Discover it Student Cash Back Card Review

GOBankingRates Score

4.6
Quick Take: The Discover it Student Cash Back is a student credit card that offers a variety of benefits for students. Some of the perks this credit card offers include quarterly 5% cash-back categories, unlimited cash-back matching, and no fee on your first late payment. While it may have a few drawbacks, this card is a great choice for anyone who wants to start building their credit.
  • APR
    4.5
  • Rewards
    4.5
  • Variety of Categories
    4.5
  • Annual Fee
    5.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • 5% cash-back categories
  • No annual fee
  • Cash-back match for the first year
  • No late fee on your first late payment

Cons

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • 5% cash back limited to $1,500 of spending per quarter
  • Only 1% cash back on other purchases

Discover it Student Cash Back Card Overview

The Discover it Student Cash Back is a cash-back credit card for students. It has several perks, including no late fee on your first late payment. It forgoes the sign-up bonuses other credit cards have in favor of cash-back matching for your first year, which may be preferable for students with a limited budget. Discover will match all of the cash back you earn in your first year, dollar for dollar, with no minimums or maximums on spending.

Key Features

Let’s take a look at the key features of the Discover it Student Cash Back.

APR

The Discover it Student Cash Back has a 0% APR on purchases for six months from the date of account opening. After that, the APR increases to , which is in line with other credit cards. It also has a lower balance transfer APR of 10.99% for six months, meaning this card can be used for balance transfers. After the first six months, its balance transfer APR is the same as its purchase APR.

Rewards

This credit card earns 5% cash back in two bonus categories on up to $1,500 of spending each quarter. Bonus categories change each quarter and must be manually activated. For your first year, Discover will match all of the rewards you earn dollar for dollar. Thus, if you spend the maximum of $6,000 in bonus categories the first year and earn $300 of cash back, Discover will match your $300 dollar for dollar, for a total of $600 in cash back.

Variety of Categories

There are two bonus categories for each quarter. Bonus categories are usually daily spending for most people, such as restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores. Grocery stores don’t include Walmart and Target, but Target can be a category on its own.

While rewards are capped at $1,500 per quarter, they usually align with when people will actually use them. Examples include signing up for a gym in January to meet your New Year’s resolution or spending money at Amazon during the holiday season. You might find there are bonus categories to match those trends, allowing you to maximize the accumulation of rewards.

Annual Fee

There is no annual fee to use the Discover it Student Cash Back card, making it a great choice for students.

How the Discover it Student Cash Back Card Stands Out

The Discover it Student Cash Back stands out in a few key ways. Cash-back matching, 5% bonus categories, and the waiving of your first late payment fee are among its standout features.

Other student credit cards may have 5% cash back (or even higher), but those points accumulations are usually more restrictive. For example, they might reward you with 5% cash back only when you book hotels and rental cars through the card issuer’s travel portal. Conversely, the Discover it Student Cash Back card lets you earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of quarterly spending on purchases that fall into its bonus categories.

Comparable Student Credit Card Options

There are a few other student credit cards that also let you earn cash back and other rewards. Here are two alternatives to consider.

Capital One Quicksilver Rewards for Students Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Rewards for Students card is an interesting choice if you don’t want to keep track of bonus categories. Instead of quarterly 5% categories, it lets you earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. But it also lets you earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental car reservations booked through Capital One Travel. Plus, there is a $100 sign-up bonus, which you can earn by spending $100 within the first three months of card ownership.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students also gives you an unlimited 1.5 points for each dollar you spend. It also comes with a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days. It also has a 0% intro APR for your first 18 billing cycles. After this period, the card’s APR increases to 16.24%-26.24%.

How To Apply

You can apply for the Discover it Student Cash Back card by filling out the online form. It asks a few basic questions, such as your name, date of birth, rent/housing payment and monthly or yearly gross income. The form also allows you to pick from a number of different card designs, with everything from a dog to a cassette tape as your background.

Who the Discover it Student Cash Back Card Is Best For

Of course, this credit card is best for students. But to hone in on that more, it’s best for those who want to maximize their credit card rewards with 5% bonus categories. To earn the most, you’ll have to activate your bonus categories every quarter, so you should be willing to commit to that. It’s also best for those who may have difficulty meeting sign-up bonus requirements, such as the $1,000 of spending required in the first 90 days for the Bank of America Travel Rewards card for students.

Final Take

The Discover it Student Cash Back Card is a no-annual-fee credit card. It allows you to earn some nice rewards, potentially without ever paying any fees. It does require you to activate your bonus categories every quarter and keep up with categories for the current quarter. Plus, 5% bonus categories are capped at $1,500 of spending per quarter; after that, you earn 1% cash back.

While its rewards potential is somewhat limited, the Discover card does come with other benefits, such as cash-back matching and no fee for your first late payment. Overall, it’s a strong choice for students looking for their first cash-back credit card.

FAQ

  • What credit score do you need for Discover it Student Cash Back?
    • According to Discover, no credit score is required to apply for the Discover it Student Cash Back. It also says that students without a credit score may qualify for the card. However, it says that if you have a credit score, it may consider that in its evaluation.
  • Do you have to be a student for this Discover it card?
    • Yes. When you apply for the Discover it Student Cash Back card, the application asks for your year in college, from freshman to senior. You can also be a grad student.
  • How much income do you need for a Discover student card?
    • While the application for the Discover student card asks for your gross income, there is no specific income that's required. Discover's student credit card FAQ states that income is only one factor that will be considered, and you may be able to include another person's income in some cases.
  • What's the difference between Discover it Cash Back and Student Cash Back?
    • These two cards are similar in many ways; both cards have 5% bonus categories and a cash-back match for your first year. In general, it should be easier for students with limited income to qualify for the student card; plus, the waiving of your first late fee is unique to the student card. Meanwhile, the Discover it Cash Back has a more attractive promotion, including 0% APR for both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After the intro period, its APR increases to 14.24%-25.24%. 

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Sept. 6, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking and credit cards. He left his day job in 2019 to pursue his passion for helping people get out of debt and build wealth. You can find his work at outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor and SoFi.
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