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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 1,207 reviews

    Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

    capital one journey
    • Purchase Intro APR Not Offered
    • Transfer Intro APR Not Offered
    • Regular APR 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
    • Free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker
    • See More Details & Reviews About The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
    3 320 reviews

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

    citi thankyou student credit card
    • Purchase Intro APR 0% for 7 months
    • Transfer Intro APR Not Offered
    • Regular APR 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 More Details & Reviews About The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points
    3 481 reviews

    Primor® Secured Visa Gold Credit Card

    primor secured visa gold 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 2,175 reviews

    Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card

    open sky credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 17.39% (V)
    • Annual Fee $35
    • 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 More Details & Reviews About The Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card
    4 476 reviews

    Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card

    wells fargo cash back college card
    • Purchase Intro APR 0% for 12 months
    • Transfer Intro APR 0% for 12 months 3% Transfer Fee
    • Regular APR 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 More Details & Reviews About The Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card
    3 197 reviews

    State Farm Bank Student Visa® Credit Card

    state farm bank student visa credit card
    • Purchase Intro APR Not Offered
    • Transfer Intro APR Not Offered
    • Regular APR 11.24% - 18.24% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Rate None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    3 84 reviews

    Atlantic Stewardship Bank College Rewards Visa® Credit Card

    atlantic stewardship bank college rewards visa card
    • Purchase Intro APR Not Offered
    • Transfer Intro APR Not Offered
    • Regular APR 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 More Details & Reviews 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
    of credit history

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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.

    Nov 12, 2015
    Student credit cards could be very helpful or very harmful. It all really depends upon the student. Credit cards can be used to build a good credit history. They can also be used to order things online where they can find better prices. Learning to pay off the card completely every month and not misuse it helps build a standard for financial success. As with many things in life, a person must choose not to abuse the situation.
    Nov 6, 2015
    The perks that I think are best from credit cards the ones with a hassle free balance transfer. When I was a student I used to have the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card. So every so often I had to pay for my tuition and school materials cost. The way I had to pay was either check or cash and paid always with cash. So when I didn't have any cash I used a balance transfer from the card to pay off. This card has one of the best customer service, experience, and usage by far so for me. I absolutely loved it.
    Oct 30, 2015
    When I was a college student I had a credit card with a very small limit. It was really useful when you didn't have funding right away and helped build my credit score and show me the value of how to manage my money early on in my life.
    Oct 19, 2015
    When I was a college student, I got a Student Discover Card. It was quite helpful in establishing my credit. It was easy to obtain with no prior credit history and had a low limit so I couldn't go crazy. I do remember that it had a higher interest rate than others (but I probably wouldn't have been approved for those anyway). I used that credit card for gas, coffee, and small purchase, paying it off each month. Eventually, my limit was increased, and it became my main card. Now, 20 years later, it's my longest standing account.
    Oct 7, 2015
    I have used a prepaid card before. I signed up with Visa Buxx card. I initially signed up because they gave a $25 sign up bonus but I’m not that happy with the card and don’t use it much. The card has an inactivity fee after a few months and they take $1 off your card until the balance runs out.
    Oct 5, 2015
    My Student Rewards card from Capital One is the perfect card to have started out with when in college. I had constantly been rejected from other higher, more ambitious credit cards and I applied for this credit card to boost up my credit. As a college student, I was able to build up my credit card history and manage school payments with this card and eventually was able to build enough credit for a more higher end credit card. This is the most essential step to taking baby steps into the adult life. I feel like every student should start off with the student credit card to have that experience of how to manage and how to build up credit.
    Sep 21, 2015
    In my experience, both as a student and now as a parent, I find 0% rates on purchases and transfers to be among the most useful benefits. When first entering college, you usually need to make special purchases. It’s good to have the option of paying for those purchases over a period of 12 months without having to pay interest. My daughter got a Wells Fargo Cash Back College Credit Card and used it for this purpose. She paid off her balance within 12 months and avoided interest charges.
    Sep 20, 2015
    I think the ability to get a fraction of percentage cash back or reward points would be the most useful perk for a student. My mom has a card like this, and as a student, getting 1% back on , say, coffee purchases would really add up and be helpful!
    Sep 15, 2015
    I have used a student credit card for several years, it had helped me through many a difficult time when food and resources were scarce. I would recommend every student get one just to use in times of emergency. It really taught me to be responsible. I owe a lot to MasterCard/Citibank for giving me the card that got me through those tough times.
    Sep 9, 2015
    I think that a young adult having access to a credit card has both its pros and cons. It is a great way for them to start building their credit. They can also get in trouble because this is the first time they are usually on their own and have freedom to spend money that they don't actually have.
    Sep 3, 2015
    I received my Visa student credit card from my credit union. I think the best way to use it is to only make purchases with it when you have the money to pay it off right away. I started out that way then money got tight and I made the mistake of not paying it off right away. Thankfully, the limit is low so I was not able to get myself into too much trouble, but it was still no fun paying it off. I think students should be careful when getting a credit card and only use it when you have the money to pay it off.
    Sep 2, 2015
    I ended up with a Wells Fargo student credit card after I lost my debit card in my first semester of my freshmen year and needed a way to pay for food and such. My credit account was very easy to set up, almost too easy! It's been eight years since I set up my credit card and I still have the account open and use the card regularly! The credit limit is lower than most credit cards, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. My Wells Fargo student credit card was my first credit card and set me on the path to an excellent credit score.
    Aug 31, 2015
    State Farm is very forgiving with students with bad credit, so it's a great place to start if you've had trouble getting approved in the past. You'll love the low (for student credit cards) interest rate, the $0 annual fee and the free rental insurance. Just make sure you don't use it overseas (3% fee) and don't be late on your payments ($35 penalty fee).
    Aug 23, 2015
    I recently got approved for the Capital One Platinum card with a 300.00 credit limit. 300 doesn't seem like much but since I'm paying out of pocket for my college classes every little bit helps. This semester what I did is buy my books with the credit card that way I can pay it back over a couple of months. I think a student credit card is a good idea and helps the younger adult generation build credit. If you're smart about it you can get a good system going.
    Aug 13, 2015
    I received my student credit card from my Credit Union. I love it. It is my first credit card so the limit is low. I really like that I can not get into too much trouble with the limit being so low. I like that I can earn points by getting good grades. The rewards are pretty decent as well.
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