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Discover it® Student Cash Back

Cory Santos

| Last updated on February 22nd, 2024

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: Fair / No Credit Required
Discover Processing Network
None Annual Fee

Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • 18.24% to 27.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Regular Purchase APR
  • 18.24% to 27.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate Balance Transfer APR
  • 2974% variable based on the Prime Rate Cash Advance APR
  • 0% for 6 months from account opening date Intro Purchase APR

At a Glance

The Discover it Student Cash Back card is ideal for college students hoping to earn 5% cash back on rotating categories and 1% unlimited cash back on everything else. All the cash back they’ve earned at the end of their first year will automatically be matched by Discover.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • No annual fee, and no late fee on the first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Discover automatically matches all the earned cash back at the end of the first year, with no limit to the amount that is matched
  • $20 statement credit when GPA is 3.0 or higher every school year for up to five years
  • Cash back rewards can be redeemed at any time and never expire
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases automatically
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 18.24% to 27.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 10.99% for 6 months from date of first transfer
  • Balance Transfer APR: 18.24% to 27.24% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Up to 5% of the amount of each transfer
  • Cash Advance APR: 2974% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $41
  • You want to earn 5% back in rotating categories
  • You plan on using your card to purchase products online
  • You expect to earn a 3.0 or higher GPA
  • You do't want to pay an annual fee
  • You want a card with no foreign transaction fees

In-Depth Review: Discover it® Student Cash Back Credit Card

The Discover It Student Cash Back credit card is a great choice for students who want a flexible credit card with cash back rewards. This card has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and offers 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent on a rotating selection of categories each quarter, such as grocery stores. Discover announces their categories in advance, allowing cardholders to plan their spending and budget effectively, which is a fantastic benefit for college students who are mindful of their expenses.

Who Can Benefit from a Student Credit Card?

Student credit cards are especially advantageous for college students who are in the early stages of establishing their credit history. These cards typically have lower credit limits and more lenient approval requirements, making them accessible to students with limited or no credit history.

In addition, student credit cards often provide rewards and benefits that are specifically tailored to the needs and preferences of students. For example, they may offer cashback on textbooks or discounts on school supplies. Discover’s student cards stand out in this regard, thanks to the 0% introductory APR on purchases and Discover’s Cashback Match program.

How to Get the Card

Credit Needed

The credit score requirements for student credit cards differ from traditional credit cards. That’s because student cards are designed for those with a limited credit history. As a result, a credit score may not be required to qualify for the Discover It Student Cash Back credit card. Otherwise, Discover student credit cards are geared towards students with fair credit or better, typically a FICO score of around 600.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a student credit card, you must meet certain criteria set by the card issuer. Here are the general requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to apply for a Discover student credit card.
  • You need to be a S. citizen or resident with a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • Discover student credit cards require you to be enrolled in a two- or four-year college or university to apply.

How to Apply

When applying for a Discover it® Student Cash Back credit card, you will need to provide the following personal information and documentation:

  • Full name
  • SSN/ITIN
  • Birth date
  • Address and duration of residence
  • Current school enrollment details and documentation
  • Any income (if applicable)
  • Email address and telephone number

Additionally, if you have any co-signers for your application, you will need to provide their information, including their SSN, income information, contact details, and an agreement of responsibility in case you fail to pay your credit card bill.

0% Introductory APR Offer

Like the Discover It Chrome for Students Card, the Student Cash Back Card also offers a special introductory APR. When you open a new account, you will receive a 0% intro APR on purchases for the first six months. This bonus offer allows you to open the account, maximize your rewards in the 5% category for that quarter, and pay down the balance over the semester.

For example, let’s say you need to buy school supplies or want to stock up on necessities for your dorm. By making purchases in the correct categories, you can earn 5% back without the hassle of paying off the entire balance right away. It’s a nice little perk.

How to Earn Cash Back

The Discover It Student Cash Back Card offers multiple ways for students to earn cash back on purchases. With this card, you can earn 5% cash back on a rotating selection of categories every quarter, up to $2,500 in quarterly spending. After reaching the spending limit, the cash back rate reverts to 1%.

