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

Female student using mobile phone while man walking up on steps in university
Kentaroo Tryman/Maskot/Getty Images
Female student using mobile phone while man walking up on steps in university
Kentaroo Tryman/Maskot/Getty Images
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A student credit card can be a great way to start building credit while in school. The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card and Discover it® Student Cash Back are two good options to consider to build credit and earn rewards. With either card, you can earn cash back on a wide variety of everyday purchases. Neither card charges an annual fee and both offer flexible rewards redemption options.

So which card is better suited for student spending? We’ll take a closer look to help you decide.

Main details

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Discover it Student Cash Back
Welcome bonus $100 cash bonus after spending $100 in the first 3 months All cash back earned within the first 12 months will be matched
Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target)
  • 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and Vivid Seats tickets
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 5% cash back on activated rotating categories each quarter (on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Intro APR N/A
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months (then a variable APR of 14.49% – 23.49%)
  • 10.99% intro APR on balance transfers for 6 months (then a variable APR of 14.49% – 23.49%)
Annual fee $0 $0

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

Both the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards and the Discover it Student Cash Back offer a rewards program, welcome bonus and no annual fee. But there are some differences between the two that are worth pointing out. Here’s how the two cards compare on key features:

Welcome bonus winner: Discover it Student

Earning a welcome bonus could give you a nice rewards boost immediately, and both of these cards offer one. The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards offers $100 cash back after spending $100 in the first three months, and the Discover it Student comes with unlimited CashBack Match, which doubles all of the cash back earned within your first 12 months as a cardholder.

While a $100 cash bonus is a decent welcome offer for a student credit card — and very easy to obtain — Discover’s Cashback Match potential puts the Discover it Student ahead in this category. For example, if you’re able to max out the 5 percent category each quarter — which means spending $500 per month or $6,000 per year — you’ll earn $300 in annual cash back. With Cashback Match, your annual rewards will be doubled, so you’ll earn $600 during your first year.

Even if you spend half of that per month in the 5 percent category ($250), you’ll still come out ahead with $150 in annual rewards, which will double to $300 at the end of the first year.

Rewards rate winner: Tie

The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards and Discover it Student tie in this category since both cards offer the chance to earn more rewards in popular bonus categories. However, the card that pulls ahead for you will depend on your spending habits — how much you spend per month and what you spend your money on.

The Discover it Student offers 5 percent cash back on activated rotating categories each quarter (on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Quarterly categories change each year, but Discover releases all of its bonus categories in advance, which can help you plan out your annual spending. Some frequent bonus categories include grocery stores, gas stations, Target, Amazon and restaurants.

The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards, on the other hand, offers 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, select streaming services and groceries (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), with no spending cap. You’ll also earn 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 and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

Annual fee winner: Tie

Both cards score high marks for not charging an annual fee. Not paying an annual fee is a good thing, as it won’t detract from the rewards you’re earning.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie

If you’re planning to study abroad or travel between semesters, it’s a good idea to look for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. These fees, which are typically 3 percent to 5 percent of each transaction, can really add up. The good news: You won’t pay any foreign transaction fees with either the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards or the Discover it Student.

Which card earns the most?

Whether you can earn more rewards with the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards or the Discover it Student largely depends on which categories you spend the most in and how much you spend.

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards vs. Discover it Student spending example

Let’s say that you typically spend about $515 per month on your student credit card. Your spending breakdown includes:

  • Dining: $200
  • Groceries: $150
  • Gas: $50
  • Streaming services: $15
  • Entertainment: $40
  • Miscellaneous purchases: $60

If you use the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards, you’ll earn a total of $15.25 in cash back per month ($183 per year), which breaks down as:

  • Dining: $6
  • Groceries: $4.50
  • Gas: $0.50
  • Streaming services: $0.45
  • Entertainment: $3.20 (purchased through Capital One Entertainment)
  • Miscellaneous purchases: $0.60

Now, say you use the Discover it Student instead. Also say that this is quarter three of 2022, meaning that you’ll earn 5 percent cash back on restaurant and PayPal purchases. In that case, you’ll earn $13.15 in rewards each month ($157.80 per year):

  • Dining: $10
  • Groceries: $1.50
  • Gas: $0.50
  • Streaming services: $0.15
  • Entertainment: $0.40
  • Miscellaneous purchases: $0.60

Even though you have the potential to earn more rewards with the Discover it Student — especially during the first year with Cashback Match — you could earn more rewards with the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards after the first year if your spending habits better align with this card.

Why should you get the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards?

If you’re still comparing student credit cards, here are a few reasons why you might consider the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards over the Discover it Student.

Additional benefits

The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards comes with some benefits you might find valuable as a student, like access to exclusive sporting events, culinary experiences and music events. That’s something you might appreciate if you want to have fun while still sticking to a budget.

In addition to those benefits, you’ll also get extended warranty protection, travel accident insurance, travel assistance services, complimentary 24/7 concierge service and special savings from Capital One Shopping.

Redemption options

You have several ways to redeem rewards earned with Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards. For example, you can redeem rewards for cash in the form of a check or statement credit, gift cards or shopping at Amazon.com or via PayPal.

Rewards are unlimited and never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. You can also redeem cash back in any amount.

Recommended credit score

One of the major benefits of student credit cards is that they can help you to build a credit score. For that one reason, they’re often tailored to students who may have limited or no credit history.

For the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards, you’ll need at least fair credit to qualify. This typically means a FICO credit score of 580 or higher.

Why should you get the Discover it Student Cash Back?

The Discover it Student might be worth it for you if you’re comfortable with activating quarterly bonus categories or if you want to take advantage of an introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers. It’s also a good option for those who have no credit history.

Additional benefits

A good perk to note is that the Discover it Student rewards you for referring friends. Each time someone you refer is approved for a new account, you’ll receive a credit to your account. Other benefits include free FICO credit score access, 24/7 U.S.-based customer service and credit monitoring.

Redemption options

Your options for redeeming cash back with the Discover it Student are similar to the options available with the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards. You can redeem rewards for statement credits, direct deposits, shopping at Amazon.com or via PayPal, gift cards and charitable donations.

Recommended credit score

For the Discover it Student, no credit history is needed to apply for this card.

The bottom line

If you’re interested in one of the top student credit cards, both the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards and Discover it Student Cash Back are worth considering. Either card can help you earn cash back while building credit. The main question is: Which card is better suited to your individual spending habits?

If you typically spend more on dining, entertainment, groceries and travel, then the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards could be a better fit. But if your spending habits better align with Discover’s quarterly bonus categories, you might get more from the Discover it Student. Or, you might consider adding both cards to your wallet, which would provide you with the opportunity to maximize cash back earnings.

Written by
Rebecca Lake
Personal Finance Writer
Rebecca Lake is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in personal finance. Her interest in finance – specifically credit cards – began when she was struggling to pay off over $30,000 in credit card debt. With a passion for helping others make smart financial decisions, she started writing about finance in 2012 and since then has contributed to a number of highly-visible brands online, including CreditCards.com, U.S. News & World Report, Citi Life + Money, Discover Modern Money blog, Bankrate, SmartAsset, Fox Business Network, Forbes Advisor, Magnify Money and Nerdwallet.
Edited by
Associate Editor