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Review of the Discover it® Chrome for Students

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Jan 05, 2018 | Updated Jan 23, 2020
Our rating
Min. credit level: No Credit
Annual Fee: $0
Regular APR: 19.49% Variable

Discover it® Student chrome

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No Credit Min. credit level
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The Discover it® Student chrome gives college and university students a way to establish a credit history. On top of that, it provides cash back rewards at gas stations and restaurants.

With no annual fee, this card is a convenient way to pay for those common purchases. You’ll get 2% cash back for gas and at restaurants, and Discover will double all the cash back you earn in your first year.

There are some handy perks for students, like a good grades reward and the ability to monitor one of your FICO credit scores. And the interest rates and fees are quite favorable too, good for first-time cardholders.

This card is just like the Discover it® Chrome (Review), but it’s designed with students in mind. Use it wisely, and eventually you’ll be able to qualify for even better credit cards.

Discover it® Student chrome

Discover it® Student chrome

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR19.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

We give the Discover it Chrome for Students 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s a strong offer for young people who are just getting into credit cards.

Why We Like It

  • 2% cash back on gas and dining
  • Double cash back in your first year
  • Free FICO Score 8 from TransUnion
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

Why It Could Be Better

  • Card benefits don’t provide much extra value

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • Pay for food and gas: Use the Discover it Chrome to earn cash back when you go out to eat or fill up your tank. Unless you’d earn rewards at a higher rate with a different card, of course.
  • Earn a lot of cash back on big purchases: If you’re planning any big purchases, try to make them before the end of your first year. Discover’s Cashback Match will double your rewards in that first year.
  • Consider Discover’s international acceptance: If you’re studying abroad, a different card will probably be a better fit. Even though this card has no foreign transaction fees, Discover isn’t as widely accepted around the world as some other issuers. Check out the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review). It has no annual fee, no foreign exchange fees, and more acceptance worldwide because it’s a Visa.
  • Pay off purchases over time, if necessary: Use this card’s 0% intro APR to learn the basics of using and paying off credit cards without having to pay interest. Just be sure to always pay the minimum payment every month. After that you’ll get a regular rate of 19.49% Variable.
  • Redeem for gift cards if possible: To maximize your rewards, redeem your cash back for gift cards. This will add a bonus of at least $5 to each gift card. Otherwise, the next best options are redeeming for a statement credit or to a bank account.
  • Monitor your credit: Use the FICO® Credit Scorecard to check your credit and monitor your FICO 8 Credit Score. It will be based on your TransUnion credit report. Read through their custom tips to see how you can improve your score.

The Rewards

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent per quarter at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: New cardmembers get double cash back in the first year (awarded after the first year)

So you’ll get 2% cash back rewards when you fuel up or go out to eat. That isn’t a whole lot compared to some other cards. But since Discover will double your rewards in the first year, that makes 4% back on those categories. Plus you’ll get 2% back on every other purchase in that first year, which is better than most cards. That’s pretty good for a card with no annual fee.

Redeeming

Redeeming your cash back is very easy with Discover. You’ll always get at least $1 for every $1 that you’ve earned. And there’s a way to get even more than that.

You’ll have five different options for redeeming your cash back:

  1. As a statement credit to reduce your balance
  2. Directly into a bank account of your choice
  3. For gift cards
  4. As a charitable donation
  5. Pay with rewards at select retailers, like Amazon.com

We recommend always using one of the first four options above, and avoiding number five. The gift card option will offer a bonus of at least $5 on your redemptions, so use it first whenever possible.

Statement credits will lower your card’s account balance. Direct deposits are sent to your linked bank account. These are probably the easiest ways to redeem your cash back, but not the most rewarding.

If you pay with rewards you won’t earn any cash back on those purchases, so it’s better to pay with your card as normal.

The Benefits

  • Cash Back Rewards for Good Grades: Discover will give you a $20 cash back reward for every year that you get a 3.0 GPA or higher, for up to five years.
  • FICO Credit Scorecard: Access your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Cash at Checkout: At eligible retailers you can get cash at checkout, a handy way to get some money without going to an ATM. The extra cash will be counted as part of your purchase.
  • Refer a Friend bonus: Earn a $50 statement credit bonus for every friend you refer who’s approved, up to 10 friends per year. If your friend makes a purchase within three months of opening the account, he or she will earn a $50 bonus too.
  • $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee: If your card is lost or stolen, you are not liable for any fraudulent charges made to your account. Contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud.
  • Fraud Protection: Discover monitors your account around the clock for suspicious or unusual activity.
  • Free Social Security number alerts: Discover searches for your Social Security number on thousands of risky sites and will alert you if your information was compromised.
  • New account alerts: Get notified of credit inquiries and new accounts on your Experian credit report.