The rotating categories include a wide range of options such as grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, digital wallet purchases, and more. While this can be both frustrating and exciting, as it allows you to earn enhanced cash back on purchases in categories you love, it is important to note that these categories change every quarter. Additionally, the enhanced cash back rate is only applicable for one quarter each year and up to a maximum of $2,500 in spending.

For the remaining quarters, you will earn a standard 1% cash back on all other everyday purchases. This ensures that you continue to earn rewards even when the categories are not in your favor.

Discover has already released the 2024 5% cash back categories, which are as follows:

Date 5% Cash Back Category
Q1 January – March 2024 Restaurants and drug stores
Q2 April – June 2024 TBD
Q3 July – September 2024 TBD
Q4 October – December 2024 TBD

While the categories don’t synch perfectly with the life of the average college student, the ability to earn 5% back when buying online presents during the holiday season is a nice little bonus, as is the option of earning 5% back in the spring when using rideshares, or on restaurants in the summer when catching up with hometown friends and family. The card also earns an unlimited 1% cash back on everyday purchases.

Discover Cashback Match Bonus

Discover offers a unique benefit called Cashback Match. With Cashback Match, Discover automatically matches the cash back you earn during your first year of membership. This means that for every dollar you earn in cash back, Discover will match it, effectively doubling your rewards.

For example, if you use your Discover It Student Card and earn $500 in cash back, Discover will give you a dollar-for-dollar match, resulting in an impressive $1,000 cash back on your purchases.

How to Redeem Cash Back

Redeeming cash back rewards with Discover is simple. There is no minimum redemption threshold, and your rewards never expire. You can redeem your rewards for:

  • Cash back
  • Statement credits
  • Gift cards, or
  • Shop with points through Amazon and PayPal.

To redeem your cash back rewards, simply log in to your Discover account and navigate to the rewards section. From there, you can choose the redemption option that suits you best. Whether you prefer to receive cash back, treat yourself to a gift card, or indulge in some online shopping, Discover makes it easy to make the most of your rewards.

Discover Card Student Benefits

One of the great features of Discover student credit cards is the unique set of benefits it provides.

Good Grades Credit

Discover’s Good Grade Reward is a great perk that rewards students for studying hard. If you keep your GPA above 3.0, Discover will reward you with a $20 statement credit each school year. Since this bonus is good for up to five academic school years, your GPA could offer a value of up to $100 – just for studying. This benefit can be enjoyed for up to five years.

To qualify for the credit, students need to maintain a “B” average or 85% based on the school’s grading system, which may use a 0 to 100% scale. The Good Grades Reward is available during the first five years of account opening. Fortunately, requesting the statement credit is a simple process for cardholders.

Refer-a-Friend Credit

One of the benefits of Discover student credit cards is the opportunity to earn statement credits by referring your friends for a Discover credit card. To earn the credit bonus, simply inform a friend about any of Discover’s student credit cards and have them apply online using the specific offer sent via the provided digital link. Once they become a cardmember, you will receive the statement credit bonus. Please note that referral rewards are not available for phone, mail-in, or other digital applications.

Discover Cardholder Benefits and Security Protections

Cardholders of the Discover payment network enjoy a range of security protections and benefits. Discover, the fourth largest payment network, offers many of the same features as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. These include:

Additional Discover Benefits

In addition to the above benefits, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card offers the following notable features:

  • EMV Chip Technology: Shop securely with a contactless-chip enabled card.
  • Digital Wallets Access: The card is compatible with popular mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
  • FICO Score: Cardholders also receive complimentary access to their updated FICO® Score through Discover’s Credit Scorecard.
  • SSN Alerts: Discover provides an alert if your Social Security Number is found on any of thousands of Dark Web sites. This service is free, but you need to activate it separately.
  • US Based Customer Service: Cardholders have 24/7 access to Discover’s customer service agents, who are based in the United States. Discover is well-known for its exceptional customer care, making this a valuable but often overlooked feature.

