Best Overall Student Credit Cards
Student credit cards are offered by many major card issuers as a way to help students build credit while also building brand loyalty. Student cards have no credit history requirements, low to no fees, and when used responsibly they are generally the most affordable way to establish and build credit.
A great student credit card should offer three things: competitive purchase rewards, no annual fee, and a long grace period. Our overall top student card picks hit all the marks, as well as offering valuable extras like cash back rewards and new cardholder signup offers.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is a well-rounded student card, offering users cash back rewards, a $0 annual fee, an intro-APR offer, and even a signup bonus.
Cardholders can choose their own cash back bonus category from a list that includes: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings. Users can select a new bonus category each month or let their chosen category continue unchanged. Earnings on bonus rewards purchases are capped at $2,500 in combined category purchases each quarter.
Scotiabank Scene* Visa* Card
If youre a movie buff who enjoys spending time at theatres and want to earn and redeem rewards fast, the Scotiabank SCENE®* Visa* Card just might be the one for you. Its low income requirement and lack of annual fee make it great for students so long as you know youd make use of what the reward points offer. Youll earn points to redeem at Cineplex and get free movie tickets and concessions, and get a discount at AVIS car rental locations worldwide.
- Welcome bonus: Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points with your first $750 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months .
- Rewards structure: Earns you 5 points per dollar spent at Cineplex Odeon theatres and 1 point everywhere else.
- Additional perks: Earn free movies, restaurant discounts, car rental discounts.
- Annual fee: $0
Can You Apply For A Credit Card Without A Job
In short, yes, you can apply for a student credit card without a job. Some credit card providers may require proof of income along with your application , but if you dont have full- or part-time work, you can provide them with an alternate form of income to prove youd be able to pay off any accumulated expenses. This may come from a student loan, personal savings, or help from a parent or guardian.
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Who Should Skip A Student Credit Card
- The rewards chaser. Although student credit cards feature worthwhile rewards rates and bonus rewards in certain categories, an experienced cardholder would find more value out of a high end card. If todays top rewards cards are out of your range, the options here are a great way to grow your credit and earn along the way.
- The traveler. Students vacationing and studying abroad will appreciate cash back rewards and the lack of foreign transaction fees that student cards can bring to the table, but a more typical traveler likely wants more. If youre looking to turn purchases into future trips and improve your travel experience, reroute to the best travel cards.
- The tight-budget student. If youre already dealing with debt from student loans, textbooks or any other expense, it might be best to wait on applying for a student card. Credit cards are useful tools to grow credit, spend conveniently and earn rewards, but they can escalate into a major burden if you cant afford to pay off your purchases and fall behind schedule.
Can I Get A Credit Limit Increase
The biggest change you might want to make is to increase your credit limit. Heres how: Once you start your new job out of college or have set a trend of being a responsible cardholder, contact the card issuer, and just ask. With your new salary, you should get a sizable increase, which helps with your available credit if you have a balance.
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Q4 Why Would You Consider A Student Credit Card Over A Traditional Credit Card
Answer by: Joyce Serido
Although credit cards are a useful and important financial tool, they are a form of borrowing meaning you have to repay the money. And like many financial tools, it takes some practice to learn how to use credit as a source of financial wellbeing, rather than as a source of financial stress.
Student credit cards are designed to help individuals with limited financial experience learn how to manage credit responsibly.
Student credit cards come with the same advantages of a regular credit card but they typically have lower credit limits, making it more difficult to over-borrow and accumulate a lot of debt.
Answer by: Suzan Pavlis
Individual Student Credit Cards Fact Sheet
Weve rounded up key details on student credit cards from major credit card issuers, allowing you to compare their potential benefits and drawbacks. Because card issuers regularly update their terms and offerings, please be sure to confirm the information you find here before applying for any student credit card.
Chase Freedom® Student Card
Late Fee or Other Fees?
