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Updated July 6, 2015 9:41 PM PT

Discover It Student Credit Card Review

Cash back, intro APR on purchases and no annual fee for college students

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College students looking to build credit, earn cash back, and pay no annual fee should consider the Discover It for Students. With the combined generous rewards program, intro APR on new purchases and no late fee on the first late payment, it's clear to see why this Discover student credit card is among the most popular offers for college students on the market today.

Overall Score

4.4

Rewards

4.5

Interest Rates

4.0

Fees

4.5

Benefits

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

Pros and Cons

  • Generous cash back
  • Intro APR on purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Not all merchants accept Discover

Bottom Line

Excellent cash back credit card for college students

Who This Card Is Good For

  • Students who are organized: The rotating rewards categories are fun to track but frazzled students may struggle to make the most of the rewards program.

    Remember, you'll have to sign up for the bonus reward categories every 3 months and remind yourself to use the card when you buy things in that fall under the special 5% cash back categories.

  • Students who can handle credit responsibly: This isn't kid stuff; just like regular cards, this one will charge you interest if you are unable to pay off your full balance each month.

  • Students who live in metropolitan areas: If you're going to school in a small town with few big-box stores, you may find using Discover a challenge as some smaller stores may not accept the credit card network.

Need a Student Credit Card?

Here is why this card is a good choice:

  • It’s a great card for building credit: Because Discover shows you your credit score every month, you can easily keep track of how you’re doing.

    Tip: The way you handle your credit card now when you’re young will help determine your ability to get car loans and a mortgage at the lowest interest rates possible in the future.

  • You get rewarded as you shop: It can be difficult to find a student credit card as rewarding as this card. This one gives you 5% cash back on certain categories of purchases that change every quarter, and 1% on everything else.

  • It’s forgiving: You should always pay your credit card bills on time, but you understandably may forget when you’re in college and your brain is operating on 20 cylinders. The Discover It student credit card won't penalize you the first time you miss a payment, making it a helpful starter card (just be sure not to miss a payment again!).

Cash Back Program

Here's the best part of the Discover It for Student credit card. Every time you buy something with the card, you earn cash back.

The card offers cardholders the opportunity to earn 5% bonus cash back on a variety of rotating categories (up to the quarterly maximum). The rotating categories change every 3 months and requires cardholders to sign-up (free and easy sign-up each time). If you plan your purchases right, this adds up to some serious savings.

In addition, this card earns unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Plus, as an promotional offer for new cardmembers, Discover It for Students will double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your 1st year, automatically.

Once you’ve earned at least $50 in cash back, you can take the money out either as a credit against your card statement or a deposit in your bank account.
Discover now allows you to redeem your cashback rewards with no minimum threshold. You can apply the rewards toward your statement balance or have it deposited into your bank account.

Another, more lucrative option, is to use the cash back reward toward gift cards off Discover's website. Those gift cards sometimes include extra cash promotions (e.g.: $50 gift card for $40), so this could be a way to get even more rewards.

Introductory APR

The Discover It for Students Card also offers a 6-month 0% introductory APR on purchases for new cardholders. After that, the APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99% - 21.99% depending on your creditworthiness. This means you can carry a balance - while still paying at least the minimum payment due - but not pay interest on it until the first six months go by. While we always recommend paying off your balance every month, a six-month promotional APR like this can really help college students as they transition to a new living space or need to take time to pay off textbooks or furniture.

The 0% APR doesn’t apply to balance transfers from other cards, however, so it’s not a great option for paying off your old debts.

Low Fees

Fees on a credit card can be a serious financial issue, especially if you are on a fixed budget as a student. Fortunately, the Discover It for Students Card has a college-friendly fair-fee structure.

First, this card doesn’t charge an annual fee. It also doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees (great if you decide to travel abroad), over-limit spending fees, or pay-by-phone fees.

If this is your first credit card, it’s understandable that you might mix up a payment deadline. In this situation, the Discover It card is very forgiving. For your first late payment, you won’t be charged a penalty. Plus, Discover won’t raise your APR for paying late.

Customer Service

If you have any questions about your card, Discover is there to help. This card offers 24/7 service, which always connects you to a live representative. These U.S.-based reps do more than just answer basic questions; they’re also there to help you get the most out of your rewards. All you have to do is tell the service reps what kind of products you most want, and they’ll figure out thed best use for your rewards.

Warranties and Protection

Discover offers a number of warranties and protections to cardholders:

  • Purchase protection: Eligible purchases are protected from theft and damagefor 90 days and up to $500
  • Price protection: Find a lower price on an eligible item you purchased within 90 days of the purchase date and Discover will cover the difference.
  • Extended warranties: Extend the manufacturer’s warranty by up to 1 year on eligible purchases.
  • Return Guarantee: Regardless of the store’s policy, Discover will refund the cost of eligible items up to $500 if you decide to return it within 90 days.
  • Fraud protection: Rest assured knowing Discover has a $0 fraud liability policy and that you won’t be accountable for unauthorized purchases on your account.
  • Travel insurance: A variety of types of travel insurance are available to Discover cardholders including flight accident insurance and auto rental insurance.

Why You Should Consider the Discover It Student Card

  • Earns 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories throughout the year
  • Earns 1% cash back on everything else you buy; Cash back can also be used for free merchandise or gift cards
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 6 months
  • No annual fee, foreign transaction fees, pay-by-phone fee, or over-limit spending fee
  • Waives the penalty fee for your first late payment

Why You May Not Want to Bother

  • Not all merchants accept Discover
  • 0% introductory APR only applies to purchases, not to balance transfers

Bottom Line

With low fees, competitive cash back rewards and great service, the Discover It for Student Credit Card is a solid choice for college-student applicants. After you’ve built student credit history and when you have graduated, consider upgrading to a credit card for young professionals.

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Follow @CreditDonkey or write to David R at davidr@creditdonkey.com
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. 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 January 18, 2013. This content may have been updated on July 6, 2015. 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.

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. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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Compare Discover Student It Card to:

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
Apply for Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
Introductory Bonus Cash BackCash Back RewardsGas RewardsGrocery RewardsEventsCar Rental InsuranceExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionReturn Protection Travel Accident Insurance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% on Purchases for 15 months
0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months
12.99% - 21.99% Variable
$0

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