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How Does the Discover Student Credit Card Work?

Last Updated: August 18, 2022
6 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 a 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 alleviate any concerns and make you feel more confident about what, for some, is their first major financial choice as an adult.

What is the credit card offer I received in the mail?

Pre-screened offers 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 would 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.

Can I apply for a student credit card?

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.

Do I need a co-applicant on my student credit card?

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

When do I make a payment on my credit card?

Your payment is due on the date indicated on your statement, which is generally the same day every month. If you are 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.

Will I pay interest on my card balance?

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 transactions you make 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.

Why should I care about building a credit history?

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.

Do I have to spend a lot of money on my student credit card to establish a credit history?

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.

Once I get my credit card in the mail, what should I do?

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.

How do I get rewards for using my credit card?

If you are a student with a Discover it® Student Chrome card, there is no sign-up to earn 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.1 Another option is the Discover it® Student card, which offers  on everyday purchases during the school year (and all year long) at different places each quarter, like Amazon.com2, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and when you pay using PayPal up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.3 Both Discover student credit cards automatically get 1% cash back on all purchases, automatically and with no limit.

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 sojourn 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 any 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 are not responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card account.4

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.

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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