Review of the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Mar 06, 2018 | Updated Jun 25, 2019

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The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is not a bad option for students with average or limited credit. If you want to improve your credit and get some cash back too, this card could do the trick. Despite the name, you don’t actually need to be a student to apply for this card.

You’ll earn 1% cash back on every purchase, which will get boosted to 1.25% when you pay your bills on time. You can also get a credit line increase if you make your first 5 monthly payments on time.

It won’t provide you with a lot of cash back, but with average or limited credit your options will be limited. Use this card to help establish a strong credit history and eventually you’ll qualify for more rewarding credit cards.

Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

We give the Journey Student card 4 out of 5 Stars because it’s a good card offer for young students who are establishing a credit history. It’s also available to anyone, not just students, meaning anyone can use it to improve their credit. But it’s not very rewarding overall.

Why we like this card

  • It gives anyone with average or limited credit, including students, a way to build and improve their credit
  • There’s a built-in incentive to pay on time
  • Cardholders can get access to a higher credit line relatively quickly
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee
  • View your TransUnion credit report for free

Why this card could be better

  • The rewards program isn’t very valuable
  • The benefits are pretty basic for the most part
  • The interest rate (APR) is very high, although you can avoid this by paying your balance in full

This card has some good features, but there may be a different card that would suit you better. Check out some alternatives to the Journey Student card below.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Always pay your bill on time because you’ll get an extra .25% extra cash back on every purchase. That will come to 1.25% cash back for everything you buy.
  • Pay on time for your first 5 payments to get a higher credit line, a valuable feature on a student credit card.
  • Whether or not you get a bonus or a higher credit line, we always recommend paying your balance in full each billing period.
  • Set up automatic payments to make sure you always pay on time, and never worry about late fees.
  • Use the CreditWise credit monitoring service to keep track of your credit scores as they change over time.
  • As you build your credit with this card by using it responsibly, eventually you’ll be able to qualify for better rewards cards with more cash back (or points) and better benefits.
  • Take this card along when studying abroad because it has no foreign transaction fees. It’s also a Mastercard, so it’s accepted pretty much everywhere.

The Rewards


Spending Rewards
  • 1% cash back for every purchase
    • 1.25% cash back if you pay on time

There’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and it will never expire for the lifetime of your card account.

When you pay on time you’ll get an extra .25%, for a total of 1.25% cash back on those purchases. You’ll get that extra .25% within the next two billing cycles. If your account enters “past due” status, you will not get the bonus.

It should be easy to always get this bonus because you only need to make the minimum payment. However, we recommend that credit card users always pay off their entire balance in full each month. This is a good strategy because it lets you avoid interest on purchases, and it’s also good for your credit. This is important for students with limited credit, because it will help improve your credit while keeping your credit card debt down, by preventing interest from accruing

You can simplify this process by just setting up automatic payments. You can have the entire card balance automatically paid by the due date, ensuring that your balance stays low and you’ll always get the bonus.

The Journey Student card isn’t very rewarding compared to most cards, even other student credit cards. You can check out some more rewarding cards for students below.


Your cash back is redeemable in the form of statement credits, which will lower your account balance.

Cash back can be redeemed manually, or by using the automatic redemption system. You can have your cash back automatically redeemed when it reaches a certain amount, or at a certain time each year.

To redeem your rewards, just log in to your account online or use Capital One’s mobile app, or contact the Reward Center through customer service.

The Benefits

Check your card’s Guide to Benefits to learn the exact benefits you have, and how to access them. They’ll include the following.

Higher Credit Line

You’ll have access to a higher credit line, or credit limit, after making your first 5 payments on time.

This is a nice feature because most student credit cards tend to come with low credit limits. The minimum limit for this card is only $300. So it’s nice to be able to expect an increase after just 5 on-time payments.

Capital One CreditWise

The CreditWise service provides free access to one of your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, based on your TransUnion credit report. You can monitor your score over time and get alerts about any changes.

Users can see data from their actual TransUnion credit reports for free, which is a more interesting feature that most credit card issuers don’t offer. There’s also a credit simulator which will show how certain decisions would impact your credit, for better or worse.

