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Updated July 21, 2017

Discover It Chrome for Student Review: Read This Before You Apply

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
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If you are a college student on the go who doesn't have time to juggle rewards categories that change all the time, then you may want to consider the Discover it Chrome for Students card.

Overall Score

4.3

Rewards

4.0

Interest Rates

4.0

Fees

4.5

Benefits

4.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Cash back at restaurants and gas stations
  • Intro APR on purchases
  • No annual fee
  • No rotating rewards categories
  • Not all merchants accept Discover

Bottom Line

Excellent cash back credit card for college students on the go

It’s a no-fuss student credit card that will reward you for that back-and-forth you have to do between home and college: the card offers 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter) and 1% on other purchases.

And the It Chrome has no annual fee and provides free access to your FICO score each month so you can keep an eye on your credit score. The card also comes with an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 6 months. After the introductory period, the regular APR applies, currently 13.99% to 22.99%.

WHO THIS CARD IS GOOD FOR

When faced with a sea of student credit cards to choose from, narrowing down the right one can be like finding a needle in a haystack. To top off the confusion, Discover has two credit cards aimed at college students.

The key difference between the Discover student credit cards (Discover it for Students vs Discover it Chrome for Students) is how you earn rewards; it Chrome is much simpler but could potentially be less lucrative, depending on when, where and how often you plan to use your next credit card. For the Chrome, you get 1% on purchases you make with the card but 2% for purchases at gas stations and restaurants (up to a combined $1,000 worth of purchases in one quarter).

The Discover it Chrome student card may be a good match if the following apply:

  • You drive often: This card gives you a consistent 2% back on your gas purchases up to the quarterly limit, whereas the Discover it only occasionally gives you a higher amount of rewards on purchases you make at gas stations (the categories for Discover it’s “bonus rewards” — which earn 5% — change every quarter).

  • You eat out, a lot: If the local pizza joint knows you by name and your last home-cooked meal was at Thanksgiving, you could also benefit from the fact that the it Chrome gives you 2% for restaurant purchases (up to the quarterly limit).

  • You don’t like homework: The Discover it for Students requires users to sign up for its bonus cash back offers every three months, but with it Chrome, once you have the card, you’re all set to earn rewards.

  • You like consistency: The it Chrome will give 2% cash back on restaurant and gas purchases, up to the quarterly limit, along with 1% on everything else. You don’t have to keep up with changing bonus categories as you would with the Discover it.

  • You love a good bonus: As a promotion for new cardmembers, at the end of your first year, Discover will match all the cash back you earned over the past 12 months, giving you a boost in your rewards tally.

    Plus, if you have good grades, Discover will reward you: New student cardmembers who apply after July 23, 2015 will be rewarded with $20 in Cashback Bonus® if their grade point average is 3.0 (or equivalent) or higher each year they are enrolled in school, for the first five years from the account opening.

WHY EITHER DISCOVER CARD IS GOOD TO OWN

Outside of the rewards setup, Discover student credit cards are pretty similar and are good to have if:

  • You want to earn cash instead of points: When you're a broke college student, being able to put some cash back in your pocket rather than accumulating points that have to be traded in for gift cards or merchandise is a definite plus. With Discover student credit cards, you can turn them in for gift cards but you could also get a statement credit or cash deposited into your bank account.

  • You are a chronic procrastinator: Many rewards cards require you to get your payment in by 5 pm on the due date to avoid triggering a late payment. With this card, you'll have until midnight ET to pay your bill over the phone or online (which doesn't inconvenience your busy student schedule). Even more important: your Discover rewards never expire, and you won't be penalized with a higher APR if you're not able to get your payment in on time.

  • You are determined to be a responsible credit user: How you deal with your finances now will affect your ability and cost of getting loans in the future. Discover lets you keep tabs on your credit score for free by showing you your FICO score every month, which is a key differentiator from other cards on the market.

EARNING AND REDEEMING REWARDS

© deanhochman (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The Discover it Chrome card for students offers a straightforward rewards system. You'll earn 2% cash back rewards on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. For everything else you charge, you'll get 1% back for each dollar spent. To sweeten the deal even further, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.

