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Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • $0 Annual Fee

    Fee for maintaining card

  • $0 Welcome Offer Value

    As of 06/2018

  • 1% Cash Back

    Rewards rate

Apply Now

on Discover Card's website

Terms apply. Rates and fees.

With a cash back program comparable to other Discover cards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is a standout option in the world of cards for those with little or no credit history. In this review, we’ll cover the card’s many benefits, as well as some of its less positive aspects.

Highlights

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply Now

on Discover Card's website

Terms apply. Rates and fees.

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.

$0

$0

1% Cash Back

Annual Fee

Welcome
Offer Value

Rewards Rate

Discover it® Student Cash Back deep dive

When it comes to student credit cards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is a front-runner, not only offering a low-cost way to build credit but actually rewarding cardholders for the purchases they make. But the value you’ll get from the card will depend on how and when you spend your money, so be sure to fully understand the card’s requirements and restrictions before going ahead with an application.

Get it: If you’re a student looking to build your credit and you want to be rewarded for doing so

While getting approved for credit cards can be a challenge for students with little or no credit, the Discover it® Student Cash Back allows you to build your credit and earn rewards with no credit history. Its reward rate is also pretty stellar as compared to many options that don’t require at least a decent credit score.

Some of the benefits of the Discover it® Student Cash Back include:

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.

Skip it: If you don’t see yourself spending much in the right bonus categories at the right times, or already have a great credit score

While 5% cash back is a great rewards rate, it does require you to spend money in the rotating categories that Discover has selected for elevated rewards. Students who don’t spend much in these categories (in 2017, these included gas stations, wholesale clubs, restaurants, and Amazon.com), might, therefore, be better served by a different student card that’s tied to categories where you do spend your money.

Further, if you’ve already built up your credit, you may find you’re able to be approved for a card that offers better rewards rates.

Consider these drawbacks of the Discover it® Student Cash Back into account before making your decision:

  • Bonus rewards categories may not apply: As a student, the 5% cash back bonus categories on this card might be less relevant than they would be to, for example, families or individuals who commute to work. Given that many college students live on-campus, don’t have a car, and dine in college facilities, it may be a challenge to fully take advantage of rewards for purchases like gas and restaurants
  • Maximum rewards come with careful planning: Given you’ll want to make the most purchases in the spending categories that qualify for 5% cash back each quarter, planning your spending in advance can help you to maximize the value of potential rewards. That said, college students might find this to be challenging given the set nature of the school year. For example, you’d likely want to make all of your back to school purchases on Amazon.com when spending with Amazon earns 5% cash back. But in 2017, that doesn’t happen until October—so if your semester starts in August, you’ll either have to wait to make your purchases or forego the bonus cash back
  • Better rewards exist for those with positive credit history: If you happen to already have a credit score that 670 or above, you may be able to get approved for a card that offers a higher level of rewards than the Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • Spotty international acceptance: While it’s unlikely you’ll be traveling abroad frequently as a student (although study abroad might change this), it’s worth mentioning that, while you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees on your Discover it® Student Cash Back card, you may have some issues finding merchants that accept Discover cards, depending on which country you’re in. It’s worth traveling with a backup Visa or Mastercard just in case

Summary

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is a great option for college students looking to earn cash back on their purchases and build their credit at the same time, but the amount of rewards you earn will depend on your spending habits.