In college? Discover it® Student Cash Back is a student credit card that helps you build a good credit history while earning up to 5 percent cash back on rotating categories. (Max spend $1,500 per quarter, activation required)

Update – This offer is now EXPIRED.

Credit cards and college can be a dangerous combination, no question.

If you don’t have any income while you’re in school or you simply don’t trust yourself with a line of credit yet, then it’s best to leave credit cards alone until you’re working full time.

But if you’re earning a few dollars while studying and want to get a head start on your credit history, Discover it® Student Cash Back may be the perfect product to get you started.

Discover it® Student Cash Back or another student credit card will help you build credit in ways that a debit card can’t. You will also earn real cash back every time you use this Discover student credit card.

About Discover it® Student Cash Backs

Discover it® Student Cash Back is a student version of the popular Discover it® Cash Back; and it’s just as good. You get generous cash back, friendly terms, and 100 percent US-based customer service.

Cash rewards

Discover it® Student Cash Back has $0 annual fee and earns you great cash rewards. Plus, new cardmembers have the ability to earn even more cash back the first year. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year!

With Discover it® Student Cash Back, you’ll earn 5 percent cash back in rotating categories like gas, restaurants, Amazon, and more—up to $1,500 every quarter you activate and unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

The 5 percent promotional categories that you need to sign up for each quarter might seem like a gimmick, but this is actually quite valuable. You’ll get an email to remind you to sign up every three months, and all it takes is a few taps on your phone or mouse.

The promotional categories tend to be popular ones anyway—think gas, groceries, or big merchants like Amazon.com. Even if you don’t max out every promotion every quarter, if you manage to average spending $1,000 in each quarterly promotion for a year, you’ll earn $50 in rewards each of those quarters for a total of $200 annual rewards (before you factor in your other spending at 1 percent and Discover’s first-year match).

Discover will also reward you for doing well in school. With the Good Grades Rewards feature, you’ll get $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years.

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs Discover it® Student chrome

The Discover it® Student chrome comes with the same features as Discover it® Student Cash Back listed below, only the rewards are calculated differently. With Discover it® Student Chrome, you’ll earn 2 percent cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter—no sign-ups needed plus 1 percent cash back on all your other purchases.

You might choose the Discover it® Student chrome if gas and restaurants make up a majority of your purchases and you don’t want the hassle of remembering to sign up for quarterly promotions. However, the more generous 5 percent and higher $1,500 quarterly limit on Discover it® Student Cash Back means that it, not Discover it® Student chrome, will likely net you more cash back, even if you don’t take advantage of every single 5 percent cashback promotion.

Rates and fees

With the no-annual fee Discover it® Student Cash Back, there’s no late fee on your first late payment and your APR won’t change for paying late. (Of course, paying a credit card late still negatively affects your credit history, so you want to avoid doing that anyway!)

The Discover it® Student Cash Back also comes with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, after which the standard APR of 14.49% - 23.49% Variable will apply.

Other benefits

Discover has repeatedly won awards for customer satisfaction in the credit card industry and maintains 100 percent US-based customer service. That’s a competitive advantage that can’t be underestimated when you have an important question about a charge on your card.

Discover also gives you free access to your FICO® Credit Scores on your statement and online—perfect for watching your credit score improve with responsible use of your card.

Finally, the innovative Freeze It® feature lets you switch your account on or off from your mobile phone and lets you prevent new purchases if your card is lost or stolen.

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

For comparison, let’s look at another popular student credit card, Journey Student Rewards from Capital One.

Journey gives you 1 percent cash back on all your purchases. If you pay on time, the card will boost your cash back by a quarter of a percent for a total of 1.25 percent.

This rewards structure is attractive in its simplicity—as long as you pay on time each month, you’ll earn 1.25 percent cash back with no categories or sign-ups to remember.

The Journey card doesn’t boast Good Grade rewards, late-payment forgiveness, or completely US-based customer service, but it does score a few marks on the Discover student cards.

For one, Journey is a Visa card. Although Discover is almost universally accepted in the United States these days, it’s not as widely accepted if you travel abroad.

Capital One also advertises that, as a Journey cardmember, you will have access to a higher credit line after making your first five payments on time.

It’s important to note that, while student credit cards are not all that different than prime consumer credit cards, student cards will have much lower credit lines.

Although actual credit limits will vary dramatically based upon your income and creditworthiness, you can imagine that if a hypothetical prime consumer card offered limits between $3,000 and $10,000, the student card version might offer initial limits between $300 and $1,000.

An increasing credit limit will give you more purchasing power, but it will also help you build your credit history faster. Of course, with that power comes more responsibility—the lower your credit limit, the less debt you can get into.

Finally, even if a card doesn’t offer an automatic credit limit increase, most banks will increase your limit—if you ask—after many months of responsible use.

Summary

You might consider Discover it® Student Cash Back if:

You’re a student with some income (even if it’s a small part-time job) who wants to get a head start on building credit or a new cash back credit card for managing purchases during college.

Keep looking if:

You need a credit card for limited credit but are not a student, or you need a credit card with a 0-percent intro APR on balance transfers to help pay down an existing card balance.

Learn more: View Discover it® Student Cash Back card details to apply.

Read more:

Related Tools

About the author

David Weliver
Total Articles: 295
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.