Which Is Better? Discover it for Students vs. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Learn everything you need to know to choose between the Discover it For Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One credit cards. Maximize the rewards you earn in cashback by discovering how to use both cards most effectively.

The Verdict

The Discover it for Students wins because cardholders can earn more cash back

Are you a student who is trying to stay on top of your budget?

Considering the high cost of higher education, could a little bit of credit help you stretch that student loan?

Would it also be helpful to start building a credit score so you can borrow in the future?

For first-time credit card owners, the Discover it for Students card gives you the opportunity to get a credit card with a low limit so you can start building your credit now.

It also offers a great opportunity to earn 5% cash back.

But it takes effort.

You need to register every quarter to qualify for that rate in the specific categories or vendors.

That little bit of extra work develops an invaluable sense of awareness among new credit card clients.

Since you're probably interested in a student credit card, I recommend you check out my in-depth guide, Comparing Credit Cards: A Guide for Students.

Why Discover it for Students Is Stronger Than Journey Student Rewards

The Discover it for Students helps you earn more

It pays to stay up-to-date. The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One gives students the chance to earn 25% more on their cashback if they pay their balance off in full and on time.

Since the card has a cashback rate of 1% that means you earn 1.25% if you stay up-to-date with your payments.

But 5% is hard to beat. Discover it for Students also has a cash back rate of 1% on most purchases.

But cardholders can register for quarterly bonus categories that let them earn at a rate of 5%.

Whatever cash back then earned, is doubled after year one.

Discover it for Students doubles your cashback earned after year one

It will match whatever you've earned. The Discover it for Students card doubles whatever cash back has been earned automatically at the end of the first year.

It doesn't matter if it was earned at the standard 1% rate or the 5% rate offered for spending in the bonus categories.

Median Amount of Outstanding Student Debt Level (2017)

Considering the high cost of books and the staggering current amount of student loan debt , as a student getting a high rate of cash back and then doubling it is pretty sweet.

The biggest customer complaint about Discover it for Students is that it's not accepted everywhere

97% isn't enough. A comparison chart found on the Discover it for Students website indicates that the card is accepted at 97% of U.S. places where you can use a credit card.

Some of their customers have apparently come across the 3% of places where you can't use the card.

Negative customer reviews complain that the biggest problem with the card is that it isn't accepted everywhere.

Not a travel credit card. For students who want to study abroad or go backpacking, the problem is even worse.

Discover is not widely accepted outside of the United States.

The Takeaway

Cash back to the max

As long as the places you want to spend accept the Discover it for Students card, you'll do well earning cash back.

Particularly if you're able to take maximum advantage of the 5% bonus categories and the points-matching feature in year one.

Counterargument

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One rewards students for good behaviors

We know that financial literacy matters in college.

There are a few features of the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card that are useful tools for new card owners to build awareness and good habits.

If you pay your first five bills on time and in full, you get a higher credit limit.

When you pay your balance on time, your cash back points are increased by 25%.

Cardholders who want to maximize the benefits of this card can do so by making all payments on time.

We took a look at Capital One Journey by comparing it to the Citi ThankYou card in another comparison review.

Pay Journey Student Rewards from Capital One on time and earn 25% more on all cashback

Reliability is rewarded. The chance to earn a little more cash back relies on the cardholder paying on time and in full.

Cash back rates for everything increase to 1.25% when you can stay on top of your bills.

The biggest customer complaint about the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is that the credit limit is too low

Low credit limit means low cashback earnings. Even though there is an opportunity to have your initial credit limit increased after staying on top of your first five payments, customers still complain their limit remains too low.

They mention that with low credit limits it is difficult to make the most of the cashback opportunity.

The Takeaway

Promote healthy habits

It's true that it's difficult to earn a lot of cash back rewards when you have a low credit limit.

But if you want a card that gives incentives for good behavior, this could be a good choice.

We still prefer the Discover it for Students because of the much higher potential to earn cash back.

How the Discover it for Students compares to Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Discover it for Students Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
How high of credit score do you need?
Average APR?

