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Discover it Secured vs. Discover it Student chrome

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Opening a student credit card is a smart idea for those in school who are looking to build credit while managing their finances amidst a full class schedule.

Although similar to regular rewards credit cards, student cards are typically easier to be approved for and have perks that align with the average student’s spending habits. The Discover it® Student chrome, in particular, is geared toward students, whereas the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is technically a secured credit card for anyone, regardless of their education status. Both share the ability to get approved with limited or no credit history.

Keep reading to learn about the rewards rates, welcome offers and additional perks of the Discover it Secured and Student chrome, as well as how they stack up against each other in these categories.

Main details

Details Discover it Secured Discover it Student chrome
Welcome bonus Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year
Rewards rate
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%
  • 1 percent back on all other purchases
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%
  • 1 percent back on all other purchases
Intro APR 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases; 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers
Regular APR 25.99 percent variable 15.99 percent to 24.99 percent variable
Annual fee $0  $0

Discover it Secured vs. Discover it Student chrome highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Tie

Both the Discover it Secured and Discover it Student chrome feature Discover’s Cashback Match welcome bonus. With either card, Discover will match all cash back earned within the first year of card ownership, regardless of how much you’ve racked up. It’s an easy way to amass rewards, especially if you plan on spending a lot within the first year of owning either card.

Rewards rate winner: Tie

The Discover it Secured and the Discover it Student chrome are also tied when it comes to ongoing rewards. With both cards, you’ll earn 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, as well as 1 percent cash back on all non-category purchases. These rewards never expire and can be redeemed at any time.

Annual fee winner: Tie

Students, many of whom are strapped for cash, will be pleased to know that neither card charges an annual fee. Note, though, the Discover it Secured requires a refundable minimum security deposit of $200 that becomes your credit line, which could prove to be a problem for students without much cash up front.

Intro APR winner: Discover it Student chrome

Both the Discover it Secured and Discover it Student chrome offer a 10.99 percent intro APR on balance transfers for the first six months, followed by a variable APR of 25.99 percent for the Secured and between 15.99 percent and 24.99 percent for the Student chrome.

The Student chrome card wins out overall, though, thanks to its introductory 0 percent APR on purchases for six months (followed by the same variable APR) — a good perk for students looking for some breathing room to pay off textbooks.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

Neither the Discover it Secured nor the Discover it Student chrome have foreign transaction fees, making them both good options for students who plan to study abroad.

Which card earns more?

The Discover it Secured and Student chrome offer the exact same rewards potential. Regardless, we’ve included a spending example below to highlight just how much you can earn.

Spending example

Both cards offer a rewards rate of 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, with 1 percent cash back on everything else. If you max out this category each quarter by spending $1,000, you’ll earn $80 in cash back rewards with either card by the end of your first year. And with the first-year welcome bonus, that doubles to $160 in cash back earned in year one.

However, there is a catch. You may not be able to earn as much with the Discover it Secured, as your credit limit is determined by the amount you put down for your security deposit (minimum $200). Therefore, if your credit limit is only $500, you won’t be able to maximize your reward rate’s potential.

Why should you get the Discover it Secured?

Additional benefits

With the Discover it Secured, you’ll get free access to your FICO credit score at any time, helping you stay on top of your score and track its progress. Along with this, Discover offers automatic account reviews to determine when you’ll be eligible for an unsecured card. You’ll also receive account protections, including the ability to freeze your account if you misplace your card or think it may have been stolen. For a full list of perks, read our Discover it Secured Credit Card benefits guide.

Redemption options

  • Electronic deposit
  • Statement credit
  • Gift cards
  • Pay with cash back at select merchants, like Amazon.com and PayPal
  • Charitable donation to select charities

Recommended credit score

Getting approved for the Discover it Secured is likely. It’s accessible for people who have limited or no credit history, or even a bad credit score (between 300 and 579).

Why should you get the Discover it Student chrome?

Additional benefits

In addition to its rewards rate, welcome bonus and low ongoing APR, the Discover it Student chrome offers a few additional benefits. With this card, you’ll have free FICO credit score access, and your first late fee is waived (up to $41 after). For a full list, read through our Discover it Student chrome benefits guide.

Redemption options

  • Electronic deposit
  • Statement credit
  • Gift cards
  • Pay with cash back at select merchants, like Amazon.com and PayPal
  • Charitable donation to select charities

Recommended credit score

The Discover it Student chrome approves applicants with limited or no credit history.

The bottom line

Opening a student credit card can be advantageous for many currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program. You’ll be able to set yourself up for post-grad by building your credit history — and, in the case of these Discover cards, earn cash back to help you save while on a tight budget.

Before you apply, read through our Discover it Secured Credit Card review and our Discover it Student chrome review, both of which can provide more detailed information on card offerings and how they compare to the best student cards on the market.

Written by
Erin Bendig
Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing credit card information and personal finance advice with others.
Edited by
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Reviewed by
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