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Credit Cards for College Students

Opening a credit card while you’re still in school is a great idea because it will enable you to build the credit standing required to rent an apartment, lease a car, land certain jobs and save money on loans and insurance premiums after graduation. Student credit cards also tend to be pretty good deals. Banks regard students as profitable future customers, so they are willing to offer them lower fees, better rates and more lucrative rewards than are available to people with limited or no credit.

We recommend choosing a card with no annual fee so you can minimize…show more

    3.5 974 reviews

    Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

    capital one student rewards credit card
    • 0% Purchases Not Offered
    • 0% Transfers Not Offered
    • Regular Rate 19.8% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Rate 1% - 1.25% cash back
    • Rewards Bonus None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 25% bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time, for 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
    • Additional Info
    • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
    • Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
    • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
    • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
    • Get free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
    3 209 reviews

    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)
    • Annual Fee $0*
    • Rewards Rate 1 - 2 points / $1
    • Rewards Bonus 2,500 points
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • 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 with this card
    • Redeem ThankYou Points for merchandise, travel rewards, gift cards, cash and more
    • Additional Info
    • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with Chip Technology
    • No annual fee*.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points
    3 244 reviews

    Primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card

    primor secured gold credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 9.99%
    • Annual Fee $49
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    3.5 1,809 reviews

    Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card

    open sky credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 17.5% (V)
    • Annual Fee $29
    • Monthly Fee None
    • Minimum Credit Bad
    • Rewards Details
    • Additional Info
    • Build Your Credit, with monthly updates to all 3 credit bureaus.
    • Control Your Finances, start with a security deposit and credit line as low as $200.
    • Extra Credit When You Need It, increase your credit line up to $5000.
    • Avoid paying interest, no interest charged on new purchases if the balance is paid in full by the due date each month.
    • Easy funding options, with 4 ways to fund and NO checking account needed.
    • After your Account is open for one year or more Capital Bank will charge you a Credit Limit Increase Fee of $25.00 each time you add Deposit Funds and increase the Credit Limit and a Credit Limit Decrease Request Fee of $25.00 each time you request a reduction in your Credit Limit.
    • Apply in less than 5 minutes.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card
    4 377 reviews

    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 Rate 1% - 3% cash back
    • Rewards Bonus None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • 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.
    • Additional Info
    • Overdraft protection: You may link your credit card to your checking account to help avoid overdrafts.
    • Powerful mobile and online tools and apps to help manage your account and expenses, 24/7.
    • Zero Liability program: All Wells Fargo Credit Cards automatically protect you from liability for unauthorized transactions when you report them promptly.
    • Visa benefits: Auto rental collision damage waiver, Emergency card replacement, Roadside dispatch and Travel and emergency assistance services.
    • Verified by visa: Protect your Wells Fargo Visa card with a unique password for online shopping.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card
    3 156 reviews

    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 Rate None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    3 78 reviews

    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% - 22.99% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Rate 1 point / $1
    • Rewards Bonus 1,000 points
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • 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.
    • Earn 500 reward points by enrolling in auto-pay.
    • Earn 500 reward points by enrolling in e-statements.
    • Additional Info
    • Zero Fraud Liability.
    • Travel Benefits: Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel Assistance.
    • 24/7 Cardmember Service.
    • See All Reviews & Details About The Atlantic Stewardship Bank College Rewards Visa® Credit Card
    Credit Score
    Excellent Credit 721 – 850
    Good Credit 661 – 720
    Fair Credit 620 – 660
    Bad Credit 300 – 619
    Limited Credit Less than 3 years
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    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.

