Best College Student Credit Cards in 2019: Good, Bad, or No Credit

Michelle Brooks

Michelle Brooks

Financial Advisor

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Topics Covered

Best Student Credit Cards: Overview

Credit Card Ideal For Editor’s Rating

Our Top Pick for 2019

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Cash Back for Students
Deserve Edu Card College Students

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Editor’s Rating

Credit Score Required:

Limited, Average, Fair

Our Review

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® from Capital One is one of the only student credit cards that offers cash back rewards. 1.25% back on all purchases is a big deal for students. Even better, you can get access to a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.

What We Like

1.25% Cashback reward

Higher Credit Line after 5 Months of On-time payments

No Annual Fee

Deserve Edu Card

Editor’s Rating

Credit Score Required:

No Credit History Required

Our Review

Deserve Edu is a great card for students, offering reimbursements for essentials like Amazon Prime Student Membership and cellular phone insurance. This card makes it easy for students to learn how to handle a credit card while building their credit history and profile. Additionally, you can qualify for this card even if you don’t have any credit history!

What We Like

Can qualify without credit history

Amazon Prime Student Membership and Cell Phone Insurance Reimbursements Available

No Annual Fee

If you’re s student, you’re probably constantly advertised student credit cards. It can be hard to avoid getting one – you most likely get advertising letters in the mail once a week at the least. But the hardest part about choosing a student credit card is choosing the best student credit card. With so many available options, it can be hard to know which is the best route to take.

Life as a Student

As a student, you may find that you need additional money at times to help bridge gaps in cash flow. Chances are that you work during the summers, but sometimes need a bit of extra money to see you through the rest of the year. Credit cards are a great way to have a form of revolving credit that you only pay for if you use. In addition, having a student credit card can help you build credit before you graduate. This can greatly improve your credit score and increase your chances of being approved for other credit cards, loans, or mortgages once you complete school.

Students who responsibly use a credit card while they are at school are positioned much better than their peers when they graduate. The key to this is being responsible with your card, spending within your means, and choosing the right card for you.

Unlike normal credit cards, student cards can be quite easy to get when you’re in school and have a lack of credit history. Lenders understand that you may not have any credit history as you have only just become an adult. In addition, many of these cards have interest free periods, or low-interest rates in general.

At the same time, there are many predatory lenders that target students with easy-to-acquire credit cards which then end up costing them in the future. For this reason, it is recommended that you always use an established lender, or a large bank, for your student credit card. This article will overview what you should be looking for when deciding on the best student credit card for you, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of acquiring one of these types of cards.

What to Look For

When deciding on what student credit card to opt for it’s important to consider three primary factors: interest rates, annual fees, and interest format.

  • Interest Rates – One of the primary advantages of a student credit card is their typically low interest rates. Some predatory lenders will attempt to sell you cards with higher interest rates, or rewards cards that also include higher interest rates. As a student with limited income, it’s important to make sure you opt for as low of an interest rate as possible. A good interest rate for a student card lies between 10-15 percent APR.
  • Annual Fee – An annual fee is a yearly fee you pay to your lender for the privilege of having your card. As a student, the best cards don’t have annual fees, so steer clear of lenders with annual fees on their cards.
  • Interest Format – Different lenders use different types of interest calculating formats. Some make you pay interest on whatever balance you have not paid off by the end of the lending period. Others use other calculations, such as the average balance you have throughout the billing period. You’ll want to opt for a lender that tends to only charge interest on your remaining balance as it works out cheaper in most instances.
  • Cash Back – Some student credit cards will offer you cash back if you spend a certain amount of money. Credit card with cash back bonus points can be quite nice for people who want to try and get a bit more out of their credit card.

 

Advantages

The primary advantages of student credit cards lie in your ability to build credit in college. In addition, they are typically given at a much lower rate than traditional credit cards and without annual fees. If used properly, they’re an awesome way to help you bridge financial gaps during school terms. Below are some other advantages to having a student credit card when you’re in college.