Anyone can enroll in the CreditWise service, cardholder or not. Although the VantageScore credit scoring models aren’t as popular as the FICO scoring models, this is still a good way to track your credit over time and see how it changes based on your financial activity. See some alternatives below for other cards that provide free access to a FICO score.

Extended Warranty

Eligible purchases will have their manufacturer’s warranty doubled by up to one additional year. Applies to warranties of three years or less. The purchase must be made entirely with the Journey card.

Travel and Emergency Assistance

Provides help in case of an emergency while traveling. Call the number on the back of the card or 1-800-992-6029 for help getting connected to local emergency services. The cardholder will be responsible for any third-party charges.

Emergency services include:

  • An emergency message service to relay messages to travelers, family, or business associates
  • A medical referral service to help you find local doctors, dentists, hospitals, etc
  • A legal referral service to help you find English-speaking attorneys or U.S. embassies in your area
  • A lost luggage locator service to help you find your bags if they’re lost by a common carrier
  • Pre-trip assistance to inform you about weather conditions, health precautions, the passport visas needed, and ATM locations

Travel Accident Insurance

Provides coverage for you, your spouse, and unmarried dependent children while traveling by common carrier. Up to $100,000 is available, and covers accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech, or hearing. The entire cost of the passenger fares must be charged to the Journey card.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

This benefit provides coverage for rented vehicles against damage and theft. You must charge the entire cost to your Journey card, and decline the rental company’s own insurance.

Certain vehicles are excluded, like:

  • expensive, exotic, or antique automobiles
  • trucks
  • motorcycles
  • recreational vehicles

Other Benefits

This card doesn’t have the most luxurious benefits, but this is typical for an inexpensive student card like this. There are several others included, like:

  • Fraud Protection
  • Account Alerts
  • Capital One Second Look account monitoring

For more, check out the complete set of benefits for the Journey Student credit card.

The Costs & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
26.96% (Variable) 26.96% (Variable) 26.96% (Variable)
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$0  None $0 3% of the amount of the cash advance, but not less than $10
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None Up to $39 None

This card has a pretty high interest rate, as you can see. That’s pretty normal for a student card, made for people with less-than-great credit. But you don’t need to worry about interest charges on your purchases at all if you commit to always paying off your balance in full each billing period. This lets you avoid that interest rate entirely, and it keeps your credit utilization low on top of that.

Your credit limit will be determined based on your credit history, finances, and other factors. The minimum is $300, though you may get a higher limit than that.

Capital One will increase your credit limit if you make your first 5 monthly payments on time. This is a nice feature because student cards tend to have low credit limits. You’ll be able to easily increase your limit just by making on-time payments, which you should be doing anyway. But this is a nice incentive to get you in the habit of paying on time when you open the account.

Customer Support

Phone Support

Customer Support for Existing Accounts 1-800-CAPITAL (1-800-227-4825)
Apply for a credit card  1-800-695-5500

We called Capital One to get a bit more information about the Journey Student card. If you want to speak with a customer support rep but you don’t have an account with them, you’ll need to use the “apply for a credit card” line and act like you want to apply.

Strangely, the first thing we were told was that we couldn’t be told anything about the Journey Student card over the phone. Instead, all of our questions would have to be answered by browsing the website ourselves. This was odd to hear, but it may be because the card terms are subject to change, and different people may get card offers with slightly different terms.

This seems to be specific to the Journey Student card. We’ve called them to ask about other cards and never had an issue like that.

In any case, we were able to learn a couple of interesting things. We found out that when you apply, Capital One will check with one, two, or all three of the major credit card bureaus, depending on your situation.

We also learned that you don’t actually need to be a student to apply for the Journey Student card, despite its name. Anyone is welcome to apply, so if you have average or limited credit but you’re not a student, this card is still available to you. This is in contrast to some other student credit cards, which actually do require you to be a current or very recent student.

