Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card: The new best student credit card

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Best overall student card

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
26.99% (Variable)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

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Card Overview

Before the release of the new Capital One student card suite, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One was the issuer’s only student card—a solid option but not a frontrunner for the best student credit card. But as soon as the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card burst onto the scene, its unlimited bonus categories, broad benefit coverage and minimal fee structure launched it above the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students* to become the clear champion.

The average student budget may make maximizing rotating categories a bit difficult, and the SavorOne Student takes some of the biggest everyday categories from each quarter of Discover’s 5 percent cash back calendar—dining, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®)—and adds entertainment and Vivid Seats cash back (through January 2023) into the mix for rewards combo that’s well suited for the student lifestyle.

Plus, the SavorOne Student retains its Capital One spirit by keeping the rewards program simple with an automated cash back redemption process and no spending limits, seasonal categories or activation periods to worry about. This streamlined structure provides both an excellent beginner’s value while first-time cardholders learn the ropes and plenty of long-term value since students can try to upgrade to the nearly identical full-fledged Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card once they’ve graduated.

Want more details? Jump to the following sections:

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Advantages

  • Unlimited 3 percent cash back on everyday categories popular among students such as dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 8 percent cash back on Vivid Seats tickets (through January 2023)
  • No annual fee, foreign transaction fees, penalty APR or balance transfer fee (must be at transfer APR)
  • An easy-to-use, low-maintenance starter card with minimal fees, an automated cash back redemption process and no category spending limits or rotating categories to track
  • Excellent variety of benefits like price protection, cellphone protection, MasterRental® Coverage and more make it a great choice for those studying at home and abroad (Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details)
  • Capital One automatically reviews your account to consider you for a higher credit line after only six months of positive credit activity

Disadvantages

  • No welcome offer or intro APR periods
  • The 26.99 percent variable APR is high even for a student card
  • No student-specific features

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target); 8 percent cash back on Vivid Seats tickets (through January 2023); 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 26.99 percent (variable)

No welcome offers

Welcome offers like sign-up bonuses and zero-interest periods aren’t particularly common for student cards. Not many issuers offer cash bonuses, but it’s worth noting that the Discover it Student Cash Back—one of the other top cards for college students—matches all cash back earned in the first 12 months, and the Chase Freedom® Student credit card provides a $50 cash bonus upon the first purchase made within three months of opening an account. You may also see a few cards with student-oriented offers, like the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students and its free year of Amazon Prime Student subscription (a $59 lifetime value) after spending $500 within the first three months of card membership.

These incentives shouldn’t be deal-breakers most of the time, and the SavorOne Student card offers more than enough ongoing value to hook applicants. However, it is a little disappointing to see that the SavorOne Student doesn’t share the Capital One Journey card’s up to $60 streaming subscription credit ($5 per month for 12 months toward select subscriptions when paid on time, must be earned within the first 18 months).

Rewards rate

If you’re looking for a straightforward, low-maintenance starter card to dip your toes into the rewards pool with, the Capital One SavorOne Student is a prime example. It’s a bonus category cash back card that doesn’t require you to track cycling quarterly categories or spending limits, and the cash rewards you earn won’t expire for the life of your account. What’s more, you can automate the redemption process so that you don’t have to keep tabs on your rewards balance.

How you earn

The SavorOne Student card carries the exact same bonus categories as the full SavorOne cash back card that requires good to excellent credit, which makes it an amazing value for students—especially since the SavorOne card’s category list was upgraded this past May.

All the categories align with some of students’ biggest expenses, on-campus and off. The unlimited 1 percent cash back rate for purchases outside your bonus categories isn’t the most rewarding, but it does mean you can earn cash back on textbooks and other academic expenses like select student loan payments (although you won’t want to carry a balance).

You’ll earn 3 percent cash back if you use your card for dining, entertainment, grocery store (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), and popular streaming service purchases, plus a whopping 8 percent cash back on tickets from Vivid Seats through January 2023.

