About Discover it Chrome for Students
The Discover it Chrome for College Students makes a pretty convincing case to be in the wallet of any recent college grad with decent credit who wants a solid rewards credit card.
There are several reasons why we believe that’s true with this card and we’re going to spend the next few minutes we have with you explaining why that’s the case.
But before we dive into all the details of this card, we want to let you know that our goal is to equip you with the right information to help you make a wise financial decision about any credit card, not just the Discover it Chrome.
To achieve that goal, we basically take apart every credit card and look at what on the inside: the rewards, the benefits, and the rates and fees. Somewhere inside the interaction between these three different characteristics of every credit card lies the answer to the important question: Is this card a good fit for you.
So, that’s why we’re going to devote this review to the Discover it Chrome for Student’s rewards structure, the benefits you get that aren’t related to earning cash back and the interest rates and fees you can expect to pay.
We know that a credit card experience goes beyond the numbers, though, and that’s why we’ve done some research into what consumers are saying about the card. Sometimes bad customer service can negate a great credit card.
With all these things laid out, let’s get into the details of this card’s rewards
Nearly every credit card you ever come across will offer some sort of rewards, whether it’s points or cash you earn on every dollar you spend or a sizeable up-front cash bonus you get when you spend a certain amount of money within three months of getting the card.
While this Discover card doesn’t offer an up-front cash bonus, it offers something, based on our research, that we believe is better than quick cash: first-year matching. To explain how that works, we’ll have to work through the card’s cash-back rates first.
2% on Gas and Restaurants, 1% on Everything Else
We want to start out this section by noting that very few student-focused credit cards offer this level of rewards. Usually, you’ll get 1% back on all purchases, as is the case with the Discover it Secured card.
However, with this particular card, you’ll earn $0.02 in rewards for every dollar you spend at gas stations and restaurants.
Now, there are a few exceptions to this. First, buying gas at a wholesale club like B.J.’s, Costco or Sam’s Club won’t get the 2% cash back. The same goes for any gas you buy at supermarket gas stations.
Second, the restaurant category is pretty broad; it includes sit-down places as well as fast-food like McDonald’s and Burger King. The only situations where you may not get rewards is at restaurants or cafes inside stores.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average American household spends about $5,000 every year on gas and eating out, but those numbers are probably lower for students. For sake of example, let’s say that you spend about $200 a month on gas and dining out.
That puts your yearly spend at around $2,400, which will earn you $48 in cash rewards. But these aren’t the only cash rewards you get.
For all purchases not classified as gas or restaurants, you’ll earn 1%. We’re guessing that, as a student, you won’t spend the estimated $25,000 we think the average family can with their credit card. We’ll assume you’ll spend half that – $12,500 per year.
At that rate, you’ll earn $125 for your 1% purchases and $48 for 2% purchases, resulting in an estimated yearly rewards total of $173. It doesn’t seem like much but think about it this way. $173 is around $14 a month, which is enough to cover a Netflix subscription.
The first year you own this card, you’ll earn an estimated $346 in cash rewards. Why? Because Discover will match the total amount of rewards you earn the first 12 months.
The advantage to this is that our rewards rates are, basically, 4% on gas and restaurants and 2% on everything, making this card’s first-year rewards the absolute best in the business for student cards.
The disadvantage is that, unlike other up-front rewards from cash cards, this matching is deposited to your rewards balance at the end of your first year.
A card’s rewards are only half the story of being a customer, though. Would you want to sign up for a card whose best rewards wear off after a year and doesn’t leave you with much else after that?
That’s the kind of question you should be asking. Credit cards should be viewed as a long-term relationship instead of a fling; your credit score benefits from it and you’ll practice good financial discipline in doing so.
The good thing about owning a Discover card is that it has some of the best benefits you’ll find in the credit card world.
There are two huge advantages, from a security perspective, to owning a Discover card. First, you get Dark Web monitoring. This means that you’ll be alerted anytime your social security number pops up on the Dark Web, an online black market where entire identities or pieces of identities are bought and sold.
Second, you have the luxury of being notified any time a new account is opened up in your name, whether it’s a mortgage, credit card, car loan or other financial product.
Knowing how prevalent identity theft is these days – it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry – it’s never a bad thing to have monitoring services keeping track of your personal information.
Protection Perks on Purchases
Aside from those security benefits, Discover customers get a variety of insurance-style protections on what they buy with their card:
- Extended warranties
- Reimbursement if the price of an item you bought goes down
- Reimbursement if a new item is damaged or stolen
- Robust return policy
Each of these various benefits has their own set of limitations and restrictions, so make sure you read through the benefits guide you get with your credit card.
Good Grades Rewards
The final main benefit you get with this card is a $20 cash-back bonus each year if you have a 3.0 GPA from September to June.
In order to be eligible, you have to indicate on your application that you’re a college student. In order to get the rewards, you’ll have to provide Discover with evidence of your grades.
You can get the $20 bonus for up to five years.
Rates and Fees of the Discover it Chrome for College Student
We’re just going to say it: All the rewards in the world won’t help you if you’re always paying late and/or carrying a balance on your credit card.
For example, if you carry a balance, which means you don’t pay your card off every month, you’ll have to pay an interest rate of between 13.99% and 22.99% depending on your credit scores and credit history.
Let’s say you have a $1,000 balance on your card for one year. If your interest rate is 13.99%, you’ll pay $139 in interest. That number goes up to $229 if you’ve got a 22.99% interest rate.
Now, there is one temporary way around this: 0% interest. The Discover it Chrome will give you 0% interest for six months, which means any purchases you make won’t rack up interest until the seven-month mark. The promo balance-transfer APR is 10.99%; that’s high, so avoid it if you can.
The 0% APR can help, but if you carry a balance after that you’re going to pay interest. So, pay off your balance every month and on-time. If you pay late, you won’t have to pay a fee the first time but every time after that will cost you up to $37.
As for other fees, here’s a quick list:
- Cash advance APR/Fee: 25.99% and 5%
- Annual fee: None
Public Opinion About the Discover it Chrome for College Students
This credit card gets some pretty fantastic reviews from consumers and experts.
On the consumer side, we read countless reviews from people who really enjoyed their card and thought it was the best one on the market for students. A few lamented the higher interest rates.
As far as experts go, many of the reviews we read gave the card reviews that average more than 4 stars, a rarity for a student card.
Our Final Thoughts: Pros, Cons and Who It’s Good For
As we’ve mentioned several times in this review, this Discover card offers some pretty powerful cash rewards for college students.
Also, while the card’s lowest APR is higher than the typical Discover card (13.99% instead of 11.99%), it’s still lower than many of the non-student mainstream cash rewards cards.
That fact alone is a testament to the all-around strength of this card, something that the $20 good-grades bonus only reinforces.
As far as downsides go, we’d say that the card’s emphasis on gas and restaurant rewards may not be a good fit for college students who use public transportation and are trying to save money by not eating out.
In our opinion, the person who can really take advantage of this card is the commuter student who can take full advantage of the gas rewards and, most likely, the restaurant rewards since they’ll be on the go and may stop more frequently for fast food.
Keep in mind, though, that on-campus restaurants may or may not earn the 2% rewards so make sure you check your statement to verify.