0% first 6 months

18.49% after first 6 months

20.99%

Annual fee?

$0

$0

How big of sign-up bonus do you get?

All points earned in year 1 are matched after 12 months

No sign-up bonus

How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?

There is no minimum, all year 1 points earned are doubled

NA

How many points do you get for every dollar?

5 points per dollar in quarterly bonus categories

1 point per dollar for everything else

1.25 points per dollar if monthly balance is paid on time in full

1 points per dollar if monthly balance is unpaid

Any restrictions?

Can't earn on balance transfers or cash advances

Can't earn on balance transfers or cash

If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?

$5 for spending in quarterly bonus categories

$1 for everything else

$1.25 if monthly balance is paid on time in full

$1 if monthly balance is unpaid

How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?

$0

$0

About the Companies

Both Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One are designed to train new credit card owners

Think of them as training cards. Two of the key functions of a student credit card is to build a credit history and to learn how to use credit wisely.

Both cards include features that help students learn how to use a credit card properly.

Banks Offer Credit Education To Students (2017)

Build awareness of spending habits. For the Discover it for Students card, students learn to stay aware of higher reward categories that give them 5% cash back.

They have to register for different rotating categories every quarter.

This helps them to be conscious of their spending and habits.

Starting off with good habits. For Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, there are two incentives that help new cardholders develop good habits.

If the cardholder pays their first five monthly bills on time and in full, their credit limit is increased.

And if they pay their balance on time, the cashback they earn increases by 25%.

I always recommend that anyone considering a credit card should read 14 Questions to Ask Before Getting Your First Credit Card.

About Discover it For Students

A Discover it card with training wheels. There are no less than seven options for Discover cards.

Discover it for Students is a starter version of the Discover it card.

The main difference is that the student version has a six-month introductory period with 0% APR, and the regular version has a 14-month 0% APR intro offer.

The other difference is the balance transfer APR is reduced to 10.99% for six months for the student version, while the regular Discover it has a 0% balance transfer APR for 14 months.

You're the perfect customer for Discover it for Students if you want to start building your credit

No credit history? No problem. Students generally don't have a lot of credit history, if any.

It's handy to have a starter card like the Discover it for Students where new credit card users can start building their history.

By keeping up with payments and using the card responsibly, a new credit card customer can build their credit score.

Then, when college graduation comes they can also graduate to a Discover it card with a higher credit limit.

A late payment is OK. If they come across challenges keeping up on their payments, there is a bit of leniency.

The first late fee is waived (a $37 value). And there is no penalty APR rate applied after a late payment.

About Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card is the starter card offered by Capital One.

You're the perfect customer for the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One if it's your first credit card

Start off with a modest limit. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is ideal for the new credit card user.

They will start off with a fairly low credit limit.

But that will get increased after they use the card responsibly for the first five months.

The Credit Tracker app lets new credit card users see for themselves how their credit score improves every month when they make their payments on time.

The cash back rate will also increase by 25% when monthly payments are made on time.

Together all of these features are ideal for teaching good habits to new credit card owners.

How the Services Compare

What are the core services offered by Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

The core services offered by these two cards are quite similar.

Each is designed to start a new credit card user off with a low credit limit, so they can start to build their score.

The APRs are fairly reasonable in case the student finds they need to carry a balance.

And both cards have very low fees for students on a tight budget.

The good and the bad about the Discover it for Students core services

You get a six-month 0% intro APR. When someone signs up for the Discover it for Students card there is a six-month introductory 0% APR interest rate.

After that, the APR will be set somewhere between 13.99-22.99% based on creditworthiness.

The credit limit is usually $500.

That might seem super low, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

$500 is enough to supply funds when needed, but not enough to dig a big credit debt hole.

The good and the bad about the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One's core services

You don't get an intro APR. There is no 0% APR intro period with the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One.

There is only one APR offered with this card, which is 20.99%.

That's pretty reasonable, which is important for people just starting off with their first credit card.

Start off with a low credit limit. The lowest credit limit the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One comes with is $300.