  • Emergencies – If an emergency pops up, a credit card can be a good safety net to help you pay for something. Perhaps you need to make an immediate tuition payment – a credit card will ensure that you aren’t automatically unenrolled from school. This is a particularly good advantage for students who don’t have support from their families.
  • Security – Credit cards are traditionally much more secure to use than debit cards. This is because the bank is quicker to resolve credit card issues over debit card issues. If you are using your debit card to pay for things online, there’s a decent chance that your details could get stolen and your bank account could get drained. With credit cards, you can refuse to authorize payments that you haven’t made.
  • Insurance – Some student credit cards will include different forms of insurance with their credit cards. This is an awesome added feature that can help you save money. For example, some credit cards include travel insurance or purchase insurance. Check out travel credit cards for students.

 

Disadvantages

There are two primary disadvantages of getting a student credit card. The first is that you don’t collect many rewards points or miles, as the low interest rates and high risk status of your borrowing situation make it unfeasible for lenders to offer top perks. The second is that you are potentially putting yourself in a situation to accumulate credit card debt. While these cards are considered low-interest, all credit cards have high interest when compared to traditional loans. It is important that you only get a credit card if you know that you will be able to pay off in a relatively quick timeframe. A few other disadvantages are provided below.

  • Dodgy Lenders – If you don’t choose the right lender, you might end up working with a dodgy credit card company. This is because opportunists look for people who might be more desperate than your average citizen. This can often be a student who is trying to make end meets and will be willing to apply for a credit card to get their hands on additional capital.
  • Perks Can Run Out – Eventually you will graduate from university and this means that your student credit card might expire. It depends on the lender, but many lenders will not allow you the same perks and benefits of your student credit card once you’ve left school. Instead, you’ll have to apply again for a card that doesn’t have student benefits. But hopefully your credit has been built up enough for this to be a non-issue.
  • Low Limits – At the end of the day, most student credit cards have much lower limits than traditional credit cards. This is because lenders know you don’t have a solid income stream. The main downside of this is the fact that if you use the card, you’ll end up taking up a lot of the space on your available limit. Because your credit score is based off the percentage of your available credit limit that is in use, you might end up with a bad score while you’re in college. As long as you pay the balance down before your next application, your score will return to normal.

Which Student Credit Card is Best for Me?

After assessing all the information that you’ve seen mentioned above, you’re probably still wondering: Which is the best student credit card for me? This will depend on a few different factors – no single card is the best student credit card for everyone. You should ask yourself the reason that you are getting the card – this will help you determine which credit card is best for you. Below are the two primary reasons to get a student card – decide which category you fit into.

 

Building Credit

Some people get student credit cards purely to build credit. These students will most likely pay their bill in full every month, and avoid carrying a balance on the card. This means their chance of paying interest on their balance is fairly low.

If you think you are this type of borrower, then you don’t have to worry about the interest rate on the card. You should look for a credit card that offers the best outside rewards for you. If you are going to use a credit card to build credit, you might as well take advantage of some of the other benefits that credit cards can bring you.

The best student credit card for you will be one that provides you with the best dollar ratio rewards. Make sure that you know you will be paying your balance every month though – it can be costly to get into credit card debt in college. This type of card is good for someone who has help from a family, a side income, or a lot of scholarships.

 

Bridging Income

The harsh reality is that going to college is an expensive investment, and it leaves you little time to make money while you study. That’s why it can be important to bridge your income – otherwise you might not be able to make ends meet. People whom are bridging their income at university will want a different type of credit card than someone who is simply building their credit profile for the future.

If you’re this type of borrower, you should be looking for a low interest rate and no annual fee. That’s the best way to make sure that you don’t end up getting into a hole of debt that you’re not able to get out of. This will also make sure that you leave college with a better credit score – paying high interest can make it hard to keep a low balance.

