Is the Discover it Card for Students worth it? | August 2018

Discover it® Student Cash Back review – August 2018

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money.

  • Get this card if… you’re a student who’s new to credit cards — and you like cash back.
  • Pick something else if…you have bad credit.
  • Recommended credit score of 620 to 679. You can also apply with no credit history.
Product NameDiscover it® Student Cash Back
Card TypeDiscover
Annual Fee$0
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases14.74% to 23.74% variable
Introductory Balance Transfer APR 10.99% for the first 6 months (then 14.74% to 23.74% variable)
Balance Transfer Fee3%
Cash Advance Fee$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment Fee$37
Returned Payment Fee$37
Minimum Age18 years of age
Reward Value per Dollar1% cash back

The basics

If you’re a college student, you’re in a position to apply for this student credit card. If you’re approved for the Discover it® Student Cash Back, you’ve scored a very big win. It’s an excellent pick that goes above and beyond what you might expect from a student credit card.

A great credit card for first-time cardholders

A student credit card is often likened to training wheels: It helps you learn how to use credit, and it’s lenient on your mistakes. Here’s why that’s an apt description for the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

  • No annual fee.
    You never have to pay anything to keep the Discover it® Student Cash Back, eliminating any pressure to get your money’s worth.
  • Intro purchase APR.
    With a purchase APR for the first , you can learn how to pay off balances without immediately accruing interest.
  • Late-payment forgiveness.
    The first time you pay late, you aren’t charged a late fee. Furthermore, you’re never assessed a penalty APR. These are great protections as you learn how to make timely payments.
  • No fees for spending over your credit limit.
    Amid your excitement from getting a new credit card, you may accidentally spend over your credit limit. (Your starting credit limit is likely to be $500.) Luckily, Discover doesn’t charge overlimit fees.
  • Get a replacement card quickly.
    If you lose your card — or if it’s stolen — Discover will ship a replacement card overnight for free.

All of these benefits allow room for error, making the Discover it® Student Cash Back forgiving for first-timers.

Not just a student credit card

No annual fee, an intro APR and late-payment forgiveness are already a good deal. But the Discover it® Student Cash Back goes beyond those benefits to become not just a good student card, but an attractive card overall.

When you spend with your card, you get a 1% cash back sweetener on all purchases. Even better, you get 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories that include restaurants, wholesale clubs, gas stations, and

Discover it for Students basics

At the end of your first year, Discover matches all of the cash back you’ve earned. And for the first five school years that you receive a 3.0 GPA or higher, Discover gives you an extra $20 cash back. Altogether, you could be looking at cash back that nears what top cash back cards offer.

After hearing that, you might think you’re looking at the best student card on the market. And you may well be right.


The Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Chrome Card for College Students are virtually identical. The biggest difference is the cash back you’ll earn.

  • The Discover it® Chrome Card for College Students offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1%.
  • Meanwhile, the Discover it® Student Cash Back offers 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories — typically up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1%. Categories can include gas stations, wholesale clubs, restaurants, home improvement stores, and more.

With both cards, you’ll earn at least 1% cash back on everything you buy.

Picking the right card depends on your spending habits. If you go out to dinner a lot, the Discover it® Chrome Card for College Students can give you solid cash back. If you don’t, the Discover it® Student Cash Back’s rotating categories can give you more chances to earn accelerated rewards.

Consider your willingness to keep track of rotating categories. If you like fresh cash back options, the Discover it® Student Cash Back could be a good choice. Otherwise, you might prefer the consistency of the Discover it® Chrome Card for College Students.

The perks

  • SIGNUP BONUS: Cash back match at the end of the first year.

    At the end of your first year, Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned.

  • INTRO APR: For purchases and balance transfers.

    Enjoy a intro APR for on purchases. Also, get a 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers, starting from the date of your first transfer.

    After your intro APRs expire, they’ll revert to a range between 14.74% to 23.74% variable.

  • CASH BACK: In rotating categories.

    Each quarter, Discover will promote special categories in which you’ll earn 5% cash back. These categories may include gas stations, wholesale clubs, restaurants, home improvement stores, and more.

