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Discover it Student Cash Back Review

Discover it Student Cash Back  Review

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

This article was last updated Jun 10, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Discover offers two credit cards for students looking for a first card with which to begin building credit: The Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Student chrome.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers a higher cash back rate on purchases that fall into specific categories (such as Amazon, grocery stores and restaurants) that change every quarter. Cardholders are required to activate those categories in order to earn the higher cashback rate.

However, at a $0 annual fee, the Discover it® Student Cash Back’s rewards program is hard to beat.

But if fussing over bonus categories is too much trouble, students should look to other student cards that are more straightforward.

  • 0% intro for 6 Months*

  • 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

  • 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Student Cash Back

More Info

Discover it® Student Cash Back pros

Rewards rate. Cardholders 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using paypal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Cashback Match™. Plus, this card offers a unique new cardmember offer, where Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. So, if you spend $2,500 in the highest cashback categories throughout the year, you’ll net $250 in rewards the first year of having the card.

Read: 2021 Discover Cashback Calendar

Annual fee: $0.

Intro purchase APR. If you need to finance a large purchase over a few months, there is an intro APR offer of 0% for 6 months on purchases from the date of account opening. After that, a 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR applies.

Foreign transaction fee. If you travel abroad, you won’t have to worry about paying an extra fee for purchases made overseas, as the foreign transaction fee is none.

Tools to help you build credit. This card is designed for students looking to establish and build their credit through responsible card usage, and they can monitor their progress with Discover’s free Credit Scorecard tool. With Credit Scorecard, scores are refreshed every month, and it sends alerts for any unusual activity.

Annual bonus for good grades. Another nice feature is the Good Grades Rewards program, allowing students to receive a $20 annual statement credit when maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA (valid for up to five consecutive years).

Additional card benefits

In addition to the higher cashback rate in quarterly categories, Cashback Match and Good Grades Rewards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back offers these additional benefits:

  • Simple cashback redemption. You can easily redeem your cash back for a variety of options at any time 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.
  • 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.

Discover it® Student Cash Back cons

Bonus categories require activation. The Discover it® Student Cash Back’s highest bonus categories must be activated online each quarter, and this could be a hassle for some students who don’t want to bother or would prefer a card offering a flat-rate rewards program.

Quarterly maximum on higher-rate purchases. The elevated cash back reward is limited to a maximum of $1,500 on purchases each quarter.

Low rewards rate on non-category purchases. The rewards earnings rate for non-bonus category purchases and bonus category purchases over the quarterly cap is subpar.

Balance transfer deal. If you’re looking for a balance transfer card offering a 0% intro APR period in which to save on interest charges, the Discover it® Student Cash Back won’t be a good fit as it offers 10.99% for 6 months for balance transfers, then a 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR will apply. There are better balance transfer card offers with 0% interest for longer periods of time.

Compare it to the Discover it® Student chrome

  • 0% for 6 months

  • 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

  • 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Student chrome

More Info

Both the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Student chrome have the same benefits and features key to Discover cards — but they differ in how their cash back programs operate.

With the Discover it® Student Cash Back, you can earn more cash back when you opt into the rotating spending categories each quarter. The Discover it® Student chrome, on the other hand, is better suited for commuter students, offering a less generous flat-rate rewards program for spending on gas and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.

Here’s how the two cards compare

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Discover it® Student chrome

 Discover it® Student Cash BackDiscover it® Student chrome
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
New cardmember offer Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Purchase intro rate0% for 6 months on purchases, then 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR0% for 6 months, then 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
Balance transfer intro rate10.99% for 6 months, then 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR10.99% for 6 months, then 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR
Balance transfer fee3% 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)*
Foreign transaction feeNoneNone

Which Discover student card is best for me?

Students who want to keep track of bonus categories can maximize their cash back with the Discover it® Student Cash Back, while also building credit through responsible credit practices. But if remembering to opt into the categories each quarter is too much of a hassle, then the Discover it® Student chrome may be a better fit.

Whichever card you choose, paying on time and keeping balances low will help build up a great credit score.

Read: The 5 Factors That Affect Your Credit Score


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