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
0% for 6 months, then 19.49% Variable 10.99% for 6 months, then 19.49% Variable 26.49% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 None
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)* None
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None $0 the first time; up to $39 after that Up to $39

There’s no annual fee on this reward card, so if you avoid accruing interest it can be completely free to use. Just pay your balance in full every billing period, and you’ll never have to worry about interest.

This card has a 0% intro APR for both purchases and balance transfers for 6 months. It’s not very long, but it gives you a chance to pay off purchases over a few months at no interest. If you want to do a balance transfer it would be better to find a card that’s made for transfers, with a longer period and no fees.

This is a good card for students because Discover has pretty forgiving terms. Some issuers will apply a penalty apr if you go over your credit limit or make a late payment, but Discover will not. Your first late payment also gets a pass. But you should commit to always using your card responsibly.

The Bottom Line

The Discover it® Student chrome is a good option to help college and university students improve their credit. And if you want to earn some cash back too (who doesn’t?), this card fits the bill.

Most of the card features are good for first-time credit card users, like the interest rates, terms, and benefits. You’ll get 2% cash back on gas and at restaurants, which tend to be frequent expenses for students, and those rewards will be doubled for the first year.

The $20 reward for good grades is a nice bonus that most credit card companies don’t offer. And being able to check one of your credit scores will help you improve your credit as fast as possible, with helpful tips along the way.

As a student who is new to credit, you should always be responsible with your credit cards. This will help ensure that you build up a positive credit history, and eventually you’ll be able to qualify for more rewarding cards.

There are some other cards designed for students with limited or no credit. Take a look at some other student credit card options below.

How to Apply for the Discover it Chrome for Students

Click the Apply Now button below and you’ll be taken to Discover to provide your personal information. They’ll check your credit reports from the major credit reporting bureaus, along with other financial information. You’ll also need to provide proof that you’re a student, like a student ID or class schedule.

Since this is a student credit card, it’s designed for people with limited or no credit. If you’ve never had a credit card before or haven’t started building up a credit history at all, this card is designed to give you a way in. If you’re an international student take a look at the Deserve Edu Mastercard, which doesn’t require an SSN to apply.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Student status: Must be enrolled in a two- or four-year college or university
  • Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number, U.S. citizenship status
  • Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
  • Financial information: Total annual income, monthly mortgage or rent payment
Discover it® Student chrome

Discover it® Student chrome

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR19.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Alternatives to the Discover it Chrome for Students

 

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR19.49% Variable
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The Discover it® Student Cash Back (Review) is very similar to the Discover it Chrome for Students. The only difference is the reward structure, which is quite different.

The Discover it for Students provides 5% cash back in categories that rotate every 3 months. And you’ll get 1% cash back on every other purchase.

The calendar for 2020 is:

Time Period Rewards Category
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft, Wholesale Clubs
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com

The 5% cash back is available for the first $1,500 spent each quarter, and then 1% back will be awarded. As you can see, there’s a bit of overlap between these cards.

The other terms, benefits, and rewards are the exact same. That includes the excellent Cashback Match offer. So you’ll actually be getting 10% cash back in those categories in your first year, and that’s a great deal.

So what kind of purchases do you make the most? Do these rotating reward categories seem more appealing? Check your spending habits, and remember that you’ll only get those categories for 3 months out of the year.

If you’re an experienced credit card user and you know how to use them responsibly, you could even use both of these cards. Just use the Discover it whenever you can earn 5% cash back, and use the Discover it Chrome for every other purchase. But when the reward categories overlap, be sure to use the Discover it to make sure you get the most cash back possible.

 

Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students

Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.24%–26.24%Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students (Review) is another good option for college students who are new to credit. It has no annual fee, and a different reward structure.

You’ll get:

  • 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 purchases
  • Introductory bonus: $200 cash rewards bonus by spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening

The cash back you earn in the 3% and 2% bonus categories is limited to the first $2,500 in combined spending every quarter. After that limit is reached you’ll earn 1% cash back on those purchases. With that limit you can earn up to $75 cash back every 3 months, if you only buy gas and get the 3% rate.

So compared to the Discover card, the Cash Rewards offers an extra 1% back at gas stations. It has valuable restaurant and online shopping categories, along with grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Those could be quite useful for the average student.

The $200 cash rewards signup bonus is pretty valuable too, and a great offer compared to other student credit cards. You’ll only need to spend $1,000 to get it. To earn that much cash back with the Discover it Chrome in your first year, you’d need to spend $5,000 in your first year on gas or at restaurants. And that would just be the cash back you earn, not a bonus on top of it.

Cash Rewards users who also have a Bank of America bank account get a way to earn even more cash back. If you redeem your rewards into a BofA checking or savings account, you’ll get an extra 10% added to the redemption.

It might not seem like much, but it’s a nice bonus that will add up over time. It also makes this card a bit more potentially rewarding compared to similar offers from other issuers. If you have a large bank account balance, that bonus can be increased to 25%, 50%, and even 75%.