These categories are pretty clear-cut, but which streaming services and “entertainment” purchases count may seem ambiguous. It’s always good to check the merchant’s category code if you’re not sure, but here’s more detail on how Capital One defines these two types of purchases:

Which “entertainment” purchases earn 3% cash back with the Capital One SavorOne Student card?  Which streaming services earn 3% cash back with the Capital One SavorOne Student card?
Ticket purchases from:
  • Movie theaters and theatrical events
  • Professional and semi-professional sports events
  • Amusement parks
  • Tourist attractions
  • Aquariums and zoos
  • Dance and pool halls
  • Record Stores
  • Bowling alleys
Eligible video streaming services include:
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • HBO Now
  • Disney+
  • Peacock
  • ESPN+
  • Starz Entertainment
  • DirecTV
  • Sling TV
  • Fubo TV

Eligible music streaming services include:

  • Spotify
  • Apple.com, iTunes and Apple Music
  • Sirius XM
  • Bandcamp
  • Tidal

How you redeem

Capital One established its rewards program to be remarkably easy to handle through your online account or Capital One mobile app. Although you can’t receive your cash back as a direct deposit to your bank account (perhaps the simplest form of cash rewards), it’s one of the few issuers that provides an automated redemption process. You can set your rewards to redeem after you’ve built up a certain amount of cash back (either $25, $50, $200, $500 or $1,500) or at a selected date each year in the form of:

  • A statement credit
  • A mailed check
  • A credit on prior purchases
  • A gift card
  • Checkout payments through Amazon.com and PayPal

All redemption choices are available via your online account and the mobile app, but you can’t set up automatic rewards through the app. There is no minimum cash back balance needed to redeem unless you choose an automatic cash rewards redemption threshold.

How much are the rewards worth?

Your student SavorOne rewards work like other cash back programs, earning a percentage back of each dollar spent. For example, if your grocery store run rings up to a total of $100, you’ll snag $3 back since you earn 3 cents per dollar in that category.

Other cardholder perks

As far as student cards go, the SavorOne Student is packed with an extraordinary roster of features. Cards primarily meant to build credit don’t usually invest in additional perks, but this card carries benefits equivalent to a no annual fee credit card for prime credit. Although you won’t find any typical student-centric perks, the valuable assortment of account, travel and shopping protections inspires more than enough peace of mind for students striking it out on their own.

Protections and account security

Although extended warranty coverage is a standard purchase protection, the student SavorOne credit card’s plan goes beyond the norm; instead of the usual one-year extension on three to five-year manufacturer warranties, your warranty is automatically doubled (Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details). Plus, any eligible purchases are covered by price protection—an under-the-radar perk that reimburses you the difference if your item’s price drops within 120 days of purchase.

Students can also save money on cellphone protection by paying their cellphone bills with the SavorOne Student card, which covers certain repairs or replacement if it’s stolen (Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Refer to your Guide to Benefits for more details).

Two of the more exclusive benefits that Capital One offers to keep your account secure are its CreditWise and virtual credit card number features. CreditWise is a free credit monitoring service that alerts you of any fishy credit report changes and social security number leaks on the dark web, which is comprehensive for a free issuer-based service. To make sure shady sites don’t get your account information in the first place, Capital One’s Eno browser extension can generate unique card numbers for each online merchant instead of providing them your real card number. This extra wall of security is becoming rare since few major issuers still offer virtual card numbers, but it can be a worthwhile safeguard for students that frequently shop online.

Automatic account review for a higher credit line after six months

Automatic account reviews are an often underrated benefit when you’re building credit as a student. After only six months, Capital One will inspect your account activity for positive credit habits like on-time, in-full payments and keeping a low balance. If they recognize you as a reliable cardholder, your credit line may be increased—meaning it’ll be even easier to improve your credit score since a higher credit limit can help keep your credit utilization ratio lower.

Capital One is one of the best issuers for quick credit line upgrades since its automatic review period starts sooner than other student cards may. For example, Discover’s student cards offer a credit line upgrade review after eight months while the Chase Freedom Student’s review period starts at 10 months if you’ve made at least five on-time payments.

Travel features

Although they’re standard credit card network perks, you can drive easier knowing the SavorOne Student card protects eligible rental vehicles against damage and theft with MasterRental® Coverage (by paying with your card), along with protecting you via its 24-hour Master RoadAssist® Service (fees apply).

Your card’s complimentary 24/7 concierge service can also lend a hand when it comes to dining, entertainment or travel. The service representatives can help out with anything from booking dinner reservations to buying a last-minute anniversary gift.

Rates and fees

The SavorOne Student cash back card carries an impressively low number of fees, but it isn’t the best choice if you need to carry a balance in an emergency.

You won’t have to worry about paying an annual fee, any foreign transaction fees (typically 3 percent) or a penalty APR, although there is a late payment fee of up to $40 if you do miss a payment. If you already have a starter card and you want to transfer your balance to Capital One, you’ll even be able to dodge a balance transfer fee ($0 at this Transfer APR). The downside is that the purchase and transfer APR is a sky-high 26.99 percent (variable), which isn’t a good APR even for a student card.