    During each quarter, you can typically earn 5% on select categories up to $1,500 in purchases. Afterward, you’ll earn 1% cash back.

    On all purchases outside of the rotating categories, you’ll earn 1% cash back.

  • Cash back for good grades.

    Earn $20 cash back each school year you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. This promotion is valid for the first five years you have your Discover it® Student Cash Back.

  • No annual fee.

You’ll also like…

  • Use cash back at

    You can use your cash back directly at without having to redeem it first. Just link your Discover card account to your account.

  • Discover Freeze It.

    With Freeze It, you can prevent new purchases, balance transfers or cash advances on your credit card. This is helpful if your card is lost or stolen.

  • Free overnight shipping for card replacements.

    If you lose your card, you can get a replacement the next day.

  • No penalty APR.

    Your interest rate won’t go up if you pay late.

  • First late fee waived.

    The first time you pay late, you won’t be assessed late-fee charges. (On subsequent late payments, you may be assessed fees up to $37.)

  • No overlimit fee.

    If you exceed your credit limit, you won’t be charged a fee.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

    Use your card internationally without incurring fees.

  • Get your FICO score for free.

    You can see your FICO score on each of your monthly credit card statements.

What to watch out for

  • It hurts to pay late.

    Your first late fee is waived, but making subsequent late or returned payments could result in fees as high as $37.

  • Expiration on intro APRs.

    Your purchase APR expires after , and your 10.99% balance transfer APR expires 6 months after your first transfer.

  • Time limit for balance transfers.

    If you want to take advantage of the intro balance transfer APR, your transfers must post to your account within the first month of account opening.

  • Higher APR for cash advances.

    Cash advances are subject to a high APR of .

  • Fees for balance transfers and cash advances.

    You’ll pay a 3% fee for each balance transfer. For each cash advance, you’ll pay the greater of $10 or 5%.

Consider other cards if…

  • You don’t like rotating cash back categories.

    The Discover it® Student Cash Back’s 5% cash back is a great rate, but you won’t get it in the same categories each quarter. A better choice may be the BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students, which offers consistent cash back at grocery stores, wholesale clubs and gas stations.

  • You have bad credit.

    Discover is likely to approve customers with no credit history. However, it’s also likely to deny customers with poor credit. If you have bad credit, consider a secured credit card.

  • You want point rewards.

    Try the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students, which offers ThankYou points for spending.

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the Discover it® Student Cash Back, you must be at least 18 years old and a US citizen or resident. You must also be a college student.

Information you’ll need

  • Full name, address and contact information.
  • Total annual gross income, monthly housing payment and total available assets.
  • Social Security number and mother’s maiden name.
  • School information, your degree type and your expected graduation date.

Getting a credit card when you’re under 21

If you’re under 21 years old, you must prove you have enough income to repay your credit card debt. Usually, you can only report personal income (such as wages and allowances), scholarships and grants.

If you can’t prove sufficient income, you can ask someone over 21 if you can become an authorized user on his or her account.

How to apply for the Discover it® Student Cash Back

  1. Go to the Discover website and click Apply Now.
  2. Enter your name and pick a card design.
  3. Complete the application form with your address, contact information, address and income information.
  4. Continue filling out the application form with your mother’s maiden name, school information, checking and savings account information and school mailing address.

How long will it take to be approved?

You’ll likely receive a decision immediately after you apply. If there are issues with your application, however, you may have to wait up to a few weeks for a decision.

If you’re approved, expect to receive the card within seven to 10 days.

I got the card. Now what?

Now’s a great time to learn how to use credit responsibly. You’ll build your credit score and lay the path to future financial success.

  • Make timely payments. Pay your card bill online at the Discover website, where you can also enroll in automatic bill pay.
  • Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 25 days to pay your balance (at least 23 days for billing periods that begin in February). If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $37. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
  • Customer service. If you need help, you can contact Discover through live chat or by calling 1-800-DISCOVER.

Bottom line

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is an excellent pick for first-time cardholders.

Frequently asked questions


Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our and .
Go to site