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Credit Cards for College Students

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College students have a variety of options in terms of credit card use. Many students who are new to credit get college student credit cards in order to build their credit history; others use them for the rewards or to strengthen their existing credit standing. Listed below you will find student credit cards from major credit card companies (some of which originate from CardHub advertising partners). Use the filters on the left to find the best student credit card for your particular situation. If you are unsure about how good your credit is, you can use our free credit…show more

    JourneySM Student Rewards from Capital One®


    capital one student rewards credit card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 19.8% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Cash Back
    • Initial Bonus None
    • Earn Rate 1% - 1.25% cash back
    • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase
    • For every month you pay on time, you receive a 25% bonus–that's a total of 1.25% cash back.
    • There's no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards don't expire.

    Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points


    citi thankyou student credit card
    • 0% Purchases 7 months
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 13.99% - 23.99% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site
    • Annual Fee $0
    • Rewards Points
    • Initial Bonus 2,500 points
    • Earn Rate 1 - 2 points / $1
    • Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $500 within the first 3 months of cardmembership.
    • 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment.
    • 1 ThankYou® Point on other purchases.
    • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points.
    • Redeem ThankYou Points for merchandise, travel rewards, gift cards, cash and more.

    Primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card


    primor secured gold credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • Annual Fee $49
    • Monthly Fee None
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 9.99% (V)
    Apply Now at issuer's secure site

    Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card


    wells fargo cash back college card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 11.15% - 21.15% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Cash Back
    • Initial Bonus None
    • Earn Rate 1% - 3% cash back
    • Earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases (purchases minus returns/credits) for 6 months and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.
    • Earn unlimited cash rewards with no complicated calculations, no minimum purchase requirements and no expiration dates.
    • Redeem your cash rewards your way. Cash rewards are redeemed in $25 increments and you can choose to have them automatically deposited into your savings or checking account or apply them as a principal payment to your qualifying personal loan. If you prefer, you can get them as a statement credit or check.
    • Boost your earning potential and find great deals at your favorite local and national stores at the Earn More Mall site.

    State Farm Bank Student Visa® Credit Card


    state farm bank student visa credit card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 11.24% - 18.24% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards None

    Atlantic Stewardship Bank College Rewards Visa® Credit Card


    atlantic stewardship bank college rewards visa card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 11.99% - 20.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Points
    • Initial Bonus 1,000 points
    • Earn Rate 1 point / $1
    • Earn one point for every net purchase dollar.
    • Plus, you have five years to redeem points for rewards.
    • Redeem your points for a wide variety of valuable reward options including, cash back, merchandise, travel and gift cards from your favorite retailers and restaurants.
    • Earn 1,000 bonus points with your first purchase.

    Bangor Savings Bank College Rewards Visa® Credit Card


    bangor savings bank college rewards visa card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 11.99% - 20.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Points
    • Initial Bonus 1,000 points
    • Earn Rate 1 point / $1
    • Earn one point for every net purchase dollar.
    • Plus, you have five years to redeem points for rewards.
    • Redeem your points for a wide variety of valuable reward options including, cash back, merchandise, travel and gift cards from your favorite retailers and restaurants.
    • Earn 1,000 bonus points with your first purchase.
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    Ask our Experts
    EXPERT’S ANSWERS

    Why get a student credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOGetting a student credit card is highly recommended, given that it represents the easiest and cheapest way to establish credit in your own name. Your credit history is directly linked to the loan rates you’ll qualify for later in life and could also affect things like your prospects for certain types of jobs and your insurance premiums. Being an authorized user on a parent’s card will help you build some credit, but it won’t provide nearly the same benefit as you being the primary accountholder.

    Gaining experience using common financial products is also essential to becoming financially literate and avoiding serious mistakes down the road. “High school is a good time to introduce credit cards to students, especially if they get parental, school or church guidance,” says Dr. Debby Lindsey-Taliefero, an associate professor of economics at Howard University who studies financial literacy in urban areas. “My research has shown more important than credit cards are checking accounts with a debit card. Students that have a checking account increased their financial literacy score by 19 points.”

    But if you don’t trust yourself to use a student credit card responsibly, just don’t use it. Even if you lock your card in a drawer right after opening it and never actually make any purchases with it, your credit history will still get beefed up, thanks to the fact that your credit card company will report your card as being in good standing on a monthly basis. If that’s the road you think you’ll wind up taking, we highly recommend getting a no annual fee student credit card in order to minimize costs.

    What do I need to get a student credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEORegardless of your age, you need a valid Social Security Number (SSN) and a mailing address that cannot be a P.O. Box in order to get a college student credit card. [TIP: You can use the street address of where your university mailbox is located on a student credit card application and indicate your box number next to it, almost as if it’s an apartment number, in order to get around this requirement.]

    It’s important to note that if you are under 21, you need to indicate on your application that you have the income or assets (e.g. bank account balance, stocks, etc.) necessary to independently make the required monthly minimum payments on a new credit card (usually no more than $60). If you can’t do so, you’ll need a co-signer who is over 21 and is willing to accept financial responsibility in the event that you don’t pay back what you charge.

