Journey Student Rewards from Capital One: A low-maintenance student starter card
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The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One may be a decent option for students building credit history without a complicated rewards program, but it falls short of several competing student cash back cards when it comes to its high APR and modest rewards.
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 earning-rewards ropes. 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 study abroad companion.
However, several other student cards may 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?
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
High variable APR at 29.74 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
- 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: 29.74 percent (variable)
The Journey Student Rewards card 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. A flat-rate card is great for people new to credit because there are no bonus categories to track and there aren’t tiered categories, making earning rewards a simple process.
However, simplicity is sometimes not always best or the most rewarding. At its best, the Journey Student Rewards card is only a fraction better as a rewards card than some of the most basic secured cards and cards for fair credit users.
How you earn
You’ll earn 1 percent flat-rate cash back on all purchases, but that 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. As an alternative, the Quicksilver Student card’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 can be as simple as requesting your cash back in the form of a statement credit or a mailed check. Or, if you want to explore more redemption options, Capital One gives cardholders the chance to redeem cash back as 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 the rate you qualify for – which is determined by whether you pay your bill on time or not.
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. If you want consistent, predictable rewards value, you should always choose cash back.
Other cardholder perks
The Journey Student Rewards card carries extra features that are standard for other Capital One credit cards, but its student perks put it 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. These include 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 use your credit responsibly, you may qualify for an upgrade 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. Capital One gives you this opportunity before other major issuers. 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 and used to make unauthorized purchases.
- 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. This cuts down on 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 29.74 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 17.24 percent to 26.24 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 other issuers may extend for students. If you’re a first-time cardholder who wants a safety net while building credit, you might want to look at alternative cards like the ones presented here:
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards for Students credit card
Recommended Credit Score
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 earn 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 29.74 percent variable APR, but the Discover it Student Cash Back only charges a variable 17.24 percent to 26.24 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 17.24 percent to 26.24 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.
That said, you should aim to never pay interest on your card. If you opt for the card with a lower APR, don’t let that be a windfall for irresponsible credit use. A variable rate of 25.74 percent is still a high amount of interest on credit card debt. As you begin your credit journey, start off on the right foot by never borrowing more than you can pay back immediately.
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 light compared to Capital One cards, it can be a much more rewarding alternative to the Journey card in the right hands. It also comes with better interest rates and introductory APRs that can make early student life a breeze by comparison.
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. For students, this is a high spending limit. Even some average consumers don’t spend $2,500 combined between these categories. If you’d rather have higher cash back with some minor spending restrictions and fewer convenience features, like CreditWise and virtual account numbers, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students may be the better fit for you.
Bank of America’s Customized cash back card also comes with a $200 cash reward sign-up bonus 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 card as a strong pick over the Capital One Journey and the Discover Student card.
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 in your top spending categories can help maximize your rewards earnings. If you have regular expenses in key categories, like groceries and gas, then combining a flat-rate card and a tiered rewards card that earns a boosted rate for purchases in those categories will be a great place to start.
If you tend to spend money on everyday purchases, like shopping or going out with friends, the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards credit 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 Amazon and digital wallets (October through December).
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One worth it?
The Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One is an understandable option for first-time cardholders who want an easy-to-handle cash back card for every occasion. The card’s 1 percent flat cash back rate on all purchases can seem like a generous offer, especially if you’ve never earned rewards before. Plus, the card’s perks can give you peace of mind when you’re shopping or traveling.
However, the card’s high ongoing APR and relatively low rewards rate might make other student cards more valuable and accessible. 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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