Journey Student Rewards from Capital One review

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Best for flat-rate cash back and studying abroad

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Rewards rate

1% Cash back

Annual fee

$0

Intro bonus

Up to $60 in streaming subscription credits

Regular APR

26.99% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good  (580 - 740)

Card Overview

A straightforward student card like the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One is a fantastic way to build credit history and learn the reward-earning ropes if you’re new to credit. The Journey student card weighs in as a solid starter card since it’s very low-maintenance, earns cash back on all purchases, rewards good credit habits and poses no ongoing fees. Plus, its security benefits and no foreign transaction fees make it a great future study abroad companion.

However, several other student cards have more to offer once you’re comfortable around credit, and Capital One’s new student cards deliver a ton more value for equally fresh credit builders. In fact, the Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card outperforms the Journey card in virtually every way, unless you’re willing to trade the Quicksilver student card’s higher 1.5 percent cash back for first-year streaming credits.

Want more details? Jump to the following sections:

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Cash back rate increases to 1.25 percent on all purchases for that month after paying on time
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $60 in $5 monthly credits toward select streaming services during your first year, as long as you make card payments on time (Exclusions Apply )
  • You’re automatically considered for a higher credit line after only six months, which is one of the quickest review periods on the market
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app
  • The Capital One Eno assistant allows you to use virtual card numbers and to text Eno for card payments and balance or transaction information

Cons

  • High variable APR at 26.99%
  • The card is missing zero-interest offers and common student perks like cellphone insurance, some of which are offered by other Capital One student cards
  • You only receive your boosted rewards rate and welcome offer after making on-time payments each month
  • Other student cards offer better higher rewards rates, even others from Capital One

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases—boosted to 1.25 percent for the month when the card is paid on time
  • Welcome offer: Up to $60 in 12 monthly streaming service credits (when you pay on time. Exclusions Apply)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 26.99 percent variable

Streaming-based sign-up bonus

According to the August 2020 Nielson Total Audience Report, there was a 75 percent increase in time spent watching streaming services among adults aged 18 and older from April to June compared to the same time last year. With such a huge increase in the way we consume media and information, Capital One’s sign-up bonus could save students money on their favorite streaming services.

By paying your credit card statement on time each month, you can receive a $5 monthly statement credit toward eligible streaming services for up to 12 months. You can receive up to $60 in total credits only during your first 18 months as a new cardholder that can go toward 24 different services. These include popular video services like Netflix and Hulu, music services such as Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited, plus several audiobook and sports streaming services (Exclusions apply).

This is a nice value considering many student cards don’t even carry first-year offers—it even beats the Chase Freedom® Student credit card and its $50 bonus after making one purchase in the first three months. However, it can be easily topped by the Discover it® Student Cash Back card’s first-year cash back match and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students’ $200 cash bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days. At the end of the day, though, a welcome offer is just an incentive, so make sure to keep ongoing value and day-to-day practicality in mind first and foremost.

Rewards rate

Journey Student Rewards earns flat-rate cash back, meaning it earns the same rewards rate on all purchases. This can be especially helpful for student expenses like textbooks, technology and student fees that typically aren’t covered by bonus reward categories. Plus, you’ll earn rewards on every flight and sightseeing ticket if you plan to travel abroad.

How you earn

You’ll earn 1 percent flat-rate cash back on all purchases, but that essentially bumps up to 1.25 percent back for the month if you pay your credit card bill on time. This works by adding an extra 0.25 percent cash back on that billing cycle’s purchases to your rewards balance if Capital One sees that your account isn’t past due by the end of the billing period.

This isn’t a bad rewards rate for a student, especially if you want simplicity, but it’s far from the best. You can get higher cash back rates if you’re willing to deal with bonus categories, and the Quicksilver Student’s flat-rate 1.5 percent back is the uncontested winner for streamlined cash rewards among student cards.

