Discover it® Cash Back vs. Discover it® Student Cash Back [2024]: Which Should You Choose?

CREDIT CARDS - CASH BACK CREDIT CARDS
We recommend the Discover it® Cash Back if you qualify. But if you’re a student building your credit history, consider the Discover it® Student Cash Back.
Updated April 9, 2024
Fact checked
A woman choosing a credit card for online shopping

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

We recommend the Discover it® Cash Back if you’re not a student and want to take advantage of long intro APR offers.

But if you’re a student looking to build your credit history, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is the better option.

Let’s explore our Discover it Cash Back versus Discover it Student Cash Back card review to see which one makes the most sense for you.

In this Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it Student Cash Back comparison

Key takeaways

  • The Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Student Cash Back are nearly identical credit cards. They share similar welcome offers, rewards rates, and general perks and benefits.
  • We think the Discover it Cash Back is a better overall card because it provides superior intro APR offers compared to the Discover it Student Cash Back. But not everyone may qualify for this card.
  • If you’re a student with little or no credit history, the Discover it Student Cash Back makes more sense. It’s meant for students and still provides most of the same benefits as the Discover it Cash Back.

Compare Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it Student Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

4.7

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

4.5

Card type Cash back Student/Cash back
Annual fee $0 $0
Welcome offer Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Earning rate Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
Redemption methods
  • Statement credits
  • Deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants (Amazon and PayPal)
  • Statement credits
  • Deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants (Amazon and PayPal)
Introductory APR
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable)
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable)
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases (then 18.24% - 27.24% Variable)
  • 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers (then 18.24% - 27.24% Variable)
Foreign transaction fee 0% 0%
Credit needed Excellent, Good Fair
Learn more in our full review Learn more in our full review

Our verdict

We like the Discover it Cash Back more than the Discover it Student Cash Back because it has better intro APR offers. However, we recommend that students apply for the Discover it Student Cash Back because it has less-strict credit requirements compared to the Discover it Cash Back while offering nearly the same benefits.

Discover it Cash Back benefits and drawbacks

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Elevated earning rate
  • Long intro APR offers
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • Rotating bonus categories don’t always align with everyday expenses

Cashback Match® welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

The Discover it Cash Back has a $0 annual fee and charges 0% foreign transaction fees. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically..

You can also take advantage of intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable))
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable))

Learn more in our Discover it Cash Back review.

Discover it Student Cash Back benefits and drawbacks

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Elevated earning rate
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • Only available to students
  • Rotating bonus categories don’t always align with everyday expenses

Cashback Match® welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

The Discover it Student Cash Back has a $0 annual fee and 0% foreign transaction fees. In almost every way, it’s identical to the Discover it Cash Back.

That includes being able to earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

But you have to be a student to qualify for this card, and the intro APR offers aren’t as good:

  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases (then 18.24% - 27.24% Variable)
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers (then 18.24% - 27.24% Variable)

Learn more in our Discover it Student Cash Back review.

Some Discover credit card spending categories require activation before you can earn their elevated cashback rate. This is a common requirement for rewards programs with rotating bonus categories.

What both cards excel at

  • Generous welcome offers: Both the Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Student Cash Back provide excellent welcome offers.
  • Cashback rewards: You can earn elevated cash back with either card. Learn more about Discover cash back credit cards.
  • Redemption options: You can choose from a variety of redemption options, including statement credits, bank deposits, and gift cards.
  • Discover network: Discover is the credit card issuer and payments network for both cards. Discover credit cards are accepted by 99% of places that accept credit cards nationwide.
  • Annual fees: The Discover it Cash Back has a $0 annual fee, while the Discover it Student Cash Back has a $0 annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees: You don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees on the Discover it Cash Back or Discover it Student Cash Back.

2 important differences between Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Student Cash Back

1. Creditworthiness

The Discover it Cash Back is best for people with an average to excellent credit score (670 or higher FICO score), while the Discover it Student Cash Back is best for students. However, when assessing your creditworthiness, credit card issuers take into account several factors beyond just your credit score.

Since students may have little or no credit history on their credit reports, the Discover it Student Cash Back is likely a better option for them. The Discover it Student Cash Back could be the right move as a first credit card if you want to reach certain personal finance goals.

Winner: Discover it Student Cash Back because it makes more sense if you’re a student.

2. Intro APR offers

The Discover it Cash Back provides these intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable)
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable)

The Discover it Student Cash Back provides these intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases (then 18.24% - 27.24% Variable)
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers (then 18.24% - 27.24% Variable)

Overall, the Discover it Cash Back provides much better intro APR offers with longer intro APR periods.

Winner: Discover it Cash Back because it has the better intro APR offers.

Which credit card should you choose?

When you should choose Discover it Cash Back

  • You want to earn cash back.
  • You want long intro APR offers.
  • You have an average to excellent credit score.

Banks and credit card issuers typically consider various factors in addition to your credit score when determining your creditworthiness.

When you should choose Discover it Student Cash Back

  • You’re a college student.
  • You want to earn cash back.
  • You want to build your credit history.

What factors to consider before choosing

The Discover it Cash Back and Discover it Student Cash Back are nearly identical to each other. However, the main difference is that you have to be a student to qualify for the Discover it Student Cash Back.

If you’re a student without much credit history, consider the Discover it Student Cash Back. If you’re not a student and already have some credit history, consider the Discover it Cash Back.

Keep in mind that Discover provides a wide range of products, including additional credit cards, online banking, and loans. Learn more in our Discover review.

FAQ

Is Discover it Student Cash Back the same as Discover it Cash Back?

The Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Cash Back are different cards. The main difference is that the Discover it Student Cash Back is a student credit card that can help you build credit. The Discover it Cash Back is meant for people who already have some established credit.

Can I change from Discover it Student Cash Back to Discover it Cash Back?

Your Discover it Student Cash Back becomes the standard Discover it Cash Back after you graduate from college. You keep the same cashback program and card design, though you might qualify for a credit limit increase to help you handle additional expenses.

What is the difference between Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Student Chrome?

The Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Student Chrome have a few differences, including their rewards rates:

  • Discover it Student Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Discover it Student Chrome: Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it Student Cash Back: bottom line

We recommend the Discover it Cash Back if you’re not a student and want to earn cashback rewards. But if you’re a student looking to earn rewards and build your credit history, the Discover it Student Cash Back is the better choice.

Compare credit cards to see more of our recommended credit card offers.

Up To 5% Cash Back

4.7

Discover it® Cash Back

Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt