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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Discover it® Student Chrome Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Discover it® Student Chrome Review

Rated 4.0 /5.0 ★★★★

For many, the first days of college are exhilarating, while others find it a bit terrifying. With so many rites of passage to experience, we feel obliged to help you with the ritual of getting your first credit card.

About a dozen good student credit cards vie for the attention of undergraduates. Today’s lesson is about the Discover it® Student Chrome, one of two offerings from Discover® Bank. As you’ll quickly grasp, it is an excellent, no-nonsense credit card with rewards that target the lifestyle needs of many students. We also review some top alternatives — because you’re free to make your own decisions now.

Enjoy the next four years. I guarantee they will forever influence your life journey, especially as you grow older.

What to Know About the Discover it® Student Chrome

  • All purchases earn rewards, but purchases from gas stations and restaurants earn a higher rate.
  • It provides an unlimited Cashback Match at the end of the first year, through which new cardmembers earn a dollar-for-dollar match. 
  • As a new cardmember, you receive an introductory reduced annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers for a set period (after which the standard APR kicks in).
  • As with all Discover credit cards, you’ll pay no annual fees and enjoy 99% nationwide acceptance.
  • You can the Discover mobile app to check our cash back rewards, contact customer service, freeze a lost or stolen card, and receive activity and security alerts.
  • Discover will give you a heads-up if your Social Security number appears on the Dark Web. It can even scrub your personal data from reverse phone lookup sites.
  • Given all these benefits, the Discover it® Student Chrome is one of the most useful student cards we’ve reviewed.

How to Qualify & Apply

You don’t need a credit history to get the Discover it® Student Chrome card. If you do have a credit score, it must be fair or better. You must be a US citizen, at least 18 years of age, with a Social Security number and access to enough funds to pay your bill.

The money doesn’t need to be income from a job. But, if you’re 18 to 21 years old, you must show sufficient direct deposits to your bank account, including parental support, grants, scholarships, student loans (i.e., the portion that doesn’t go to the school), or income from a spouse, partner, or cosigner.

You must be enrolled in a qualified two- or four-year college, university, or trade school on at least a half-time basis to apply. If that describes you, you can access the application on Discover’s website below:

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Discover it® Student Chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★

4.0

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 cash back into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
  • No credit score required to apply.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 18.24% - 27.24% applies.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR
$0
Fair/New to Credit

Discover does a hard credit check when you apply. If you have a credit score, the hard check may have a slight impact, but many applicants don’t have a credit score. You can still get the card if you meet the other requirements.

Discover also lets you prequalify for the card without a hard pull of your credit. Prequalification doesn’t guarantee final approval, but it’s an excellent first step. Whichever route you choose, you’ll need to provide the following data:

    • Name

    • Address

    • Date of birth

    • Student information (where you attend, years in college)

    • Monthly housing/rent payment

    • Total annual gross income

    • Social Security number

    • Email address

You should receive an immediate decision from Discover. Assuming approval, you can e-sign the cardmember agreement and receive the card in the mail (it usually arrives within five business days).

Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

All Discover credit cards share most of these benefits. The Discover it® Student Chrome card has relaxed credit score requirements and bonus rewards on purchases from select merchant categories.

FEATURE DESCRIPTION
BENEFITS
No Credit Score Required Suitable for students building credit.
Cashback on Gas & Restaurants 2% on the first $1,000 each quarter, then 1%.
Cashback Match The card matches all cash back in the first year.
No Annual Fee There is no annual fee for card membership.
0% Intro APR New cardmembers get a 0% Intro APR (6 months) on purchases and a 10.99% Intro APR (6 months), after which the regular APR applies.
Freeze it® Temporarily prevent new transactions.
Identity Alerts You receive alerts for credit inquiries and Dark Web exposure.
Free Overnight Card Replacement Quick replacement for lost cards.
Online Privacy Protection Discover helps remove personal information online.
Free FICO Scores Access to your FICO® Credit Score.
99% Nationwide Acceptance Accepted at most places in the United States
Refer-a-Friend Rewards for referring friends.
No Foreign Transaction Fees There are no extra charges for overseas purchases.
No Penalty APR The card doesn’t increase your APR for late payments.
First Late Payment Forgiveness There’s no fee for the first late payment.
DRAWBACKS
Short Intro APR Period Introductory reduced APR ends after six months, after which the 17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR applies.
Cash Advance Fee The card charges a higher fee for cash advances.
Balance Transfer Fee A balance transfer fee applies to all transfers.
Cashback Limit 2% cashback is limited to the first $1,000 each quarter at gas stations and restaurants.
Foreign Acceptance Discover may not be as widely accepted globally as other cards.

The card’s drawbacks are relatively benign. However, international travelers should be aware that Discover cards are not universally accepted overseas.