How the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards compares to other student cards

Hands down, the Capital One SavorOne Student card is one of the best student credit cards currently available when it comes to ongoing rewards—if not the best. It trounces the other two Capital One student cards, even the new Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card that essentially made the Capital One Journey card obsolete. Using our yearly rewards formula based on the average $15,900 annual spend determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the SavorOne Student card earns an average of $370 per year, while the Quicksilver Student card only earns about $239 annually with its 1.5 percent flat-rate cash back.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for students also offers 3 percent cash back, but on one of six swappable categories up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter with its permanent 2 percent grocery store and wholesale club category each quarter (then 1 percent back). But even if you manage to max out those categories each quarter, it only earns an average of $359 per year. The Discover it Student Cash Back card actually beats the SavorOne Student in terms of rewards with an average of $399 per year—as long as you manage to maximize the spending limit for its rotating categories rewards. The trouble is, it may be difficult to maximize these two cards’ bonus categories on a student budget, and the SavorOne Student card’s unlimited rewards structure more than makes up for the extra $29 the Discover it Student Cash Back earns on average since it’s much easier to manage.

However, the SavorOne Student card may not be the optimal choice depending on the benefits you’ll use or whether you may need to carry a balance. It isn’t the lowest-cost student card, but it does protect you against foreign transaction fees, penalty APRs, and a balance transfer fee while other student cards may not. The Discover it Student Cash Back is the only other rival card to waive foreign transaction fees and a penalty APR, but it goes one step further by waiving your first late payment fee as a brilliant safety net for students getting used to credit card payments (Late Payment:  None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $40). However, the Bank of America Student Cash, Discover it Student Cash and the Chase Freedom student all offer far lower interest rates and even intro APR periods with the former two.

If you think you may ever need to carry school expenses or emergency costs on your card, the student SavorOne card is one of the most expensive options. Instead, the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for Students is your best bet since it offers a 0 percent intro purchase and balance transfer APR (transfers must be made within 60 days of account opening) for 15 billing cycles and a low 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR afterward.

Benefits-wise, the Chase Freedom Student offers weaker rewards than the SavorOne Student but it evens the playing field with richer benefits. Its perk portfolio includes a $20 annual reward for keeping your account in good standing for up to five years, three months of free DoorDash DashPass (After that, you’re automatically enrolled in DashPass at 50 percent off for the next nine months. You must activate this benefit by Dec. 31, 2021), 5 percent cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022), purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and trip cancellation/interruption insurance—one of the best travel insurance perks you usually only find outside Chase among premium travel cards.

Feature Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card Bank of America® Student Cash Rewards credit card Discover it® Student Cash Back
Annual Fee $0 $0 $0
Rewards Rate
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • 3% cash back on purchases in one of six choice categories that can be changed monthly: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings
  • 2% cash back on purchases at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases and in 3% and 2% bonus categories after exceeding $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter
  • 5% cash back on rotating quarterly category purchases (enrollment required, up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1% back)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Welcome Offer None $200
(after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days)
Cash Back Match
(All cash back earned within the first 12 months will be matched)

Best cards to pair with the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards

Building credit and upgrading from a student card after graduation should be your chief priority instead of maximizing your rewards spending. However, the SavorOne Student’s sibling card—the Capital One Quicksilver Student—would be one of the best partner cards on account of its flat-rate cash back. That way, you could earn boosted rewards on big expenses outside your categories like textbooks, student fees, rent and other bills.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards worth it?

The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card erupted straight out of the gate as not only the best Capital One student card but one of the best credit cards for college students overall. Unless you spend enough to maximize the Discover it Student Cash Back card’s rotating cash back categories, the SavorOne Student is likely the most rewarding option.

Part of this value stems from how easy it is to maintain since there are hardly any costs to watch for and it provides an automated redemption process. However, the SavorOne Student card is also a worthy longer-term investment considering its automatic review for a higher credit line after only six months and a remarkable similarity to the full-fledged Capital One SavorOne card.

Granted, you may be better off with a card with a lower APR if you may need to carry a balance from time to time, but the SavorOne Student card is well worth it for students that want a low-cost, effortless cash back card they can hold onto until graduating to a traditional rewards card.

*The information about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

about the author
Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit ...
about the editor
Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com, focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and...