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Discover it® Chrome for Students Card Review – 2% Back on Gas & Restaurants

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At a Glance
4.2 / 5
Rating

Discover it® Chrome for Students

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in combined category purchases per quarter; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, including favored category purchases above the cap
  • Benefits: Double cash back during the first 12 months your account is open; Freeze It security feature; $20 bonus every year your GPA stays above 3.0
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 6 months on purchases; 10.99% APR for 6 months on balance transfers
  • Fees: $0 foreign transaction fees; balance transfers 3% of the transferred amount; cash advances 5% of the advanced amount ($10 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Credit Needed: Average

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

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.

Discover it Chrome for Students is closely associated with several other student credit cards, including Capital One Journey and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students.

Key Features

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.

Freeze It

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.

Introductory APR

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.

Important Fees

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.

Credit Required

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.

Advantages

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Disadvantages

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Final Word

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.

Verdict
4.2 / 5
Rating

Discover it® Chrome for Students

Discover it® Chrome for Students is a first credit card for students who commute to campus or regularly eat out at restaurants around town. With reasonable qualification standards, it’s also a great first credit card for students who need to build or improve their credit. It’s not ideal for students who want lots of fringe benefits or the opportunity to earn lots of cash back in rotating categories.

Solid gas station and restaurant rewards, first-year cash back bonus, no annual fee, lenient late payment terms, and the intro APR period are all great. Cash back spending caps, lack of a signup bonus, and limited fringe benefits hurt. Overall, a great card for practical students.

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.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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