Other Student Cards Worth a Look

First-year college attendance thrusts you into a world in which you have much more control over your decisions. The following three cards are worthy alternatives to the Discover it® Student Chrome card and merit your consideration.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Early Spend Bonus: Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • Lock your card in the Capital One Mobile app if it's misplaced, lost or stolen
  • Earn up to $500 a year by referring friends and family when they're approved for a Capital One credit card
  • Build your credit with responsible card use
  • Whether you're at a 4-year university, community college or other higher education institution, this card might be an option for you
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is a versatile performer. You earn cash back on every eligible purchase and a small cash bonus by spending the required amount during the three months after opening the account. The card doesn’t charge annual or foreign transaction fees.

This card’s benefits include access to the Capital One Entertainment platform, which offers VIP packages, event tickets, and dining reservations, including presale events. The mobile app lets you book tickets through Capital One Travel for your next trip.

In short, this credit card offers undergraduates a low-cost option with a nice mix of cash back rewards, low fees, and access to special events.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
  • Choose 3% cash back on gas and EV charging station, online shopping/cable/internet/phone plan/streaming, dining, travel, drug store/pharmacy or home improvement/furnishings purchases.
  • No annual fee and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • When handled responsibly, a credit card can help you build your credit history, which could be helpful when looking for an apartment, a car loan, and even a job. Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (Balance Transfer Fee 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4%)
19.24% - 29.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
$0
Excellent/Good

Additional Disclosure: Bank of America is a CardRates advertiser.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students lets you select the merchant category that will earn bonus cash back. The card is an obvious choice if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Merchant choices include gas and EV charging stations, online shopping (including cable, internet, phone plans, and streaming), dining, travel, drug stores, and home improvement/furnishings.

You can change your category as often as each month by logging into the Bank of America mobile app. Other perks include a signup bonus and introductory 0% APRs for new cardmembers, no annual fee, and free FICO scores.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), with 1% on all other purchases
  • Early Spend Bonus: Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Earn up to $500 a year by referring friends and family when they're approved for a Capital One credit card
  • Earn 8% cash back on entertainment purchases when you book through the Capital One Entertainment portal
  • Build your credit with responsible card use
  • Whether you're at a 4-year university, community college or other higher education institution, this card might be an option for you
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card provides bonus cash back when you make purchases in select categories, including grocery stores, dining, popular streaming services, and entertainment. All other eligible purchases earn the standard reward rate.

This no-annual-fee card offers a one-time cash bonus after you spend the required amount on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Other benefits include travel accident insurance, extended warranties, around-the-clock travel assistance, flexible redemptions, and access to Capital One Shopping.

FAQs: Is it Hard to Get a Discover Student Card?

The requirements to get a Discover student card are straightforward and no more stringent than those of most student cards. You must be a US citizen, age 18 or higher, with enough income to pay your credit card bill. Additionally, you must enroll in a college, university, or trade school.

You don’t need a credit score to get the Discover it® Student Chrome card. If you have a credit score, it must be fair or good. Getting a student cash back credit card from Discover is a breeze if you meet these requirements.

How Do the Cash Back Rewards Work?

The card lets you earn rewards in three ways: Bonus cash back categories, a flat cash rate on all other eligible purchases, and the first-year Cashback Match.

Earning Rewards on Purchases

You earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in quarterly combined purchases from gas stations and restaurants. Calendar quarters begin January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. The bonus rewards are automatic — you don’t have to enroll each quarter to receive them. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back.

Gas stations affiliated with supermarkets, supercenters, and wholesale clubs may not qualify for bonus cash rewards. Eligible restaurant purchases include those at full-service restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, fast-food locations, and restaurant delivery services.

Cashback Match

At the end of the first year, new cardmembers earn a Cashback Match on all the cash back posted from the day they established their account through the first 365 days or 12 consecutive billing periods, whichever is longer.

The match is unlimited, which means you can rack up a substantial amount by using the card frequently during the match period. You will receive your matched cash back within two billing cycles following the end of the match period.

Discover will not match statement credits, rewards that it processes after your match period ends, rewards transfers from a Discover checking account or other bank sources, or rewards for accounts that you or Discover close.

The card has no purchase minimums. Cashback Match is exclusively for new card members, and the terms may change in the future.

Redeeming Rewards

The rewards you earn never expire. You may redeem your cash back rewards at any time and in any amount. You can collect your rewards in several ways:

    • Charitable gifts to select organizations

    • Electronic deposits to an eligible savings or checking account

    • Gift cards from popular brands, beginning at $5

    • Paper checks

    • Statement credits

Redeeming cash back at checkout through PayPal is easy to do with the Discover mobile app. First, register your card with PayPal for Pay with Rewards. At checkout, simply select Discover as your payment method. Enter the amount of cash back you’d like to apply to your purchase.

For redemptions at Amazon, link your Discover it® Student Chrome card to your Amazon.com wallet and enroll in Shop with Points. You can choose from millions of eligible items at Amazon.com. Select and add items to your cart. Select your card as your payment method and enter the amount of Discover rewards you would like to use. You can cover all or a portion of your purchase with rewards.

