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Compare the Best Credit Cards for Students

The best credit cards for students prevent young cardholders from getting into debt while they build up their credit. Explore options for student credit cards by reading BestCards.com’s detailed reviews below. You can find the best credit cards for college students today.

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Total Cards 25

August 09, 2018

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Earn up to 5% Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Discover
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee, and no late fee on the first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Discover automatically matches all the earned cash back at the end of the first year, with no limit to the amount that is matched
  • $20 statement credit when GPA is 3.0 or higher every school year for up to five years
  • Cash back rewards can be redeemed at any time and never expire
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter, such as gas stations, restaurants, or wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 10.99% for 6 months from date of first transfer
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: 5% of the amount of each transfer
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

August 23, 2018

Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®

Earn Up to 1.25% Cash Back on All Purchases

Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®
  • Regular Purchase APR 26.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 26.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , No Credit Required
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • When balance is paid on time, cash back earnings rate increases to 1.25% for the month
  • Keep track of your credit score for free with CreditWise from Capital One®
  • No annual fee
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 26.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 26.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

August 27, 2018

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

$200 Bonus Cash

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 18.49% to 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 15 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Introductory 0% purchase APR for your first 15 months
  • Introductory 0% APR on balance transfers made within 60 days
  • Enjoy additional travel, auto rental, and purchase benefits
  • 3% cash back on the category of your choice
  • 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • Free ccess to monthly FICO® Score
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months on transfers made within 60 days of account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 18.49% to 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $28

August 27, 2018

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

25,000 Bonus Points + Unlimited Earning

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
  • Regular Purchase APR 16.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 16.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 19.49% to 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for the first 12 months from date of account opening
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases
  • Points never expire + no limits on earnings
  • Access to FICO® Score (updated monthly)
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for the first 12 months from date of account opening
  • Regular Purchase APR: 16.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 16.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 19.49% to 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $28

August 27, 2018

BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students

0% APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for the First 15 Months

BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 17.49% to 26.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for the first 15 months from the date of account opening
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months
  • Introductory 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening
  • No fee on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening
  • Access to credit and budgeting education and free monthly FICO Score reports
  • No annual fee
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for the first 15 months from the date of account opening
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months for transfers made within 60 days from the date of account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 17.49% to 26.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $28

August 29, 2018

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

0% Intro APR + up to 3% Cash Rewards

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 12.65% to 22.65% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 12.65% to 22.65% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , Poor , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months.
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • 0% introductory APR for 6 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • 3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months, 1% cash rewards on virtually all other purchases
  • Build credit history while you’re in college
  • Access your FICO® Credit Score, credit education and tools with Wells Fargo Online®
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months.
  • Regular Purchase APR: 12.65% to 22.65% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% APR for 6 months on balance transfers made within 120 days from account opening
  • Balance Transfer APR: 12.65% to 22.65% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction converted to U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $37
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $37

August 31, 2018

Discover it® Chrome for Students

Earn up to 2% Cash Back

Discover it® Chrome for Students
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from date of account opening date
  • Processing Network Discover
Best Benefits
  • Get $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to next five years
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Discover matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically
  • Cash back rewards do not expired and can be redeemed at any time
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months
  • No annual fee, no late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from date of account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 10.99% for 6 months from date of first transfer
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.49% to 23.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount of each transfer posted at the promotional rate. After that, 5% of the amount of each transfer
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

April 18, 2019

Citi Rewards+ Student Card

Earn 2,500 Bonus Points

Citi Rewards+ Student Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Good , Fair
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 7 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $500 within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 2X points on purchases at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year
  • Earn 1X point on all other purchases
  • Purchases round up to the nearest 10 points with no cap
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 7 months from account opening
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 7 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each purchase transaction in US dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40

June 13, 2019

Bank of Missouri Visa® College Real Rewards Card

Earn 2,500 Bonus Rewards Points

Bank of Missouri Visa® College Real Rewards Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Poor , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 1.5x rewards per dollar spent on eligible purchases
  • 2,500 bonus rewards points after first purchase – equal to $25
  • No annual fee
  • $0 fraud liability
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months on transfers made within 186 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of the transaction amount or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. dollars. 3% of the transaction amount or foreign ATM advance transaction in a foreign currency
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

June 26, 2019

Sallie Mae Ignite Card

Students Can Earn Cash Back Rewards

Sallie Mae Ignite Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Poor , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Get a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards when you make 6 consecutive on-time payments
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for 6 months from account opening
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39

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What Is a Student Credit Card?

Student credit cards are a unique type of card designed specifically for college students. Student cards are an ideal option for those that are over the age of 18 and new to credit. Because student cards are similar to other credit cards, they sometimes offer rewards points, interest-free periods, and introductory bonuses. Despite their similarities to different types of credit cards, however, student cards differ in a few key areas.

How Does a Student Card Differ from Other Credit Cards?