    Many folks are under the false impression that people under the age of 21 cannot access credit at all. That’s largely due to disparities between different versions of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 and misinformation being disseminated as a result. “Interestingly, every version of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 had strict protections for people under 21 (targeting college students), but the last version of the bill (the one actually enacted) weakened all those provisions, so it’s business as usual,” says Dr. Robert Scott, an associate professor of economics at Monmouth University. “People who only read the earlier versions of the bill assumed the protections for people under 21 were kept—but that is wrong. I followed the bill closely, since it’s my area of research and was shocked when I read the final version.”

    How should I use my student credit card?

    By: John Kiernan, Personal Finance EditorWhile it’s smart to take advantage of 0% APR offers and rewards, your ultimate objective in using a student credit card is to never miss a single payment and avoid both finance charges and debt. You’re not using a credit card at this stage in your life in order to spend beyond what you have in cash, after all, but instead to build a solid credit history. So set up automatic payment from a bank account (ACH) or set calendar reminders to pay your student credit card bill, and don’t let simply having a credit card lead you to spend more than normal.

    When can I qualify for a non-student credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOGeneral-consumer credit cards for people with good credit usually have better rewards and 0% offers than credit cards for college students. However, it’s difficult to determine whether your credit score has improved enough for you to qualify for such cards. As a general rule, you aren’t ready to graduate from a credit card for students, if you will, until you have a full-time job and start receiving offers for better cards in the mail. Until then, avoid the temptation of applying for a non-student credit card because each time you apply for a new card, your credit score will dip for about six months. That could actually delay you from upgrading your credit card.

    Why do college students need their own type of credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOCredit card companies typically offer unique credit cards for college students for a number of reasons, the biggest being that students are a unique type of consumer. For the most part, they are beginning financial independence with a clean slate, starting fresh without any blemishes or red flags that would lead issuers to avoid them. College students also have years of financial maturity in front of them, not to mention the fact that they are on track to get college degrees, and banks want to get a foot in the door and establish long-term relationships so they can handle their future lending, investing, credit and retirement needs. As a result, college student credit cards are typically more rewarding than other credit cards for people with similar credit histories.

    What about students who aren’t in college?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOThe student credit cards listed on this page are designed for college students. So what credit card options do you have as a high-schooler or graduate school student?

    If you are in high school, you likely cannot qualify for your own credit card thanks to requirements that you must be 18 in order to do so. If you are in this situation, being an authorized user on a parent’s account is a good start to a solid credit history, but you should get a credit card in your own name as soon as possible in order to truly take your credit to the next level.

    If you’re in graduate school and have a full-time income, you probably shouldn’t be looking for a student credit card, since you have the credit history and job status to warrant a credit card for good credit. If you are a graduate student without a full-time income, you’re in a tough spot because on the one hand your credit history might range all the way from limited credit to excellent credit, but your current income might not be sufficient to get a credit card for good or excellent credit.

    Student credit cards vs. Secured credit cards:

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEOWhile not branded as such, a secured credit card actually makes a great credit card for college students for two reasons: 1.) they basically offer guaranteed approval (you still need a co-signer or proof of income if you’re under 21) and 2.) they prevent you from spending beyond your means. Students need credit cards that allow them to build credit cost-effectively, and because secured credit cards require a refundable security deposit that protects issuers against default, some have low fee structures. What’s more, since a secured credit card’s deposit acts as its credit line, students are unable to spend beyond their means while using them—a fact that can be a relief to many parents and of assistance to inexperienced students.

    With that being said, student credit cards undoubtedly have better rewards and various other perks than secured cards. They also do not require students to sacrifice liquidity for credit card use, which can be important considering the tight budgets many young people are on. Therefore, secured credit cards are well-suited to serve as credit cards for students who have already had difficulty using credit responsibly or who really don’t trust themselves to spend responsibly.
    COMMUNITY DISCUSSION

    Ask a question or help others find the best student credit cards by sharing some tips.

