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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, including Visa student credit cards, Mastercard student cards, Discover student cards, and more:

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Showing 25 Cards

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2020

National Bank of Arizona Elite Card

National Bank of Arizona Elite Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 24.74% to 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee $195
  • Credit Needed Excellent
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Get $300 or 30,000 points when you spend $5,000 within the first 90 days
  • Earn 3% cash or 3X points on travel and dining purchases
  • Earn 1.5% cash or 1.5X points on everything else
  • $100 annual travel credit
  • No blackout dates or restrictions on redemption
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 6 months
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.74% to 23.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $5, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.74% to 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: 5% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater
  • Annual Fee: $195
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 06, 2020

Valley Visa Signature® College Real Rewards Card

Valley Visa Signature® 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 Excellent , Good
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for 6 months
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 6 months
  • 3% cash back at gas stations
  • 2% cash back at supermarkets
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 2,500 bonus points on your very first purchase with no spending requirement
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 from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: $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: $10 or 4% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 05, 2020

SBI Visa® College Real Rewards Card

SBI 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 Fair , No Credit Required
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for the first 6 months
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee
  • 1.5X points on everyday purchases
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases
  • No cap or limit on the points you can earn, plus you have five years to redeem points for rewards
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for the first 6 months
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 6 months
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either 4% of the amount of each advance or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of the transaction in U.S. dollars; 3% of the transaction in foreign currency
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: February 04, 2020

Sterling National Bank Visa® College Real Rewards Card

Sterling National Bank Visa® College Real Rewards Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.49% to 24.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.49% to 24.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Good , Fair
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent
  • Earn 2,500 bonus points on your first purchase
  • Enjoy 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 24.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months for transfers made within 186 from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 24.99% 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 in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: January 30, 2020

Comerica Visa® College Real Rewards Card

Comerica Visa® College Real Rewards Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 13.99% to 22.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 13.99% to 22.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 23.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Good , Fair
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee
  • 1.5X points on everyday purchases
  • No cap on points, plus 5 years to redeem
  • Visa Signature protection and perks
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 13.99% to 22.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 13.99% to 22.99% 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: 23.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each advance, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Up to 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. Dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: January 24, 2020

Liberty Bank Visa Signature® College Real Rewards Card

Liberty Bank Visa Signature® 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 Good , Fair
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 1.5x points on all of your purchases with no caps
  • Receive 2,500 in bonus points after your first purchase
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for your first 6 months
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 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 in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: January 22, 2020

Park National Bank Visa Signature® College Real Rewards Card

Park National Bank Visa Signature® College Real Rewards Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 15.49% to 24.49%, variable based on creditworthiness and variable with the market based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 15.49% to 24.49%, variable based on creditworthiness and variable with the market based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 25.49%
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Poor
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for the first 6 billing cycles
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 1.5 points for every eligible net $1 you spend
  • Earn unlimited points that do not expire for five years
  • Earn 2,500 bonus rewards points just for using your new card for the first time
  • Zero Fraud Liability
  • Enjoy 0% APR for the first six billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for the first 6 billing cycles
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.49% to 24.49%, variable based on creditworthiness and variable with the market based on the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 6 billing cycles
  • Balance Transfer APR: 15.49% to 24.49%, variable based on creditworthiness and variable with the market based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either 4% of the amount of each advance or $10 minimum, whichever is greater
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: January 08, 2020

BOK Financial Visa Signature® College Real Rewards Card

BOK Financial Visa Signature® College Real Rewards Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 13.99% to 22.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 13.99% to 22.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 23.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Good , Fair
  • Intro Purchase APR 0% for the first 6 months from account opening date
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x rewards points on purchases
  • 2,500 bonus points on first purchase
  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR for 6 months on purchases and balance transfers
Rates & Fees
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for the first 6 months from account opening date
  • Regular Purchase APR: 13.99% to 22.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 6 months on transfers made within 186 days from account opening date
  • Balance Transfer APR: 13.99% to 22.99% 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: 23.99% 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: Up to 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $35

Date Reviewed: December 31, 2019

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card Student Account

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card Student Account
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.49%, 18.49%, or 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.49%, 18.49%, or 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 No Credit Required
  • Processing Network Mastercard
Best Benefits
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on purchases
  • No credit history required to apply for this card
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49%, 18.49%, or 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.49%, 18.49%, or 24.49% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 4% of the balance transfer amount, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
  • Penalty APR: 31.49% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
  • Over Limit Penalty Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the overdraft amount, whichever is greater

Date Reviewed: November 06, 2019

Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card

Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card
  • Regular Purchase APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 24.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Annual Fee None
  • Credit Needed Fair , Poor
  • Processing Network Visa
Best Benefits
  • Earn 1% in cash back for all of your purchases
  • Earn an annual $20 bonus for 5 years when you keep your account in good standing
  • $50 signup bonus when you make your first purchase in the first 3 months
  • 3 complimentary months of DashPass, then a 50% discount for 9 months when you subscribe before December 31, 2021
  • Earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides until March 31, 2022
  • Receive a credit limit increase when you pay your bills on time in the first 10 months
  • Contactless pay and unlimited access to your monthly credit score
Rates & Fees
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR: 14.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.99% variable based on the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, 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

Here’s what should you look for when shopping around for a new card:

  • Rewards Programs: While not common, there are plenty of good student rewards cards on the market. 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.
  • 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. F

Secured Cards: The Perfect Student Credit Cards for Bad Credit

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 students seeking a credit card that does not require a cash 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. Cosigners help get student credit cards with no credit – or even non-student credit cards.

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.

Student Credit Card FAQs

There are plenty of questions that pop up about college credit cards. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

What information do you need to apply for a student credit card?

  • Student cards are similar to other credit cards. These cards differ in that they are meant for college students. Because of this, student cards require specific information. Some of this information is the same as what all credit card applications require:
    • A Social Security Number is required whenever you apply for a credit card. Despite this, some applications have no impact to your credit score.
    • Proof of enrollment is another requirement for many student cards.
    • Income or savings information might be required.
    • Some issuers require a student card applicant to have a student loan with the bank.

How old do you need to be to get a student credit card?

  • Students are required to be 18 years or older to get a student card.

Are student credit cards a good choice?

  • Yes. Student cards are an excellent option for establishing a good credit history.  Student versions of credit cards offer lower interest rates than secured cards. These varities of cards also provide rewards, cash back, and other perks.

What are some of the most common features of a college credit card?

  • Most credit cards come with an easy to use app, which allows you to track your spending, set automatic payments, or even check your credit score in minutes. Other cards offer good grade discounts, free subscriptions (like a free year of Amazon Prime student), or other on-campus perks.

Do student cards charge a foreign transaction fee?

  • International transaction fees are charges for using your credit card for purchases outside the United States. These charges can be in foreign countries or even non-U.S. websites. Each bank charges a different fee, with some having no foreign transaction fees at all.

The Best Credit Cards for College Students 2020

Trying to find the best credit cards for students? 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!