Discover Card has included two new credit cards: the Discover it chrome and Discover it chrome for Students. The Discover it® chrome for Students includes features commonly found with Discover cards, such as the benefit of low fees and a rewards program for earning cash back on purchases.
However, the biggest difference between the Discover it for Students and the chrome version is that chrome offers a different and possibly better rewards program.
- Fees. There is no annual fee for the Discover it chrome for Students card. The balance transfer fee is 3%. There is no foreign transaction fee.
- APR. There is an introductory APR on purchases for 6 months from the date of opening your account. After this, the APR is based on your credit worthiness and ranges from 12.99% to 21.99%. The introductory APR on balance transfers is 10.99% for 6 months from the date of your first transfer and then 12.99% to 21.99% based on your credit worthiness. The APR also varies with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. You earn 2% cash back on gasoline and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter. The calendar quarters begin January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st. All other purchases and purchases made after the cap earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Your rewards do not expire.
- Double Cash Back Your First Year. After your first year of carrying the card, Discover doubles the cash back you earned so far. For example, if you earned $20 cash back in your first year, you get another $20 added to your account automatically.
- Redeeming Rewards. Your cash back rewards can be redeemed for statement credit or direct deposit into a bank account at $20. You can also redeem for Discover gift cards and gift cards with retailers such as Macy’s and CVS Pharmacy, or for charitable donations with charities such as Make-A-Wish and American Red Cross. Discover rewards can also be used at checkout with Amazon.com as well.
- FICO Score. You receive access to your FICO credit score online or on your monthly statement as a Discover it chrome card member.
- Shopping Online. When you shop online with your Discover it chrome for Students card via the Shop Discover portal, you can earn unlimited cash back of 5% to 20% with over 200 popular retailers such as Dell and Samsung.
- Freeze It. This feature online or through the mobile app allows you to easily switch off new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. This is useful if you ever lose your card or see any suspicious activity in your account.
- Rewards for Gas and Restaurant Purchases. Credit cards for students that include reward programs are rare, and those that award for gas and restaurant purchases without rotating categories are even more difficult to find. The Discover it chrome for Students allows you to earn cash back on two of the most commonly used purchase categories without signing up quarterly and with everyday, student-friendly categories rather than an assortment of categories you may not use regularly.
- Double Cash Back Your First Year. This is a nice promotion if plan on using the card a lot in your first year, especially on gas and groceries. If you max out the 2% cash back on $1,000 spend per quarter on gas & groceries, you’ll get an additional $80 on top of the $80 cash back you earn in a year. This essentially gives you 4% cash back on gas and groceries your first year.
- Easy Redemption. You can redeem your cash back easily at as low as $20 for a wide range of possibilities from just shopping at Amazon to requesting a statement credit. There are also hundreds of gift cards available that can be used to help pay for any other school or personal expense. You don’t have to wait to save up to a huge amount, and you are not limited to redeeming or requesting your cash back at certain times of the year.
- Free FICO Credit Score. In order to manage your credit, it’s important to have an idea how lenders see you. FICO is one of the most commonly used credit scoring systems among lenders who determine your credit risk and credit worthiness. You can request your credit score from myfico.com, but it normally costs $4.95 for the first month and $14.95 each month thereafter. This is included free with your Discover card membership.
- No Sign-up Bonus. Sign-up bonuses are less common with student rewards credit cards, but there are still some card issuers that offer them as an incentive to choose the card. Discover it chrome for Students does not offer a sign-up bonus, but credit cards for college students such as the Upromise World MasterCard by Barclaycard and the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students both offer sign-up bonuses worth $25.
- Short-Term Introductory APR. Card companies also offer 0% introductory APRs as incentive for choosing a specific card, but the Discover it chrome for Students only offers 0% for 6 months on purchases. It is rare for a student card to offer 0% on balance transfers and purchases, but other student cards such as Upromise (which offers 0% on both for 12 months) and Bank Americard Credit Card for Students (which offers 0% on both for 15 months) offer the introductory rate for a significantly longer period of time. It is recommended that if you do take advantage of an introductory APR that you make sure you pay the balance in full during the introductory period in order to avoid bad spending habits and paying high amounts of interest on your purchases, which lower your chances of maximizing any reward earnings.
- Cap on Gas and Restaurant Purchases. There is a cap on the cash back you can earn in the gasoline and restaurant categories of $1,000 per quarter. After that, you earn 1% cash back. Most student cards impose caps on the bonus spending categories, but if you spend more than $1,000 per quarter in these categories, you can earn more rewards with a card such as the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, which awards an unlimited two points per dollar spent on restaurant and entertainment purchases (with points also being worth approximately one cent per point). If you don’t mind rotating categories, Discover it for Students and Citi Dividend for Students both award 5% cash back up to $1,500 on select purchases per quarter.
- Lack of Discover Acceptance. The Discover brand credit card is not yet accepted as widely as Visa or MasterCard and depending where you live or travel, there is a possibility that you won’t be able to use your card for purchases.
The Discover it chrome for Students card is best if the majority of your purchases fall into either the gasoline or restaurant categories but are less than $1,000 per quarter (or approximately $333 per month) combined. The only significant disadvantage is that it may not be accepted as widely as Visa or MasterCard. But for students, it is still a great low-fee opportunity with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
The Discover it® chrome for Students is a great low-fee rewards card for students that provides an opportunity for earning cash back on common purchases and easily redeeming rewards.
4 out of 5 Stars: You can earn more cash back with other student cards with higher or no spending caps, as well as take advantage of sign-up bonuses and longer introductory APRs.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.