Usually, the initial limit is between $300-$500.

If a student gets approved with no credit history, they will get a limit of $300.

Having more credit can backfire. But after five months of paying off the balance on time and in full, the credit limit can be raised.

That can be a good or bad thing.

Having more credit available automatically increases your credit score.

But if you spend it and can't pay it back, you'll be paying interest.

The Takeaway

Go for an intro APR

The core services of these two cards are similar.

But the six-month 0% intro APR offered by the Discover it for Students is appealing.

At first, it seems the offer by the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One to increase the credit limit after five months of good behavior is a good one.

But it's actually risky and could set up the new credit card user for some debt problems.

State Average debt level, Class of 2016
Utah $19,975
New Mexico $21,373
California $22,744
Arizona $23,447
Nevada $24,128
Florida $24,461
Washington $24,609
Wyoming $25,378
North Carolina $25,562
Oklahoma $25,856

Which Card's Rewards and Bonuses Are Stronger?

What are the types of rewards and bonuses offered by the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

Both of these cards offer cashback rewards.

With the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, all cashback rewards are earned at a standard 1% rate.

But that can be increased with good payment behavior.

Discover it for Students offers cardholders the chance to earn 5% cash back for specific purchases.

But best of all, the cash back you earn in year one gets doubled.

The good and the bad about Discover it for Students rewards and bonuses

Put in some effort and you'll get 5%. Cash back rewards when using the Discover it for Students are earned at either a 1% rate or a 5% rate.

The 5% rate is for spending in certain categories or with certain vendors, and you have to register each quarter to qualify.

Those categories and vendors rotate every three months.

Everything else earns 1%.

Rotating categories are planned out on the calendar. From January through March 2018 you earn 5% at gas stations and wholesale clubs.

From April to June the 5% rate applies to grocery purchases.

July to September has a 5% rate of cashback earnings for restaurant spending.

And October to December the bonus rate applies when you shop with vendors Amazon.com and Target.

Year one cash back gets doubled. One thing that really sets the Discover it for Students apart from the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is the cash back matching bonus at the end of year one.

If the students make the most of the bonus categories throughout the year, their earnings will be matched automatically point for point at the end of twelve months.

Surprise - there's a graduation present! The Discover it for Students throws in another awesome reward for good students.

If they can maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher for five years, the Discover it for Students will give $20 cash back for every year.

That's a $100 graduation present for good students!

The good and the bad about the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One rewards and bonuses

One rate for everything. Cashback is earned at a rate of 1% with Journey Student Rewards from Capital One.

That applies to all purchases across the board, and there are no bonus categories.

Bonus for being good. The bonus comes when the cardholder pays their monthly bill on time and in full.

When that happens, 25% more cashback is added to the monthly total.

So, for cardholders who don't carry a balance, the cashback rate turns into 1.25%.

The Takeaway

Highest cashback wins

We like the idea that a cashback bonus reward is tied to paying your bill in full and on time with the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card.

But it's not enough to beat the potential to earn a lot of cash back through the 5% rate available in spending categories with Discover it for Students.

The fact that the Discover it for Students doubles the cash back earned at the end of year one is the icing on the cake.

Age % of Student Loan Debt
All adults 16%
18-29 37%
30-44 22%
45-59 7%
60+ 2%

Benefits

What are the benefits offered by the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

Both of these cards carry some benefits for students who use them.

The benefits include everything from travel support services to security features.

The good and the bad about the Discover it For Students benefits

You can feel secure. Discover it for Students has some impressive new security features.

You can activate free alerts that tell you if your Social Security number has been stored on risky websites.

You can also sign up for alerts to let you know if any new activity is being reported to the credit bureau Experian.

Flip the switch to turn it on or off. There is also an on-off switch for the card in case it gets lost or the cardholder feels they need to take a break from using it.

There is $0 fraud liability, and if you need a replacement card, it will be delivered the next day with no shipping cost.

Card Fraud Worldwide

Customers all get a free credit scorecard that includes their credit score and lists the recent activity that contributed to it.

