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How Does the Discover Student Credit Card Work?

Last Updated: September 25, 2023
3 min read

Key points about: Discover student credit cards

  1. If you’re over the age of 18, have a source of income, and are enrolled in a college or university, you may be eligible for a student credit card from Discover.

  2. Student credit cards typically have benefits, like cash back rewards or access to helpful features.

  3. Using a student credit card may help people build a credit history.

Student credit cards can offer an opportunity to improve your financial literacy while earning rewards geared towards students. You do have to be a student to get a student credit card. Otherwise, the card should work similarly to any other credit card.

If you’re exploring using a credit card for the first time, you may have some questions about student credit cards. Below, find some of the answers to help you take the right next steps for you.

Student credit card FAQ

Several questions come up again and again from young credit card customers wondering about the process and benefits of a student credit card. Hopefully these answers can help address any concerns and make you feel more confident about what, for some, is their first major financial choice as an adult.

Pre-screened credit card offers by mail may be sent to consumers aged 21 or older, and indicate that the card issuer has done a basic credit check, found that you meet certain criteria, and might be approved for the card if your credit profile remains the same and you meet income and other relevant application requirements. You do still have to apply for a pre-screened offer. You may also receive other types of offers inviting you to apply for student credit cards.

You can apply for a student credit card online if you’re at least 18 years old. You cannot apply for offers over the telephone unless you are 21 or older. You will need to have some form of income to demonstrate that you could make monthly payments covering your transactions.

Discover offers a pre-approval form so you can check to see if you’re pre-approved with no harm to your credit. It’s fast and secure.

If you’re creditworthy on your own, issuers may not require a co-applicant. Discover doesn’t take co-applicants (sometimes known as co-signers) on credit card applications.

Your payment is due on the due date indicated on your statement, which is generally the same day every month. If you’re still unsure, call the customer service number on your card or log in to your online account to see when your next payment is due.

After you begin making purchases with your student credit card, you’ll receive a statement with your total balance. If you pay the balance in full by the due date on your statement each month, you won’t have to pay any interest charges on purchases as long as your credit card issuer provides a grace period. If you pay less than the full amount, you’ll be charged interest on the balance you carry over based on your Annual Percentage Rate and the terms of your card. If you don’t pay even the minimum payment due, you also face the possibility of late fees and/or penalty interest rates.

After college, you may want to apply for a car loan or an apartment lease. Both often require a check on your credit history, in which the lender assesses your creditworthiness and repayment risk. One of the common factors in credit scores is the length of time you have had lines of credit. Responsibly using a student credit card while in school can help you establish a credit history that can open these doors for you later.

No, you don’t need to charge and pay off big purchases to establish credit. You can establish a credit history by making small purchases and then paying them off on time each month.

You’re all set to activate your new card. You can do so by calling the phone number on the back of the card. You may also consider setting up the online account portal offered by your issuer to more frequently check on your account, make payments, and set up alerts.

If you’re a student with a Discover it® Student Chrome card, there’s no sign-up to earn 2% Cashback Bonus® 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.1 Another option is the Discover it® Student card, which allows you to earn 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in different category purchases each quarter, when you activate. That’s up to $75 cash back each quarter! Plus, you always earn Cashback Bonus when you use your Discover card.

Study abroad and credit cards: Best practices

Studying and traveling abroad may be one of the greatest experiences you can have while in college. Meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and taking in all the sights and sounds of your temporary home are all part of what make it such an adventure. One way to help ensure your trip abroad is as hassle-free as possible: a credit card. Consider these four reasons for why you should use a credit card while studying abroad.

Credit can be cheaper than cash

Debit cards can come with hefty foreign transaction fees and international ATM fees. Cash can get lost and be difficult to change into local currency. Using a credit card abroad may save you some money if your credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you can, say, charge dinner on a card instead of having to find cash, that may be the most cost-effective solution.

You’re covered in the event of fraud

If you’re carrying cash and your wallet is stolen or lost, bid your money farewell. However, many cards have fraud monitoring that may help detect fraudulent transactions. With Discover cards, you’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover Card account.2

You build credit history even while abroad

Building credit history is one of the main advantages to carrying a credit card and you’re not doing that if you’re using cash. If you charge sensibly and pay your bills on time, you’ll be building your credit history for life after college.

Did you know?

The Discover student credit card helps you build your credit history.3 Compare student credit cards to find the one most suited for your spending needs.

Call before you go

Before your study abroad trip begins, you should contact your debit and credit card issuers to inform them of where and when you’ll be traveling. This prevents your accounts from being frozen when your cards are used overseas, which otherwise could appear to suggest suspicious or fraudulent activity.

Ensure account access

You should also make a note of the accounts you have and the relevant telephone contact information, which may be different than the U.S.-based number. Make sure that you have online access to all of your accounts and make note of all of your payment due dates. It may help to set email or text reminders of your payment due dates, and also be aware if your mobile phone provider will charge you for receiving texts in the country you’ll be living in. Alternatively, you can configure your accounts to automatically make payments. By learning the best ways to exchange currency and make purchases in another country, you can help get the most from your study abroad trip—and focus on all the adventures you’re having—without stressing out about your money.

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  1. You earn a full 2% Cashback Bonus® on your first $1000 in combined purchases at Gas Stations (stand-alone), and Restaurants each calendar quarter. Calendar quarters begin January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. Purchases at Gas Stations and Restaurants over the quarterly cap, and all other purchases, earn 1% cash back. Gas Station purchases include those made at merchants classified as places that sell automotive gasoline that can be bought at the pump or inside the station, and some public electric vehicle charging stations. Gas Stations affiliated with supermarkets, supercenters, and wholesale clubs may not be eligible. Restaurant purchases include those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, fast-food locations, and restaurant delivery services. Purchases must be made with merchants in the U.S. To qualify for 2%, the purchase transaction date must be before or on the last day of the offer or promotion. For online purchases, the transaction date from the merchant may be the date when the item ships. Rewards are added to your account within two billing periods. Even if a purchase appears to fit in a 2% category, the merchant may not have a merchant category code (MCC) in that category. Merchants and payment processors are assigned an MCC based on their typical products and services. Discover Card does not assign MCCs to merchants. Certain third-party payment accounts and digital wallet transactions may not earn 2% if the technology does not provide sufficient transaction details or a qualifying MCC. Learn more at Discover.com/digitalwallets. See Cashback Bonus Program Terms and Conditions for more information.
  2. $0 Fraud Liability: An “unauthorized purchase” is a purchase where you have not given access to your card information to another person or a merchant for one-time or repeated charges. Please use reasonable care to protect your card and do not share it with employees, relatives, or friends. Learn more at Discover.com/fraudFAQ.
  3. Build credit with responsible use: Discover reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus so it can help build/rebuild your credit if used responsibly. Late payments, delinquencies or other derogatory activity with your credit card accounts and loans may adversely impact your ability to build/rebuild credit.
  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.