Discover will send you a check or credit your account with your rewards balance if you have not used it within 18 months or the account closes.

What is the Card’s Credit Limit?

The starting credit limit on the Discover it® Student Chrome card is $500. You cannot specify a credit limit amount. Discover decides your credit line by reviewing the information in your card application and your credit bureau reports. Discover also considers other details it collects concerning your creditworthiness.

After being a customer for at least six months, you can ask for an increase online, via the mobile app, or by calling the number on your credit card. You must disclose your current annual income and monthly housing cost. Discover doesn’t do a hard credit check when you request a higher credit limit, and you should receive an immediate decision.

Another way to increase your credit line is to apply for a second Discover credit card, such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back. Discover allows you to own no more than two of its cards simultaneously.

How to increase your credit limit steps

The credit line on the second card can improve your credit utilization ratio by making more credit available. But it can have the opposite effect if you use the new card to finance a spending spree.

Applying for a second Discover card will require a hard credit check, but the effect on your credit score should be minimal, if at all. In general, you should ask for more credit only if your budget can accommodate the potentially higher debt.

Suppose Discover denies your request for another credit card. In that case, it will send you an Adverse Action Notice (AAN) containing the reasons behind the decision and the information sources Discover used (i.e., one or more of the three major credit bureaus’ credit reports).

The AAN also provides information about your response options, including appealing Discover’s decision, but you should do so only if you can present documentation to support your request.

Naturally, your second card doesn’t need to come from Discover. The three reviewed alternatives are all excellent options.

What Happens to My Card After I Graduate?

Discover automatically upgrades student credit cards to a similar cash back credit card after graduation. In this case, the bank will step you up to a Discover it® Chrome. You’ll have the same rewards program after you transition to the new card.

You don’t need to cancel your Discover student card — the issuer automatically reclassifies your card for you. That’s good because canceling a card may impact your credit score. If Discover it® Student Chrome is your oldest card, canceling it could reduce the length of your credit history, which can harm your overall credit score.

Transitioning to a regular credit card can lead to a higher credit limit, especially if you start your career after graduation and earn a higher income than before. Be sure to report your new salary to Discover.

How Do I Build Credit With a Student Card?

Many students get their first credit card when they start college. Most credit card issuers, including Discover, accept students even though they have no credit history. Getting a credit card provides you with a primary tool for building a good credit score when you use it responsibly.

The most critical factor is to pay your bills on time. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO Score. While it’s ideal to pay your entire balance each month — for one thing, you’ll avoid interest charges — it isn’t necessary. The essential task is to pay at least the monthly minimum amount before the due date.

Most student rewards credit cards offer modest credit limits, which is a good thing because it helps you control how much money you owe. FICO assigns 30% of your score to your debt levels, and your credit utilization ratio (i.e., credit used/credit limit) is a significant factor.

You can do a few other things to help build credit, including diversifying your mix of credit accounts and loans, keeping your old accounts open, and refraining from applying for multiple credit cards within a brief period. Also, become familiar with the FICO credit score and VantageScore systems so you know where you stand.

Discover cards provide FICO credit score monitoring so you can easily track your progress.

How Does It Compare to the Discover it® Student Cash Back?

Discover it® Student Chrome and Discover it® Student Cash Back are identical except for their reward structures:

    • Discover it® Student Chrome offers 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined quarterly purchases from restaurants and gas stations.

    • Discover it® Student Cash Back provides 5% cash back on spending of up to $1,500 per quarter in rotating categories that you activate.

Both cards pay 1% on all other eligible purchases.

We can’t say with certainty which is the best Discover credit card for students. You should choose a Discover student card based on your lifestyle. Discover it® Student Chrome makes sense If you regularly drive and eat at restaurants. The card doesn’t require you to keep track of changing bonus categories, and you earn cash back rewards automatically.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back has a higher bonus rate and quarterly cap but for only one category at a time. You must activate the new bonus category each quarter to earn the high rate. Only get this card if you’re confident you’ll remember to activate your card four times per year.

Discover publishes a calendar of its quarterly rotating merchant categories that earn 5%, so you can see in advance whether they align with your spending habits. Maximizing this card’s rewards requires effort, but it provides potentially higher rewards as long as you stay on top of the activation schedule.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • You want to earn cash back rewards and purchase gas and/or dine out frequently.

    • You don’t want to pay an annual fee.

    • You have no or limited credit history and are at least a part-time student.

These features make the Discover it® Student Chrome a great option for certain undergraduates. But if you don’t have a car and seldom dine out, the Discover it® Student Cash Back may be the best credit card due to its broad array of bonus reward categories.

You should also consider the three alternative cards we reviewed. It would be best to select a student card that pays rewards that align with your spending patterns.

About the Author

Eric Bank
Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Eric Bank