 

The Process

The process to apply for a student credit card has truly never been easier. You can now apply for a credit card online and often get an instant decision. The total application process can take just a matter of minutes – you’ll just need to have your personal information ready before you start the application. Credit card companies make it as easy as possible for you to apply for a card – they don’t want you to lose interest in their product. Learn more about how to apply for credit card offers.

Check out some of the links on our site – they can take you directly to the websites of some of the best student credit cards. You can access an application straight away and get started as quickly as possible.

If you have a decision that is delayed, make sure to call up the credit card company and ask to speak to their decisions department. They can often tell you the result of the application so you don’t have to wait to get a letter in the mail. If they do turn you down, ask for the reason and request that they reconsider your application.

 

Verdict

Before applying for a student credit card, you should properly consider the amount of money you can afford to spend and pay off. It may sound easy, but paying back credit card debt is extremely hard when you’re studying on limited income. You don’t want to be trapped in a cycle. This being said, if you’re a responsible borrower, it’s a great way to start generating a credit history for a relatively low-cost.

As with any financial decision, it’s best to do your research to make sure that you can get the best student credit card for your situation. Our website has done most of the research for you, you can find a list of the best student credit cards on the market right on our homepage. We have done non-biased, independent research to give you a selection of the best possible cards.

If you don’t think a student credit card is right for you, check out some of the other cards that we suggest. Just because you’re a student, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply for a regular credit card.

FAQ

Student Credit Card Basics

Do you have any general questions about student credit cards? This section will provide you with a list of common questions relating to student credit cards that will inform you about how to apply for one, and which to apply for.

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What is a student credit card?

A student credit card is a type of card designed for student use. It is a great way for students to build their financial independence and also to establish their credit history.

Why should college students have credit cards?

Getting a credit card is one of the first steps for students to build their financial and credit history. It is also good to have access to funds during emergency cases.

Can you pay student loans with a credit card?

This is possible for some loan providers but not all. For those who would allow it, you might have to pay a fee in order to do so.

How to pay student loans with credit card?

As of 2017, the US Department of Treasury prohibits the use of credit card for student loan payments. But if you can find a lender that would allow it, you need to cover an additional fee for it.

What is the average credit card debt for college students?

The average credit card debt among college students in the US is at $5,700. This is according to data from Survey of Consumer Finances conducted by the US Federal Reserve.

What happens to student credit card when you graduate?

You can inquire with the credit card company about the possibility of increasing the credit limit on your card. Student credit cards usually have a lower limit. Depending on your income when you graduate, you might be able to increase the available credit.

Should I use student loans to pay off credit cards?

If possible, this must be avoided. Credit card payments are designed for purchases that you need to fully pay for a short period of time, whereas student loans have a longer term. If you use your credit card to pay for student loans, you will also be paying a higher interest rate.

How many credit cards should a student have?

Many experts would agree that the ideal number of credit card that students should own is one. This is enough to build credit and keep them from incurring a lot of debt. In the meantime you can always be on the lookout for lucrative credit card bonus offers.

How many college students have credit cards?

The older college students tend to own at least one credit card. The current percentage of college students that own a credit card is at 43% for those aged 18-20, and 63% for those aged 21-22.

Why college students should not have credit cards?

While there are many benefits for students to have a credit card, students lack the necessary income to sustain the monthly payments. As a result, they end up paying the minimum and pay more in interest rate than actual debt.

Can you pay off federal student loans with credit card?

The US Department of Treasury has imposed regulations prohibiting credit card payments on federal student loans.

How does a student get a credit card?

The first step is to research what credit card options are available for students. Then, you must get a list of requirements and make sure you provide the required documents. If secured cards are the only option you have then check out the best secured credit card 2020 has to offer.

Can I transfer student loans to a credit card?

