A male college student fills out a student credit card application on his laptop.

Step-by-Step Guide to Completing Your Discover Student Card Application

Published June 26, 2024
9 min read

Key Points:

  1. You must be 18 or older to apply for a student credit card.

  2. You can fill out an application in minutes when you pull together the required information before you begin.

  3. Student credit cards look and function like regular credit cards but with features like credit card rewards that make them ideal for college students.

College is a perfect time to begin your credit journey. An early credit history can build your credit score when you show you’re good at repaying your debt. This will help you down the road when you want to lease an apartment or apply for a personal loan for a car, because these lenders will often check your credit report and credit score. You can use a Discover student credit card to build your credit with responsible use.1

Is a student credit card the right choice? Student credit cards look and function like regular credit cards but with features that make them compatible for students. For example, Discover Card has lower credit limits, no annual fee on any card, and offers credit card rewards geared toward students—like cash back rewards on purchases at restaurants and convenience stores. Plus, with Discover Cashback Match, we’ll automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. There is no limit to how much we’ll match.2

It only takes a few minutes to apply for a student credit card online. We’ve detailed each step to help guide you through the application process from start to finish.

Before you begin: What do you need for a credit application?

Just as you might study for a test, it’s a great idea to pull together the required information before you begin your application. Having information at your fingerprints will help you quickly fill out your application.


You’ll need the same information whether you fill out your application online, through the mail, or over the phone:

All this information is required to apply for a Discover® student credit card. Once you’ve gathered everything, you’re ready to fill out an application.

See if you’re pre-approved

With no harm to your credit score3

Starting your student card application

The information you use in your Discover student credit card application is the same no matter what method you use.

Completing the personal information section

The personal information you provide is how Discover Card will verify your identity, so you need to be accurate, truthful, and double check your entries.


Use your legal name—it should match your name on your government ID.


You can choose between a home or school address. If you can’t reliably receive mail at that address, you can also add a mailing address (P.O. box, school, General Delivery).

Date of birth and Social Security number

Key to verifying your identity are your date of birth and Social Security number (SSN).


  • You must be 18 or older to apply for a credit card.
  • Currently, Discover only accepts SSN to verify your identity; you can’t use an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). However, if you’re an international student you might be eligible to receive an SSN even if you don’t have U.S. citizenship.

Citizenship status

You could be a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization. Common documents to prove your citizenship include:

  • Birth certificate, issued by a U.S. State (or by the U.S. Department of State if you were born abroad)
  • U.S. Passport, issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • Certificate of Citizenship (if you were born outside the United States and received citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent)
  • Naturalization Certificate

You only need to list your status on a Discover credit card application. But if you come into an issue, you’ll want to have proof of citizenship. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a complete list of documents (and how to get them) if you need to prove you’re a citizen.

Providing educational information

If you’re unsure of your academic year, you can check with your registrar’s office.


Even though your graduation date might change, you can put an estimate in your Discover student credit card application.

Detailing financial information

Information about your bills and income can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re new to the financial world. Let’s break down the information you need about rent, income, and banking to fill out on your Discover credit card application.

Credit card companies design student credit cards specifically for college students and don't usually require a credit history or credit score to qualify. For instance, there's no credit score required to apply for Discover student credit cards.4

Monthly housing / rent payment

If you’re wondering what to put for your monthly housing payment, you have a few choices.


You pay your own housing and don’t have roommates: Enter the full amount you pay in rent.


You pay your own housing but share the rent: If you have roommates who pay their own share, then only enter the amount you pay. Example: Enter $500 if your monthly rent is $1,000 total with one other roommate.


You have no housing payment: If you live at home or someone else pays your housing, you can enter “$0”.

Total gross income

Establishing income tells Discover Card you’re financially able to payback your credit card purchases and any fees (interest, balance transfer, cash advance). Your total gross income includes all sources of income you receive.

You may have heard of two pay types for income, gross and net income.

Gross income: If you receive a paycheck from an employer, your gross income (or gross pay) is the amount you’re paid before any deductions. It can be a pretty straightforward number: If you earn $15.00 per hour and work 20 hours in a week, your gross pay is $300.


If you earn tips, you’ll need to add that to your gross pay. Also consider any summer jobs or internships that you expect to earn.


Net income: Your net pay is the final amount of pay you receive after all deductions—like taxes or insurance. 

Employment income

What counts as employment income for Discover® student credit card application? Your student income can be anything where you receive pay, like a part-time job, summer internship, or even a monthly allowance if it’s put directly into your bank account.

Did you know?

When you have a Discover Card, you keep more in your pocket with no annual fee. So, you have more money to spend where it matters.