Capital One recently came in third in J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey 2017. That’s usually about where they land, and it pretty much matches up with what we’ve experienced. They’re pretty good overall, despite not being able to tell us about the Journey Student over the phone.

Web Support

Capital One usually does a pretty good job laying out the details for their cards, in our opinion. More complicated cards might be a different story, but the Journey Student is fairly simple and all of the relevant information is easily available on their card page.

They provide links to more info about the benefits provided by Capital One. And they even provide a PDF of the Guide to Benefits that comes with the card, a very useful move that most credit card companies don’t make.

Cardholders will be able to access live web chats with Capital One customer support after logging in to their accounts. This may be easier than calling them on the phone in some cases.

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Capital One Journey Student Credit Card is a decent choice for students who are new to credit. It doesn’t offer the highest rewards out of the student credit cards, but it’s not a bad option if you can’t get approved for a more rewarding card.

With it, you have the chance to build credit while earning cash back rewards at no annual fee. In time, with responsible credit use all around, you’ll be able to qualify for cards with better rewards and benefits.

This card will get you in the habit of paying your bills on time, providing incentives for you to do so. The APR is very high, but if you pay off your balance in full each month you’ll never have to pay interest on your purchases. This is what we recommend doing for every card, student or not, because it’s the best move for your credit.

Use the CreditWise service to check up on your credit, and learn about what will improve or hurt your credit scores. And remember that you have some shopping and travel protections available if you need them.

There are many student credit cards out there, and several of them offer better rewards than the Journey Student. Check out some of those alternatives below.

How to Apply for the Journey Student Credit Card

You can apply for the Capital One Journey Student securely on Capital One’s website.

Despite the name of this card, you do not need to be a student to apply.

Capital One will check your credit reports with one or all of the three major credit bureaus. The application decision will come almost instantly for many people, but in some cases you may need to wait to get an answer. And in other cases, Capital One may request that you supply some additional information.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • You must be 18 to apply.
  • You’ll need to provide your personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number.
  • You must provide your total annual income, and source of income.

Alternatives to the Journey Student Credit Card

All of these cards will help you improve your credit with responsible use, and most of them are more rewarding than the Journey Student as well.


The Discover it for Students (Review) is quite a rewarding card, especially for young students with a limited credit history.

For no annual fee, it provides:

  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate throughout the year, on the first $1,500 spent each quarter (see calendar below)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Good Grades Reward: Get a $20 statement credit for each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to five years
  • Cashback Match: new cardmembers get double the cash back earned in the first year

The 5% cash back calendar for the Discover it for 2019 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Grocery Stores
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December, Target,

When you factor in the Cashback Match, that means you’ll be getting 10% cash back. If you tend to spend a lot in those categories this card is one of the best ways to get a lot of cash back. You’ll also get 2% back on every other purchase you make in that first year, a very good deal.

So this is a rewarding card compared to other student cards, and even compared to many regular rewards credit cards. It can potentially be quite valuable, and provides the same program you get with the regular, non-student version of the Discover it® (Review). And there’s the $20 good grades reward on top of that.

These rewards are much more than the maximum of 1.25% you can get with the Journey Student card. Not only in the bonus reward categories, but even in non-category purchases for the first year.

The Discover it for Students has no annual fee, and comes with a 0% introductory APR for 6 months for purchases. That’s much better than the Journey card’s 26.96% (Variable) APR, giving you some time to make purchases at no interest.

Discover cards come with just a few benefits, fewer than the Journey card. The main perk is access to your FICO Score 8 from your TransUnion credit report. The Journey Student provides your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report, along with actual access to your TransUnion report. The Discover card does not provide access to your report.

The main difference between these cards is the rewards program they offer. If you want to earn a significant amount of cash back while building your credit too, the Discover it will be the better choice.

There’s another Discover card made for students, the Discover it® Chrome for Students (Review). It’s very similar to the Discover it for Students, but offers stable rewards instead of rotating.

Cardholders get:

  • 2% cash back on the first $1,000 spent per quarter at:
    • gas stations
    • restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Good Grades Reward: Get a $20 statement credit for each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to five years
  • Cashback Match: new cardmembers get double the cash back earned in the first year


The Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students (Review) has no annual fee, and is more rewarding than the Journey card.

