Travel hacking – Discovery Credit Card

Been thinking about how South Africans can obtain great rewards and points for travel hacking using local options. One of the popular credit cards is from Discovery. Let’s see how effective the card is.

Conversion rate: 10 miles for R1 used to pay for standard price of flight or hotel. Flights are discounted by your vitality status up to 35%. Further discounts available through their Discovery Bank, which will be investigated one day should there be value in the banking platform.

Partners for flights: unfortunately you need to book with their international flight partners through Kulula hence limiting some of the cheapest flight options you may find through Googles flight search. Partners are Qantas, British Airways, Emirates and Kulula. These will get you to most destinations. Another restriction is that you need to book a return flight to SA or a flight originating from SA. No booking of a cheap flight elsewhere that doesnt include SA (like connections) , open jaw flights if you want to return via another city.

Lastly, can no longer convert miles to other providers like Avios or SAA so the ecosystem has become quite limited to what Kulula offers.

Hotels are limited to South Africa, problematic for overseas travel.

Earning miles: Standard rate is 1 mile for R15 spend, translates to 0.66% cash back which very slow. However some of their partners provide accelerated miles, if you are at Diamond level, you receive 10x the miles for your spend, tranating to a 6.66% conversion rate. Extensive list of partners, but effectively gettinf groceries from pick n Pay, fuel from BP or Shell, consumables from Clicks or Dischem, online shopping from Takealot, etc. Their site lists the full range but lots of options, just requires Diamond status for the benefits.

Cost: R432 annual fee for Miles.

Monthly credit card fee of R95.

Diamond status Vitality R259 per month.

Total annual fees: R4680 (R4284 if you use Gold instead of Platinum card).

Is it worth it?

If you were to buy a return ticket to London for R10k or New Zealand for R15k you could do reasonably well with this card. You’re limited to 2 international flights a year, and if we assume these two examples you’d get R25k worth of flights, pay 65% worth Miles (the 35% discount removes R8.75k from the initial price). The Miles required are 162500. At the ratio of 6.6% you require credit card spend of R240k across groceries, fuel, consumables and household items.

At that spend level then you’d be able to receive these two flights for the cost of R4.7k assuming you’re at Diamond level (not an insignificant achievement), but not really worth it if you only utilise the international flight benefit since you would have been paying for 3 years of Vitality fees already in order to achieve the Diamond status.

Overall, Vitality fees make this a steep, somewhat limited, but still a worthwhile option for travel hacking.