What Else You Need to Know
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Which Student Credit Card Has Better Upgrade Possibilities
Each student credit card has different upgrading possibilities. In some cases, it may not be possible to upgrade your card. Instead, you may have to close the one card and open up a new card with either the same issuer or a different one. But some card issuers do offer the option to transition to a traditional consumer credit card after college. If you desire to upgrade your card after college, it is best to contact the card issuer before applying to explore your options.
What You Need To Know Before Applying For A Student Credit Card
As with any form of borrowing, student credit cards can lead to major financial challenges if used irresponsibly. Because college can be a period of financial strain for many students, its especially important to evaluate the following potential risks before applying for any card.
Risk of Debt
While this potential pitfall may seem obvious, many cardmembers accrue more debt than they intend and then spend years struggling to repay it. While student credit cards often have smaller credit lines than other kinds of credit cards, you can still rack up sizable debts if you use your card indiscriminately.
Beyond your responsibility to repay, outstanding debts can also pose challenges as you leave school and contemplate major purchases. Your total debts are factored into your credit score, and many lenders assess your debt-to-income ratio when evaluating you for a loan. Even if you have every intention to repay your credit card debt in the future, it can cause plenty of issues in the present.
Interest calculations can seem fairly confusing, but theyre essential to understand before signing up for any card. As you evaluate student credit card interest rates, youll likely be comparing APRs, which are percentages representing the cost of interest charges and fees for borrowers.
Spending Above Your Means
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How To Apply For A Student Credit Card
Applying for a student credit card is pretty straightforward, although there are a few eligibility requirements to keep in mind.
- Youll need to be the age of majority in your province. Thats either 18 or 19 .
- If you dont earn an income, you may need to provide proof that you receive some form of financial support, such as allowances from your family or a scholarship.
As a new credit card holder, its a smart idea to review your options before you apply. Check out what different banks are offering, and choose a card that best matches your lifestyle and spending habits. Each application does affect your , so youll want to avoid applying for multiple credit cards needlessly. Stick with one card as you learn the ropes and start building your credit history.
Capital One Savorone Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our pick for: Bonus cash back categories that stay the same
Among cards aimed at students, the $0-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is near the head of the class. It earns 3% cash back in a variety of popular spending categories for students including dining, entertainment purchases, eligible streaming services and grocery store purchases which is a better deal than you’d find on many cards requiring annual fees or sterling credit. Read our review.
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Should You Consider Student Credit Cards From Credit Unions Or Community Banks
Student credit cards are available from various lenders and issuers, including community banks and credit unions. These financial institutions are often more locally-focused, so they take the time to get to know their customers and their financial needs.
If you get a student credit card from a community bank or credit union, youll have the ability to build a relationship with that financial institution. You may even gain access to other financial products and services with better terms for merely being a cardholder.
In some cases, having a credit union credit card may mean fewer rewards than other credit card issuers, but the interest rate may also be lower.
Best Student Cards For Cash Back
The field of credit card options grows larger every year, and issuers are working hard to incentivize consumers to select their cards over the competition. Purchase rewards are one of the best results of this competition, and smart credit card use can net you a rewards rebate on nearly anything you buy.
Cash back is by far the simplest type of credit card rewards to earn and redeem, with no points to maximize or transfer. Cash back rewards are usually redeemed as a credit card statement credit that can be used to cover any card purchases. Many student cards offer cash back rewards, but our favorites offer bonus rewards for things like popular purchase categories or good credit behavior.
This card is a great option for cash back rewards, particularly if you make a lot of purchases in one of the bonus categories. You can even choose a new category each month to match changes in your spending.
Bonus rewards are limited to the first $2,500 in qualifying purchases each quarter. In addition to earning rewards on your purchases, this card will also give you a year of interest-free purchases and balance transfers .
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Who Should Apply For A Student Credit Card
Simply being a college student isn’t enough by itself to qualify for a student card. Here’s what you need to know.