Household income

Are you wondering, “Can I use household income for a credit card application?” If you’re 21 or older, you can include another person’s income if it’s available to you—like the income of your husband or wife. If you’re under 21, you can only consider the amount of another person’s income that’s regularly deposited into your account, like a stipend or allowance from your parents.

Alimony, child support, or maintenance income

You don’t have to include alimony, child support, or separate maintenance income unless you want it considered as a basis for credit card repayment.

Bank accounts owned

Having a bank account reflects on your creditworthiness. This is particularly important if you don’t have a credit history or credit score. You won’t have to list the amount you have saved, but you’ll want to let your credit card issuer know that you have them.

Checking accounts, including debit accounts, are transactional accounts you can use. Savings accounts are interest-bearing accounts, including IRAs. Savings may also include money market accounts.

Contact information

Providing contact information is important in case your card issuer needs to contact you about your application or your account if you’re approved.


Phone number: It’s important that the phone number you provide here is reliable—don’t give your home number if you’re not living there to answer it.


Email address: Like your phone number, it’s important to give a dependable email address that you access frequently. Use your school email address that ends in “.edu” to further verify that you’re a student. If you don’t have a school email, you can use a personal email.

Reviewing terms & conditions

Before you submit your application, review the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement. Should you be approved, you’ll be tied to these terms—such as the annual percentage rate (APR), interest rates, and fees for a balance transfer and late payments. You can visit the Discover Card Smarts blog to learn more about these topics, as well as how to manage your first credit card.

Finalizing your student credit card application

Once you’ve gotten to the end of your application, take a moment to review your work. Make sure you:


  • Filled in all required sections
  • Typed and spelled each section accurately
  • Used the best contact information
  • Understand the terms & conditions

Did you know?

Once you’ve submitted your application for a Discover student credit card, you can check your approval status online.

What to do if you’re denied a credit card

You still have card options even if a credit card issuer denies your student card application. A great way to build credit is with a secured credit card.


Secured cards require you to pay a deposit upfront, while student credit cards do not. This deposit acts as collateral that “secures” the card and determines your initial credit limit. For example, with Discover, your credit line will equal your deposit amount, starting at $200.5

If you use your secured card responsibly and raise your credit score far enough, it can often be upgraded to a regular, unsecured credit card. With the Discover it® Secured Card, you can get your deposit back after 6 consecutive on-time payments and maintaining good status on all your credit accounts.6

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  1. Build Credit History (Student Card): Discover reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus so it can help build 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 credit.
  2. Cashback Match: We’ll match all the cash back rewards you’ve earned on your credit card from the day your new account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods or 365 days, whichever is longer, and add it to your rewards account within two billing periods. You’ve earned cash back rewards only when they’re processed, which may be after the transaction date. We will not match: rewards that are processed after your match period ends; statement credits; rewards transfers from Discover checking or other deposit accounts; or rewards for accounts that are closed. This promotional offer may not be available in the future and is exclusively for new cardmembers. No purchase minimums.

  3. There is no hard inquiry to your credit report to check if you’re pre-approved. If you’re pre-approved, and you move forward with submitting an application for the credit card, it will result in a hard inquiry which may impact your credit score. Receiving a pre-approval offer does not guarantee approval. Applicants applying without a social security number are not eligible to receive pre-approval offers. Card applicants cannot be pre-approved for the NHL Discover Card.

  4. No Credit Score Required to Apply (Student): Based on the preceding 12 months of Discover Student credit card application data, applicants without a credit score may qualify. You must meet other applicable underwriting criteria. When we evaluate your creditworthiness, we consider all the information you provide on your application, your credit report, and other information. If you have a credit score, we may use that in our evaluation.

  5. Secured Card Deposit Range: If approved, you must make a minimum security deposit of $200 (or more, in increments of $100 up to $2,500), which will equal your requested credit limit. Discover will determine your maximum credit limit by your income and ability to pay.

  6. Graduation Transparency (Secured Card): Monthly reviews start your seventh month as a customer. We will refund your security deposit if you have made all payments on time for the last six consecutive billing cycles on all your Discover accounts including any loans, and you've remained in “good status” on all credit accounts you are responsible for whether they are Discover accounts or not. “Good status” means: (1) your credit report shows no delinquencies, charge-offs, repossessions, or bankruptcies for the six months prior to our review; and (2) your Discover Secured Card is not in a prohibited status at the time of our review, including, but not limited to: closed, revoked, suspended, subject to tax levy, garnishment, deceased, lost/stolen, or fraud. Monthly reviews may be delayed if you change your payment due date. We typically process your refund in 2-3 business days based on your delivery preference. If you close your account and pay in full, we’ll return your deposit within two billing cycles plus ten days.
  • 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.