credit card image Advertiser Disclosure Editorial Disclosure

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:

Click to jump to our student credit resources

Sort By Column Name:

Showing 32 Cards

Date Reviewed: August 23, 2018

Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®

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
Credit Card Deals
  • Spoil your pup with a FREE upgrade to BarkBox. - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save 10% on all Afternoon Tea orders - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save 10% on The Berlin Pass - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Complimentary EZ Mini Crunchies (60g) when you spend S$120 - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • 10% off museum entry - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save up to 55% on London theater tickets - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save an extra 10% on Tower of London access tickets - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save 5% with Alamo® at participating locations - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save 5% with Enterprise Rent-A-Car® at participating locations - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • Save an extra 5% on The Paris Explorer Pass - Offer Expires on December 31, 2020 - See Details
  • View All Deals -

Date Reviewed: August 09, 2018

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • Regular Purchase APR 12.99% to 21.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer APR 12.99% to 21.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Cash Advance APR 24.99% 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: 12.99% to 21.99% 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: 12.99% to 21.99% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
  • Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Up to 5% of the amount of each transfer
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.99% 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

#

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.

Specific School & Alumni Cards

A unique subset of student credit cards are cards for specific colleges and universities. These cards, issued through Commerce Bank, provide students and alumni the ability to show their pride with every purchase.

Some of the more popular options currently include:

 

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!