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Discover it® Student Chrome review: A solid starter card with easy rewards

An ideal choice for students who want to build their credit history and learn more about maximizing rewards without stressing over annual fees.

 /  13 min
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Snapshot

4.1

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This student card boasts some notable features, including Discover’s flagship Cashback Match program, which may be one of the best welcome offers available on a student card. However, it may not be the ideal pick for every student, particularly students who want more opportunities to maximize rewards in more categories.

Best for gas and dining
  • Introductory offer
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Fees
    Rating: 3.4 stars out of 5
    3.4 / 5
    Rewards value
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
    4 / 5
No Credit History
Info
Recommended Credit

Cashback Match

Intro offer

Info

1% - 2%

Rewards Rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

Discover it® Student Chrome overview

Rewards are hard to find when shopping for a starter card. But the Discover it® Student Chrome has a generous rewards structure, making it an interesting option among the best credit cards for students.

The card has a suite of attractive benefits, some long-term value and a lucrative welcome offer, all bundled in a package customized for college students’ needs. Along with the card’s limited fees and popular student spending categories like gas and dining, there’s a lot to love with the Discover it® Student Chrome. While a competitive choice, this card may not fit the bill for students who want even more out of a rewards program. Discover is also known for its limited international acceptance, so students hoping to study abroad with this card could run into roadblocks. 

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%
    • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • Discover will match all cash back earned at the end of your first year

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional 
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Apr

    0% intro APR offer

    • 0 percent intro APR on purchases for six months 
    • 10.99 percent intro balance transfer APR for six months 
    • 18.24 percent to 27.24 percent variable ongoing APR

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive 
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • No annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • No penalty APR 
    • $0 first late payment fee (up to $41 after) and missed payments can still affect your credit score
    • Cash advance fee is $10 or 5 percent of the amount, whichever is greater 
    • Intro balance transfer fee of 3 percent of the amount of the transfer (up to 5 percent balance transfer fee on future transfers (see terms)

    Expert Appraisal: Good 
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Fair

    Credit-building features

    • Free FICO® Credit Scorecard access
    • Opportunity to upgrade to the full Discover it® Chrome
    • Reports activity to all credit bureaus 
    • Available to applicants with no credit history

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Account protection through Freeze it®
    • Discover® Identity Alerts

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

Discover it® Student Chrome pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    This card is light on, and forgiving with, fees, making it a good pick for fresh credit-builders who are just getting started learning the ropes.

  • Checkmark

    Students get access to a competitive rewards program that includes student-centric spending categories like gas and dining.

  • Checkmark

    Discover’s Cashback Match welcome offer is one of the most valuable on the market for a student card.

Cons

  • Students studying abroad may have difficulty using this card due to Discover’s low international acceptance.

  • A few other student cards have higher rewards offerings.

  • The card is light on other perks and benefits.

Why you might want the Discover it® Student Chrome

If you want a student credit card that helps you get your feet wet building credit while also allowing you to earn rewards, the Discover it® Student Chrome is worth a look. Its rewards program is competitive among others in the student category while being fairly easy to navigate.

Rewards: Student-centric and easy to understand

A few of the main draws of a student card include its accessibility to the student population and student-centric rewards programs, which you may not be able to get with just a regular credit-building card. The Discover it® Student Chrome’s rewards program is easy to manage and can be fairly lucrative if you spend generously in the top-earning spending categories. Dining and gas purchases are often a staple in a student budget, so this card makes earning and maximizing rewards easy.

The rewards you earn will never expire while your account is open and in good standing. You can redeem for cash back anytime or use them instantly at Amazon.com.

The full list of redemption options includes:

  • Electronic deposit into any eligible account you designate
  • Statement credit to your account
  • Physical or digital gift cards to partner merchants
  • Pay with cash back at select merchants
  • Charitable donations to select charities

Welcome offer: Best in show among student cards 

Discover’s Cashback Match program is one of the best welcome offers available, especially for student credit cards. While many intro offers on student cards tout small bonuses for spending a certain amount in a specified timeframe, Discover takes things up a notch by offering cardholders a dollar-for-dollar match on the rewards they earn at the end of their first year with the card.

This setup means that if you earn $200 worth of rewards in your first year with the card, Discover will match those earnings at the end of your first year, so you end up earning a total of $400. This value far surpasses a lot of what’s available on the market for student cards right now, and many other issuers don’t match this value with their student cards.

Rates and fees: A relatively low-cost card

As with many student credit cards, the Discover it® Student Chrome is fairly light on fees. You won’t pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fees, the latter of which is an added plus for students hoping to study abroad. This card also offers some leeway to fresh credit-builders as they learn the ropes with a card.

