Best Student Credit Cards

Learn about the advantages of having a student credit card and which cards to choose

College is a time of great discovery. Students are learning how to live independently and learn the skills that will help them forge their career and successfully navigate through the world. But as a student attempts to spread their wings they will quickly realize that they aren’t as financially self-sufficient as they would like to be.

College can be a great place to begin building your credit. Banks want to shove their cards into as many wallets as they can, but they don’t want to extend credit to people with little to no credit history or won’t pay back their debt.  A student credit card is a great way to begin building good credit because they offer smaller credit limits and the rewards are tailored to college students.  By establishing a good credit history with a student card, an individual can show they can be trusted with more valuable credit offers in the future, such as a mortgage or a car loan. 

What are the main differences between a student credit card and a regular credit card?

Student credit cards typically have lower credit limits than regular credit cards and don’t charge annual fees. They often include late payment forgiveness, incremental credit limit increases over time and credit education resources. Also, student cards don’t require a certain credit score to qualify but may need to show a source of income. This can come from a job or deposits to your bank account from your parents. The card issuer may also want to see information about your checking and savings accounts to get a sense of your spending habits and confirm that you’ll have the funds to pay the minimum monthly payment. 

Is there an age requirement?

Most issuers require applicants to be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card in their own name. Provisions of the CARD Act of 2009 state that anyone under 21 can only open a credit card account with either a cosigner or proof that they earn enough independent income to meet minimum monthly payments on the maximum amount of their credit line.

Why should college students apply for a student credit card?

Outside of establishing and building good credit, having a student card has other advantages.

  • Higher credit score – The 2016 Financial Services report from Student Monitor, states that students with a credit card in their own name report having credit scores that are 50 points higher on average (679) than students who don’t have their own credit card (629).
  • Getting your first job – Some employers conduct background and credit checks on potential hires, especially when the job requires you to have access to financial information. Employers won’t have access to your credit score, but they can view your credit report, depending on the state, and determine if you’re a responsible person based on your payment history.
  • Car Insurance Most insurance companies review credit reports to determine whether they will extend a policy to a motorist. Consumer Reports states single drivers with good credit paid between $68 and $526 more in car insurance premiums each year than those with excellent credit.
  • Finding an apartment Around 43% of landlords run credit checks when determining who will be a good applicant. Having a good credit score can help you qualify for a lower deposit, or no deposit requirement at all when turning on gas, electric and other utilities.

What are the best student credit cards?

Discover it Student Cash Back

The Discover it Student offers 5% cash back up to $1,500 on selected quarterly categories when activated, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. 

Earn 5% cash back on a selection of quarterly rotating categories up to $1,500 when activated, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

$0 annual fee.

Discover gives a $20 statement credit each school year a student’s GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to 5 years after becoming a cardholder.

Bank of America Travel Rewards 

Bank of America’s Travel Rewards card for students tops our rankings due to its combination of no annual fee, easy to earn rewards and a solid welcome bonus.

Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases. 

Earn 25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.

$0 annual fee.

Bank of America Travel Rewards points are worth 1 cent towards statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees. The card also has no foreign transaction fee, which is great if you’re doing a semester abroad or going on spring break in another country.

Citi Rewards Student Card

The Citi Rewards Student Card rounds points up to the nearest 10 points. 

Earn 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 Thank You Points you redeem per year. 

Receive 2X at Supermarkets & Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and 1 point per $1 spent thereafter.

$0 annual fee.

0% introductory APR for 15 months from date of account opening.

You can also redeem 25,000 points in a year, you get 2,500 of those points back — enough for a $25 gift card. You can redeem points for gift cards, travel rewards or shop with points on Amazon and Best Buy.

Chase Freedom Student 

The Chase Freedom Student card offers $20 per year for keeping the account in good standing for up to your first five years as a cardholder and a credit line increase after five on-time payments in ten months for qualified cardholders.

Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.

Special $50 Bonus Offer earned after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening.

$0 annual fee.

The card also has limited-time benefits with DoorDash and Lyft, which college students might use often.

Deserve Edu Credit Card

The Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students does not require a social security number, credit history or a cosigner. Since it’s not a secured credit card, there’s also no need to provide a deposit. 

Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.

$0 annual fee.

Through Mastercard Platinum, Deserve EDU Mastercard offers an extended warranty, purchase insurance up to $10,000, price protection, travel assistance services, cell phone protection and roadside assistance. In addition, those that spend $500 in the first three months of opening the account can get reimbursed up to a life-time total of $59 for an Amazon Prime Student subscription.



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