BEST CREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDSDISCOVER IT STUDENT CHROME REVIEW: A TOP-NOTCH STARTER CARD

Discover It Student Chrome Review: A Top-Notch Starter Card

This student card earns 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter in combined spending on gas and at restaurants, plus 1% on everything else.
Melissa Lambarena Author Avatar
Jun 26, 2024 10:29 p.m. PDT
Edited by
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The Bottom Line

5.0

NerdWallet rating

The card is an outstanding 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
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1%-2%
Cashback
Intro Offer
Cashback Match™
Recommended credit score
Intro APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Regular APR
18.24%-27.24% Variable APR
Recommended credit score
Annual Fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1%-2%
Cashback
Intro Offer
Cashback Match™
Recommended credit score
Intro APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Regular APR
18.24%-27.24% Variable APR
Recommended credit score
  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Rewards rate

    1%-2%

  • Bonus offer

    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.

  • Intro APR

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

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 18.24%-27.24% Variable APR

    Cash Advance APR: 29.99%, Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    0%

View Rates and Fees
  • 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.

Pros and Cons

Pros

No annual fee

Intro APR period

Qualify with average credit

Bonus categories

Cons

Complicated rewards

Detailed Review

With healthy rewards and no FICO credit history requirement, the Discover it® Student Chrome is a solid choice for students who like to dine out.

The $0-annual-fee card features simple, straightforward rewards, making it an outstanding choice for students. It earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined quarterly purchases and 1% on all other purchases. Its introductory offer could also stretch your student budget enough to cover a trip to the movies or a dinner out.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Even though Discover says there's no FICO credit history required to apply for this card, keep in mind that the issuer won't automatically approve you just because you're a student. This is standard for all student credit cards. If you're under 21, you still must show proof of independent income when applying to be eligible.

Discover it® Student Chrome: Basics

Card type: College student.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: 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.

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.

Cash back can be redeemed in any amount for a statement credit, direct deposit, store credit at select merchants — including Amazon — or PayPal credit. If you opt to redeem for gift cards, you'll need a minimum of $5 in rewards first.

APR: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-27.24% Variable APR.

Other benefits:

  • Payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian), which helps you build credit.

  • No late fee on your first late payment.

  • Social Security number alerts, free access to your FICO score, ability to instantly freeze and unfreeze your card and block new purchases when it's misplaced, lost or stolen.

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$0
INTRO APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
REGULAR APR
18.24%-27.24% Variable APR
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$0
INTRO APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
REGULAR APR
18.24%-27.24% Variable APR
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$0
INTRO APR
10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
REGULAR APR
28.24% Variable APR
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
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Benefits and Perks

Solid rewards for a starter card

With the Discover it® Student Chrome, you'll 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.

You'll also be eligible for a potentially lucrative sign-up bonus, which Discover phrases this way: "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." Because the card doesn't require you to charge a certain amount to get a bonus, there's no pressure to overspend. That's a plus for students on tight budgets.

All combined, these rewards and benefits can cover a few meals or maybe even a night out. Just 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.

Reports 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.

Light on 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. On-time payments are important, but it’s nice to have this waiver when you’re starting out and getting into the habit of managing your credit card bills. Stay on track if you want to retain a healthy credit score and avoid a large late fee for a subsequent slip-up.

An introductory APR period

You don’t find this type of offer on many student credit cards. The Discover it® Student Chrome charges 0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-27.24% Variable APR. That’s enough breathing room to pay off a large purchase interest-free, such as a new laptop or expensive textbooks.

Drawbacks and Considerations

Higher rewards are available

If you're looking for a student card with more rewards potential, the Discover it® Student Cash Back could be a better choice. 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. Its rewards structure makes it significantly more complicated than the Discover it® Student Chrome, a downside for many students. But for those who have time to handle the complexity, it could be a more valuable choice. Previous bonus categories have included gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, 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 has limited acceptance outside the U.S. It may not be an ideal payment option, depending on where you’re going. If your college experience includes international travel, consider the Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card. It offers 1.5% back on all purchases. Plus, it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.

How To Decide If It's Right For You

The Discover it® Student Chrome is an ideal candidate for many students’ wallets. When you’re just starting out, a credit card that reports to all three credit bureaus is a top priority to help you establish credit. This card does that in addition to providing rare rewards-earning opportunities seldom offered on student credit cards. It's also easy to maintain since you don’t have to worry about activating rewards to earn them.

One instance when you might consider a different card is if you plan to study or vacation abroad at a destination that does not accept a Discover payment method. If that’s the case, other student credit cards might be better suited for your lifestyle.

You can also check out NerdWallet's full list of the best credit card offers to explore even more options.


Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

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