Editorial Review

Discover It Student Chrome Review: Earn Rewards, Build Credit

This isn't a bare-bones starter card: You earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter in combined spending on gas and at restaurants, plus 1% on everything else.

Melissa LambarenaJune 21, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

4.4

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: The card is a solid choice, especially if you spend a lot on gas and at restaurants. But look elsewhere if you need a card to take with you when studying abroad.

Discover it® Student chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Annual Fee
$0
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter

  • No FICO history required.

  • Bonus cash back categories

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • None

Alternate Pick: For studying abroad

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

1% rewards + bonus for on-time payment

Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, plus an extra 0.25% in any month in which you pay your bill on time. Skip foreign transaction fees with this travel-friendly card, which as a Mastercard is accepted worldwide. Annual fee: $0

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

20.99% Variable

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Discover it® Student chrome offers the opportunity to build credit and earn rewards, and it can be especially beneficial if you frequently spend on gas and dining out.

That can be a big step up from digging between couch cushions for spare pizza money.

The card's other features and perks also merit a deeper dive. Here’s how to determine whether it suits your college lifestyle or if you’re better off with a different student credit card.

Discover it® Student chrome: Basics and benefits

Card type: College student.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Rewards:

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter.

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

APR: 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR.

Other benefits:

  • Good Grades Rewards: Discover offers a $20 statement credit for every school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher, for up to the next five years.

  • Social Security number alerts, free access to your FICO score, ability to freeze/unfreeze your account.

  • A report to all three credit bureaus.

Highlights of the Discover it® Student chrome

Decent rewards: The Discover it® Student chrome offers fairly generous rewards, a rarity for a starter card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. Make sure you pay off your balance in full each month to get the full benefit of rewards. Otherwise, interest can chip away at their value. You'll also be eligible for a potentially lucrative sign-up bonus, which Discover phrases this way: "Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched." Of course, avoid spending money you don't have just to get a large sign-up bonus; stay within your budget. Finally, Discover's Good Grades Rewards perk can cover a few meals or movie tickets.

A report to all three major credit bureaus: The Discover it® Student chrome reports to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. These companies gather the information used to calculate your credit scores. Included in that information is your payment history, a key factor in your scores. That’s why it’s important to pay your bill on time. Discover notes that there's no FICO history requirement for this card, but if you're approved and you demonstrate responsible use of the card, it can help you establish a credit history.

Low fees: The Discover it® Student chrome has a $0 annual fee, and it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees (although Discover's acceptance abroad is limited). Discover also lets you skip the first late fee if you run behind on a payment, and it won’t charge a penalty APR. Still, on-time payments are important. Stay on track if you want to retain a healthy credit score and avoid a fee of up to $37 for a subsequent slip-up.

An introductory APR period: Before that high interest kicks in, you'll have some breathing room. The card offers 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR. You can pay off a large purchase like, say, a new laptop or expensive textbooks during that time.

Redemption flexibility: With this card, you can redeem your rewards for cash back at any amount, whether for statement credit, a deposit into any account, or by using your rewards to pay at select merchants, including Amazon. (If you opt to redeem for gift cards or instant eCertificates from Discover partners, you'll need a minimum of $20 in rewards first.) That flexibility could be handy for students in search of late-night snacks during finals week.

Discover it® Student chrome: Pitfalls and other possibilities

Other spending categories may be a better fit: Maybe you stick to public transit and cook most meals at home. If so, the Discover it® Student Cash Back may be a better fit. It offers some of the same perks and features as the Discover it® Student chrome — except its rewards structure is different and potentially more lucrative. It earns 5% back on rotating bonus categories that change every quarter, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter (requires activation). All other purchases earn 1% back. Previous bonus categories have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and Amazon.com, among others. (See a list of current categories here.) Its annual fee is $0.

Poor international acceptance: Even though it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, the Discover it® Student chrome card is not ideal if you’re planning to vacation or study abroad. The card has limited acceptance outside of the U.S. If your college experience includes international travel, consider the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®. It offers 1% back on all purchases, plus you'll get a 0.25% bonus each month you pay on time, for a total of 1.25% in cash back. And as a Mastercard with broad merchant acceptance and no foreign transaction fees, it’s a travel-worthy companion. It has an annual fee of $0.

Simply being a student doesn't guarantee you'll be approved. Even though Discover says there's no FICO history required to apply for this card, keep in mind that the issuer won't automatically approve you just because you're a student. If you're under 21, you still must show proof of independent income.

Should you get the Discover it® Student chrome?

The Discover it® Student chrome can offer a way to establish credit and earn rewards. It’s a low-maintenance option that will earn the most value if you frequently spend on gas and at restaurants.

If you plan to study or vacation abroad, consider a different student credit card.