You can earn even more rewards by shopping through Discover's online mall. By going through the portal to some of your favorite eligible retailers and making a purchase with your Discover card, you can earn an additional cash back bonus ranging from 5% to 20%.

FAIR FEES

Aside from great rewards, the Discover it Chrome card offers students even more value in the form of fewer fees. For example, there is no annual fee, so you don't have to worry about paying a premium just to carry the card in your wallet.

There's also no foreign transaction fee associated with this card, which is invaluable to students who study or travel abroad. Such a fee, which can range between 1% and 3%, is tacked on to every purchase outside the U.S.

Another key point: Discover waives the late payment fee the first time you miss a payment. That benefit is something most credit card companies don't extend to their customers. You should still make it a habit to pay on time. After the first time you pay late, the late payment fee is $37.

Tip: Discover offers cardholders a free identity theft alert service (in partnership with Experian). This service sends you an alert if your social security number is being used on the dark web and/or if any new credit cards, mortgages, car loans, or other accounts have been opened in your name. This allows you to know right away if your identity is at risk, so you can take the necessary steps quicker.

PROS:

  • Earns double cash back on gas and restaurant purchases (up to quarterly limit)
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 6 months

CONS:

  • No 0% introductory deal for balance transfers
  • Discover credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard

HOW IT COMPARES

Before you make a final decision on a student credit card, you’ll want to do a little math (yes, sorry, the homework never stops). Are you more likely to earn more cash back over the course of the year with the it Chrome versus the Discover it for Students?

For it Chrome, if you can afford to spend a combined $1,000 every three months on gas station and restaurant purchases, you’ll get $20 back for that time period plus whatever you earn at the 1% rewards rate.

For it Discover for Students, you have the potential to earn as much as $75 per quarter if you spend the maximum ($1,500) in the rotating categories. But you may find that your spending does not always fall in those categories, and you may be tempted to spend more than you should just to get rewards. For 2015, bonus categories for the Discover it included restaurants, movie theaters, home improvement stores and holiday spending.

So when would it make sense to go with Discover it for Students instead? It really comes down to whether the quarterly bonus categories fit your spending style. If you can max out the 5% bonus each quarter, that alone would add up to $300 a year in cash back. But you have to be realistic about whether it's really doable based on where you spend your money.

 

Discover it Chrome for Students

Discover Student It Card

Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter-no sign-ups needed.* 1% cash back on all your other purchases.Cash Back Rewards: 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Cash Back Bonus Cash Back: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating categories that change each quarter (requires free and easy sign-up for 5% Cashback Bonus)*
Limitations apply*. See issuer's website for additional program details.
Bonus Categories for 2017:
January - March 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Gas Stations, Ground Transportation & Wholesale Clubs
April - June 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Home Improvement Stores and Wholesale Clubs
July - September 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Restaurants
October - December 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Amazon.com & Target
GasGas Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter - no sign-ups needed*. 
RestaurantDining Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter - no sign-ups needed*. 

Discover it Chrome for Students: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees was obtained on July 3, 2017 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Discover Student It Card: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees was obtained on July 3, 2017 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Discover it® Chrome for Students and Discover it® for Students has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

BOTTOM LINE

Discover it Chrome for students is a good overall choice if you want to earn cash rewards on everyday purchases but you don't want to wear out your wallet paying huge fees and you don’t want to think too hard about which card you should be using when. The fact that you can see your FICO score each month is a definite plus, as is interest-free spending for the first 6 months.

The regular variable APR is 13.99% to 22.99% (depending on your creditworthiness), so you'll need to pay your balance off in full each month once the promotional period ends to avoid racking up interest charges. Other than that one small wrinkle, we think it's a solid pick for students who are beginning to use credit for the first time.

    Learn more about Discover it® Chrome for Students

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped students make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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

Disclaimer: This content was first published on June 26, 2015. This content may have been updated on July 21, 2017. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Discover website for updated information.

Disclaimer: The information for the Discover it® Chrome for Students and Discover it® for Students has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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