Is the Discover it Card for Students worth it? | June 2018
discover it card for students

Review: Discover it® Card for Students – June 2018

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  • 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.

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 Card, 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 Card.

  • No annual fee. You never have to pay anything to keep the Discover it Card, eliminating any pressure to get your money’s worth.
  • Intro purchase APR. With a 0% purchase APR for the first six months, 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 Card 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 Card 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 Amazon.com.

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.

What’s the difference between the Discover it Card and the Discover it Chrome?

The Discover it and the Discover it Chrome are virtually identical. The biggest difference is the cash back you’ll earn.

  • The Discover it Chrome 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 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, Amazon.com 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 can give you solid cash back. If you don’t, the Discover it’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 could be a good choice. Otherwise, you might prefer the consistency of the Discover it Chrome.

The nuts and bolts

Product nameDiscover it Card for College Students
Issuing bankDiscover Bank
Recommended credit score range620-679 (fair); OK to apply with no credit
Annual feeNone
Signup bonusCash back match for whatever you’ve earned at the end of your first year
Purchase APR13.99% to 22.99% variable
Intro purchase APR0% for six months
Intro balance transfer APR10.99% for 6 months from the date of your first transfer
Balance transfer fee3% of each transfer
Foreign transaction feeNone
Cash advance rate25.99%
Cash advance fee$10 or 5% of each cash advance, whichever is greater
Penalty APRNone
Late payment feeNone for the first late payment; afterward, up to $37
Returned payment feeUp to $37
Overlimit feeNone
Maximum credit limitNone
Minimum interest charge$0.50

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 0% intro APR for six months on purchases. Also, get a 10.99% intro APR for six months on balance transfers, starting from the date of your first transfer.

After your intro APRs expire, they’ll revert to a range between 13.99% and 22.99%.

  • 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, Amazon.com 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 card.

  • No annual fee.

You’ll also like…

  • Use cash back at Amazon.com. You can use your cash back directly at Amazon.com without having to redeem it first. Just link your Discover card account to your Amazon.com 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 0% purchase APR expires after six months, and your 10.99% balance transfer APR expires six 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 25.99%.
  • 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 Card’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, which offers ThankYou points for spending.

What should I know before I apply?

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

Always consider your options and your financial situation before you apply for a credit card.

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 Card for Students

1. Go to the Discover website and click Apply Now.

Discover it for Students step1

2. Enter your name and pick a card design.

Discover it for Students step2

3. Complete the application form with your address, contact information, address and income information.

Discover it for Students step3

4. Continue filling out the application form with your mother’s maiden name, school information, checking and savings account information and school mailing address.

Discover it for Students step4

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 Card 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 finder.com. 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.

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