You’ll get a longer 0% intro APR period with the Bank of America card, coming at 12 months for purchases and balance transfers. Discover only offers 6 months.

You can check your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report, with either card.

So if you’re trying to decide between these two cards, the main question is: do you want to earn rewards at restaurants, or at grocery stores and wholesale clubs? BofA account holders will have an extra incentive to go with the Cash Rewards card. But the right card for you will depend on your personal shopping habits.

 

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR26.74% Variable

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review) is a bit different than the other cards above.

Instead of rewards for certain types of purchases, it offers:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • an increase to 1.25% cash back if you pay your monthly bill on time

So it’s not a very rewarding card, though it does provide an easy way to get 1.25% back for every purchase. But other cards will offer at least 1% back for every purchase you make, so this isn’t a huge advantage.

Capital One’s CreditWise® service is available to everyone, whether you have a Capital One card or not. This provides access to your TransUnion credit report, which is a unique feature among credit cards. Although many cards will monitor one of your credit scores, Capital One might be the only issuer to offer access to one of your actual credit reports.

You can also view your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report. This isn’t the same as the more common FICO 8 Credit Score, which many other cards will let you see. But the VantageScores still gives you a good way to track your credit as it changes over time. If it’s going up, you’re doing well. CreditWise will also offer specific tips, based on your score, to help you improve any particular areas that are holding you back.

So Capital One and Discover offer different ways to monitor your credit. They are mostly the same, but only Capital One will let you actually check out your TransUnion report.

If you make your first 5 monthly payments on time you’ll have access to a higher credit line with the Journey card. This is a nice feature because student cards typically come with very low credit limits. Most card issuers won’t increase the limit this easily.

The Journey card has no foreign transaction fee, just like with Discover. But the Journey card is a Visa, which is accepted by more merchants around the world than Discover. So if you’re studying abroad or plan to travel, you’ll probably have an easier time with the Journey card.

Although the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card is less rewarding than the others on our list, it’s still a solid way for students with limited credit to establish a positive credit history. In time, with responsible use, you’ll build up your credit and prove your worthiness for a more rewarding card.

 

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

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Min. credit levelBad
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR24.49% Variable
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securely on the issuer's website

Unlike the other cards on this list, the Discover it Secured Credit Card (Review) isn’t a student card. This is a secured credit card, which means it requires a security deposit to use.

Secured cards are meant for people with limited or bad credit who need a way to establish a positive credit history. Students can use them as a way into the world of credit cards, before moving on to unsecured cards.

The Discover it Secured is very much like the Discover it Chrome for Students. It provides:

  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • A 24.24% APR for purchases and balance transfers
  • A 10.99% introductory balance transfer offer for 6 months

So the rewards for gas and dining are exactly the same. But there are some important differences between these cards.

The Discover it Secured requires a refundable security deposit when you’re approved. This must be at least $200, and it will fund your credit limit for the card. If you pay more, you’ll get a higher credit limit. And you can add more to this deposit over time if you wish.

Discover will also review your account every 8 months, and if you’ve been a responsible card user they may refund your deposit. You’ll have earned their trust, at least in part, and will still be able to use the card.

You won’t get the good grades reward with the Discover it Secured, but other than that the terms and benefits are the same. Both cards have the same extra perks, and will double the cash back you earn in your first year.

Although it’s not a student card, students can use the Discover it Secured as an option for building their credit. It also might prove useful for anyone who is planning to become a student but isn’t one yet, or has just recently graduated from college.

 

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Deserve Edu Mastercard

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR20.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Deserve Edu Mastercard (Review) is designed to be an option for students with limited or no credit. It’s also a good choice for international students because you won’t need an SSN to apply.

Unlike most cards, which just look at your credit history and financial situation, this card will take a few other factors into account when you apply.

The Deserve Edu card will also consider:

  • education
  • future employability
  • earnings potential

So if you lack a traditional credit history this card provides a chance to get that first credit card. This can sometimes be the most difficult step, so it’s nice to see a card that will consider more than just the normal criteria.

This card provides:

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

You’ll get just a bit of cash back with the Deserve Edu. But that free year of Amazon Prime Student can potentially be pretty valuable. That will provide free 2-day shipping on tons of items, along with Amazon Prime Video and Music.

This isn’t the most rewarding card, but if you’re a student with no credit history it might be one of the only cards you can get. International students without a SSN will have few other options as well. You can use this card start building a positive credit history, and eventually you’ll be able to qualify for more rewarding cards.

Discover it® Student chrome

Discover it® Student chrome

Our rating
Min. credit levelNo Credit
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR19.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

For more on building credit and financial resources for students, take a look at our Guide to Credit Cards for Students.

If you’d like to learn about the non-student version of this card, check out the Discover it® chrome (Review).

Do you have the Discover it Chrome for Students credit card? How do you like it? Leave your own review, we’d love to hear what you think!

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