Earn Bonus Points With a Solid Student Card
Start your student years off right with this card. The Discover it® Student chrome keeps students in mind with features such as a $20 statement credit for good grades and bonus cash back categories like gas and restaurants. You don’t have to worry about annual fees or foreign transaction fees, either. One of the best perks is a 100% cash back match after your first year using the card. You can earn decent points too with this cash back card.
For every gas or restaurant purchase, you earn 2% cash back. You can earn cash back for those two categories up to $1,000 combined per quarter. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back. And again, at the end of your first year using the card, Discover matches your points. Redeem points in any amount as a credit to your account. Or, you can redeem as an electronic deposit to your bank account, a donation to select charities or to pay with Cashback Bonus at Amazon.com. Starting with $20, you may redeem for gift cards.
The Discover it® Student chrome introductory purchase APR is 0% for 6 months and then the APR is 14.99% - 23.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and varies with the Prime Rate. Balance transfers start at a 10.99% APR for the first 6 months. After that, your APR will be 14.99% - 23.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers will incur a 3% transaction fee. The cash advance APR is 26.99% Variable and cash advances have a fee of either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
Your first late payment has no penalty fee. After that, it’s up to $37 but carries no penalty APR with it.
Discover offers Freeze it®, a mobile app that lets you quickly freeze (and unfreeze) your account. If you leave your at a bar, restaurant or suspect you misplaced it, you can prevent any purchases, cash advances or balance transfers until you recover the card.
Discover also offers FICO® credit scores free on monthly statements, mobile and online. You can track recent scores and monitor your credit on the go.
You also always reach live customer service each time you call. Discover features 100% U.S.-based customer service.
No annual fee – There is no annual fee with the Discover it® Student chrome.
No foreign transaction fee – You can study abroad without any fear of transaction fees.
Earn 2% cashback at gas stations and restaurants and 1% for all other purchases – Benefit from cash back offerings in popular categories up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn an unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
First-year cash back match – Earn a dollar-for-dollar match for the rewards you earn in the first 12 consecutive billing cycles.
$20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher – Discover rewards good grades for up to five years.
Who It Benefits
If you’re shopping around for a first card to use to start building your credit, the Discover it® Student chrome is a great option. Many student cards only offer flat unlimited points, which is fine for some. However, if you want to build familiarity with cash back setups, this would be a good card to start with. That said, it’s most beneficial for students who have cars. Commuters or part-time students who work may see the most rewards simply due to earning 2% on gas. Students who eat out often at full service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast-food locations will also benefit from this card. You are capped at $1,000 per quarter for combined 2% categories, which is roughly $333 per month for gas and restaurants. You still earn 1% for all other purchases.
Take a look at how you spend and what your purchase needs are before committing to any card. As with most financial products, you want to be sure the products you apply for match your spending needs.
How It Works
With the Discover it® Student chrome you earn points with every purchase. Most purchases earn you 1%, but when you buy gas at a gas station or dine out at full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast-food locations, you earn 2% cash back. The maximum you can earn for the bonus categories is 8,000 points a year, or $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
At the end of 12 billing cycles, Discover will match your points balance. Let’s say you maxed out the bonus categories and spent extra each month, earning 14,000 points for the year. Discover will match it and you’ll have 28,000 points. Once a year for up to five years, you can earn an extra $20 (2,000 points) for a GPA over 3.0. Redeem those points for a credit to your account starting with 1 penny, which is one point. Or, you can redeem as an electronic deposit to your bank account, a donation to select charities or to pay with Cashback Bonus at Amazon.com. Starting with 2,000 points ($20), you can exchange points for gift cards. Access your points online or by calling Discover 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Discover it® Student chrome card offers no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. The introductory APR is 0% for 6 months, after that it’s 14.99% - 23.99% Variable, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers come with a 3% transaction fee and an APR of 10.99% for the first 6 months. After 6 months, balance transfer APR is 14.99% - 23.99% Variable, based on your creditworthiness. Cash advance APR is 26.99% Variable and has a fee of either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
There’s no penalty APR. Additionally, your first late payment does not come with a penalty fee. However, after that you will pay up to $37 for late or returned payment.