Comparison

SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Discover it® Student Discover it® Chrome for Students
Annual fee $0 $0 $0
Rewards Earn unlimited 3% back on dining & entertainment, plus 3% back on groceries, and 1% on all other purchases Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter, plus 1% back on all else Earn 2% cash back at gas and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, plus 1% back on all else
Perks $50 cash bonus once you spend $100 on purchases within 3 months from account opening $20 statement credit when GPA is 3.0 or higher every school year $20 statement credit when GPA is 3.0 or higher every school year

Tips for Building Credit In College

Always pay on time Paying your credit card bill on or before the due date is crucial. Late payments can lead to late fees, increased interest rates, and negative marks on your credit report.
Try to pay in full Aim to use only a small percentage of your available credit. Ideally, keep your credit card balances below 30% of your credit limit, as issuers tend to view credit usage over that level as risky. If possible, pay your bill in full, as this can help you avoid missed payments, interest charges, and late fees. This also demonstrates responsible credit management to lenders and positively impacts your credit score.
Monitor your credit score Regularly check your credit report to ensure accuracy and detect any potential errors or fraudulent activity. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) annually.
Create a budget – and stick to it Create a budget and use your credit card for planned expenses. Avoid using credit cards for impulsive buys or unnecessary purchases, as it could lead to overspending and financial hardship down the line. Take the time to calculate what you are spending on food, entertainment, transit, streaming, utilities, and other services. Doing this can help you identify areas of waste and can even give you more pocket money.
Graduate (to better cards) A student credit card is just that: a credit card for students. As you build your credit history and demonstrate responsible credit management, you can apply for credit cards with more attractive terms and benefits. Consider proprietary cards with rewards programs, like Chase Unlimited Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, or American Express Membership Rewards.

What We Like About the Card

Full-Fledged Card for Students

One of the great things about Discover’s student credit card offers is that they are essentially the same as their non-student counterparts but with additional student-centric perks. This view on student credit card products is refreshing and a great way for college students to get used to living with credit cards during their studies.

Student Perks

Most student cards have limited perks but Discover does things differently. Students not only receive cash back on every purchase, which is matched at the end of the first year, but also enjoy a good grades bonus, free FICO score access, and a 0% introductory APR for the first six months on purchases.

Rotating Categories

One of the best features of this card is that its rotating 5% cash back categories are the same to the regular Discover It Cash Back. These categories allow you to earn a higher cash back rate, helping you maximize your rewards. These categories offer excellent value thanks to their variance, with things like gym memberships, online shopping, home improvement, gas, and more dotting the calendars in recent years.

Cashback Match

One final notable feature of this card is the Cashback Match. Discover offers a cash back match program that doubles your cash back earnings for the first year. In other words, if you earn $750 in cash back, Discover will match that amount, resulting in a total of $1,500.

Things to Consider

Lower Acceptance

One drawback of the Discover It Student Credit Card is its limited acceptance compared to other major credit cards. Although Discover has made significant progress in expanding its acceptance network, there may still be some merchants or establishments that do not accept Discover cards.

Be Wary Of Intro APR

Additionally, the card’s introductory 0% APR for the first six months on purchases may be quite enticing for students who are looking to make big-ticket purchases without incurring immediate interest charges.

However, it is important to note that after the introductory period, the APR will inevitably increase, potentially leading to higher interest payments. Therefore, it is crucial for students to exercise responsible credit card management and avoid accumulating excessive debt.

Discover Ratings

How does Discover Financial Services rate as a credit card issuer? Here are a selection of ratings for the bank from experts and the public:

Should You Apply for the Discover It Student Cash Back Card?

Most student credit cards offer little beyond building credit. Discover thinks of student cards a little differently – and that’s not a bad thing. The Discover It Student Cash Back is a solid credit card that rewards students with every purchase.

If you plan on learning financial responsibility and making the most out of your budget, there aren’t many better options than the Student Cash Back. 5% back in rotating quarterly categories is great, and the ability to earn 1% back on every purchase is always a pleasant surprise. The addition of a good grades rebate, a cash back match after the first 12 months, and no annual fee combine to make this an enticing offer that every student should carefully consider.

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