How you redeem

Like other cash back credit cards, redeeming your rewards with the Journey card is a simple process. You can request your cash back in the form of a statement credit or a mailed check. Additional options include credits for previous purchases, gift cards and checkout payments through PayPal and Amazon.com’s “Shop with Points” feature.

How much are the rewards worth?

The Journey card earns cash back, so your rewards are worth an equivalent 1 cent or 1.25 cents per dollar, depending on your rate.

Capital One’s terms on other redemption options such as Amazon Shop with Points state that your reward value may vary. However basic cash back is the most versatile choice and will always retain its full value.

Other cardholder perks

Journey Student Rewards carries extra features that are standard for other Capital One credit cards, but these student perks put Journey a notch above several other competitors if you’re looking for some peace of mind while shopping or traveling. However, the Journey card is missing a few prime perks that the Quicksilver Student and Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card carry, such as cellphone insurance, complimentary concierge and travel assistance services, extended warranty coverage, price protection and MasterRental® Coverage for rental vehicles.

Automatic credit line reviews

If you’ve been practicing responsible credit usage, then you may be upgraded to a higher credit line in only six months. An increased credit limit could help you improve your credit score even faster if you keep a low credit utilization ratio, and Capital One gives you this opportunity before any other major issuer—Discover student cards review your account after eight months while the Chase Freedom Student card requires five on-time payments within 10 months.

Credit card security

Besides basic account alerts and card lock, students worried about identity theft can feel a bit safer with these features:

  • CreditWise from Capital One: Cardholders can enroll for free in order to receive Experian and TransUnion credit report change alerts, as well as dark web scanning and Social Security number tracking. This intensive level of credit monitoring means Capital One will let you know if they find your Social Security number and other sensitive data possibly compromised on the internet.
  • Virtual credit card numbers: Capital One is one of the few issuers that still offer virtual credit card numbers. Through the Capital One Eno browser extension, you can use randomly generated tokens instead of your credit card for online purchases for an added layer of security. Eno will even keep track of nicknames you give your virtual card numbers for each merchant.
  • Fraud Coverage: You’re covered by $0 Fraud Liability if your card is ever lost or stolen.
  • Emergency Card Services: If your credit card is lost or stolen, you can get an emergency card replacement and a cash advance, subject to available credit.

Rates and fees

If you prefer a low-maintenance credit card to start with, the Journey Student Reward card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. That way, there are no ongoing fees or additional overseas costs to worry about when you’re earning cash back.

However, there are no introductory APR offers in case you need to take on big purchases for school or moving. Unfortunately, student credit cards usually carry high interest rates and late fees, and the Journey Student card is no different. Carrying a balance means that you could be hit with the 26.99 percent ongoing variable APR and a late payment fee up to $40.

This APR is still very high compared to other top student cards, depending on your creditworthiness. For instance, the Discover it Student Cash Back card may charge anywhere from a 12.99 percent APR up to 21.99 percent APR (variable).

On the bright side, the Journey card’s APR won’t change with a missed payment, since there is no penalty APR.

How the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One compares to other student cards

Overall, the Journey card provides slightly better benefits than some other cards, including Capital One’s unparalleled credit line increase review at six months, but the cash back rate and practical everyday perks leave much to be desired compared to a few competing cards—even Capital One’s other student cards.

The Journey card also doesn’t waive your first late fee or offer intro zero-interest periods—key benefits for students that other issuers may extend. If you’re a first-time cardholder that wants a safety net while building credit, you might want to look at alternative cards like these.

Feature Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students 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)

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One’s newly launched Quicksilver Student card earns a consistently higher 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, plus a bevy of other additional benefits like cellphone insurance, price protection and more. In fact, the only reason to even consider the Journey card over the Quicksilver Student is its up-to $5 monthly credits for select streaming services for 12 months. But the Quicksilver can match that in cash back if you spend only $334 each month. The Capital One SavorOne Student card offers an even better value if you’re a streaming fanatic since it earns unlimited 3 percent cash back on popular streaming services, among other excellent bonus categories.