You're protected when you're shopping and traveling. For travelers, Discover it for Students offers baggage delay insurance, 27/4 travel assistance, and emergency roadside assistance for $69.99 per service call.

Folks who shop with the card get purchase protection against theft or damage, extended warranty, return guarantee protection, and price protection if a better price becomes available.

The good and the bad about Journey Student Rewards from Capital One benefits

It's a Visa. The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is a Visa card, which means it carries all the Visa Platinum Benefits.

You've got travel support. Those include collision damage waiver for a rental car and travel accident insurance.

If your credit card gets lost or stolen while you're traveling, 24-hour assistance includes issuing an emergency card replacement.

Extended warranty is also included for items purchased with the card.

And also credit monitoring and tracking support. CreditWise is a credit tracking service offered to Journey Rewards for Students customers.

In fact, anyone can use this tool to get their credit score and monitor their credit profile.

The Takeaway

Get security alerts

Both of these cards include handy tools to track your credit score.

But the Discover it for Students raises the bar with alerts telling you if your social security number is being used by risky websites or if an activity is being reported to the credit bureau.

Costs and Fees

What are the costs and fees associated with the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

Keeping fees low. Student life is usually low-budget.

So, it's appropriate that these two student credit cards keep the fees very low.

The good and the bad about the Discover it for Students costs and fees

Very few fees. The Discover it for Students card comes with no annual fee.

There are also no foreign transaction fees, no fee for going over the limit, and no late fee on your first late payment.

After that, the late fee is $37.

The cash advance fee is either $10 or 5% (whichever is greater).

Balance transfers are charged a fee of 3%.

The good and the bad about the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One costs and fees

A low-fee option for students. There is no annual fee for the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card.

There are also no foreign transaction fees.

Cash advances pay a fee of either $10 or 3%.

There are no balance transfer fees charged by this card.

The late fee is up to $35 for the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

The Takeaway

Get a break for being late

Both of these cards have no annual fee, which is fantastic.

But the Discover it for Students gets higher marks for waiving the late fee the first time it happens.

That's a good feature for students who are just getting used to using a credit card.

Customer Service

What kind of customer service can you expect with the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

High praise from customers. In the 2016 JD Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Discover had the highest ranking for the third straight year.

Capital One was ranked third, which is not too bad at all.

The good and the bad about the Discover it for Students customer service

U.S. customer service. TheDiscover it For Students lists its 100% U.S.-based customer service as one of its assets.

Customers who gave high scores on the Discover it for Students reviews indicate that they were treated well by the customer service reps.

"Customer service is very prompt and friendly whenever I have a question."

The good and the bad about the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One customer service

It's keeping an eye out for you. People who review Journey Student Rewards from Capital One talk about how much they appreciate the monitoring for suspicious activity and protection against fraud.

"I feel like I have a second set of eyes on my statements."

However, there are also customer complaints that customer service is difficult to contact and the reps can be "rude and unhelpful."

The Takeaway

Top dog for a reason

It looks like Discover earned the distinction as the #1 credit card for customer satisfaction.

Its customers are well taken care of and that reflects the high satisfaction ratings.

Type of Degree Median Outstanding Debt
All borrowers $17,000
Less than bachelor's degree $10,000
Bachelor's degree $25,000
Postgraduate degree $45,000

Key Digital Services

What special digital features can you expect with both the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

Tools for credit-score building and monitoring. Both cards offer digital services that are useful for people who are just starting to build their credit.

The good and the bad about the Discover it for Students digital services

ID monitoring. Discover Identity Alerts is an online service offered at no cost to Discover it for Students customers.

The service checks in every day with your Experian credit score and alerts when a new account has been added.

The service also monitors thousands of risky websites to see if your Social Security number is being stored.

Websites At-Risk

The good and the bad about the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One digital services

Great app for learning how to build credit. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One has a handy credit tracker app as part of the CreditWise program.

It gives you your monthly credit score and also gives you information that helps you understand and improve your score.

For students who are just starting to get the hang of how credit works there's also a "what-if simulator."

