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Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®: Flat Rate Cash Back For Students

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®: Flat Rate Cash Back For Students

If you're applying for your first credit card, and value ease of use above all else, the Capital One Journey card is a good choice.
Editor's Rating: 4.0/5.0
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Editor's Rating

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4.0/5.0

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is a cash back rewards card designed specifically for college students. It offers flat rate cash back on all purchases of 1%, with the potential for 1.25% in rewards if the cardholders pay on time. With the bonus, the card offers undergraduates (who typically don't have much credit history) a better than average rewards rate. Depending on the make-up of your expenses and how active you are at managing your spending, the Discover it® Student Cash Back may be a more rewarding alternative.

Good For…

Bad For…
  • Traveling abroad
  • Ease of use
  • Individuals who like to maximize rewards

Review: Is the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Worth It?

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® should be thought of as a flatrate 1.25% cash back card. While the nominal rewards rate is 1%, you really shouldn't get a credit card unless you're going to pay off the balance in a timely fashion – and thus earning the 25% bonus which bumps this card’s rewards rate up to 1.25%. By comparison, other flatrate cash back cards tend to offer 1.5% (as seen in the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card or some 2% cash back card. However, both of those cards will be out of reach to most students, especially those who never had a credit card or the chance to build up credit history before.

Students who don’t mind keeping track of their spending may get better results with a card like the Discover it® Student Cash Back. Unlike the flat rewards rate on the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, the Discover it® Student Cash Back gives 5% cash back on up to the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter for special bonus categories that rotate, when you sign up. In all other cases these cards will reward you with 1% cash back on your spending. For 2019, the categories include grocery stores (January-March), gas stations, Uber & Lyft (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com (October-December). If students manage to keep track, and have at least 6.25% of their total annual spending fall into these categories, we calculate that they will come out ahead compared to the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®.

Because it has no foreign transaction fees, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® credit card is great for those who study abroad, or do a lot of foreign vacationing. Whereas most credit cards would charge users a 3% fee for using them outside of the U.S., the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has no such charges.

Bottom Line: If you value ease of use and flexibility over all else then the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® could make a fine first credit card. The rewards are above average for students with little credit history - making it a comfortable option, especially if you travel outside the United States. For someone looking to maximize rewards, however, the Discover it® Student Cash Back holds greater potential.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Benefits and Features

As we've already mentioned, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® offers a flat 1% cash back rewards on all spending categories. For cardholders that pay on time, the card bumps this percentage up to 1.25%, which slightly higher than what students can get on general spending in other cards. As we advise with all rewards credit cards, you should only consider a rewards card if you're paying the entirety of your balance each month. Otherwise the extra % in interest that you'll be accumulating with the card will easily nullify the value of any rewards you actually earn.

On Capital One's Secure Website

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

On Capital One's Secure Website
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
26.96% (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Average, Fair, Limited
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

All Capital One cardholders have access to CreditWise® – a tool particularly useful for students getting their first card. It allows you to follow and check your credit score at all times using the Capital One® CreditWise®. This can work as a powerful learning mechanism to first time credit users, who get to see first hand how their actions (payments, credit utilization) affect their score.

The final feature of the card worth highlighting is its 0% foreign transaction fee, which is unique compared to other student credit card products. While you may not pay any extra fees for using the card abroad, keep in mind one of the limitations you might still face is when it comes to the card's EMV chip. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® comes with an EMV chip equipped, though it is of the 'chip & signature' variety, and may not be accepted in certain countries. That means if you're backpacking through Europe, and buying train tickets from a machine, you may not be able to charge the expense to this credit card.

How Does the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® Compare Against Other Credit Cards?

As a credit card marketed to college students who are likely applying for their first credit card, it's only fair that we compare this card to other offerings of similar scope. The benefit of comparing the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® against its competitors is that we get a better sense of its worth and value relative to its peers.

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

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers students the potential to earn superior rewards to the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, provided they put in a little extra work. Every 3 months, Discover puts out a new set of shopping categories, in which shoppers can earn 5% cash back, on up to $1,500 in spending (activation required). For 2019, the categories include grocery stores (January-March), gas stations, Uber & Lyft (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com (October-December). All other purchases net just 1% back. If you can keep track of these bonus categories, and manage to fit at least 6.25% of your total spending into them, the Discover it® Student Cash Back outperforms the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® rewards-wise.

Like the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, the Discover it® Student Cash Back charges no foreign transaction fees. However, the Discover network is not as widely accepted internationally as Mastercard (the network the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is affiliated with). That means students traveling to remote locations will have an easier time getting their Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® accepted, over the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® vs Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

In all regards, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is superior to the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a flat 1.5% cash back rate. Therefore, you will always earn greater rewards using it, versus when using the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®. The downside is, that the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card requires an individual to have an excellent credit score to get approval – something most students won’t have access to. However, if you keep an eye on the credit tracker, and keep to good practices that will raise your credit score, over time you can request to have a product change – that is your Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® account can be upgraded to the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® vs Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® is one of the best cash back credit cards available, and works in a similar fashion to the Discover it® Student Cash Back. This card gives 5% cash back, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, on a rotating set of categories once you activate. All other spending nets just 1% cash back. The Chase Freedom® is not marketed at students, and therefore may be out of reach for most. The card requires a good to excellent credit score. If you are confident in your ability to keep track of the card’s changing categories, and having some of your spending fall into them, the Chase Freedom® may be the better choice domestically. If you plan on using the Chase Freedom® abroad, prepare to deal with a 3% fee.

Comparison Tool

The best way of optimizing your choice of credit card is to tailor it to suite your individual spending profile. Since sitting down and modeling these cards is time consuming, we’ve developed a tool to help you with the process. All you have to do is input your estimated monthly spending, and we will do all the math for you – spitting back credit cards with their estimated net rewards, for your spending pattern.

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Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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