miles can be redeemed for any airline, cruise, vacation package, hotel or car rental (no booking restrictions or requirements); $100 travel credit for every 10,000 miles. Miles must be redeemed within 90 days of the travel event posting to your account.|
Escape by Discover Rewards
Cardholders earn 2 “miles” for every $1 of spend, with no restrictions or earning caps. The reason this card is more like a cash back card than a travel card is because these so-called miles can be used to off-set most types of major travel (airline, cruise, vacation package, car rentals).
These rewards behave much more like a cash back statement credit than airline miles. As long as you do even a modest amount of travel each year, you should be able to take full advantage of these rewards and the card will effectively behave like a cash back card.
Alternate Redemption Options for Discover Escape Card
The only valuable redemption option is applying miles towards travel, since your miles are then valued at $0.01 per mile. But for the sake of completeness, we do mention the other redemption methods.
You can redeem 5,000 miles to get a $25 Discover gift card—a horrible redemption value of $0.005 per mile. Equally bad, you can receive an electronic bank deposit of $25 for 5,000 miles. You can also use your miles to purchase gift cards, but as the table and screenshot below illustrate, the exchange rates are quite bad. The best value you can hope to achieve, if you buy the most expensive partner gift cards, is around $0.0083 per mile-really quite bad even when compared to a basic 1% cashback card.
|Value of Partner Gift Card||Miles Required||Value/Mile|
Discover Escape Rates, Expenses and Fees
The Discover Escape card has an annual fee of $60. The 25,000 sign-up bonus miles (earned over 25 months) are worth $250, so basically it’s like getting a 4-year suspension of the annual fee.
There is no foreign transaction fee on this card.
GetDebit’s Final Assessment of the Discover Escape Credit Card
The Discover Escape credit card is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of our favorite cards on the site. The combination of what basically amounts to a 2% cashback card (albeit with some easily addressed redemption restrictions) and a nice sign-up bonus make it hard to resist. Escape deserves its spot at or near the top of our GetDebit Ranking Engine.