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Student credit cards: Capital One vs. Discover

By Jeffrey Steele

Student credit cards: Capital One vs. Discover

Note: the Discover Student Open Road Card is expired. Click here for current Discover credit card offers.

World Series of Credit Cards - Game 1

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Money Blue Book World Series of Credit Cards! With baseball post-season in full swing (so to speak) we've decided to have a little fun ourselves and compare some of our best credit cards in seven different categories under a baseball theme. Grab some peanuts and Cracker Jack and enjoy the game!

Student credit cards

Leading off in Game 1 are two of our best student credit cards. We can genuinely say that the two rivals competing in today's game have youth on their side. This game pits the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card against the Discover Student Open Road Card. Although you won't find this contest on ESPN, it's sure to be followed avidly on the nation's campuses of higher learning.

If you're a student, you probably don't have much credit history. Student credit cards are designed to make it easy for you to build your credit score without letting you get too overextended (although, of course, you can still get into trouble if you let payments slide).

Both teams deserve high marks for their star-studded lineups of top credit card features. Let's run down those lineups before the first pitch of today's game and give you a chance to grade each card's merits in this student credit card competition.

Student rewards

Because students are known to be a fun-loving bunch, let's look first at the rewards of using each card. The Capital One Journey Student Rewards credit card bills itself as a credit card for students who want to build credit and get cash back rewards for purchases.

Cash back. Capital One delivers on that promise by paying you 1 percent cash back on all purchases on the card. In addition, you get a 25 percent bonus on cash earned each month when you pay your balance on time.

With the Discover Student Open Road Credit Card, rewards are a little more complicated. You'll earn 2 percent on up to $250 spent on combined gas and restaurant purchases each month, which could save you money if you're following your school team on the road. Other purchases earn you 0.25 percent until you've spent $3,000 for the year, after which you'll get 1 percent unlimited cash back bonuses on eligible purchases. Cash back rewards rise to up to 20 percent at Discover's exclusive online mall.

Low APR student credit cards

Transfers and purchases. For both balance transfers and new purchases, the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card has an APR of 19.8 percent, which may vary based on the prime rate. With the Discover Student Open Road Credit Card, the APR is zero percent on new purchases during an introductory period of nine months, after the introductory period, the purchase APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate, and is currently between 12.99 to 18.99 percent depending on your credit history.

Cash advances. On cash advances, the APR for the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card runs 24.9 percent; the Discover Student Open Road card charges 24.9 percent.

Late fees. If you make a late payment on the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card, a penalty APR of 29.4 percent applies. If a payment is late, you may pay the penalty rate indefinitely. With the Discover Open Road card, the penalty APR is smaller: up to 17.99 to up to 23.99 percent, depending on creditworthiness and other factors. The penalty APR will apply indefinitely if levied due to a late payment.

Payment flexibility

Purchases. With both Capital One Journey and Discover Open Road, your due date is 25 days after the close of each billing cycle. You won't be charged interest on purchases as long as you've paid your previous balance due in full each month.

Cash advances. For both cards, interest is charged on cash advances beginning on the transaction date, and if interest is charged, the minimum amount is 50 cents.

Transaction fees

Annual fees. Neither card charges an annual fee.

Cash advances. With the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card, the fee for each cash advance is $10 or 3 percent of the amount of the advance, whichever is greater. The Discover Open Road card charges the greater of $10 or 5 percent of the amount of the advance.

Balance transfers. Unlike many cards, there is no fee to transfer a balance from another card to the Capital One Journey Student Rewards card. For the Discover Open Road card, the balance transfer fee is 3 percent of the amount of the advance. Balance transfers are accepted at the discretion of the card issuer.

Best student credit card

Both cards are excellent choices. The Capital One Journey Student Rewards card gets the nod for a simpler rewards structure - effectively 1.25 percent on all purchases if you pay your balance on time every month. Also, if you're transferring a balance, Capital One eliminates the usual 3-percent balance transfer fee.

The Discover Student Open Road card pays higher rewards in gas and restaurant categories, although less in other categories until you reach a preset limit, but you'll pay no interest for the first 9 months.

Which student credit card would you pick as the winner? Let us know in the comment area.

Jeffrey Steele is a Chicago-based author who frequently writes on topics of personal finance.

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1 Response to “World Series of Credit Cards: Capital One vs. Discover” 

  1. Steven says:

    I think the chance to get approved is the other important factor to determine which card is the best. It is better to have credit report with one or two hard inquires than the one with many declines. I am 21 years old, a full time college student, and a deep fried cook works minimum wage, 25 hours a week. I am also an authorized user on my parent' non delinquent credit cards in 3 years. Yet in July, I got approved 500 credit line Journey card, after 30 seconds decision while been declined for Open Road card. On the day I applied these cards, my score from myfico.com was 757. When I applied for Opened Road card, I did not get immediately decision but a phone call three days later. The lady wants to know about my college, my major, my goals within next 5 years, and the reason I need credit. I gave her vague answers because I thought this information is irrelevant with my credit application. Then she told me that I need to have my dad or my mom cosigns to get approved. I was surprised because Discover had not let me know a cosigner maybe request before I applied. So I refused. My point is that student need to build credit with a card that easy to get approved and simple cash back program. Capital One Journey Student card is my only recommendation.

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