Discover it® Student Cash Back Credit Card Review: Is It the Best Student Card?

Discover it® Student Cash Back Credit Card Review: Is It the Best Student Card?

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card offers the same winning cashback rewards program as its non-student counterpart, the Discover it® Cash Back, including a cashback match in the first year.

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Pros

  • Rewards are as good as some top-tier credit cards' perks
  • $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years

Cons

  • Discover cards are generally not as widely accepted as other types of cards
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For college students, there just aren't many credit card options that will treat you like an adult. While the best credit cards tend to be rewards-focused, most cards catered to students have poor, if any, rewards at all.

Fortunately, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is one of the few cards that offers students the same benefits as holders of the standard Discover it® Cash Back card. The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers a competitive cashback rewards program, which provides fantastic rewards to any student trying to stretch their dollar further.

Plus, new cardholders get an Unlimited Cashback Match – 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 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

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This is one of the best benefits we've seen on any cashback card, since it effectively matches the rewards that you earn for those first 12 months. Here's what you need to know about the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

Discover it® Student Cash Back benefits and features

For students looking to build their credit, few cards provide an option as good as the Discover it® Student Cash Back. Among all student credit cards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back provides some of the best cashback rewards. Plus, it's designed for newcomers to credit cards.

Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers a great bonus on rotating categories:

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

You have to enroll in the categories each quarter to earn the 5% bonus — otherwise, you only earn 1% cash back on those purchases. Note that this bonus is capped at $1,500 in purchases per quarter, for a maximum of $75 in bonus cash back (5% of $1,500 = $75). All other spending nets 1% cash back, with no cap. Still, that's a pretty generous amount, amounting to up to $300 in bonus cash back per year.

Discover's 2021 cash back calendar

January-March
April-June
July-September
October-December
Grocery stores, Walgreens & CVSGas stations, select streaming services and wholesale clubsRestaurants & PayPalAmazon.com, Target.com & Walmart.com

Matches your cash back in the first year

New cardholders get an Unlimited Cashback Match – 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 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

This feature, which exists on all Discover cashback cards, sets Discover apart from its competitors. Many cards offer you a lump bonus for meeting a spending threshold in a certain amount of time. Discover's offer, on the other hand, is potentially much more lucrative, as it matches all of the rewards that you earn in the first year. So, if you earn $500 in rewards, you'll earn $500 in additional cash at the end of the year.

Rewards you for good grades

If you're a student with a high GPA, the Discover it® Student Cash Back will provide you with even better rewards. New members are awarded a $20 statement credit each school year they achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher, for up to five years. This amounts to up to $100 in rewards for those who manage to maintain that 3.0 GPA over time.

Flexible cashback redemption

You can redeem your cash back at any time for a variety of options, including:

  • Statement credits against your charges
  • Gift cards
  • Donations
  • Direct deposit into any account
  • Payment at some merchants

Discover also conveniently allows you to redeem your points for purchases through Amazon.com — $1 earned through the Discover it® Student Cash Back card equals $1 for purchases on Amazon.

Free monthly FICO® Score

Another noteworthy aspect of the Discover it® Student Cash Back is its credit score reporting, which allows students to monitor their credit scores. Your updated FICO® Score is printed on your monthly statements, and you can also view your score online by logging into your account. This gives students insight into how their spending and payment habits affect their credit score — a lesson they can take with them to other credit cards down the line.

How does the Discover it® Student Cash Back compare to other cards?

While the Discover it® Student Cash Back is one of the best cards for students who are new to credit, applicants with higher credit scores and those looking for simpler cashback rewards should consider the following options:

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

The most difficult choice for some may come when having to choose a Discover it® Student Cash Back — you can opt for the Discover it® Student Cash Back or the Discover it® Student chrome. With the Discover it® Student chrome, cardholders receive 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

To decide between these cards, consider the following: If your spending is limited in both scope and amount, the Discover it® Student chrome provides better value. However, if you enjoy spending freedom and often shop around for things included in the Discover it® Student Cash Back's 5% categories, it would be a far better card.

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠

On Chase's Secure Website

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ works in a similar way to the Discover it® Student Cash Back. It also has rotating categories, which give 5% cash back on certain purchases during certain times of the year. With the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you’ll Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

The bonus rewards on dining and drugstores give the Chase Freedom Flex℠ the edge, but you'll also need to consider if you can qualify for the card. The card is available to applicants with Excellent/Good credit scores, which may put it out of reach for many students.

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

On Citibank's Secure Website

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the best cashback cards around, and it offers a much simpler rewards program. No matter when or how you use your Citi® Double Cash Card , you Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

If you simply want a no-hassle card which provides great rewards (and if you can qualify for the card, since it requires Excellent/Good credit), then the Citi® Double Cash Card could be a no-brainer.

Discover it® Student Cash Back vs. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a nice bonus on lucrative spending categories like U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Users earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. Terms apply.

This structure is simpler to keep track of than Discover it® Student Cash Back's changing categories — plus these rewards can easily be redeemed for statement credits to cover your purchases.

Students who have the Excellent/Good credit required to qualify for this card should look to their spending patterns and which merchants they frequent to guide their decision between the two cards.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

Is the Discover it® Student Cash Back worth it?

Students looking for their first credit card have a lot to gain by applying for the Discover it® Student Cash Back. This card requires a certain level of involvement and monitoring in order to maximize its value. If, however, consumers are looking for less hassle and flat-rate rewards, the Discover it® Student chrome may be a better option. Ultimately, the Discover it® Student cards are fantastic for building credit, regardless of which variant you choose to go with.

How do I use my cash back at Amazon.com?

To see how to use Discover it® Student Cash Back cash back credit on Amazon, visit Discover's page on Amazon.

How do I apply for the Discover it® Student Cash Back?

To apply, visit Discover's website.

How do I check my FICO® Score, if I’m already a Discover it® Student Cash Back cardmember?

You can check your credit score at any point by logging into your Discover online account, through card member services. You can also see your most recent credit score printed on your monthly statement.

Is a Discover it® Student Cash Back good?

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is one of the best student credit cards when it comes to building credit and earning rewards. With a Discover it® Student Cash Back, you can establish and monitor your credit while earning a generous cash back rate, which is as good as it gets with student credit cards.

What credit score is needed for the Discover it® Student Cash Back?

You'll want to have at least Fair/Limited credit to qualify for a Discover it® Student Cash Back, which means you should have a credit score of at least 600. That being said, there's no way to guarantee you'll be approved for a Discover it® Student Cash Back, even if you have good credit.

Is the Discover it® Student Cash Back easy to get?

Compared to many credit cards, the Discover student credit card can be considered more lenient when it comes to qualification requirements. In general, student credit cards don't require a robust credit history and excellent credit in the same way that many regular credit cards do.

How do I qualify for a Discover it® Student Cash Back?

To qualify for a Discover it® Student Cash Back, you should have at least Fair/Limited credit. Many credit card issuers also require you to have a source of income, although student credit cards may be more lenient with this requirement. You'll also need to be a college student, a U.S. resident and at least 18 years of age.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

The information related to Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Student chrome has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

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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).