Discover it® Student Cash Back vs Discover it® Student Chrome 2024: Two Excellent Options

CREDIT CARDS - STUDENT CREDIT CARDS
We prefer the Discover it Student Cash Back, but the Discover it Student Chrome could also make sense depending on your spending habits.
Updated June 12, 2024
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We recommend the Discover it® Student Cash Back because it’s an excellent student credit card that provides opportunities to earn loads of cash back.

But for a more straightforward student cash back card, you can’t go wrong with the Discover it® Student Chrome.

Let’s explore our Discover it Student Cash Back vs. Discover it Student Chrome card comparison to see which of these student credit cards is best for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • The Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Student Chrome are very similar cash back credit cards, but we prefer the Discover it Student Cash Back because of its high earning potential.
  • If you want to keep things as simple as possible, we recommend applying for the Discover it Student Chrome. It has almost all the same perks, benefits, and features as the Discover it Student Cash Back, but its rewards rate is easier to understand and use.

Discover it Student Cash Back vs. Discover it Student Chrome comparison

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

4.5

Discover it® Student Chrome

Discover it® Student Chrome

4.55

Card type Student/Cash back Student/Cash back
Credit card issuer Discover Discover
Credit card network Discover Discover
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 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.
Redemption methods
  • Statement credits
  • Deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants
  • Statement credits
  • Deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants
Introductory APR 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)

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 Fair Fair
Read full review Read full review

Our verdict

  • We recommend the Discover it Student Cash Back because it has better earning potential if your everyday expenses align with its bonus categories. If you don’t want to worry about rotating categories, we recommend the Discover it Student Chrome.

Discover it Student Cash Back benefits and drawbacks

Pros Cons
  • $0 annual fee
  • Generous welcome offer
  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • Relatively low 1% cashback rate on all other purchases

We like the Discover it Student Cash Back because it has a $0 annual fee and let's you 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.

Also, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. That means if you earn $300 cash back your first cardmember year, you’ll receive another $300 in cash back from Discover.

Keep in mind that the 5% cashback rate only applies to rotating categories each quarter, on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate. That means you have to enroll every quarter and you can’t earn the 5% rate above the $1,500 spending cap. The 5% cashback quarterly bonus categories for April through June 2024 are gas stations & electric vehicle charging stations, home improvement stores, and public transit.

Read our Discover it Student Cash Back review.

Discover it Student Chrome benefits and drawbacks

Pros Cons
  • $0 annual fee
  • Generous welcome offer
  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • Relatively low 1% cashback rate on all other purchases

We like the Discover it Student Chrome because it has a $0 annual fee and you can 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.

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

Compared to the Discover it Student Cash Back, the Discover it Student Chrome makes more sense if you prefer fixed spending categories. But keep in mind that there’s a spending cap. You can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter).

Read our Discover it Student Chrome review.

What both cards excel at

  • Generous welcome offers: New cardholders can earn a welcome bonus with either card. Both cards participate in the Cashback Match® program for the first year of card membership, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match for all the cash back you earn in your first year as a cardholder. There’s no minimum spending requirement.
  • Cash rewards credit cards: Both Discover credit cards provide cash back for making eligible purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees: You don’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees with the Discover it Student Cash Back or Discover it Student Chrome.
  • No annual fees: The Discover it Student Cash Back has a $0 annual fee, while the Discover it Student Chrome also has a $0 annual fee.
  • Intro APR offers: Both cards provide intro balance transfer and intro purchase APR offers.
  • Redemption options: With either Discover student card, you can redeem rewards through the Discover rewards program for a statement credit, deposits into eligible bank accounts, gift cards, and charitable donations. You can also use your rewards to make purchases at certain merchants.
  • Card network: The Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Student Chrome use the Discover network, which is accepted nationwide by 99% of merchants who take credit cards.
  • Privacy protection: Both cards offer online privacy protection, which helps you regularly remove your personal information from select people-search websites. They also offer free Social Security number alerts if your Social Security number is found on the dark web and Freeze it®, which allows you to freeze the use of your card with one switch if you misplace it.

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

1. Spending categories

The Discover it Student Cash Back allows you 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.

The Discover it Student Chrome allows you to 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.

We generally recommend the Discover it Student Cash Back over the Discover it Student Chrome because it has a higher overall rewards rate, so you could earn more cash back.

But whether you’re able to earn more cash back depends on your typical spending habits. If your everyday expenses don’t align with the rotating categories on the Discover it Student Cash Back, you won’t be able to earn as much.

Winner: It’s a tie because the card with the better spending categories depends on your spending habits. However, the Discover it Student Cash Back has the better potential for earning bonus rewards.

2. Simplicity

Let’s take another look at the rewards rates of both cards.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Discover it® Student Chrome
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. 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.

If you want to keep things as uncomplicated as possible with your credit cards, the Discover it Student Chrome is better than the Discover it Student Cash Back.

That’s because the Discover it Student Cash Back has rotating categories each quarter that you have to track if you want to earn more cash back. In addition, you also have to enroll in the higher rewards rate each quarter or you won’t earn it on eligible purchases.

With the Discover it Student Chrome, you have fixed spending categories that don’t change or require any sort of enrollment.

Winner: Discover it Student Chrome because you don’t have to worry about rotating categories or enrolling in a higher rewards rate each quarter.

Which credit card should you choose?

When you should choose the Discover it Student Cash Back

  • You’re a college student who wants to build credit history
  • You want to earn cashback rewards
  • You prefer a high rewards rate on rotating categories

When you should choose the Discover it Student Chrome

  • You’re a college student who wants to build credit history
  • You want to earn cashback rewards
  • You prefer a decent rewards rate on fixed categories

What factors to consider before choosing

The Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Student Chrome are nearly identical cards apart from a few differences. The main difference lies in how they earn rewards.

The Discover it Student Cash Back provides more earning potential if your everyday spending aligns with its rotating spending categories. But the Discover it Student Chrome is easier to use because of its simple rewards rate.

FAQ

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

While both options are student cards, the main differences between them are that the Discover it Student Cash Back has rotating bonus categories, while the Discover it Student Chrome has fixed bonus categories.

The Discover it Student Cash Back allows you 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.

The Discover it Student Chrome allows you to 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.

What is the best Discover card for students?

The best Discover cards for students include the Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Student Chrome. They also provide excellent welcome offers and earn cashback rewards on eligible purchases.

Is Discover it® Cash Back better than Discover it® Chrome?

We recommend the Discover it® Cash Back over the Discover it® Chrome if you prefer having opportunities for more earning potential. But if you want a simple no-stress cash back card with fixed spending categories, go for the Discover it Chrome.

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

We recommend the Discover it Student Cash Back over the Discover it Student Chrome as a student credit card if you don’t mind rotating bonus categories and prefer more earning potential over ease of use.

But if you want a simple cash back card that’s easy to use, we recommend the Discover it Student Chrome.

For more of our student credit card card recommendations, check out our list of the best credit cards for students.

Cash Back for Those New to Credit

4.5

Discover it® Student 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 credit cards specialist. 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.