It provides:

  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening
  • Redemption bonus: 10%+ bonus for redeeming cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account

You’ll have more cash back opportunities with the Cash Rewards card, and if you buy a lot of gas and groceries this could prove important. The 1% on non-category purchases is almost equal to the 1.25% you get with the Journey Student.

The signup bonus is easy to get with this card, only requiring $1,000 spent in 3 months. And the bonus for redeeming into a BofA bank account is a nice addition too.

The Cash Rewards comes with a 0% introductory APR for 12 months, for both purchases and balance transfers. This is exceptionally long for a student card, and much more favorable than what you’ll get with the Journey Student.

The extra benefits are pretty similar for both cards. The Bank of America card provides you with your FICO 8 Credit Score based on your TransUnion credit report. The Journey card also shows your actual TransUnion report, while the Cash Rewards does not. This could be useful occasionally, but it’s not a major decision point.

You’ll definitely be able to earn more cash back more easily with the Cash Rewards card. But perhaps you really want the increase in the credit line that comes with the Journey card after your first five payments are made. This isn’t guaranteed to happen automatically with the Bank of America card, but the increase with the Journey card might not be very significant. So it probably isn’t worth pursuing the Journey Student just for that credit line increase.


Update: The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students has been discontinued for new applicants. It has been replaced by the Citi Rewards+ Student Card.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students (Review) has no annual fee. It has a bonus reward category, unlike the Journey Student:

  • 2X points per dollar on
    • dining
    • entertainment
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 2,500 bonus points for spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening

Every point you earn will equate to 1 cent, so that means you’ll be getting 2% or 1% cash back. That’s twice as good as the Journey card for the bonus category, and not much different for non-category purchases. If you tend to eat out, drink at bars, or go to the movies pretty often, this would be a card to consider.

The dining category includes restaurants, fast food, take-out, bars, and other locations that sell food or drink for immediate consumption.

The entertainment category includes sports, music, live performances, movie theaters and rental stores, and cultural events and locations.

The ThankYou Preferred comes with 7 months at 0% APR for purchases. If you’re looking to pay off some expenses over time at zero interest, you won’t be able to do that with the Journey Student.

The extra benefits are about the same, as far as the shopping and travel protections go. But you probably won’t have access to any of your credit scores with the ThankYou Preferred, so you won’t be able to track your credit with it. However, Capital One’s CreditWise program is available to anyone, cardholder or not, so you can still use it to monitor your credit.

For spending on dining and entertainment, the ThankYou Preferred is obviously superior. But if you don’t spend a lot in those categories you’ll probably be better off with the Journey Student, getting 1.25% cash back for every purchase.


The Deserve Edu Mastercard (Review) is designed to be more accessible than the average student credit card. It’s made for students without a credit history at all, providing an easy first step into the world of credit.

International students won’t need a Social Security Number to apply, which is rare among credit cards. There’s no annual fee for this card, and in addition to building up your credit it also offers some rewards and perks:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • One free year of Amazon Prime Student membership

So you’ll get a bit less cash back than you would with the Journey Student, though it’s not a very significant amount. A year of Amazon Prime Student costs $59, so that’s a decent value. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper, the free shipping and discounts you’ll get could add up to quite a lot too.

The Deserve card has some basic shopping and travel protections, like most cards. They include an extended warranty on eligible purchases and an auto rental collision damage waiver, among others. It won’t provide you with access to any of your credit scores, which is unfortunate for a card meant to help build your credit. If you use the Deserve card you can use a free credit monitoring service, like CreditWise.

The main attraction of the Deserve Edu is how easy it is to get. No credit history or SSN required, and no annual fee. If you need a card like that you’ll find few competitors, especially as an international student without a SSN.

Do you have the Capital One Journey Student Credit Card? How do you like it? Leave your own review for other visitors.

For other student credit cards that offer some great rewards, check out our picks for The Best Credit Cards For College Students.
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