Discover it® Student Cash Back review: Earn 5% in popular categories
Discover it® Student Cash Back
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- All the cash back you earn during your first year will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by Discover. That means $100 in cash back is actually $200 in cash back after your first year.
- As a cardmember, you can earn a statement credit for each person you refer who is approved for the card.
- If you have relatively low student-loan debt, and an excellent credit score, you may be able to find another option with larger rewards potential.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Discover it® Student Cash Back Rewards
- Discover it® Student Cash Back Credit Limit
- Potential Downsides of the Discover it® Student Cash Back
- Discover it® Student Cash Back Cardholder Scores
- How the Discover it® Student Cash Back Compares to Other Cards
- Who Should Apply for Discover it® Student Cash Back?
WHAT DISCOVER SAYS ABOUT THIS CARD
- 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 fees whatsoever. No late fee, foreign transaction fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee, fee.
- Variable APRs range from 13.24% - 27.24%
- Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
- 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away
- 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants
- $300 - $10,000 credit limits
- No credit score? No problem. If eligible, we'll create your Cash Score instead.
- See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.
- Build credit alongside hundreds of thousands of Petal card members.
- Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
- No deposits required
- Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
The Discover it® Student Cash Back card has a lot to offer a young person trying to build their credit history and learn the ropes of using a rewards credit card at the same time.
As the name suggests, it is multiple cash-back opportunities that make Discover it® Student Cash Back a great addition to the wallet of any financially responsible young adult. You have the chance to earn 5% cash back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate. Plus, you'll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases and the bonus category purchases once you've met the quarterly spending maximum.
Here's where this reward structure gets even better: As an introductory welcome bonus, Discover will MATCH, dollar-for-dollar, all the cash back you have accumulated during your first year as a card member. This can easily add up to hundreds of dollars. Think about it: If you max out the spending in the quarterly 5% categories, you'll earn $75 cash back just on those purchases each quarter for a total of $300 cash back for the whole year. That means that with Discover's match at the end of your first year you will have earned $600 cash back after your first year - and we haven't even mentioned the 1% cash back you'll be earning on all your other purchases that will also be matched after your first year.
Discover it® Student Cash Back offers tools to help you manage your credit, including free credit score updates with each statement, fraud monitoring and the ability to quickly turn your card "off" if you think it's been lost or stolen and then back "on" again if you find it.
Credit limits on the Discover it® Student Cash Back vary. While you cannot request a specific credit line when you apply, Discover says credit lines start at $500. In some cases, credit limits may be higher depending on a combination of information provided in your application and consumer report used to determine your creditworthiness.
To maximize your cash back rewards you need to keep track of the rotating categories, which change each quarter. If you aren't good at keeping up with schedules, you could miss out on opportunities to maximize your rewards.
As is the case with all student credit cards, getting the Discover it® Student Cash Back card is not as easy as it used to be. Discover no longer allows co-signers, so you are on your own with the application. And the federal government has tightened its regulations on marketing and issuing cards, particularly to students.
Lastly, if you do a fair amount of traveling overseas or are planning to participate in a study abroad program, you might want to have other options in your wallet. On the plus side, Discover doesn't charge fees for foreign transactions but, on the downside, Discover cards are not usually as widely accepted internationally as Visa or Mastercard.
|Current Scores||Past Scores (avg.)|
|Likelihood of Continuing to Use||8.6||8.8|
|Recommend to a Friend/Colleague||8.5||8.2|
Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Discover it® Student chrome
Discover it® Student chrome is best described as a scaled-back, simplified version of the Discover it® Student Cash Back card. Rather than rotating quarterly rewards categories, Discover it® Student chrome offers a straight 2% cash back for gas and restaurant purchases, on up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter with no need to sign up each quarter to take advantage; you'll also earn an unlimited 1% on all other purchases. This type of cash-back card is called a tiered-rewards card. Discover it® Student chrome does also offer the end-of-the-first-year cash-back matching bonus, so you'll enjoy a match of every dollar you've earned at the end of your first year.
It also offers a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
Overall, Discover it® Student chrome could be a better fit for the student who already has enough on their plate (and who could blame you?) and doesn't want to keep up with rotating categories. Furthermore, if you know you spend the bulk of your money on restaurant and gas purchases, you could end up earning more cash back in the long run with Discover it® Student chrome.
Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
Both cards have a $0 annual fee, charge no foreign transaction fees and offer cash-back rewards. But that's where the similarities end.
The Capital One card offers a flat-rate 1% cash back on all your purchases; however, you can bump that earning up to 1.25% each month that you pay your bill on time for a maximum cash back opportunity. Discover it® Student Cash Back, of course, offers 5% cash back for certain purchase categories that rotate each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter each time you activate) and 1% on all other purchases, plus that match bonus at the end of your first year. On an ongoing basis, however, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card could be a better fit with its consistent opportunity to earn up to 1.25% back.
Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Discover it® Cash Back
There is no annual fee with either card and both offer 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in certain purchase categories that rotate each quarter (activation required). With both cards, cardholders also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. The unlimited dollar-for-dollar cash match rewards are also the same. Discover will match all earned cash back rewards on both cards from the day your account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods or 365 days (whichever is longer).
It's in the rates and details where both cards differ. The Discover it® Cash Back has a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers (then, 12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR). The Discover it® Student Cash Back also has a 0% introductory APR offer but it's only for six months on purchases (then 13.24% - 22.24% Variable APR).
As the Discover it® Student Cash Back is designed with students in mind, the credit scores required for each differ as well. The Discover it® Student Cash Back is meant for those with fair credit or who are new to building credit, while the Discover it® Cash Back is for those with good to excellent credit.
Discover it® Student Cash Back is a great fit for the wallet of any financially responsible college student. The combination of ongoing cash-back rewards and an end-of-the-first-year cash back matching bonus can put several hundred dollars into your pocket.
This is also a strong card for a young person looking to build their credit rating. The card offers credit management tools such as monthly credit score updates on your statements and fraud monitoring, to help you avoid pitfalls.
Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2021 to conduct surveys among 1,524 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2021-Aug. 31, 2021 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted. "Current Scores" reflect scores from the most recent survey; "Past Scores (avg.)" are the scores averaged over each prior year the card has been surveyed. "Past Scores" indicates a card has only been surveyed in one prior year.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
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