Transferring your student loans to a credit card only makes sense if you are moving it to a credit card with 0% introductory APR. And when you do, make sure that you pay the student loan in full before the end of the introductory APR period to avoid the steep interest rate. Check out the current 0 balance transfer card offers.

Why do credit card companies target college students?

College students are the top market for credit card companies. First off, they are confident that students (even if they acquire large credit card debt) will be bailed out by their parents. Second, they know that you have a long credit life ahead of you. This means several years of credit card payments and interest charges.

Can I get a student credit card with bad credit?

It is difficult to get a student credit card when you have bad debit; however, there are certain types of credit cards for people with bad credit. Make sure to do your research to uncover which these cards are.

Why college students should have credit cards?

A lot of students use credit cards to build their credit and boost fiscal responsibility. It is also convenient and practical for covering your expenses while in college.

Can DACA students get credit cards?

Find a bank that is known to work with DACA students. This will make it easier to get approved for your desired credit card.

What students need to know about credit cards?

Good or bad credit is good for students. It is your opportunity to build credit history. But make sure you use your credit card responsibly so you won’t end up in more debt than you can handle.

Choosing the Best Student Credit Cards

Are you looking for the best student credit cards? This list of questions will inform your choices so you can pick the right one.

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What is the best credit card for a college student?

There are several credit card options out there. But for students, the ones that are recommended by experts are Discover it Student Chrome (for cash back), Journey Student Rewards (for students abroad), and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students (for dining rewards).

What is the best credit card for students?

There are many notable credit cards for students such as Capital One Secure Mastercard, Citi Secured Mastercard, Discover It Student Cash Back Card, and more. Each credit card has unique offerings so you have to choose according to what suits your lifestyle. Learn more about how to get your first credit card.

Is Discover student credit card good?

Discover has a variety of student credit card options. They are a good option for anyone looking to choose a credit card that would fit their lifestyle as a student. Take a look at good credit cards for fair credit if your score is lower.

What are good credit cards for students?

There are plenty of great credit cards for student use, such as Capital One’s Journey Student Rewards, Citi Secured Mastercard, DiscoverIt Chrome for Students, and DiscoverIt Student Cash Back Card. Also take a look at credit cards for no credit.

What is a good 1st credit card for college student?

If you are applying for your first credit card, opt for ones with zero annual fees and have cash back rewards. For that, Capital One Platinum Credit Card and DiscoverIt Secured Credit Card. You can also look at the best store credit cards to build credit.

Does Chase have credit card for student?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is the overall best card of choice for students. If you want a cash back credit card, opt for the Chase Freedom & Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards. If you don’t quite qualify for this yet then use another credit card to build credit first.

Which Chase credit card is best for students?

There are several credit card options from Chase that would suit students, including Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and more.

Which Bank of America credit card is best for students?

If you are a student, Bank of America offers a wide range of credit card options to suit your lifestyle needs such as Bank of America Credit Card for Students (with an introductory rate of 0% APR) and the Bank of America Secured Credit Card.  

How to get SBI credit card for students?

The SBI credit card requires students or any applicants to be at least 21 years of age to apply. If you meet this criterion, you must check with the other requirements to see if you can qualify. Make sure you’re looking at the best no fee credit cards.

What banks offer student credit cards?

There are several banks that offer student credit cards including Capital One, Bank of America, and Discover. These can be good rebuild your credit credit cards.

What is a good APR for a student credit card?

The average APR that is considered good for a student credit card is anywhere from 20 to 26%. Other card categories can have great intro incentives such as the no interest credit cards for 24 months. You can work your way up to these.

How long does Wells Fargo student credit card take?

It will depend on your credit history and several other factors. Each applicant is unique so the time it takes to get your credit card approved will vary. Some will take longer than others to get approved.

Can students get Amazon Prime credit card?

The Amazon Prime credit card requires that you must first be an Amazon Prime subscriber. You can therefore utilize the perks from Amazon Prime and the credit card to suit your college lifestyle. Be sure to check out our credit card review page as well.

