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

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4.6

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Best for on-the-go students

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards rate

1%–8%

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$100

Regular APR

15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good  (580 - 740)

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit 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® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students to become the clear champion. Now, it has an even better edge with an easy-to-earn, valuable welcome offer—a rarity among starter cards.

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 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.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Generous cash back rate in everyday categories popular among students such as dining and entertainment
  • No annual fee, foreign transaction fees or penalty APR
  • Minimal fees, automated cash back redemption and no category spending limits or rotating categories to track
  • Capital One automatically reviews your account to consider you for a higher credit line after only six months of positive credit activity
  • One of the few starter cards to offer a cash welcome bonus—and an easy-to-earn $100 value to boot (after spending $100 on purchases within the first three months)

Cons

  • The 15.24 percent to 25.24 percent variable APR can swing either between relatively low or high 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); 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 8 percent cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and on Vivid Seats tickets; 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: $100 cash bonus after spending $100 in the first three months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 15.24 percent to 25.24 percent (variable)

Current welcome offer

Welcome offers like sign-up bonuses and zero-interest periods aren’t particularly common for student cards. However, the Capital One SavorOne adds to its already impressive value with a $100 cash bonus after spending an equal $100 on purchases within your first three months. Besides being incredibly valuable and easy to earn, it also eclipses its sibling Journey student 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).

Not many issuers offer cash bonuses, and it’s worth noting that the SavorOne Student’s offer is not only one of the few that provide cash back but it also has the potential to outclass most of the remaining welcome offers. 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 provides the biggest value competition in terms of intro offers. The Chase Freedom® Student credit card provides a similar $50 cash bonus upon the first purchase made within three months of opening an account as well. 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.

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 in May 2021. Luckily for students studying abroad or traveling home, it was updated again on May 17, 2022, to now provide 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through the Capital One Travel portal. However, students under the age of 25 will likely steer away from rental cars (due to the extra fees) and they may not gravitate toward hotels as a lodging option.

All the other 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 Capital One Entertainment purchases and on tickets from Vivid Seats.

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:

Eligible “entertainment” purchases Eligible streaming services
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.

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 with 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, the issuer may increase your credit line—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 purchase and balance transfer APR can range from 15.24 percent to 25.24 percent (variable), which can either be a relatively low rate or swing to a high rate that isn’t a good APR, even for a student card. However, it’s a vast improvement over the previously sky-high 26.99 percent (variable) that every cardholder was struck with.

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

Capital One Image

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

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4.6
Apply now

on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$100

Rewards rate

1%–8%

Recommended credit

Fair to Good(580 - 740)
Capital One Image

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$100

Rewards rate

1.5%–5%

Recommended credit

Fair to Good(580 - 740)
Discover Image

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match™

Rewards rate

1%–5%

Recommended credit

No Credit History

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards vs. Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards

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 sibling 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 almost $368 per year, while the Quicksilver Student card only earns about $250 annually with its 1.5 percent flat-rate cash back.

Granted, both the SavorOne and Quicksilver student cards now provide the same welcome offer and 5 percent cash back rate for Capital One Travel hotel and rental car bookings, the SavorOne’s bonus categories are likely to be more lucrative for the  typical student—unless non-category expenses like utilities, books and rent are your biggest expenses.

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards vs. Discover it® Student Cash Back

The Discover it Student Cash Back card actually beats the SavorOne Student in terms of rewards with an average of $390 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 $41).

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 (depending on the variable APR you qualify for), 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.

Frequently Asked Questions