    May 28, 2015
    I have used a student credit card and it was a very positive experience. You have to be aware of what you're doing and you have to be smart with it. If you're careless, then you will get into trouble. It was a great way for me to become responsible and learn how credit and everything worked. I see it as an extremely positive thing and a great way to learn how to manage money. I'm glad I used one!
    May 22, 2015
    I think that student credit cards can be a good thing if the student with the card knows the responsibility that goes along with the right to possess that card. A student card can start the student on the road to developing credit and taking responsibility of their own finances. As with everything in life every right comes with responsibility and we much allow and even require that young people learn this fact.
    May 22, 2015
    I think student credit cards are a bad idea for college students. There are very few college students who would be able to carry the financial debt at this point in their lives or be able to adequately understand the financial information and what to do with it.
    May 16, 2015
    When my grand daughter went off to college we wanted to get her a credit card for emergencies and to help build her credit. She was able to get the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® that i co-signed for. I followed all the bills and everything went smoothly. It really helped her have a good credit score by the time she finished school.
    May 14, 2015
    I think a student should only have one card, just so they can cover emergencies and unexpected expenses. Any more than that is not good, because they should be learning to budget. More than one card isn't a good idea. The card they do have should only be used when they really need it, not just for everyday stuff.
    May 8, 2015
    A credit card if used wisely can come in handy when attending school. I found a card with cashback offer was my best friend. I was able to benefit by using the cashback to further pay for college costs. A low APR card would be also helpful for a student that used the credit card often to make the amount owed lower.
    May 5, 2015
    From experience, a person should have at least one credit card, preferably from a major credit card company that can be upgraded in the future to a normal, non-student credit card. I caution, however, student using the credit card. It's very easy to ring up debt on a credit card. make sure to be mindful of how much is charged and make an effort to pay it off the balance every month. The main point of a student credit card is to establish a credit history. Don't damage your credit worthiness right off the bat.
    Apr 30, 2015
    I think it's important for students to have at least one card for emergency purposes. When using this card, you should be very careful to only put on it what you can pay off soon, if not before the actual due date. While you're in school and casually making purchases on this card, you're working toward having a great credit score, despite your school loans. Be sure to find one that suits your lifestyle correctly and perhaps has fringe benefits you can use.
    Apr 27, 2015
    The first card I recall getting as a college student was from a local PNC bank. I definitely can say it was convenient and practical but at times was stressful. Would I recommend one? Yes, i'd say so. But I wouldn't recommend someone at this age getting too tied up with it as credit can be a touchy subject later on in life. Some of my perks I can think of were no annual fee, no over limit fee, no foreign transaction fee, and no late fee on your first late payment. I also had 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases but due to my financial situation at that time it wasn't anything special.
    Apr 23, 2015
    The first decent card I got as a college student was the Citibank Dividend for College Students card. I would recommend this card for a college student who maybe has had a secured card or a very low quality card first and is trying to build their credit. I applied for this card with just a low limit card from First Premier under my belt that I had for maybe two years. I was approved for a $3,000 credit limit. This card has the same benefits as the regular Citibank Dividend card but did not include a sign up bonus when I applied.
    Apr 21, 2015
    A student should have just one credit card with a fairly low limit. When I was a student, I had no credit history. Having a credit card allowed me to establish credit and allowed me to get fair pricing when I purchased my first car coming out of college. You want to make sure the limit on it is low so you don't get too crazy with it. Maybe $500 maximum I would say, unless you have a steady stream of income and can afford to make larger payments. The most important thing, though, is establishing good credit by making purchases here and there and paying the balance off in full. This will help you in the long run.
    Apr 19, 2015
    When I started college, I didn't have any established credit. My parents kept telling me I had to get a credit card. I also could not sign up for a cell phone contract by myself without some credit built up. I signed up for an American Express card. It had a nice limit of $300. I used it carelessly for buying food and video games. I realized I started spending more than I was earning, so I quickly turned that around. I called AMEX and negotiated my APR so that I could quickly pay it off. I did and they quickly increased my credit to $1,000. I made sure not to fall into the trap of using it. It built my credit up fast and was glad I did it. Just take my advice and don't max it out!
    Apr 16, 2015
    I think one credit card is plenty for a college student. It's very easy to get into trouble with credit cards at such a young age because 18-19 year old kids see it as "free money" not realizing how credit cards really work. One is plenty, and a parent should sit down and really help them understand how it works once they get it.
    Apr 10, 2015
    Students should only have one credit card. I have one, provided from my school, and that's all I need. It manages my financial aid and for the moment, income from my part time job. I rarely ever use credit and I do not think students should be encouraged to go into spiraling usage of credit and debt. That has gotten both students and the nations economy into bigger and bigger trouble. So one is enough, if used responsibly, which all students should be taught about at the high school level if you ask me.
    Apr 2, 2015
    Credit cards are the biggest double edge sword in the world of finance for young adults. They're great because you can buy something and pay it off later, while building your credit at the same time, which is great. It can be bad when you think "Oh, I don't have to pay this money off! I'll just buy buy buy". This is something you CANNOT do. If you allow this to happen you will become one of the millions who open new credit cards to help pay off OTHER credit cards, and it can be a never ending cycle. You should only get one ore maybe TWO credit cards max as a young adult, otherwise you may inadvertently get caught up in this cycle and end up paying more in interest than you do in retail purchases. Don't go crazy, but definitely DO get a credit card. Perhaps through your local credit union at first, so that it's safe and nothing too flashy and you won't be starstruck by the whole credit card ordeal.
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