Credit Cards

Discover It Miles Card 3% Cash Back Bonus: How I Earned Over $3,100

Last February I signed up for the Discover It Miles card, with the intention of really milking the 3% cash back offered during the first year. The card has no sign-up bonus and normally earns just 1.5% cash back, which is doubled during the first year. Plus, cardholders get an annual $30 in-flight wifi credit. So basically, Discover pays you to hold onto this card, which I most certainly will. But back to milking that 3% cash back offer: I aimed unrealistically high and came up short, but in light of my Barclay card shut down, I’m actually pretty happy with the end result. In the last year, I earned a total of 318,888 miles worth $3,188.88 cash back.

Discover It Miles Credit Card 3% Cash Back Bonus First Year
Maximizing the 3% Cash Back Bonus with Five Discover It Miles Credit Cards

I received half of the miles  at the end of each month, and the rest at the end of my first year as a cardholder. I spent well over $100,000 to earn these miles, almost entirely via manufactured spending. Probably 95% of the time I paid the balance off via Walmart Bill Pay. So it’s pretty amazing that they didn’t shut me down or confiscate all of my rewards.

I got a little lazy during certain times last year, taking a break from gift card churning altogether. Despite what most people think about how much manufactured spending I was doing, I didn’t really pick things up until the last quarter. I was trying to cross the finish line to get my Umrah Travel finalized. So I did the majority of my large scale manufactured spending between October – December. Most other months I kept it at or under $150,000 per month.

While it’s kind of a bummer that I didn’t hit my goal, I pretty much knew $1 million in manufactured spending on a single credit card was unrealistic. That’s why I picked up Discover It Miles cards for my entire family a few months after I got mine. I knew I’d have a hard time generating that much spend with my $6,500 limit, so I got Discover it Miles cards for them. That way, I could keep earning rewards while waiting for payments to go through on my personal card. Again, I did slack off some months, so I don’t think I’ll ultimately get to $1,000,000. I do think I’ll get to half of that if I stay focused.

To speed things along, I’ve added myself as an authorized user to everyone else’s credit cards. That way, I can make in-store purchases at Simon Mall and the whole gift card churning process will go a lot faster than waiting for a order to come through. I have until July to do this, so we’ll see where I end up.

Overall, I’ve had fun with the 3% cash back bonus from the Discover It Miles card. Most credit cards give you the sign-up bonus right off the bat. With Discover, you can essentially determine how much it is. Even though I was able to put $100,000 worth of spending on the card and consistently use Walmart Bill Pay to pay off the balance, that’s not a guarantee that you won’t get shut down for it. I remember when people were milking the Wells Fargo 5% cash back bonus. They got away with it for years, but when I jumped on board, I got shut down a month into it! Anyway, it’s been fun and I look forward to the $30 in-flight wifi credit every year.

Anyway, if you’re in the midst of milking the 3% cash back bonus on the Discover It Miles card, I’d love to hear how close you are to your goal. If you don’t have the Discover It Miles Card and want to sign up, consider letting me refer you. We’ll both get $50/5,000 miles after you are approved and make your first purchase.

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  1. Hi Ariana! I love your website and thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve used manufactured spending and it works! I have a question though. In this story, you said you spent $100,000 in MS… how much are you paying in gift card fees? Sounds very expensive with each gift card costing at least $5.00 to purchase!

    Thank you

  2. Really enjoy your web site and information. Are you using WM billpay to pay off the CC’s you used to purchase GC’s ?

  3. Last time I went to a Simon Mall they said I could only buy $1,000 worth of gift cards per day. How did you get around this because its really far for me to go to Simon Mall each day.

  4. Is it a no brainer to choose Discover It miles over Discover it CB card for the first year? I chose Dic It card, not miles and am earning 2% instead of 3. But miles card won’t have rotating categories is it?

    • It depends on how much ms you can pull off as well as whether you’ll make use of the category bonuses on the Discover cash back card. That said, I actually think the Discover It Miles is worth getting at some point and keeping. With the $30 in-flight wifi credit, you’re basically getting paid to keep the card long-term.

    • You can have both. Discover allows 2 cards per person.

  5. Is discover ok with churning credit limit >1/month

  6. What would be a good beginner card to start manufactured spending with?

    • It really depends on your travel goals, but I think Barclay Arrival is a great starting point. The currency is flexible, they’re generally good about allowing people to ms (as long as you don’t use Walmart Bill Pay), and their shopping portal is actually pretty generous.

  7. Anyone churn miles card for second match?

  8. Hi Ariana, I just applied through your referral link (hopefully it went through properly) and was approved. Just wanted to say thanks again for the webinar.

  9. Hi Ariana. I am looking for recent data points on this card. I am thinking of signing up (through your link), but am checking to see if there are further developments on MS activity I need to know about. Thanks.

    • Haven’t heard anything. I’m now way past Year 1 and have continued to ms moderately with this card (i.e. ~$2k-5k per month) and it’s been fine. I don’t think Discover is as vigilant about MS as more “abused” banks like Chase and Amex.

  10. Pingback: Ways to Avoid Resort Fees – Adventures Planning

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