Whats the Catch
To be fair, this card is an excellent choice for a student. The card has competitive rewards — 2% for gas and restaurants and first year cash back match — that fit the student lifestyle and has no annual fee. The only potential drawback is the balance transfer APR. At 10.99% for 6 Months as the introductory period, it’s steep. But you have to keep in mind that student cards aren’t designed for those trying to consolidate debt. Overall, the Discover it® Student chrome card is a solid choice for a new credit card user.
Just the Math Please
The Discover it® Student chrome features 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% in cash back. You also have a chance to earn $20 in cash back each school year (up to 5 years) if your GPA is 3.0 or higher.
After the first 12 consecutive billing periods, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned as a one-time bonus.
Balance transfer fees are 3% of the transfer amount.
Balance transfers come with 10.99% Intro APR for the first 6 months. After six months, it will be 14.99% - 23.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness.
Rates and Fees
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases
0% intro APR for the first 6 months that your account is open. After 6 months, your APR will be 14.99% - 23.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
APR for Balance Transfers
10.99% intro APR for the first 6 months that your account is open. After 6 months, your APR will be 14.99% - 23.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
APR for Cash Advances
26.99% Variable and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Penalty APR and When it Applies
How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases
Your due date is at least 25 days after the close of each billing cycle.
Discover will not charge you interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month. You will be charged interest on balance transfers and cash advances on the transaction date.
- Balance Transfer 3% of the amount of each transfer.
- Cash Advance $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- Foreign Purchase Transaction None
- Late Payment None the first time you pay late. After that up to $37
- Returned Payment Up to $37
How It Stacks Up
The Discover it® chrome for Students isn’t the only student card available. An option to take a look at is the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®. If you’re not a commuter or frequent diner, you benefit from the flat 1% cash back with no limit to how much cash back you earn. Additionally, if you pay your statement by the due date, you’ll receive a bonus 0.25% in cash back. There are no bonuses for purchases in special categories, which keeps things simple with this more basic starter card. Unlike the Discover it® chrome for Students card, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® offers no extra cash back bonuses for good grades. There also isn’t an introductory APR. Purchase and balance transfer APR is 24.99% variable.
If you do want cash back incentives, Citi offers the ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students. It features 2,500 bonus points (equivalent to $25 gift cards) if you spend $500 within the first three months. All purchases earn 1x points. You earn double points (2%) for dining purchases and entertainment – with no annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees associate with this card either. The ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students has an intro purchase APR of 0% for seven months. After that the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24% variable based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers are 16.24% - 26.24% variable based on your creditworthiness and have a $5 or 4% (whichever is greater) transaction fee. There is an up to 29.99% variable penalty APR for this card that applies if you make a late payment or have a payment returned. Late payments and returned payments have fees up to $35.
Another card with similar bonus point offerings is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students. With a $150 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 90 days of opening your account, this card beats Citi’s ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students bonus of $25 for the same spend. If you’re more of a home cook than restaurant goer, you’ll stand to benefit from this card’s bonus categories. You earn 1% cash back for every purchase, 2% for grocery store and wholesale clubs, and 3% for gas purchases for the first $2,500 spent in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. There’s no annual fee, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. The 0% intro APR on purchases and on any balances transferred in the first 60 days, lasts for the first 12 billing cycles. After that, it's 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on your creditworthiness. This card also comes with an up to 29.99% variable penalty APR for this card that applies if you make a late payment or have a payment returned.
The Discover it® Student chrome card is ideal for students who drive and dine out. Freshmen who live in a dorm and eat in a dining hall are not the ideal audience for this card. But for commuters and driving students who are looking to build credit and earn cash back, it’s a great option. It’s hard to beat the cash back categories, end-of-year match and $20 good grade bonus. Combined, it’s a great rewards package for a first card.
Add to that the lack of annual or foreign transaction fees, and you’ve got an attractive package. The APR is competitive though the introductory period is rather short at six months. But as long as you’re looking to use this card as a starter card, you’re on track to make the most of this card.
Regardless if this is your first card or not, just be sure to consider all your options before making a decision. Take into account your spending habits to see if the rewards offerings make sense for you.