     
    Dec 20, 2014
    By:
    Dec 20, 2014
    I would recommend the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students. I love the bonus 2500 points they give you at the beginning though you do have to spend $500 the first 3 months.
    Nov 13, 2014
    By:
    Nov 13, 2014
    I agree that a student should only have one credit card. I did not attend college, but I know how easy it is to get in trouble with credit cards. I was in a real mess with them and I was grown and married. We are still feeling the effects of it and we are retired and living on Social Security. I have a grandson in college and I don't know if he has a credit card, but if he does, I hope he only has one.
    Nov 15, 2014
    Photo of Joseph A.
    Nov 15, 2014
    I agree with you that students should only have one credit card. But you have to make sure it is the right card. Even if you have only one credit card, if it is a bad fit for the student, it can get him or her into financial trouble just as badly as having multiple credit cards would. So picking the right card is just as important as limiting the number of cards you have.
    Nov 8, 2014
    By:
    Nov 8, 2014
    When I was in college I was offered the Discover card. It allowed me to get a credit card without any credit except for buying a car. I was very new with the use of a credit card at the time, but Discover was easy to understand, the interest rates were reasonable and it help to establish more credit for the future.
    Nov 15, 2014
    Photo of Dustin H.
    Nov 15, 2014
    I have to agree with you full heartedly, because I had a similar experience with Discover. It was the first card that I used as a student, and it really opened various doors for me in the future. It allowed me put my through into the world of credit - without overwhelming me. Looking back, it was great for setting up the foundation of my credit today.
    Oct 27, 2014
    By:
    Oct 27, 2014
    Student credit cards are a good way to establish credit. In addition, students often are eligible for reduced rates and benefits that non-students aren't eligible for. It is important to be careful about spending and use it a minimum amount - just enough to establish and build a credit history and score without going over your limit or spending more than you can afford to pay. When choosing a card, try to pick one that has a low interest rate and compare the fees associated with different cards to pick the one that is right. It is a good idea to have one good card and no more than two more
    Oct 8, 2014
    By:
    Oct 8, 2014
    I did start out with a student credit card, and it turned out to be a great stepping stone on the road to credit-worthiness. Their benefits are that they're easy to obtain and relatively risk-free (if you're responsible). After I built up my credit a bit I "graduated" to a different card with better terms and higher limits. I still have my student card account open, since it's my oldest line of credit and that's important to your credit score, but I never use it for anything anymore.
    Oct 6, 2014
    By:
    Oct 6, 2014
    Students should only have access to one credit card. It is far too easy for young people to get into trouble with their credit by having even one card. Giving them access to more than one card just increases the chance that they will run into trouble with their credit. In addition, students often have limited income, so paying even just one of their credit card payments every month can be difficult financially. Having to pay two or more credit card payments would devastate their monthly budget. So, given these risks involved, I argue that students 18-22 years old should be legally restricted to one card, or until their graduation.
    Oct 1, 2014
    By:
    Oct 1, 2014
    Students should have just one main credit card. The card they have should be beneficial to them. They also should not spend the full amount that is on the card. Because if they get a card with a high apr their bill will be very high. Also it is very important to get a card from a good company. Because a lot of credit card companies have very poor customer service.
    Sep 27, 2014
    By:
    Sep 27, 2014
    A student should only have 1 card. While it is mandatory for a few things, too many cards lead to overspending, and not being responsible. Too many people have ruined their credit ratings and histories with these first cards, by over spending and not being able to pay. The American society has a problem with spending more than we make, and hoping we can pay for it later. Recently we as a society have learned that this was very bad. Students get excited over being able to buy what they want when they want, thinking they will pay for it later, but sometimes later doesn't come. One low limit card, more
    Sep 19, 2014
    By:
    Sep 19, 2014
    When I first went to school, I was approved for a 1st Financial Bank MasterCard. I liked it because it gave me freedom to make essential purchases while away from home. The low interest rate it had really made it easy to pay it back while I was working part time during school. I also enjoyed the limit I had. It was nothing too outrageous and it kept me well within my means.
    Sep 13, 2014
    By:
    Sep 13, 2014
    I think one or two would be sufficient. These days there are certain things a person can't do without a card, such as renting a car. Spending limits are very important, I think. One bad decision and the student would be in trouble. It's always nice to have a little nest egg every once in a while to get that thing you "just can't do without" as a student. School costs that are unexpected can be real difficult to manage.
    Sep 11, 2014
    By:
    Sep 11, 2014
    I think that college credit cards should have a limit to not overspend that can be adjusted. I also think that it is important to be able to also earn reward for using the credit card. There should also be no transaction fees because those also can add up and have devastating results. College students should also have a credit card that gives back to them at least 1%-3% of what they spend.
    Sep 4, 2014
    By:
    Sep 4, 2014
    A student should probably limit themselves to just one or two credit cards. It's important to work on building your credit, so it's a good idea to have one, but at the same time, it's easy for young people who are inexperienced when it comes to managing finances to go into debt when they are using credit cards. It probably depends on the type of card and the maturity of the person using it.
    Aug 31, 2014
    By:
    Aug 31, 2014
    I actually got a student credit card when I was in college. One of the representatives called me in my house and asked if I was interested in a Wells Fargo Student Credit Card. Seeing that I needed one I went ahead and said yes. I was using my parent's credit card to buy books at the time so I figured it might be better if I had my own. I had a good experience with the card. It had my name and my limit was only $500. It wasn't a lot but it was enough to buy books and other school supplies while I was in college. It was more
    Aug 28, 2014
    By:
    Aug 28, 2014
    A best student credit card would be one and only one that is secured and under the student's name. This will help the student build a credit history. By using a deposit of let's say $500, most cards will extend 1.5 to 2 times as much credit. This is what I suggest. Use the card to pay bills at the beginning of the semester, or monthly rent. Pay the bill off in full to avoid fees and interest. Do not charge food, entertainment of impulse items. Always pay on time. Stick to these rules. This starter card is not for loans and definitely NO cash advances! It is to build more
    Aug 28, 2014
    By:
    Aug 28, 2014
    i think a student that goes to school away from home will be just fine with one credit card. As long as they don't abuse it and use it responsibly they should be okay.
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