Because student cards are designed with the college student in mind, they typically have lower requirements when it comes to credit score and credit history. Most college students have minimal experience with credit cards – or credit in general. That’s because most credit card issuers require cardholders to be at least 18 years old.

Student credit cards, therefore, need to be more lenient on their credit requirements. This makes them an excellent option for those who have never had a credit card before. Using their credit card responsibly, students can build up their credit history and credit score and move up to a better rewards credit card when they graduate.

Student cards usually have lower credit limits than other types of credit cards. This is due to the lesser credit restrictions. Lower credit limits isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as it can help the cardholder learn the ropes of credit and practice keeping their credit utilization ratio low. Keeping that ratio below 30% is essential to building credit. Despite the lower limits, however, student cards offer more than enough financial might to purchase textbooks, dorm snacks, or anything else that college kids need to survive campus life.

What To Expect from a Student Card

Not all student credit cards make the grade. Here’s what should you look for when shopping around for a new card:

  • Rewards Programs: Many student credit cards feature lesser benefits in comparison to general rewards credit cards, but that’s not always the case. As with all credit cards, pay attention to the qualifying categories that reward points for purchases, mainly if they rotate each quarter, like the Discover It Cash Back for Students. Look for a card that rewards you for buying things you’re already regularly spending your money on. These can include gas, groceries, and the occasional entertainment expense for things like concert tickets.
  • Debt Forgiveness: When learning how to use credit cards and navigate debt, especially at a young age, it’s essential to look for a card that offers debt forgiveness. You’ll want a card with debt forgiveness to prevent your credit score from being negatively affected. This is especially important if you are seeking financial independence. Spending within your means can help in this regard, but just in case, it’s comforting to know that you have at least one opportunity to keep your slate clean with debt forgiveness.
  • No Annual Fee: Generally speaking, signing up for a credit card without an annual fee makes financial sense. This rule doesn’t apply, though, if the benefits that you earn while using the credit card are higher than the cost you’re paying each year.
  • Academic Incentives: This is a perk unique to credit cards for students. Some cards offer cardholders account statement credits if their grades meet a certain threshold. That means that with the right credit card in your wallet, you may be entitled to a credit on your balance for merely keeping your grade point average above 3.0, for example. This isn’t always the case, however, so finding a student credit card that offers a financial reward for being a good student is critical.

Credit Cards for College Students with No Credit History

One of the most significant differences between student credit cards and non-student versions is that students typically don’t have the credit history needed to get other unsecured credit cards.  Because of the easer credit requirements, student cards are attainable by most students.  For some, however, a student credit card just isn’t feasible. In those cases, there are still options available.

Secured Credit Cards for College Students

Students that don’t qualify for a student card can also apply for a secured credit card. Secured cards differ from other credit cards in that they require a security deposit to open. This deposit acts as both the collateral and the line of credit. Using these types of cards is a great way to boost your credit score and quickly move on to a student or other type of credit card.

Cards with a Cosigner

For those that still want a credit card but don’t want to make a deposit, there are options. One such option is to become an authorized user on their parent’s credit card accounts. This allows them to build their credit off of the good credit habits of the primary cardholder. Another option is to get a credit card with a cosigner.

What Is a Cosigner?

A cosigner is a person who signs a credit card application with someone and agrees to take on the burden of their debt, should they not be able to make their payments. A cosigner is – in essence – a guarantor of the credit card application, ensuring that lenders don’t have as much to worry about when it comes to a risky applicant – such as a student.

Cosigners make student credit card applicants much more attractive. They have the added benefit of the opening up more enticing credit card offers to those who would normally not have qualified. These attractive offers can include rewards credit cards, such as cashback or travel rewards cards, which can help students save money on everyday purchases or even visits back home during the holidays.

The CARD Act of 2009

Federal law mandates that those under the age of 21 must provide proof of independent income adequate to cover and potential credit card debt. According to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, there are strict federal limits on how much credit was available to those under the age of 21, as well as the marketing practices of credit card lenders who previously were accused of preying on students that lacked the financial education to make informed decisions.

Per the CARD Act, anyone between the ages of 18 to 20 must provide valid proof of income to cover their credit card obligations. This income must be independent of any family money (including allowances, birthday presents, etc.)

Because of the difficulty of those under the age of 21 encounters when it comes to proving enough income to cover potential credit card debt, it can be challenging to get accepted for all but either the most basic of credit cards or secured credit cards. Fortunately, students also have the option of using a parent, guardian, or other trusted loved one as a cosigner.

The Best Credit Cards for College Students 2020

Trying to find the best credit cards for students? You’ve come to the right place! BestCards has comprehensive and impartial reviews of the top credit cards for college students on the market today. Scan our hundreds of reviews, use our comparison tool and take advantage of our extensive credit card resources and advice. Ready to get started? Let’s find your best card today!