Getting credit cards as a college student might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually a smart move.
Surprisingly, credit card companies are more inclined to approve students than recent graduates, making your college years an excellent time to start building your credit history.
Responsible credit card use can set you on a path to a strong credit score, which will prove invaluable when you need a car loan, mortgage, or other financial milestones in the future.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best student credit cards to help you make informed choices and set your financial journey on the right track:
Best Student Credit Cards
This no-annual-fee student credit card not only offers enticing rewards but also the chance to snag a generous upfront bonus as a new cardholder.
Let’s dive into the bonus first: as a new cardholder, you’ll receive a $200 bonus when you spend a minimum of $1,000 with your card within the first 90 days of opening your account.
To maximize this bonus, it’s wise to apply when you anticipate reaching this spending threshold.
Beyond the bonus, you’ll enjoy excellent cash-back rewards: 3% cash back in a category of your choice, such as online shopping, gas, dining out, and more.
Additionally, you’ll earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and warehouse clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. It’s important to note that there’s a $2,500 spending cap on the 2% and 3% categories combined within each calendar quarter.
Any spending beyond $2,500 in these categories during a quarter will earn 1% cash back.
For instance, if you spend $1,500 on dining (your chosen 3% category) and $1,500 at grocery stores in a quarter, you’ll receive the standard 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 of combined purchases, while the remaining $500 will earn 1% cash back.
A fantastic no-annual-fee cash back credit card tailored to students, this card offers enhanced cash back rates in categories where students often spend.
You’ll receive 3% cash back on purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, entertainment outlets, and most streaming services.
Be sure to check the Capital One website to see which purchases qualify in these categories.
All other purchases will earn 1% cash back. Another perk is that this card doesn’t impose foreign transaction fees, so if you’re traveling abroad, you won’t incur any additional charges on your purchases. (Many credit cards tack on an extra 3% for foreign transactions.)
This no-annual-fee cash-back card provides a solid 1% cash back on all your purchases. However, it offers an exciting twist by allowing you to earn 5% cash back in specific purchase categories that change each calendar quarter.
For instance, in the second quarter of 2021 (April-June), you could have earned 5% cash back at gas stations, wholesale clubs, and on streaming services.
Then, in the third quarter (July-September), the 5% cash-back categories switched to dining purchases and purchases made with PayPal (using the card as your PayPal funding method).
The current 5% cash-back calendar can be found on the Discover website. Keep in mind that there’s a $1,500 spending limit in the 5% reward categories every quarter. Purchases exceeding $1,500 in these categories will earn the standard 1% cash back.
Additionally, Discover goes the extra mile by offering a first-year Cashback Match bonus. After holding the card for a full year, you’ll receive a bonus that matches all the cash-back rewards you earned in your initial year as a cardholder.
For example, if you earned $75 in rewards during your first 12 months with the card, Discover will award you an additional $75, effectively doubling your first-year earnings.
This no-annual-fee student credit card provides a steady 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
However, you can boost your cash-back rate to 2% when you use your rewards to pay down a student loan.
Additionally, the card offers a $200 bonus opportunity if you spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
Much like the Bank of America Customized Cash Card for Students, this no-annual-fee student credit card offers 1.5% cash back on all your card purchases.
It also provides a generous $200 bonus for new cardholders who spend a minimum of $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
As with other cards, it’s advisable to apply when you anticipate meeting this spending threshold.
Similar to the card mentioned above, this student credit card is free from annual fees and grants you 1.5% cash back on all your card purchases.
However, it does not offer a bonus for new cardholders. It’s important to note that this card does not impose foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the United States.
Other Notable Student Credit Cards
While the above options offer some of the best student credit cards available, there are a few other noteworthy choices to consider:
This no-annual-fee student credit card offers a 1% cash back reward, along with a complimentary year of Amazon Prime Student.
Moreover, it provides cell phone protection if your phone is stolen or damaged and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for international card use.
In summary, these cards are designed to help you build your credit responsibly while enjoying rewards and benefits tailored to your needs.
Remember, the key to successful credit card use is responsibility. By paying your bills on time and managing your spending wisely, you can make the most of your student credit card and set yourself on a solid financial path for the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way for a student to get a credit card?
Although it is legally allowed, issuers will insist that you have a separate source of income, which the majority of college students do not. You will need a parent or another reliable adult to co-sign for you on a credit card application if you are under 21 and don’t have your own income.
Can I have 2 credit cards as a student?
For responsible cardholders, having multiple credit cards could be advantageous. Having an additional credit card or two would definitely be advantageous for students who can manage multiple accounts and pay off all bills on time each month.