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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 1,068 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
    • 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®
    3 253 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 More Details & Reviews About The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points
    3 324 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 1,943 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 More Details & Reviews About The Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card
    4 419 reviews

    Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card


    wells fargo cash back college card
    • 0% Purchases 12 months
    • 0% Transfers 12 months3% Transfer Fee
    • 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 More Details & Reviews About The Wells Fargo® Cash BackSM College Credit Card
    3 173 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 83 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 More Details & Reviews About The Atlantic Stewardship Bank College Rewards Visa® Credit Card
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    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.

     
    Jul 24, 2015
    By:
    I don't think all students should have a credit card. I think only those who have a good part time job should actually own one. Not everyone is responsible and some people tend to see a credit card as free money. Having a credit card is a huge responsibility. I think it's best for students to try and avoid financial debt seeing as how college is already expensive and students finish with thousands of dollars in debt. But if they are responsible and seek guidance they can use the credit card to build credit for their future.

    I learned a lot about credit card use. I usually buy, go home and pay the debt so I won't see it pile up and build credit at the same time.
    Jul 11, 2015
    By:
    I think that credit cards for college students can be useful if they are used responsibly. If used for small items and paid off quickly it helps to establish good credit as soon as possible. Length of history and on time payments make up a HUGE part of your overall credit score and getting some good credit as soon as possible is a big help for when you go out and make those bigger purchases later in life. Also it's nice to have something like that in case an emergency comes up and you're already tight on funds from books and tuition.
    Jul 7, 2015
    By:
    I do not believe that every College student should posses a credit card. The credit card should only be used during emergencies and/or for true necessities Along with college loans, students will become to far into financial debt that they will not recover from. Not all students would abuse the card and buy beyond the capacity to repay. It is a great way to establish credit or it can prevent from having great credit in the future. Just take into consideration the fees that accrue. It should be up to your personal opinion if you can be responsible with it.
    Jul 7, 2015
    By:
    Student credit cards can be very helpful to a young person just starting out in "the real world". I know from my own experience that it is a great way to establish a credit history and begin to learn the responsibility of credit and personal debt. There is a dark side however, and students should take care to monitor their spending. Going out to party or reckless spending can quickly tank your finances and it has the potential to damage your credit for many years to come.
    Jun 25, 2015
    By:
    I used the Citi Thank Rewards card and it was pretty neat with how the program worked. The points today aren't as good, but if you can find a similar card, get it! Just make sure you read the fine print. It gave me reward points for shopping, food, and movies. If you do those things as much as I do, the points you get back will be loads. Best form of cashing those points out, in my opinion is connecting it through Amazon. They give you more bang for your points.

    Keep a responsible hold on this and you will build your credit is a positive way. This helped me learn about budgeting and restraint.
    Jun 20, 2015
    By:
    Student credit cards allow young people to build up their credit scores. The importance of good credit means better loans or receiving credit cards with more rewards. It also teaches them to think before you swipe that credit card. Proper usage of student credit cards allows for them to be more financially literate.
    Jun 17, 2015
    By:
    When it comes to student credit cards, surely the biggest thing to worry about is the amount of potential APR your credit card of choice might have. As students tend to carry a balance, being sure that the APR is as low as you can possibly get it to will ensure that your payments will remain small.
    Jun 14, 2015
    By:
    I mainly look at future APR of a college card when deciding what to choose. Ultimately, I chose the Wells Fargo College Cashback card due to its 0% APR for the first twelve months, and due to the fact I bank through Wells Fargo already. There are also minimal fees and interest rates are not too high. I believe the Cashback rewards are rather low, though.
    Jun 12, 2015
    By:
    Student credit cards are great for young adults because this allows them to build credit. This is important because you need good credit if you ever want to buy a house or a car in the future. Make sure to be responsible with the card. Young adult can sometimes become reckless and go overboard with their spending.
    Jun 10, 2015
    By:
    I don't currently use a student credit card but my younger brother has, currently I am his guardian and I had got him the card so he can use it during college. I have to say that it has helped him build some credit up and with some unexpected expenses thrown at us.
    Jun 10, 2015
    By:
    The first card I got as a student and one I currently have is the Wells Fargo College Card. The rate for me wasn’t and isn’t too bad at 11.15 percent. When trying to get my credit started I used the card at grocery stores and paying bills every month. With a student card you really have to be careful though, I only suggest that people buy no more than they can pay off. All and all it’s a pretty good introductory credit card.
    May 28, 2015
    By:
    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
    By:
    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
    By:
    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
    By:
    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.
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