The highest-paying rewards credit cards on the market tend to require a hefty annual fee or a decades-long credit history to be approved. But Discover is making it possible for college students to get in on the rewards card game and earn a ton of cash back — up to 5% –on the categories that matter to them most: gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more. The Discover It student cash back card also offers student-specific perks, such as a bonus for good grades, all while charging no annual fee. It’s a great card option for credit savvy young adults who want to earn money back on the spending they have to do anyway.
Name of card: Discover It Student Cash Back Credit Card
Best for: This credit card was designed with college students in mind. Those who are willing to put in the effort to track Discover’s bonus categories, which rotate quarterly, will reap the most value from the It student credit. In fact, cardholders can earn 5% cash back, up to the quarterly minimum, plus 1% cash back on all other purchases.
APR: New cardmembers receive an introductory interest rate of 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for the first 6 months after account opening. The Discover It student card also offers an introductory APR of 10.99% on balance transfers for 6 months from the date of first transfer, for transfers that post to your account by November 10, 2019. Once the intro period is over, the card reverts to a standard variable APR for regular purchases and balance transfers, depending on your creditworthiness, and up to 5% for future balance transfers. There is no penalty APR.
Rewards: Students will be happy to know that the Discover It Student Cash Back card offers some of the highest cash back opportunities today. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that change each month, up to the quarterly maximum. These spending categories include gas stations, grocery stores, Amazon.com and more, and cardholders must activate their bonus categories each quarter. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Discover will also automatically match all of the cash back earned within the first year with no maximum.
Other perks: Besides lucrative cash back earnings, the Discover It card for students offers a number of other valuable benefits. For one, college students can earn a $20 statement credit for each school year they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, for up to five years.
Discover also offers a number of helpful fraud protection services. For example, cardholders can lock and unlock their credit cards using the Freeze It tool to prevent charges if they misplace their card. Discover also monitors purchases for suspicious activity; if unauthorized charges are made, you’ll never be responsible for them. Cardholders also have their Social Security number monitored and receive free online alerts when their personal information is found on the dark web.
Discover also allows cardmembers to see their monthly FICO score based on TransUnion data. Credit scores are provided along with monthly statements and can also be viewed online, where customers will see up to a year’s worth of FICO score history.
Annual fee: No annual fee here.
Other fees: Balance transfers performed during the six-month introductory period will incur a fee of 3% of the balance transferred. After the intro period is over, balance transfers will require a fee of 5% of the amount of each transfer. Cash advances incure a fee of either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater. The first time you pay your bill late, the fee is waived. However, future late payments will result in a fee of up to $39. Returned payments also result in a fee of up to $39.
Bonus: As of now, there is no sign-up bonus for new Discover It Student card customers. However, there is a match on all cash back earned within the first year, which is similar to a bonus.
How this card might bring joy to your wallet: There are a ton of great benefits to the Discover It Student Cash Back card. For one, the 5% cash back rate on rotating categories is one of the highest you’ll find on the market today. Plus, you can earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover also rewards students for their good grades with a GPA bonus, and generously matches all cash back earned in the first year. And with no annual fee, you keep 100% of your earnings. Cardholders can also get their debt under control by taking advantage of an introductory 0% APR and discounted balance transfer APR during the first six months.
How this card might not bring joy to your wallet: The trade-off for earning sky-high rewards is that you have to invest a bit of time and energy into getting them. Discover’s 5% bonus categories rotate each quarter, which means cardholders need to keep an eye on the bonus calendar and activate their rewards every three months. This might not be the best card for you if you’d prefer to take a more hands-off approach to earning cash back.