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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 1,476 reviews

    Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

    capital one journey
    • Purchase Intro APR Not Offered
    • Transfer Intro APR Not Offered
    • Regular APR 20.24% (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 your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
    • 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
    • See More Details & Reviews About The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
    3 475 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 14.24% - 24.24% (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
    3 800 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 2,563 reviews

    Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card

    open sky credit card
    • Secured Credit Card Min Deposit of $200
    • One-Time Fees None
    • Regular Rate 17.64% (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 $3000.
    • 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
    4 586 reviews

    Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card

    wells fargo cash back college card
    • Purchase Intro APR 0% for 6 months
    • Transfer Intro APR 0% for 6 months 3% (min $5) Transfer Fee
    • Regular APR 11.4% - 21.4% (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
    3 235 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 11.49% - 18.49% (V)
    • Annual Fee None
    • Rewards Rate 0.5 points / $1
    • Rewards Bonus None
    • Minimum Credit Limited History
    • Rewards Details
    • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on insurance premium payments, up to $4,000 annually.
    • Earn 1 point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases.
    • Many student discounts provided by Visa.
    • Additional Info
    • No annual fee.
    • Competitive rate.
    • Worldwide Visa credit card acceptance.
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
    • Zero Fraud Liability.
    • See More Details & Reviews About The State Farm Bank Student Visa® Credit Card
    3 97 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 12.24% - 23.24% (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
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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.

    Jan 3, 2016
    I had the Wells Fargo® Cash Back College Credit Card. I think this card is great because it has cash back in addition to the standard credit card features. I had limited credit history when I applied, but the application process was simple and very quick. The card had 0% APR in the first year and a decent APR thereafter. Redeeming rewards is easy as it is done using the Wells Fargo website. Other features of the card are similar to those of other cards.
    Jan 3, 2016
    As a college student, I had a couple of credit cards, one from my credit union and one from Bank of America which had a rather high credit limit. While there were some good things, such as starting to establish credit early, being able to buy things when money I was waiting on hadn't come yet, and having something in case of emergency, the debt was a huge negative.

    I also think having a credit card as a college student made it more acceptable for me to get 4-5-6 credit cards now. I'm unemployed and pretty much living off credit cards. I'm very much in debt and have been for years. I get a job and try to pay off the debt before I move onto the next period of unemployment so that if I have to, I can live off my credit cards again. Its not a good way to live.
    Jan 3, 2016
    I had applied for the Wells Fargo college card over the summer between semesters. I had done it on a whim when it was suggested by Credit Karma dot com because I needed to increase my credit score. The process was very easy and I was approved in minutes despite not having a job and doing only freelance work on the side.

    I don't think it has any rewards, although it does help you track your credit score with the app. Overall I'm pleased with the card but that's mainly because I make payments every week. I don't overspend and make sure I only get things I can afford or require (gas, bills, food, etc). Since that time my credit score went up 60-70 points or so and now I have "average" grade credit.

    Overall I think it has everything a student needs--primarily the credit score tracker. Maybe a push notification for the mobile app could serve as a payment reminder of some sort for those who are forgetful.
    Dec 28, 2015
    I used the Capital One Student Card back in school. The card was easy to use, and the interest rate was not quite as high as some of the other cards that are available in the market. I had a relatively low credit line ($500), and I think that helped me to keep using my card ONLY for the important things, such as books, supplies and gas. I would recommend this card in particular, or at least a card similar with a low line of credit to begin.
    Dec 28, 2015
    The application process for Capital One Cash Back College Card is wonderful. I recently got approved for the Capital One Platinum card with a $400.00 credit limit. $400 doesn't seem like much but since I'm paying out of pocket for my college classes every little bit helps. The customer service is exceptional and highly recommended for great help when needed. Capital One Cash Back College card is a great way to go for help with college payments. I love this card.
    Dec 28, 2015
    I really regret using credit cards when I was in school. My parents warned me and warned me. Why didn't I listen? These companies lure you in. It's the easiest thing to apply, even with no credit at all. I got several credit cards quickly and used them freely. To my everlasting regret. The interest rates were intitally low, then ramped up the second you gave them a reason to do so. There were no yearly fees, it was all interest, which was 24.99 at the high end. They make using these and applying very convenient and easy...too easy. Wells Fargo was my first card, and I am still paying that off years and years later! I bought the necessities of life and some luxuries, online and in person. I made payments online...when I could make payments. I wish that I had been more aware of the whole process and the extremely detrimental way that interest rates can ramp up and add to your debt until you can never get out of it. I had no idea. No clue. The fine print needs to be much more clear. Please learn from my mistake and live within your means, and if you cannot afford it, don't buy it! You will be so much better off in the long run. Credit cards can be a useful tool, but ONLY if you already have the money to pay them off and are a disciplined person. Most college students just are not that responsible more
    Dec 28, 2015
    The application process for Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card was easy and very quick. The perks about this card is that there is no annual fee and the interest rate is low starting at 11.4% and only going up to 21.4%. The customer service is exceptional and highly recommended. They care about their customers and are willing to work out any problems that arise. Online banking is adequate and relatively easy. Wells Fargo also makes it easy to redeem your rewards. I'm satisfied with the card. My only complaint is that I wish they were more generous with their reward program.
    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!
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