Is the Discover it Chrome Card for College Students worth it? - October 2018

Discover it® Chrome for Students review – October 2018

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Stocked with generous bonuses and rewards, it’s one of the top student cards on the market.

30-second take

  • Get this card if you want great limited-time bonuses and rewards for spending.
  • Pick something else if you have poor credit.
  • Apply with a credit score of 680 or higher. You’re welcome to apply with no credit history.
Product NameDiscover it® Chrome for Students
Card TypeVisa
Annual Fee$0
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases14.99% to 23.99% variable
Introductory Purchase APR0% for the first 6 months (then 14.99% to 23.99% variable)
Introductory Balance Transfer APR 10.99% for the first 6 months (then 14.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance Transfer Fee3%
Cash Advance Rate26.99% variable
Cash Advance Fee$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment FeeUp to $37
Returned Payment FeeUp to $37
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Rates & FeesRates & Fees
Minimum Age18 years of age
Reward Value per Dollar1 points
Rewards Points ExpiryNever

The basics

Searching for your first credit card can be overwhelming. But you can rest easy with Discover it® Chrome for Students, as it’s one of the best student cards on the market.

It’s a great choice for its rewards alone, which outpace those offered by competitors. Elevated rewards on gas and dining are a nice touch, as you might spend in these categories often while in school. The card’s Good Grades Reward and first-year cashback match are also extremely generous.

Though the card’s intro purchase APR is tempting, highly consider starting off on the right foot and paying off your balances in full each month to build good spending habits early.
All in all, Discover it® Chrome for Students offers an impressive mix of limited-time bonuses, rewards and newbie-friendly features. It’s an excellent choice for a first card.

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

Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Chrome for Students are very similar. The biggest difference is the cash back you’ll earn.
  • Discover it® Chrome for Students offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1%.
  • Meanwhile, Discover it® Student Cash Back offers 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, after which you’ll earn 1%. These may 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 tastes. If you go out a lot, Discover it® Chrome for Students will give you solid cash back. If you don’t, the Discover it® Student Cash Back’s rotating categories may give you more chances to earn accelerated rewards.

Furthermore, consider your willingness to keep track of rotating categories. If you like fresh cashback options, the Discover it® Student Cash Back could be for you. Otherwise, you might prefer the consistency of Discover it® Chrome for Students.

The perks

  • Annual fee: None.

    A $0 annual fee goes a long way for a tight budget.

  • Limited-time bonuses: Cashback match and Good Grades Reward.

    At the end of your first year, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned. And for the next five years, you’ll earn a $20 statement credit each school year you receive a 3.0 GPA or higher. These are generous additions, especially because many student cards don’t offer signup bonuses.

    Combine these perks and your card could pay off handsomely. To get the most value out of them, consider paying off your card balance each month to avoid accruing interest.

  • Rewards: Cash back on all purchases.

    Earn 2% cash back on gas and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and 1% thereafter. Earn 1% cash back on everything else.

    You might wish you could earn elevated cash back on groceries, but it’s nice to receive any rewards at all from a student card. Furthermore, Discover it® Chrome for Students offers stronger rewards than its competition.

    Redeem cash back for electronic deposits to your bank account, charitable donations or payment for Amazon.com purchases. If you have at least $20 cash back, you can redeem it for instant eCertificates or gift cards from Discover partners.

  • Intro APR for purchases: 0% for 6 months.

    After that, your APR will be 14.99% to 23.99% variable . Few student cards offer intro APRs, so this is a nice benefit. It also might help if you need to make essential purchases for the school year.

    You’ll need to pay off the purchases eventually, and six months will end sooner than you think. That said, consider only spending an amount you’re confident you can pay off before your intro APR expires.

How much cash back rewards can I earn with the Discover it® Chrome for Students?

Where you spend: The amount you spend: Cash back earned:
Dining $2,000 $40
Gas $2,000 $40
Everything else $6,000 $60
Total $10,000 $140

If your annual spending looks similar to this, you would earn $140 per year. But for the first year you would earn $280 with the Discover it® Cashback Match, which doubles the cash back you earn during your first year.

And if your GPA is 3.0 or higher each school year, you would add $20 more to your rewards for the next five years.

You’ll also like …

  • Intro APR for balance transfers: 10.99% variable for 6 months from the date of your first transfer.

    After this period expires, your balance transfer APR will revert to 14.99% to 23.99% variable .

