You’ll likely need fair or good credit to qualify for a Discover it Student Cash Back card. Fortunately, building that credit is easier than you might think.
The Discover it® Student Cash Back credit card offers one of the more robust rewards programs available to students. With this card, you’ll earn 5 percent cash back on purchases in specific, activated rotating categories each quarter, such as grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and more (up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1 percent).
The Discover it Student Cash Back will also match, dollar for dollar, all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. If you earn $100 in cash back during the year, for example, Discover will reward you with an additional $100 cash back, for a total of $200 in cash back earnings. Best of all, these perks come with no annual fee.
But, as with all credit cards, you’ll need to meet the Discover it Student Cash Back’s credit score requirements to be approved. Below, we’ll explain how good of a credit score you’ll need to be approved for this student credit card.
What credit score is needed for the Discover it Student Cash Back?
Discover doesn’t share the minimum credit score required to qualify for a Discover student credit card. However, the issuer does consider information other than credit scores when reviewing applications. For instance, Discover says that it will look at your income when making a decision. If you’re 21, you can include another person’s income (if it is available to you) on your application. If you’re under 21, you can use income from another person (if that person regularly deposits this money into your account).
You should, however, aim for a FICO credit score that is at least considered fair if you want to improve your odds of qualifying for the Discover it Student Cash Back. FICO credit scores range from 300 to a high of 850, and a fair credit score is at least 580.
There are a few additional requirements to keep in mind when applying for this card: You must be a student enrolled at a two- or four-year college or university, be at least 18 years old, have a U.S. address and have a Social Security number.
What if my application is denied?
If your application for a Discover card is rejected, your first step is to find out why. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires credit card providers to explain, usually in a letter, why your credit application was denied. Common reasons include a low credit score, low monthly income, a short credit history, missed payments or a high level of debt.
Besides a letter from Discover itself, you can view credit-related information within your credit report, which can be requested once a year through each of the three credit bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com. Armed with this information, you should be able to determine why your credit card application was denied.
How can I improve my score to get this card?
Is your credit score low — low enough that you worry about qualifying for a student credit card? Or maybe, because you’re a college student, you don’t have a long enough history of using credit to even have a credit score.
Fortunately, there are tips you can implement to steadily build a credit history and improve your score over time.
Make on-time payments
The first step is to pay all your monthly bills on time. Certain payments, such as for a student loan, auto loan or credit cards, are reported each month to the three national credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. By paying your bills on time and in full, you’ll steadily build a stronger credit score.
Just make sure to never pay late. If you pay bills 30 days or more past the due date, your creditors and lenders will report your payments as late to the credit bureaus. This can cause your three-digit FICO credit score to fall by 100 points or more.
Become an authorized user
If you have a parent or guardian with a credit card, you might inquire about being added as an authorized user on their account. In such arrangements, you’ll be listed on the main user’s account and will receive a physical credit card tied to that account.
You can then use that card to make purchases, but when the bill comes due, the primary account holder (rather than the authorized user) is responsible for making the payment. The benefit to you is that whenever the primary account holder makes these payments, they are reported in your name, too, to the credit bureaus — eventually working to boost your credit score.
Consider a secured credit card
If your credit score isn’t high enough to be approved for the Discover it Student Cash Back or any similar student cards, you might consider first applying for a secured credit card.
A secured card acts much like a traditional credit card, except its credit limit is tied to a deposit you make with the issuing bank. If you deposit $500 with the issuing bank, your secured credit card will have a credit limit of $500. If you don’t make your payments, the bank can withdraw what you owe from your deposit. This makes it easier to qualify for a secured card because the bank is taking on less risk. In other words, you should be able to qualify for a secured card, even if you have a low credit score or no credit score at all.
The Discover it Student Cash Back is a solid choice for college students thanks to its generous rewards rate and additional card benefits. Applicants don’t need a sky-high credit score to qualify for this student card, either. If you’re looking to continue to build your credit history while earning cash back, this card could be the smart choice. But if you end up struggling with approval, rest easy knowing you have other options.