Courtesy of Discover; Illustration by CreditCards.com

Discover it Student Cash Back vs Discover it Student chrome

Student cards issued by Discover that both offer solid rewards

Summary

Which student credit card by Discover suits you better? One gives cash back on rotating categories and the other rewards you on gas and dining. Find out which one better fits your spending habits through this card comparison.

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If you’re in college with a limited credit history, Discover student credit cards can offer a great way to establish a solid credit foundation while learning to practice good spending habits. The Discover card’s cash back offers can also be a great way for you to earn rewards on expenses you’d normally have while in school.

Discover offers two great cards for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Student chrome. The main difference between the two is the way they earn cash back. One is a rotating category card, bringing in a high 5 percent, and the other is a fixed bonus category card, offering popular student categories like gas and dining. Your spending habits, including whether you spend in various categories or only a few, will largely determine which card you prefer.

Main details

CardDiscover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student chrome

Discover it® Student chrome

Rewards Rate
  • 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 per quarter, enrollment required)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Welcome BonusCashback Match™Cashback Match™
Annual Fee$0$0

Discover it Student Cash Back vs Discover it Student chrome

Welcome offer

Discover it Student Cash BackDiscover it Student chrome
Cashback Match (all cash back earned at the end of your first year is matched)Cashback Match (all cash back earned at the end of your first year is matched)

The winner: Tie

Both these cards offer the same welcome bonus, which is a match of all the cash you’ve earned in your account’s first year. This is received automatically at the end of the year all the cash back you’ve earned, including any bonus rewards. So, the card with the better card is the most that earns the most rewards during the first year. Since you can potentially earn more cash back with the Discover it Student Cash Back, it must be considered to have the better welcome bonus.

Rewards rate

Discover it Student Cash BackDiscover it Student chrome
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of eligible purchases from featured merchants and rotating categories that change each quarter
  • 1% cash back on all other spending
  • 2% cash back on gas and dining on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

The winner: Discover it Student Cash Back

The Discover it Student chrome card offers reliable rewards, but the quarterly $1,000 spending cap (around $334 monthly) may limit how much you earn. In contrast, the Discover it Student Cash Back gives high rewards on rotating categories, and based on the released 2022 calendar, you can earn 5 percent cash back on Amazon.com and digital wallet purchases October through December (with activation starting mid-September). So if you can take advantage of these categories, the Student Cash Back card will likely be better for you.

Annual fee

Discover it Student Cash BackDiscover it Student chrome
$0$0

The winner: Tie

It’s a tie since all Discover cards, including these two, have no annual fee. That way, you don’t have to worry about maximizing your card to recoup any cost spent on annual fees.

Foreign transaction fee

Discover it Student Cash BackDiscover it Student chrome
No foreign transaction feesNo foreign transaction fees

The winner: Tie

It’s another tie because all Discover cards, including these two, have no foreign transaction fees. Just note that Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted in some countries as cards from other payment networks.

Which card should you get?

It really boils down to your spending habits. The Discover it Student chrome is better aimed at those on a budget and who reliably spend in a few categories, while the Discover it Student Cash Back is better for new cardholders with the time and money to maximize its rotating categories.

  • If you’re on a budget: The Student chrome will be much easier to maximize, thanks to its quarterly $1,000 spending cap. Even if you spend $334 a month on gas and dining, you’ll still earn around $80 cash back in a year and $160 in the first year with Cashback Match.
  • If you spend mainly on gas and dining: Then the Discover it Student Chrome is perfect for you, especially if you don’t want to worry about tracking bonus offers that change each quarter.
  • If you want ongoing value: You won’t be in college forever, and after graduation you’ll likely spend in more varied categories than you do as a student. For working adults, the $1,000 cap on the Student chrome is pretty limiting, whereas the Student Cash Back (which you may upgrade later on to the Discover it® Cash Back) might give you more long-term value.
  • If you can maximize rotating categories: The Discover it Student Cash Back, for all its great potential, will only be worth it if you can organize your spending around the changing categories. Reaching the $1,500 spend cap earns you $75 cash back per quarter, landing you with $300 cash back for the whole year. And after the Cashback Match offer, you’ll end up with $600 from your first year.

Bottom line

Having a student credit card is mostly about having a secure and convenient method of payment while learning how to use credit responsibly. But if rewards are important to you, you should choose the card that offers you the most possible cash back for the kind of spending you’ll be doing anyway.

In addition to no annual fee, these student cards also charge no penalty interest rate and automatically waive your account’s first late fee. No matter which one you decide on, they’re both great starter cards to help you build credit and begin your credit journey.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Credit Card Rate Report
Reward
18.00%
Student
18.66%
Airline
17.81%
Business
16.07%
Cash Back
17.95%

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