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Discover it® Student Cash Back Review: In a Class of Its Own

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One of the two Discover credit cards intended directly for college-age customers, the Discover it® Student Cash Back even beats many “adult” cards with its bonus cash back categories. That, combined with Discover’s sign-up bonus, makes this potentially a lucrative credit card. Learn more about what this card has to offer in our detailed Discover it® Student Cash Back review below.

  • A leading student credit card with a rewards program that goes toe-to-toe with some of the top rewards cards we've come across.

    • Rotating bonus categories
    • Great sign-up bonus offer
    • No annual fee
    • Credit score monitoring
    • No fixed bonus categories
    • No credit score required to apply.*
    • 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.
    • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.
    • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.24% - 22.24% applies.
    • 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.
    • Get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
    • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Full Discover it® Student Cash Back review

This credit card is a good fit for: Students who want to earn cash back and secure other rich perks, like a great intro APR and no annual fee.

Top perks

Earn up to 5% cash back

Discover it® Student Cash Back cardholders 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 of $1,500 on purchases and when you activate. Other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back.

Unlimited Cashback Match sign-up bonus

This popular perk has Discover automatically matching all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. This sign-up bonus is only available during the first year and for new cardholders, but it can be particularly lucrative since the match is unlimited.

No annual fee

Many students count every penny and are on very tight budgets. Fortunately for them, Discover charges no annual fee on the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

0% intro APR for purchases

Want to fund something -- perhaps a semester’s worth of books -- without having to worry about paying interest temporarily? You’ll have a six months to fund such expenses with this card’s 0% intro APR on purchases; buy a costly item or several, and pay it (them) off over the intro period to avoid costly interest charges. The go-to variable rate applies after the 0% intro APR expires.

FICO® Score for free

Any person that holds a credit card needs to be aware of their credit score. Discover makes this easy by including a FICO® Score for free, which can be found in the Discover mobile app and through a customer’s account management page.

Identity alerts

The issuer’s online service monitors your Experian credit report daily, and alerts you when a new account is posted there. It also screens websites that traffic in personal data, similarly letting you know if any of your details pop up.

No foreign transaction fee

Going abroad? If you use the Discover it® Student Cash Back you won’t be dinged a foreign transaction fee.

What could be improved

Bonus categories consistency

The one minor drawback with rotating bonus category cards is that there aren't any categories where you can always expect to earn more cash back throughout the year. One quarter you may luck out with bonus categories where you have high spending, earning you lots of rewards. The next quarter, you might end up with bonus categories in which you barely spend anything, and most of your purchases will earn you 1% back.

Alternatives to consider

  • If you want extra cash back for paying on time: The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One offers 1% cash back on purchases, but if you pay on time, that goes up to 1.25%.
  • If you spend heavily on gas: The Discover it® Student chrome packs in many of the same features of Discover it® Student Cash Back, but offers a higher, always on, cash-back rate for gas and restaurants with 2% back for $1,000 of combined gas and restaurants spending each quarter.
As of May. 17, 2022
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Journey Student Rewards from Capital One Discover it® Student chrome
Apply Now for Discover it® Student chrome

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rates & Fees Rates & Fees

Credit Rating Requirement:

New/Rebuilding Under(579) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Credit Rating Requirement:

Fair/New to Credit Under(669) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Welcome Offer:

N/A

Welcome Offer: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Cashback Match

Rewards Program:

1% cash back

Rewards Program: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

1% - 2% Cashback

Intro APR:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Intro APR:

Purchases: 0% Intro APR, 6 months

Balance Transfers: 10.99% Intro APR, 6 months

Regular APR:

26.99% Variable

Regular APR:

13.24% - 22.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee:

$0

Annual Fee:

$0

Highlights:

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Earn $5 per month for 12 months on Select Streaming Subscriptions when you pay on time. *Exclusions Apply
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • You can help build your credit with responsible use of a card like this
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

Highlights:

  • No credit score required to apply.*
  • 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.
  • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.24% - 22.24% applies.
  • 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.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Apply Now for Discover it® Student chrome

On Discover's Secure Website.

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The Ascent's student card essentials

When looking for the best student credit card, it's important to focus on offers that yield the most return for a student's limited budget. It's important to find credit cards that have no annual fee, provide free credit score tracking, and include an array of other features, such as a sign-up bonus and cash back rewards of at least 1%.

Find the best credit card for your needs

Compare credit card rewards, fees, APRs, and more using our side-by-side comparison tool.

This card is right for you if:

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is, in many ways, a fine standalone cash back card. Even though its elevated cash-back places are very limited, they still represent popular forms of commerce and they earn at high clip. It’s rare to see a card focused on students with such a high cash back rate.

All in all, this card has quite a full feature set and some very attractive bonuses. The sign up bonus, for example, is a dynamite perk. Yes, it’s probably aimed at getting you to use the card as frequently as possible. But savvy cardholders who spend regularly and within their means can rack up quite a big sum.

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