It projects how your credit will be affected based on various choices and scenarios.

The Takeaway

Get wise, now

Since these are student cards we think the best digital service is the one that helps students understand and manage their credit score.

The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One takes the win on this one with its CreditWise program.

How to Get Started With Either Card

Getting started with the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Don't be intimidated, just go for it! The good news is that both of these cards are known to approve students with little or no credit history.

So, don't be intimidated to apply.

Just make sure you have your student number handy!

Best way to begin with the Discover it for Students

Pre-apply to confirm you qualify. You can pre-apply for the Discover it for Students to see if you qualify.

It doesn't impact your credit score.

You can apply online for the Discover it for Students card.

Or you can do it over the phone by calling 1-800-983-1307.

One important detail for students is that you can't apply by phone if you're under 21.

How best to begin with the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

You can apply online for the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card.

Phone applications are not supported by the Journey Student Rewards card.

No P.O. Boxes. One thing that's important for students is to make sure you apply using your permanent address.

In the U.S. it's against the law to issue a credit card to someone with only a P.O. Box.

On the Journey Student Rewards online application, you get a chance to put down your residential address and alternate address (e.g. your college residence).

What it's Like to Cancel

The easiest way to cancel the Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

So, what's next? The big question is: What happens to my account once I am no longer a student?

Closing existing accounts negatively impacts your credit score.

Only one of these cards let you graduate to a better card if you have successfully built up your credit score.

Canceling with Discover it for Students

Graduate from college. Discover it for Students is only available to people who are enrolled in college.

But once college is over you don't have to cancel the card.

As long as you've successfully built up your credit score, Discover will upgrade your account to a Discover it credit card.

Finishing with Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

Big problem. Once you've graduated or left college you have no choice but to cancel your Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card.

Capital One does not let you upgrade your Journey Student Rewards account to another one of its cashback cards, like the Quicksilver card.

You have to apply all over again if you want to get a new Capital One card after your Journey Student Rewards card ends.

That's a big problem because your credit score will take a hit for closing an account.

And it will be hit again with the credit check that will be performed when you're applying for new credit.

We contacted Capital One but were given no solution for this problem.

FAQ

The most frequently asked questions about Discover it for Students and Journey Student Rewards from Capital One

  • Are these cards good for transferring a balance from another credit card?

    For the Discover it for Students card, there is a six-month period with 10.99% APR on balance transfers.

    The six months is triggered by the first balance transfer.

    Discover provides a date that transfers have to take place before in order to qualify.

    Balance transfer fees are 3% of the amount of each transfer.

    The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One does not charge a balance transfer fee.

    It does charge an unspecified balance transfer APR rate for the first balance transfer, and all other transfers are charged the purchase APR rate.

  • Can you get a cash advance using these credit cards?

    Yes.

    With the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card, there is a cash advance fee of $10 or 3% of the amount of the advance (whichever is greater). But the same 20.99% APR applies to cash advances.

    With the Discover it for Students card the cash advance fee is $10 or 5% of the advance amount.

    But the APR on cash advances shoots up to 25.99%.

  • If I make a late payment will my APR increase?

    No.

    There is no APR increase or temporary penalty APR rate if you make a late payment for either of these cards.

  • Can I redeem my rewards for cash?

    Yes.

    With both of these cards, there is an option to redeem your rewards for cash. There is no minimum amount you can redeem.

  • Does my cashback ever expire?

    No, there is no expiration of cash back with either of these cards.

The Winner Is Obvious

Discover it for Students takes the cake

The Discover it for Students is superior to the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One in almost all categories (OK, we admit the CreditWise digital app from Capital One is pretty cool).

To have the chance to build credit while still earning up to 5% cashback is a great opportunity.

The fact that all the cashback you earn in year one will get redeemed is a huge bonus.

And we really love how the Discover it for Students rewards good grades with $20 gifts for every year the student earns a 3.0 GPA.

Do you use either Discover it for Students or Journey Student Rewards from Capital One?

How has it worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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