Review of the Discover it® for Students and the Discover it® chrome for Students

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Jun 20, 2014 | Updated May 16, 2016

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If you’re a student in the market for a credit card, Discover offers two versions of a student credit card that are worth a look: the Discover it® for Students and the Discover it® chrome for Students. These cards have many features to recommend them, including no annual fees and different types of cash back plans to choose from.

The Discover it® for Students card features rotating 5% cash back rewards categories, while the Discover it® chrome for Students card has a fixed 2% cash back reward category.

Update June, 2015: Discover is offering a promotional offer to double the cash back after using one of their cards for 1 year. This offer is only available to new cardholders.

Each card comes with a 0% introductory APR for 6 months, a great find when it comes to student credit cards. If you have a previous credit card balance you need to pay off, you can make use of the introductory offer of 10.99% (Variable) on balance transfers for 6 months.

Discover it® for Students

For People with
No Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 12.99% – 21.99%* Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more-up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* 100% U.S.-based service any time. Text alerts when payment is due & a free mobile app to stay on top of your account.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card
  • 0% intro APR* on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”

Discover it® chrome for Students

For People with
No Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 12.99% – 21.99%* Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter-no sign-ups needed.* 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* 100% U.S.-based service any time. Text alerts when payment is due & a free mobile app to stay on top of your account.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • 0% intro APR* on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”

The Rewards

Each Discover it® for Students card comes with a rewards structure that students are likely to find useful, providing cash back for different kinds of common purchases.

In addition to the rewards described below each card provides access to the Discover Deals shopping portal, which offers cash back and discounts up to 25% at over 200 popular retailers.

Points earned with Discover cards can be redeemed for statement credits or when shopping through Amazon.com.

Update June, 2015: Discover is offering a promotional offer on their cash back cards to double the cash back after using one of their cards for 1 year. This offer is only available to new cardholders, and applies to both cards discussed here. This offer could be discontinued at any time.

Discover it® for Students

The Discover it® for Students card provides 5% cash back for purchases in categories that change each quarter, with 1% cash back awarded for all other purchases. Take note that cardholders must sign up for each reward category throughout the year, which takes just a few seconds through the website. If you forget to sign up for a category, you may be able to call customer service and get at least some of the rewards added to your account retroactively.

The 5% categories for 2015 are:

Time Period Rewards Category
January – March Gas Stations & Ground Transportation
April – June Food & Fun
July – September Summer Spruce Up & More
October – December Holiday Shopping & More

Discover it® chrome for Students

Instead of categories that rotate throughout the year, the chrome version offers 2% cash back for purchases at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. 1% cash back is awarded for all other purchases, and for purchases in those categories after the limit is reached.

Summary of Card Rewards

Card Rewards Type
Discover it® for Students Rotating 5% cash back categories
Discover it® chrome for Students 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants

The Benefits

Both of these cards are issued by Discover, and so they share the same extra shopping and traveling benefits, of which there are quite a few. Each card can be issued in a number of different designs.

Cardholders can view their FICO® score online for free at any time through their Discover account, a very valuable benefit for anyone focused on building their credit score. The Spend Analyzer personal financial tool is another great way to keep track of your finances, set up payment plans, and find ways to save money. Accounts are protected by a $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee.

A new security feature released by Discover in April of this year is the ability to temporarily freeze your account through the Discover website, mobile app, or by phone. If your card is lost or misplaced, you can now freeze your account with a simple push of a button instead of calling to cancel it. You can then unfreeze your account when you find the card and go about your business as usual, without having to wait for a new card and then deal with a new account number.

Discover Freeze feature

Discover Freeze feature

Freezing your account will only prevent new transactions, cash advances, and balance transfers from being made; it will not prevent automatic recurring charges from going through.

When shopping, eligible purchases are covered by a number of protections like Purchase Protection, which provides reimbursement up to $500 if a purchase is lost or stolen. A Return Guarantee will refund the cost of a purchase that the retailer won’t take back, up to 90 days after the date of purchase and for up to $500.

The Extended Warranty feature will double a manufacturer’s warranty by up to 1 year, only for warranties of 3 years or less, and Price Protection will provide a refund for the price difference if a particular purchase is found being advertised for a lesser price than it was bought for.

Cardholders can also receive Cash at Checkout when making purchases at participating locations, which is much like getting cash back when using a debit card. The amount of cash taken will be added to the purchase.

On the road or in the air, cardholders are covered by 24/7 Travel Insurance for help with any emergency. When driving, a Roadside Dispatch phone number will, for a fee of $69.95 per service call, provide services like towing, tire changes, gas deliveries, and jump-starts. Auto Rental Insurance will cover rented vehicles against theft and damage, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.

While flying with common carriers, cardholders and their families are covered by Flight Accident Insurance against accidental death and dismemberment, up to $500,000. Baggage Delay Insurance will provide up to $500 to replace essential items if checked bags are delayed by at least 3 hours.

The Costs

None of these cards have an annual fee.

Card Intro APR Regular APR Intro Balance Transfer APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Discover it® for Students 0% for 6 Months 12.99% – 21.99%* Variable 10.99% for 6 Months 12.99% – 21.99%* Variable 24.99%* Variable $0
Discover it® chrome for Students 0%* for 6 Months 12.99% – 21.99%* Variable 10.99%* for 6 Months 12.99% – 21.99%* Variable 24.99%* Variable $0

The Fees

Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Discover it® for Students None $0 the first time; up to $35 after that Up to $35
Discover it® chrome for Students None $0 the first time; up to $35 after that Up to $35

The Bottom Line

If you’re a student and would like to start building good credit, these cards may be for you. The cash back rewards are generous, especially for cards designed for people with little to no credit, and the rewards categories provided are definitely popular for young people. Many other cards require new cardholders to spend a minimum amount before any promised bonus kicks in, but this card offers it after only a single transaction.

To get the maximum benefit from the card, you’ll want to limit your purchases after the introductory period and avoid cash advances altogether. You’ll also want to make sure you remember to sign up for the 5% rewards categories to receive the benefits each quarter.

Discover is also known to be very consumer-friendly, making them a good choice for young people who are less familiar with how credit cards work. In 2014, Discover tied with American Express for highest customer satisfaction compared to other card issuers.

Do you have one of these cards? How do you like it? Let us know in the comments below!

For more on building credit, take a look at our Definitive Guide to Building Credit From Scratch.

If you’d like to learn about the non-student versions of these cards, check out our review of the Discover it® and the Discover it® chrome credit cards.

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