Discover waives your first late payment fee with the Discover it® Student Chrome (up to $41 fee after that). Skipping this fee the first time can offer some grace to people new to credit who are getting used to making credit card payments. However, missing a payment has a negative impact on your credit score. But Discover won’t charge a penalty APR if you do miss a payment, offering new credit-builders even more room to make mistakes while building credit without incurring an excessive new interest rate.

Why you might want a different student card

While the Discover it® Student Chrome can get you started building credit, other cards on the market could take you farther. If you want more perks and benefits and don’t mind the idea of strategizing to earn maximum rewards, some cards are easily more valuable among the options for students.

Intro APR offer: Below-average, even for student cards

The average intro APR offer runs 12 months to 21 months for some of the best cards on the market. The intro APR offer on purchases for the Discover it® Student Chrome lasts only six months, halving even the shortest end of the intro offer average. There’s also a 10.99 percent intro APR on balance transfers (18.24 percent to 27.24 percent variable after), which is low, but far from the best offer around.

Granted, an intro APR offer on a student card isn’t common, but this one may be too short to reasonably be helpful. Also, if you see an intro APR offer as a way to get comfortable carrying a balance, this habit could become expensive if you have to keep carrying balances once the intro offer ends.

Credit-building features: No major standouts

Outside of what you’d hope to have with any good credit card that’s helping you build credit, the Discover it® Student Chrome doesn’t have many incentives to make credit-building a priority. While the Discover it® Student Chrome is still very accessible and can help students build credit, its credit-building perks aren’t as robust as other cards.

While the card offers free access to your FICO Scorecard and a path to graduate to a non-student card after school, some credit-building cards offer more. Other cards on the market offer more perks like reviews for automatic credit line increases after demonstrating responsible credit habits, which can decrease your credit utilization ratio and improve your credit score. Missing this feature on the Discover it® Student Chrome can be detrimental for people new to credit. 

Other cardholder perks: Slim outside of account protections

The Discover it® Student Chrome doesn’t have much to write home about when it comes to cardholder perks. Outside of its basic functions as a credit card for students, it doesn’t have many added benefits that usually make a card more competitive like purchase protections, statement credits or complimentary access to exclusive deals and events.

The card has some standard account protection features and also offers cardholders a free look at their FICO credit scorecard. But overall, there’s nothing too exciting here in terms of extra card perks.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

Bankrate credit cards editor Ashley Parks’ very first credit card was the Discover it® Student Chrome. Here’s her journey with the card so far, and how she’s still using it to her benefit to this day.

“While the Discover it® Student Chrome was my first credit card, I was afraid of using it due to misconceptions I learned from my parents, who were first-generation credit users. I missed out on a lot of old perks and benefits, but opening a credit card as a sophomore in college got me started on the right foot by establishing a credit history fairly early, which is still helpful to my credit profile today. Once I started using the card, I was able to update my employment status and salary, which let me graduate to the full-fledged Discover it® Chrome and get a higher credit limit.”

— Ashley Parks, Editor, Bankrate

How the Discover it® Student Chrome compares to other student cards

The Discover it® Student Chrome card is a solid candidate for many students who want to establish credit and manage their own finances, but it’s not the only card available. Depending on what you value most, other student cards could be more worthwhile.

Image of Discover it® Student Chrome
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Image of Discover it® Student Cash Back
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info
Image of Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info

Who is the Discover it® Student Chrome right for?

Not all students have the same schedules and financial needs. The Discover it® Student Chrome could be a good fit for the following people: 

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Discover it® Student Chrome worth it?

If you’re a student who wants to establish your credit history and take advantage of cash back rewards with a student credit card, this card is worth it. The generous welcome offer, reasonable ongoing interest rate and few fees provide an excellent starting point for students.

However, if you have a study abroad trip coming up, you should check Discover’s acceptance rate in the areas you’ll visit. Although the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, Discover has a marginally lower international acceptance rate than larger card networks like Visa and Mastercard.

Dig deeper: Is the Discover it® Student Chrome worth it?

How we rated this card

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Our proprietary card rating system takes into account a mix of factors when scoring credit cards for students and people building credit, including each card’s cost, APR, credit-building tools and more.

We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for students and people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score and scored each based on where its key features stood in relation to others in its category. 

Here are some of the key factors that gave this card its score:

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Ashley Parks
Former Editor, Credit cards

As a Bankrate credit cards editor, Ashley Parks is fascinated by the ways people can make credit cards work for them when armed with the right knowledge.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards
Reviewed by Former Editor, credit cards

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