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Discover it Student Cash Back Review

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated May 30, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

  • 0% for 6 Months*

  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*

  • 19.49% Variable*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 19.49%.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Student Cash Back

More Info

Who the card is best for

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a good choice for students looking to build credit and maximize their cash back with rotating bonus categories. At a $0 annual fee, this card provides a robust cash back program as well as the opportunity to monitor your credit score and hopefully see it rise with proper credit behavior.

Students who don’t want to fuss over bonus categories and activations should look to other student cards that are more straightforward.

Where this card stands out in its category

This card offers a unique new cardmember offer where Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. You can see a large amount of cash back from this offer and don’t need to meet any requirements. Another great feature is the Good Grades Rewards program, allowing students to receive a $20 statement credit when maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA (valid for up to 5 consecutive years). This is a great incentive for students to earn good grades.

Where this card falls short in its category

The Discover it® Student Cash Back has bonus categories that must be activated each quarter, and this can pose an issue for students that may not remember to activate, as they will miss out on the higher cash back rate. The rate you earn for non-bonus category purchases and bonus category purchases over the quarterly cap is subpar.

Additional card benefits

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers many additional benefits:

  • Cashback Match™: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Good Grades Reward: Receive a $20 statement credit when you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher during the school year (September to August). This offer is valid for up to 5 consecutive years.
  • Simple cash-back redemption: You can easily redeem your cash back for a variety of options at anytime and for any amount. And don’t worry if your account gets closed, Discover will credit your remaining cash rewards.
  • Freeze it®: With Freeze it®, you can easily freeze your card in seconds with the Discover app or online — adding a level of security if your card is misplaced. While your account is frozen Discover will not authorize new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers.
  • Discover® Identity Alerts: Discover looks out for you by monitoring your account daily and sending alerts if a new account has been listed on your Experian® credit report or if your Social Security number appears on thousands of risky websites.
  • Free FICO® credit score: The Discover Credit Scorecard feature allows you to access your free credit score, updated every 30 days.
  • 100% U.S.-based customer service: You can speak to a representative 24/7 about any account related questions.
  • No penalty APR: Paying late won’t increase your APR, but still make it a point to pay on time each month.
  • No fee on your first late payment: Discover provides you with one late payment fee waiver, so use it as a reminder to set up autopay or reminders.

How to use it most effectively

Since this card has rotating bonus categories that require activation, set a reminder each quarter to activate so you don’t miss out on the 5% cash back. Then, to maximize your rewards use your card to make purchases in the bonus categories. Also, make sure you maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 so you can earn the $20 statement credit from the Good Grade Reward.

Your goal with this card it to build credit, so practice responsible credit behavior by paying each bill on time and in full. If you travel abroad, this card can be a good choice since there are no foreign transaction fees. However, take care that Discover has a more limited network compared to other networks like Visa and Mastercard.

Rewards breakdown

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically. Cash back can be redeemed in various ways: statement credit, direct deposit, payments at Amazon.com, gift cards and charity. Also, cash back never expires, even if your account is closed. There is a great new cardmember offer where Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Compare it with the Discover it® Student chrome

Discover has a good reputation around their student cards, with the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Student chrome. Both of these cards have the same benefits and features key to Discover cards, but they have different cash back programs. If you want to maximize your spending, the Discover it® Student Cash Back provides you the opportunity to do so with quarterly rotating bonus categories offering Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically. The Discover it® Student chrome is suited for commuter students with Earn 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically..

Here’s a breakdown of the features of each card:

Discover it® Student Cash Back Discover it® Student chrome
Annual Fee $0 $0
Purchase Intro Rate 0% for 6 months 0% for 6 months
Balance Transfer Intro Rate 10.99% for 6 months 10.99% for 6 months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)* 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Regular Purchase APR 19.49% Variable 19.49% Variable
Rewards Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically. Earn 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
New Cardmember Offer Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
Foreign Transaction Fee None None

Bottom Line

Students who can keep track of bonus categories and want to maximize their spending can benefit from the cash back program of the Discover it® Student Cash Back, while also building credit through responsible credit practices.


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  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 17.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

See additional details for Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

More Info

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