The Discover it Student Cash Back

Rewards-wise, Discover student credit cards offer much more than the Capital One Journey. The Discover it Student Cash Back card, for one, earns 5 percent cash back on rotating bonus categories each quarter you enroll (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent), and Discover matches all of the cash back you’ve earned in the first 12 months to essentially double your first year’s rewards. Plus, you’ll also receive a $20 “Good Grade Reward” statement credit each school year if your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years.

The Discover it Student Cash Back is also one of your best options for a low-cost student card. Capital One student cards all pose an exorbitant 26.99 percent variable APR, but the Discover it Student Cash Back only charges 12.99 percent to 22.99 percent if you carry a balance (depending on your creditworthiness). You won’t even have to worry about accruing any interest on purchases for your first six months thanks to its 0 percent intro APR, plus a reduced 10.99 percent balance transfer intro APR for the first six months. What’s more, Discover’s policy to charge no annual fee, foreign transaction fee, penalty APR or a late fee on your first late payment (After that, up to $40) creates an excellent safeguard for students new to credit cards.

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students

Although the Bank of America Customized Cash student card’s benefits are barebones compared to Capital One cards, it’s a much more rewarding alternative to the Journey card with substantially better interest rates.

It earns an impressive 3 percent cash back on purchases in one of six choice categories that you can swap each month based on your expected expenses, including popular student categories like online shopping, gas, dining, travel drugstores and home improvement/furnishings. You’ll also get a permanent 2 percent back category for grocery store and wholesale clubs with 1 percent on all other purchases. The catch here is that your 3 percent and 2 percent categories share a quarterly $2,500 spending limit for combined purchases before reverting to 1 percent. Don’t worry if you prefer the simplicity of the Journey card, Bank of America also offers a flat-rate 1.5 percent cash back student card that carries the same rates and features: the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students.

If you have big academic purchases coming up, though, either the Customized Cash or Unlimited Cash card for students should be a top contender. Unlimited Cash card for students provides a generous 0 percent intro APR for purchases and balance transfers (transfers must be within your first 60 days) that lasts for 15 billing cycles, plus a 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent (variable) ongoing APR that clocks in at nearly half of the Journey card’s interest rate.

Speaking of welcome offers, both student Bank of America cash back cards also furnish $200 cash reward sign-up bonuses after spending $1,000 on purchases within your first 90 days. This hefty value blows most other student card intro bonuses out of the water and cements Bank of America’s cash back student cards as strong picks over the Capital One Journey.

Best cards to pair with the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One

Since the Journey Student Rewards card is a flat-rate card with a low 1 percent to 1.25 percent cash back, other cash back cards with higher rewards rates on your favorite bonus categories can maximize your earnings.

The Discover it Student Cash Back can collect 5 percent cash back on purchases after you enroll (up to $1,500 per quarter in purchases, then 1 percent) that fall under Discover’s rotating categories each quarter, like Amazon.com purchases (October through December 2021).

If you’d rather have more consistent bonus categories, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students is perfect. Since its six 3 percent cash back categories can be swapped out each month, you can switch your choice category to home improvement/furnishings if you’re buying furniture for a new apartment next month, for example.

If the Customized Cash card’s quarterly spending limit would hobble your rewards spending, or if you won’t use the bulk of the choice categories, the Capital One SavorOne Student card is also an excellent choice for its unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target). Plus, the SavorOne Student gives you unlimited 8 percent back on Vivid Seats purchases through January 2023.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One worth it?

The Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One is a worthwhile choice for first-time cardholders who want an easy-to-handle cash back card for every occasion.

Its features focus on giving you peace of mind when you’re shopping or traveling, but the high ongoing APR and relatively low rewards rate might make other student cards more valuable for some.

 

All information about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students and Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.