What is the average limit on a student credit card?

The average credit card limit for first-time student card holders is at $807. This limit usually increases after the first year. The overall average for student credit card limit is $1,339.

Applying for Student Credit Cards

To help you get approved for your student credit card, it is important to get as much information prior to your application. In this section, you will find all of the commonly asked questions about student credit card application.

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How to get a credit card as a student?

Getting a credit card as a student is a great way to build your credit. You can start by being added as an authorized user under your parents’ credit card account. Or, you can open your own credit card account, while specifically choosing credit cards designed for student use. Be responsible in the use of your credit card to ensure that you don’t overspend. Look at credit card offers for poor to fair credit if you’re starting with a low score.

What to put for income on credit card application student?

For many students applying for a credit card, they indicate student loan as income. After all, it is used by most students to cover for living expenses and several other fees during college.

Why am I getting denied for student credit cards?

The most common reason for student credit card applications to be denied is the lack of any credit history. Without this information, credit card companies do not have information to assess the risk of a borrower.

How to get a credit card for international students?

It is possible for international students to obtain a credit card. Simply follow the basic procedures, such as identifying bank requirements and complying with them, opening a bank account, and more. You may want to consider the best credit card for travel insurance if you’re going to be traveling much. Also check out the best flight mile credit card offers.

Do I need a cosigner for a student credit card?

If you are under 21, you will be required to have a co-signer before your credit card application is approved.

Should I put student or employed on credit card application?

You need to input student on your credit card application so that the credit card company can make a proper assessment of your credit standing.

Can a student get a credit card without a job?

Yes. Most credit card companies allow students to get approved for a credit card if they have a co-signer with income or they are added as an authorized user for another credit card account.

What to put for annual income for student credit card?

As a student, you can include any of the following in your credit card application as income: personal income, allowances, scholarships and grants, and more.

Where can I get a student credit card?

If you are looking for a student credit card, you can look at various options such as Bank of America, DiscoverIt, and Capital One.

How to fill out credit card application as a student?

You need to fill out the form for credit card application with your personal details. Make sure you fill out honestly to increase your chances of getting approved.

How to get approved for Discover student credit card?

If you are at least 18 years of age, you can apply for a Discover student credit card. However, you must provide proof of income or considerable assets to be able to get approved so you can repay your credit card debt.

Are student credit cards easier to get?

Yes, qualifying for a student credit card is easy, if you are 18 years old and over. But it still depends on the credit card company as the lack of credit history could work against students. This is why a co-signer is often required.

How to qualify for a student credit card?

You should be at least 18 years old, or 21, to easily qualify for a student credit card. You must be able to provide proof of income, too. If you do not have a paying job yet, you can provide your other assets as proof of income. There are also below average credit cards if your score is low. Also look for pre qualified credit cards in the mail if you have signed up to receive offers.

Can a high school student get a credit card?

During high school, you have very limited options to get approved for a student credit card. Majority of credit card companies target college students.

How hard is it to get a student credit card?

Applying for a student credit card is a catch-22. You need credit history to get approved for a credit card, but many students use the credit card as a way to build their credit. If you are at least 21 years old and have some proof of income source, it should be easier to get approved for a credit card application.

Do student loans count as income for credit card applications?

It depends on which credit card company you are applying for. Some credit card companies honor student loans as a form of income, but others will not. It is best to shop around so you can find the best deal for your financial situation or needs.

Why did I get denied for a student credit card?

When your income is too low, this is the most common reason why credit card applications are declined. This is why it is a challenge for students to apply for a credit card, especially those without a job. Take a look at the best credit card offers for me.

Michelle Brooks

Michelle Brooks

Financial Advisor - Best.CreditCard

Michelle is part of our expert team of financial advisors with a proven track record in the credit card industry. After graduating with an Economics Degree focusing on Personal Finance, she got involved with several credit and debt counseling startups.