    This is a much lower APR than you’d normally get with other cards. However, it isn’t a good intro rate — ideally, you’d want a 0% intro APR.

    Strongly consider avoiding balance transfers, as they don’t come with interest grace periods. You’ll start paying interest on them right away. Plus, you’ll need to pay balance transfer fees.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

    This is an excellent card to take on a summer trip or for studying abroad. You won’t pay transaction fees when you use your card abroad or on a foreign website.

  • Discover account benefits.

    Freeze your account anytime via the Discover mobile app if you lose your card. Also, check your FICO credit score for free via your mobile app, online account or monthly statements.

  • Cardholder-friendly policies.

    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.

    If you happen to spend over your credit limit, you won’t be charged an overlimit fee.

    These are great benefits when you’re learning the ropes of credit. Many providers charge no overlimit fees, but few waive late fees.

What to watch out for

  • It hurts to pay late.

    Your first late fee is waived, but making subsequent late payments will result in fees as high as $37. Returned payments come with fees as high as $37.

  • Expiration on intro APRs.

    Your 0% purchase APR expires after 6 months, and your 10.99% variable balance transfer APR expires 6 months after your first transfer. Strongly consider paying off your balances before the end of your intro APR periods.

  • Higher APR for cash advances.

    Cash advances come with a high APR of 26.99% variable. Like balance transfers, they don’t have an interest grace period. Financial experts widely view cash advances as unwise, so consider avoiding these transactions.

  • Fees for balance transfers and cash advances.

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

Consider other cards if …

  • You like rotating cashback categories.
    Discover it® Chrome for Students offers consistent cash back, but 2% is the highest rate you’ll earn. Meanwhile, Discover it® Student Cash Back offers 5% cash back in rotating categories.
  • You have bad credit.

    Discover welcomes customers with no credit history. However, it may deny customers with poor credit. If you have bad credit, consider a secured credit card. Because this type of card requires an upfront deposit, providers are typically willing to offer it to a wider array of customers.

  • You have good credit.

    You may be lucky enough to have a good credit score of 670 or above, perhaps because you’ve been an authorized user on another person’s card account. If that’s the case, you may not have to apply for a student card. Another unsecured credit card may suit you better.

  • You want point-based rewards.

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

  • You want flat-rate rewards.

    The Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One® offers 1% cash back on all purchases. Each month you pay your card bill on time, your total cash back will be 1.25% for that month. This might be a better reward structure for you if your spending is dispersed evenly throughout different categories.

How does a balance transfer work with this card?

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for Discover it® Chrome for Students, 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 like 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 their account.

What credit score do I need?

You’re welcome to apply for this card if you’re new to credit. Your approval odds will increase if you already have a good credit score of 670 or higher.

What do customers say about Discover it® Chrome for Students?

Some customers say they’ve received automatic credit limit increases after several months. Happy customers also say they’ve found Discover support to be quick and helpful.

Discover has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and it’s been accredited by the agency since 1989. As of this writing, it has almost 900 customer complaints. Many of the details aren’t published because, according to the BBB, Discover has resolved or answered most of the complaints.

How to apply for Discover it® Chrome for Students

  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 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 get my Discover it® Chrome for Students?

You’ll likely receive a decision immediately after you apply. If there are issues with your application, you may have to wait up to a few weeks for a decision. If you’re approved, expect to receive the card within 7 to 10 days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Download Discover Mobile app. Use the app to activate your card, make payments, check your FICO® score, freeze or unfreeze your account and more.
  • 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 and at least 23 days for billing periods that begin in February. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Avoid fees. You won’t pay a fee the first time you pay late. However, subsequent late payments come with hefty fees of up to $37. For each returned payment, you’ll pay a fee of up to $37. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
  • Customer service. If you need help, contact Discover through live chat or by calling 1-800-DISCOVER.

How do I redeem rewards from Discover it® Chrome for Students?

You can either log in to your online Discover Card account or call 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683) to redeem your Discover rewards. Your options include:

  • Gift cards with a $5 bonus.
  • Pay at Amazon.com checkout with your rewards.
  • Donate to charity.
  • Deposit cash back into your bank account or use toward your Discover card bill.

Bottom line

Discover it® Chrome for Students is an excellent first credit card. It’s loaded with features you’ll like as a student, including cashback rewards, healthy limited-time bonuses and lenient card terms.

Though this is a superb card, you might want to compare a few more products before making your decision. Check out other student cards to find the best one for you.

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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