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Best Credit Card For Students

Pink piggy bank with glasses on top of books in front of chalk boardThe student credit card space is generally devoid of many exciting products.

A lot of that has to do with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other regulators who have made it clear they don’t want credit card companies preying on desperate college students, who have enough problems dealing with mortgage-size student loans.

Even if there were a larger selection from which to choose, the Discover It card for students would probably stand out nicely.

Discover It credit card

Actually, the It card for students isn’t a whole lot different than Discover’s regular card, which is still one of the best overall rewards cards out there.

The rewards structure on both cards is virtually identical: 1% cash back on all purchases, plus 5% back on purchases in different categories that change each quarter: restaurants and movies in the first quarter, followed by home improvement stores, gas stations and, in the last three months of the year, holiday shopping.

To get that additional reward, however, you must sign up each quarter. Also, there is a $1,500 maximum on spending in which you can earn the bonus, or $75 in rewards. After you spend $1,500 in that category, any additional purchases earn only 1% back.

You can also earn a bigger bonus if you redeem your rewards for a gift card at a participating retailer. For example, $20 in rewards buys you a $25 gift card at Staples.

That’s like getting 1.25% back instead of just 1%.

You don’t even have to wait long if you redeem your Discover rewards on Amazon.com. In fact, you can redeem them for Amazon purchases almost as soon as you earn them, no matter how small. All you have to do is sign up once, then when you earn rewards on Discover, you can transfer them immediately to your Amazon account. This feature is available on all Discover cards.

Both Discover cards also come with no annual fee, no over-limit fee and no foreign-transaction fees.

Both cards recently also have started offering your FICO credit score for free on your monthly statement.

The only difference between the regular Discover card and the student version that I can see is the APR.

With the regular card, you get 0% on both purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, then 10.99% to 22.99% after that, depending on your credit history. There’s a 3% transfer fee.

With the student card, you get 0% for the first six months on purchases only, then 12.99% to 21.99% after that. There’s also a balance transfer offer of 10.99% for six months.

Both Discover cards also promise they won’t raise your APR if you’re late paying and won’t charge you a late fee on your first late payment. Discover says it’s the only college card that won’t charge you a late fee on your first late payment.

This feature is of questionable value and makes it seem that you won’t be penalized if you’re late. Not true.

If you’re late a second time, you will be charged a $35 late fee, and since you’ll be carrying a balance, you’ll also incur interest charges.

And rest assured that Discover will notify the credit bureaus that you were late, which will lower your credit score and which will eventually catch up with you in the form of higher rates on other loans and make it tougher to get credit in the future. You’ll also be unlikely to get a higher credit limit, which is important if you’re just starting to establish your credit.

In other words, don’t ever be late, even if the card company says it’s OK.

Compare this offer with other cash-back credit cards in our database.

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