Discover it® Chrome for Students is a student credit card with a cash back rewards program focused on gas station and restaurant purchases, plus some nice fringe benefits for current college attendees. With 2% cash back (up to $1,000 per quarter) on gas station and restaurant purchases, plus 1% cash back on everything else, it’s quite similar to the “adult” Discover it Chrome card. As part of the broader Discover it family, it Chrome for Students is associated with the flagship Discover it, Discover it for Students, and Discover it Miles (a popular travel rewards card) too.
First-Year Double Cash Back
12 months to the day after you open your account, Discover doubles all the cash back you earned during the previous year. If you earned $150 during your first year as an it Chrome for Students cardholder, you get a $150 bonus, bumping your total first-year cash back earnings to $300. There’s no limit to how much you can earn from your first-year double cash back bonus.
Cash Back Rewards and Redemption
Discover it Chrome for Students earns 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases, up to a quarterly spending limit of $1,000. If you spend more than $1,000 per quarter in those categories, you earn an unlimited 1% cash back. All other purchases also earn an unlimited 1% cash back, with no caps or restrictions. You can redeem your accumulated cash back for bank account deposits, statement credits, and Amazon.com purchases in any amount and at any time. Discover also allows you to redeem for electronic and physical gift cards, starting at a $20 minimum.
Good Grades Bonus
As long as you maintain a 3.0 GPA or better for the duration of the school year, you’re entitled to one $20 Good Grade Bonus per year. The bonus accrues as regular cash back and can be redeemed as a statement credit, bank account deposit, or gift card. To receive the bonus, you need to formally apply at Discover.com and provide evidence of your academic performance, such as school transcripts. Also, your account needs to be in good standing when you apply. You can only earn five Good Grade Bonuses, no matter how long you remain in school.
Discover it Chrome for Students’ Freeze It feature locks your account, on your command, from any Internet-connected device. Once locked, your card can’t be used for purchases, cash advances, or any other draws on your credit limit – even if you attempt to initiate them. This is useful if you suspect that your account has been compromised in some fashion or you discover that you’ve lost your card. Once you straighten out the situation, you can unlock your account from any Internet-connected device and continue to use your card as before. Keep in mind that scheduled payments continue to execute as normal, and interest on unpaid balances accumulates at the same rate as always.
Discover it Chrome for Students comes with a six-month 0% introductory APR on purchases, and a six-month 10.99% introductory APR on balance transfers. To qualify, balance transfers must be made by the 10th day of the third month following account opening. For instance, if you open your account in May, you have until August 10th to take advantage of the promotion.
Free FICO Score
Discover it Chrome for Students comes with a free FICO credit score with every monthly electronic or paper statement. Your FICO score also appears in your online account dashboard.
Discover it Chrome for Students has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost a flat 3% of the transferred amount, even during the promotional period. Cash advances always cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $35, though the late fee is waived for your first late payment.
This card requires fair credit. You can have some blemishes or a spotty history due to inconsistent prior credit utilization and still get your application approved.
- Consistent Gas and Restaurant Rewards. Discover it Chrome for Students earns 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in spending per quarter. That’s great for students who regularly commute to school or eat at restaurants around campus. Many competing cards either have rotating spending categories, such as Discover it for Students, or offer flat cash back rates, such as the Journey Student Credit Card.
- First-Year Double Cash Back Can Be Huge. Discover it Chrome for Students’ first-year double cash back bonus has amazing potential for heavier spenders who use this card as their primary mode of spending. For instance, if you maximize the 2% gas-and-restaurant reward, you’ll boost your total earnings in that category from $80 to $160. You can put that extra cash toward your tuition, save it for a rainy day, or spend it on something valuable. No other student credit card offers a comparable first-year perk.
- No Penalty APR and First Late Payment Fee Waiver. Discover it Chrome for Students doesn’t have a penalty APR, and it always waives your first late payment fee. That’s great news if you’ve been known to miss a payment here and there. Citi ThankYou Preferred for Students and Capital One Journey both charge penalty interest and don’t waive late fees.
- Solid Intro APR Period. Discover it Chrome for Students’ six-month 0% intro purchase APR is fantastic for new cardholders who need to make big upfront purchases. The Journey Student Credit Card and Upromise MasterCard both lack intro APR periods.
- Anytime, Any Amount Redemption for Statement Credits, Deposits, and Amazon.com Purchases. Discover it Chrome for Students allows you to redeem for statement credits, Amazon.com purchases, and bank account deposits in any amount, at any time. If you don’t spend heavily enough to reach other cards’ maximum thresholds for months at a time, this is a huge perk. The Capital One Journey Student Card makes you wait until you accumulate $25 in rewards, while Upromise MasterCard requires $10.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. Discover it Chrome for Students doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. That’s likely to come in handy if you decide to study abroad for a semester (or longer), or opt for a spring break road trip to Canada or Mexico (where you’ll earn even faster by using this card to fill up your tank and try new restaurants). The Upromise MasterCard and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students both charge 3% foreign transaction fees.
- Low Maximum Cash Back Rate. Discover it Chrome for Students’ maximum cash back rate is 2%. That’s a bit lower than competing student cards such as Discover it for Students, which pays up to 5% cash back on select rotating categories.
- Few Fringe Benefits. Discover it Chrome for Students doesn’t have much in the way of fringe or value-added benefits not directly related to the student experience. By contrast, Citi ThankYou Preferred for Students offers the same great Private Pass benefits available to non-student cardholders, such as exclusive event pre-sales and VIP access. Capital One Journey has a pretty robust array of credit-tracking tools.
- No Traditional Sign-up Bonus. Discover it Chrome for Students lacks a sign-up bonus. That’s a disadvantage relative to the Upromise MasterCard, which offers a $50 sign-up bonus, and Citi ThankYou Preferred for Students, which offers a sign-up bonus worth up to $25.
Like most student credit cards, Discover it® Chrome for Students is a useful tool for building and improving credit. Every timely payment you make demonstrates to Discover – and future credit card issuers – that you’re a sober, responsible credit user who can be trusted with greater responsibility. Over time, said issuers are likely to reward you with higher spending limits, lower interest rates, and approvals for more generous rewards programs. Sounds like a reasonable bargain.