Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: A low-maintenance student starter card

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3.0

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Bottom line

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One may be a decent option for students looking to build credit history without a complicated rewards program, but it falls short of several competing student cash back cards.

Capital One Image
Apply now

on Capital One's secure site

Best for flat-rate cash back and studying abroad

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Rewards rate

1%

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

26.99% (Variable)

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good  (580 - 740)

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One 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 with 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.

What are the pros and cons?

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
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms 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 percent
  • 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, 5 percent cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 26.99 percent (variable)

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 of 1 cent or 1.25 cents per dollar, depending on your rate.

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

Other cardholder perks

Journey Student Rewards carries extra features that are standard for other Capital One credit cards, but the 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 make 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 a variable APR of 15.24 percent to 24.24 percent. 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 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.

Capital One Image

Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

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3.0
Apply now

on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%

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
Bank of America Image

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students credit card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200

Rewards rate

1%–3%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Journey Student Rewards vs. 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 the cash back you’ve earned in the first 12 months to essentially double your first year’s rewards.

The Discover it Student Cash Back is also one of your best options for a low-cost student card. The Journey student card poses an exorbitant 26.99 percent variable APR, but the Discover it Student Cash Back only charges a variable 15.24 percent to 24.24 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 (variable 15.24 percent to 24.24 percent thereafter). 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 $41) creates an excellent safeguard for students new to credit cards.

Journey Student Rewards vs. 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 stores 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. The 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 18 billing cycles, plus a 16.24 percent to 26.24 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.

If you tend to spend money on everyday purchases, like shopping or going out with friends, the Capital One SavorOne Student card is an excellent choice. Its unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) will be a great fit. Plus, the SavorOne Student gives you unlimited 8 percent back on entertainment purchases when you book through the Capital One Entertainment portal.

If you want more variety and higher cash back on everyday spending, including select superstores, 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, including several categories relevant to students, such as gas stations and Target purchases (April through June 2022) as well as restaurants (July through September) and digital wallets (October through December).

If you’d rather have more consistent bonus categories, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students may be a perfect fit. Its six 3 percent cash back category can be swapped out each month, so you can switch your choice category based on upcoming expenses or changes in your budget. For example, you could switch to home improvement/furnishings if you’re buying furniture for a new apartment next month, or switch to travel if you’re planning a big trip.

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

The Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One is a pretty good choice for first-time cardholders who want an easy-to-handle cash back card for every occasion. The card carries a decent 1 percent flat-rate cash back rate and perks that can give you peace of mind when you’re shopping or traveling.

That said, the card’s high ongoing APR and relatively low rewards rate might make other student cards more valuable. Other cards — including other Capital One student cards — also offer higher rewards rates and better perks like cellphone insurance.

*All information about the Bank of America® Customized 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.

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