Discover it for Students Review

Verdict: If you are a student looking for a credit card to start building credit, the Discover it® for Students is the card we recommend for you. This card has the same rewards program as the standard Discover it card - meaning that it allows you to earn great rewards without having an established credit history.

Discover it® for Students Overview

Review of Discover it cash back rewards program

CreditShout Rating

Excellent

Rewards Program:

  • Choose either 5% Cash Back on Rotating Categories, or 2% on Restaurants and Gas
  • 1% Cash Back on all other Purchases (including purchases over quarterly maximums)

Signup Bonus:

  • Choose either 0% APR on Purchases for 6 Months*, or $20 Bonus Cash Back
  • 10.99% APR Financing for 6 Months on Balance Transfers* 

* Then the variable APR applies, which is currently 12.99% - 21.99%.

Annual Fee: $0​

Credit Required: Fair

Discover it for Students was created for students to help them start building credit. The it® for Students card is a surprisingly good card and has a great rewards program that lets you earn cash back.

Discover it for Students Rewards Programs

If you are a student and haven’t established your credit score, finding a good credit card can be a difficult process. Discover makes this process a bit more difficult by adding some choice to it. You see, Discover it for Students comes in FOUR varieties, with slightly different rewards programs and introductory financing offers.

Not only is Discover it for Students available with the rotating cash back categories, there is a Chrome version that lets you earn bonus rewards just for restaurants and gas. And both cards offer a "$20 cash back bonus" choice if you do not want to take advantage of the introductory financing offer on new purchases. 

Your basic choices are:

  • Choose 5% Cash Back on Rotating Categories, 1% on Everything Else vs.  2% on Restaurants and Gas, 1% on Everything Else; and
  • 6 Months Interest Free Financing on New Purchases vs. Extra $20 Cash Back

Just base your decision on (1) which program you think will allow you to maximize your cash back rewards, and (2) whether you plan on carrying a balance during the first 6 months.

Varieties of Rewards Programs to Choose From

Discover it® for Students
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum (usually $1,500), when you sign up.
  • Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%
  • 10.99% APR on Balance Transfer for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%

Discover it® Chrome for Students
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter—no sign-ups needed
  • Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%
  • 10.99% APR on Balance Transfer for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%

Discover it® for Students with $20 Cash Back
  • ​$20 cash back after you make your first purchase within 3 months of approval
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum (usually $1,500), when you sign up.
  • Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No intro APR on purchases
  • 10.99% APR on Balance Transfer for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%

Discover it® Chrome for Students with $20 Cash Back
  • ​$20 cash back after you make your first purchase within 3 months of approval
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter—no sign-ups needed
  • Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No intro APR on purchases
  • 10.99% APR on Balance Transfer for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%

The "Cashback Calendar" of rotating categories for the remainder of 2015 are:

  • April – June 2015: Restaurants and Movies – 5% on up to $1,500
  • July – September 2015: Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores and Amazon - 5% on up to $1,500
  • October – December 2015: Holiday Shopping and More – with exciting details coming in August 2015

No matter which variety of the it for Students credit card you choose, the rewards program and other benefits are good. Just remember that if you select the regular it for Students card, you will need to sign up for the quarterly cash back bonus categories.

And the card has fairly low rates, no over the limit fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no late fee the first time you miss a payment, which is almost unheard of for a credit card, let along a student credit card.

Card Benefits Applicable to All Discover it for Student Cards

In addition to those perks discussed above, a Discover® it Student rewards card offers these great benefits:

  • No annual fee.
  • Redeem your rewards for any amount, at any time.
  • Your rewards do not expire.
  • $0 Fraud Liability
  • No late fee for your first late payment, and your APR won’t go up for paying late.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statements.
  • Freeze it - Discover's on/off switch that lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. Freeze or unfreeze your account in seconds via our website or mobile app.
  • Purchase protection - Discover covers your eligible purchases up to $500 if they are damaged or stolen within 90 days of the purchase.
  • Extended Warranty - They will extend the terms of an existing warranty for up to 1 additional year on warranties of 36 months or less.
  • Price Protection - Discover will refund the difference up to $500 on eligible items if you find a lower price at any store within 90 days of purchase.
  • Return Guaranty - Discover will refund the purchase price up to $500 if the original store will not accept your return within 90 days of purchase.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance reimburses you the actual cost of replacing eligible travel essentials from your checked baggage, up to $500, if your baggage is delayed 3 hours or more.
  • 24/7 Travel Assistance provides you with a wide range of travel assistance benefits if your tickets, passports or other travel documents are lost or stolen while you are traveling.

Interest Rate, Fees & Other Fine Print

No matter which card you choose, Discover it for Students has no annual fee. For a complete list of updated rates and fees check the card website before you apply.​

Charges and Fees

APR for Purchases

After the intro APR expires (if applicable), your APR will be 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

APR for Balance Transfers

10.99% intro APR for 6 months from date of first transfer, for transfers under this offer that post to your account by August 10, 2015. After the intro APR expires, your APR will be 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

APR for Cash Advances

24.99%. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Penalty APR

None

Annual Fee

None

Balance Transfer Fee

3% of the amount of each transfer.

Cash Advance Fee

Greater of $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance

Late Payment Fee

None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $35.

Returned Payment

Up to $35.

How Discover it for Students Compares To Other Student Credit Cards

Discover it for Students vs Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card

Overall, Discover it for Students is a better deal than the Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card. While the Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card offers 1 percent cash back on all purchases, it does not offer 5 percent on rotating categories. It does offer a 25 percent bonus on any cash back in the 1 percent category (most categories) if you pay your bill on time, effectively making it a 1.25 percent cash back offer. However, if you intend to make significant use of the 5 percent cash back (or 2% on restaurants and gas) feature that Discover offers, you’ll end up better off with the it for Students card.

The only significant advantage that the Capital One Card offers is that it’s fees are a little lower in some categories, depending on your credit. If you intend to make a balance transfer – which most students probably will not – there is no fee for doing so. The cash advance fee is also lower than the 5 percent offered by Discover, as it is 3 percent with Capital One.

But we need to point out that Discover is currently offering financing incentives for new purchases and balance transfers for 6 months that Capital One is not.

Overall, Discover offers a better deal to most students when comparing these two cards.

Discover it for Students vs Citi Forward for College Students Card

Discover it for Students also edged out the old Citi Forward for College Students Card. However, Citibank decided to pull the plug on this card in 2014.

Discover it for Students vs Citi Platinum Select Visa Card for College Students

The Citi Platinum Select Visa Card for College Students and the Citi® Dividend® Card for College Students also were cancelled. 

Is it just me, or is Discover just laying waste to the competition?​

Conclusion

Overall, Discover it for Students is good if you are a student and looking to build your credit. I was pretty impressed with the rewards program. The cash back options available are a great incentive.

Although this card doesn’t have the lowest APR around for a student card, it is still very good (its APR is about 1% lower than most other student cards).

On an additional note, if you have been rejected for other cards because of your lack of credit, you may want to try applying for this card.

Last Update: May 13, 2015.

About the author

Kevin Fleming

Kevin founded CreditShout in 2008 to help people manage their credit and finances. He wants to make it easy for anyone, regardless of their level of financial knowledge to understand credit cards and what may seem like the complex world of personal finance. | Author Google+

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