Student status might matter. Check the card’s terms and conditions on the issuer’s website for application eligibility. For example, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One does not have an explicit student requirement, while the rules for the Discover it® Student Cash Back say “You must be a college student.”
Federal law limits who can get credit cards under age 21. Issuers are prohibited from providing cards to people under 21 unless they have proof of independent income or a co-signer someone who agrees to be responsible for the debt if the primary cardholder doesn’t pay the bill. This can be a roadblock since most major credit card issuers dont allow co-signers.
Those 21 or over are also required to provide proof of income. However, they can list any income to which they have reasonable expectation of access.
Bad credit is usually a dealbreaker. Student credit cards are designed for people with little or no credit history. If you have bad credit because of missed payments or other missteps, you probably wont qualify for a student card on your own. In that case, look to a card specifically designed for people with bad credit.
Best Cards For Students With Cosigners
Given that most college students are in the 18 to 20 age range, it can be hard to qualify for even a student card if you cant show an income. That leaves finding a cosigner and an issuer that allows them. Only a handful of major banks allow credit card cosigners, so your options are mostly limited to their offerings.
Bank of America allows cosigners on most cards, but student cards will likely be the easiest to get as a college student, even with a cosigner. This is a flexible-points travel card, which can be redeemed as a statement credit to cover eligible travel purchases, including flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, and baggage fees. The card can also be used to make purchases while traveling abroad as it charges no foreign transaction fees.
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What Should You Consider When Choosing Your Card
Choosing the right credit card for you is extremely important. If you dont take a close look at the fine print and main features of your credit card, you risk choosing one that doesnt suit you and your financial habits and needs. You want your student credit card to do more than just help you spend money.
Here are some things you should consider before applying for a credit card:
Impact Of Closing A Card On Your Credit History Age
The length of your credit history together with your average account age is worth up to 15% of your credit score. If youre like most young people, your student card will likely be your oldest credit account, meaning the length of your credit history is probably equal to the age of your student card.
That said, closing the account wont automatically remove it from your credit reports nor will it stop the account from aging at least, not indefinitely. Technically, an account closed in good standing can hang out on your credit reports for up to 10 years after its closed and still contribute to your credit history and average account age.
However, accounts in good standing are usually deleted after the 10-year mark, meaning youll likely lose any history associated with that account at that point. This can drop your overall credit history age as well as decrease your average account age. If significant, these reductions can also cause your credit score to decrease.
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Comparing The Best Student Credit Cards
Our experts at CreditCards.com analyzed 109 student credit card offers to find our top recommendations. Below are our picks for the nine best student credit cards. The Discover it Student Cash Back tops our list as the best credit card for students because of its rewards rates and special perks, but there are several strong options:
- Free credit score and monitoring
Clarks Advice For Parents Of College Students
If youre a parent or guardian who is trying to help your young adult get a first credit card, Clark has some advice for you as well.
A parent has got to know their kid. You cant be oblivious to what is going on with what youre kids are doing with credit, Clark says. They need your guidance, and sometimes they will also need your oversight on how you handle a card. Its just part of the maturity process, and kids handle money differently.
All three of my kids are completely different in how they handle money. You have to know your child as you walk them through this process.
Team Clarks Lori used different methods with her three kids as they went to college. Her oldest kid had trouble getting a credit card because she didnt use a student credit card while in college, so she ended up getting a store charge card as her way to build credit.
Lori learned from that experience and helped her other two children be more proactive by applying for Discover student cards while in school.
But even that took a unique approach for each child. One child figured out the process quickly and handles payments on their own. Meanwhile, she is much more hands-on with her third child. But for her third child, Lori monitors the card and makes the payments each month.
Clarks Advice for Student Card Alternatives
A lot of credit unions offer whats called a youth starter program,’ Clark says. And its really a modified version of a secured card geared toward a college student.
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How Students Can Avoid Credit Card Debt
Learning experiences can be painful, especially when they involve learning how bad decisions can hurt your personal finances. Heres a list of four tips for staying out of debt trouble with credit cards: