Best Credit Cards for Students
Learning how to manage money and be responsible with credit cards is important for college students. Gaining money management skills as a young adult can help college students set themselves up for future financial opportunities.
It's a smart idea to get a student credit card as soon as you head off to college. There are a variety of credit cards explicitly created with college students in mind. It can be challenging to get a non-student credit card if you have no credit or a low credit score. Luckily, most student credit cards are aimed at young adults with a limited credit history.
Are you looking for the perfect student card? Check out the guide below to better understand what to look for in a student card and to figure out which cards are the best option for you.
- Overview of the best student cards
- Summary of the best student cards
- The bottom line
Overview of the best student cards
|Card IssuerCard Issuer||Best for|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card||Simple rewards|
|Chase Freedom Student||Low interest|
|Citi Secured Mastercard||Little to no credit|
|Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students||Little to no credit|
|Discover it Student Chrome||0% interest intro offer|
|Journey Student Rewards from Capital One||Building credit|
|Petal 2 Visa Credit Card||No fees|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back College||0% interest intro offer|
Best student cards
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a nice option for students because there's no annual fee, and it offers good earning potential for regular spending. Cardmembers will earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on everyday purchases, regardless of the spending category. There is no cap to the earning potential of this card.
If you're a student who enjoys traveling, you can easily take this card abroad without worrying about expensive foreign transaction fees.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card offers a 25,000 point sign-up bonus to new cardholders after they spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. These bonus points are worth $250 in statement credit. This card offers flexibility when redeeming points for awards—you can pay for dining and travel purchases, including takeout.
This card does require a good credit score, so it's an option that will work best for a student with established credit.
Chase Freedom Student
The Chase Freedom Student card is another student card to consider. This is a no-fee card that offers cardmembers the ability to earn rewards. You will earn 1% cash back on all purchases. Rewards can be redeemed at any time, with no reward minimums. Cash back can be redeemed as a statement credit or deposited into a checking or savings account. You can redeem points for travel, Apple purchases, or gift cards.
New Chase Freedom Student cardmembers can take advantage of a 50,000 point bonus offer, which can be redeemed for $50 cash back. You must use the card to make a purchase within the first three months of account opening if you want to earn this welcome offer. Cardmembers will receive 2,000 bonus rewards points for the first five years of card ownership at each cardmember anniversary.
This cash back rewards credit card offers some extra perks. Cardmembers receive a complimentary three-month DashPass subscription. This subscription provided by DoorDash offers $0 delivery fees for eligible orders of $12 or more. After the complementary subscription period, cardmembers are enrolled in DashPass at 50% off for the next nine months. Another perk is the ability to earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.
This card can help students who are working on building credit. A credit limit increase can be earned after making five monthly payments on time within ten months from account opening. Having a higher credit line and maintaining a low credit card balance can increase your credit score. The included Chase Credit Journey tool also allows cardmembers to view their credit score for free.
Citi Secured Mastercard
The Citi Secured Mastercard is a good secured credit card option. If you have little to no credit, this might be the right fit for you. There’s no annual fee to use this card. Since this is a secured card, a security deposit is required, with a minimum of $200.
Cardmembers will be able to build credit by charging purchases and paying their credit card bill on time each month. Citi will report your account history to all three credit bureaus so that your financial activity shows up on your credit report.
This credit card has a 22.49% variable APR. The variable APR for cash advances is 25.24%.
Once available, you will have access to your FICO score. This will allow you to monitor your credit and your progress.
Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students
The Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students is targeted toward students with no credit. No co-signer is required, and this card makes for a good first credit card option. There is no annual fee to use this card.
This card doesn’t require a social security number during the application process, so it’s available to international students.
This card does offer the potential to earn rewards, but you’ll need to spend more to earn more. 1% cash back is earned on all purchases up to $500 per billing cycle. Once the $500 limit is exceeded during a billing cycle, all purchases will earn 1.25% cash back. Once the $1,000 per billing cycle limit is exceeded during a billing cycle, all purchases will earn 1.5% cash back.
This card includes a complimentary Prime Student membership, valid for one year. This is available once spending $500 or more within the first three months of card ownership. All you need to do is charge your Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students to pay for a Prime Student membership. You’ll receive either a $6.49 monthly statement credit for twelve months or a $59 statement credit for one annual plan.
Discover it Student Chrome
The Discover it Student Cash Back card is a rewards card that can help students build credit. It’s targeted toward college students with limited credit. There is no annual fee to use this credit card.
This card has a unique unlimited cash back match offer. You will get a dollar-for-dollar match of all cash back earned at the end of your first year, with no limit. For example, if you earned $250 cash back throughout your first year, you’d earn $500 at the end of your first year.
The Discover it Student Cash Back card comes with an intro 0% APR offer for up to six months. This is an excellent option for students who know they'll need to make a larger purchase and want to avoid high credit card interest charges. After the six-month intro offer, a 12.99%-21.99% variable APR will apply.
With this card, you can earn cash back rewards. This card automatically earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Cardholders can earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Are you a good student? Earning good grades can come with rewards. You can earn a $20 statement credit each school year if your GPA is 3.0 or higher. This perk is available for up to the next five years.
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One is a card with no annual fee. This card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, allowing it to be easily used when traveling outside the country.
Cardmembers can earn 1% cash back on all purchases. There’s an opportunity to boost the cash back earning rate by paying your card on time each month. An extra .25% cash back will be added any month that your account is not past due.
This student card has a special streaming subscription statement credit offer for new cardmembers. You can earn $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming subscriptions when you pay your credit card bill on time.
This card provides access to the Capital One mobile app, making it easy to view and pay your credit card bills. Students can also monitor their credit with CreditWise, a free tool that won’t hurt your score.
Petal 2 Visa Credit Card
The Petal 2 Visa Credit Card is another option for students to consider. This is a fee-free unsecured card. That means no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no late fees. For students who are new to using credit cards, this is a nice feature.
Cardmembers will earn 1% cash back on all purchases. The earning potential becomes 1.5% cash back after making 12 consecutive months of paying on time. This can help to encourage financial responsibility. Petal 2 Visa Credit Card also offers bonus cash back opportunities, meaning cardholders can earn 2%-10% bonus cash back at select merchants.
This is a great card if you want to build your credit. Within the Petal app, college students can track their credit scores for free. The app also offers budgeting tools and has a tool that allows users to calculate interest charges based on what they can afford to pay each month.
This card's minimum credit limit is $500, giving students more flexibility to spend what they need. The variable interest rate for this card is 12.99%-26.99%.
Wells Fargo Cash Back College
The Wells Fargo Cash Back College is another credit card that works well for students. This card has a $0 annual fee. It also features a low intro APR to help students build credit. A 0% intro APR is offered for the first six months, and then the APR will change to 11.15% to 21.15% depending on creditworthiness.
This card also offers a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This is available for the first six months of account ownership. After that promotional period, the APR will change to 11.15% to 21.15%, depending on creditworthiness.
Cardmembers will need to pay a fee for each balance transfer. During the first six months of account ownership, this fee is either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater. After that, the balance transfer fees are up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum fee of $5.
Cardholders will earn 3% cash back rewards on up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months. 1% cash back rewards will be earned for other purchases.
There is variety in this rewards program. You can redeem your cash rewards in the form of a check or you can redeem in increments of $20 at a Wells Fargo ATM or have the cash back deposited into a Wells Fargo savings account. Rewards can also be redeemed for travel and gift cards.
Wells Fargo offers some excellent budgeting tools for students, which are available to cardmembers.
Summary of the best student cards
Here’s a quick look at the important details of each card on this list. This summary can make it easier for you to choose the right student card for your needs:
|Credit Card||APR||Reward Earning Potential|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card||14.99% to 22.99%||1.5% on all purchases|
|Chase Freedom Student||14.99%||1% on all purchases|
|Citi Secured Mastercard||22.49%||None|
|Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students||14.99% to 24.99%||1% up to $500, $1.25% on $501-$1k, 1.5% on $1k+ per billing cycle|
|Discover it Student Chrome||0% 1st 6 months, then 12.99% to 21.99%||2% cash back restaurant and gas station purchases up to $1k in combined purchases per quarter, 1% cash back all other purchases|
|Journey Student Rewards from Capital One||26.99% variable||1% cash back all purchases, extra .25% cash back added any month not past due|
|Petal 2 Visa Credit Card||12.99% to 26.99%||1% cash back on all purchases, 1.55% after 1st year, 2%-10% bonus cash back opportunities at select merchants|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back College||0% 1stt 6 months, then 11.15% to 21.15%||3% cash back on up to $2.5k spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases 1st 6 months, 1% cash back all other purchases|
Can I get a student credit card with limited credit?
Yes. Many student credit cards are made specifically for people with limited credit or a lower credit score. Applying for a student credit card is an excellent way to increase the odds of getting accepted for a card. Plus, you’ll be able to improve your credit once you have your new student card.
What should I look for in a student card?
What should I look for in a student card?
You want to make sure that you’re choosing a credit card that will meet your needs. Here are some things to look for as you consider student card options:
- A student card shouldn’t charge an annual fee, so look for a card with no annual fee.
- Consider the APR before you apply for a student card.
- If you have limited credit, choose a student card made for young adults with lower credit scores.
- Check to see if the card charges foreign transaction fees.
- Make sure the card will work well for your spending habits.
- Do check to see if the card offers rewards earning potential and if there ere specific bonus categories.
- See if there is flexibility with how you can redeem rewards.
How old do I have to be to get a credit card?
Most card issuers require you to be 18 years old before you get a credit card. If you’re a high school student who is soon going off to college, you may want to consider getting a card as soon as you turn 18. This will allow you to build healthy spending habits before you move away to college.
Why should you use student cards
Student cards can be very beneficial. These credit cards allow students and young adults with limited credit history to build their credit and improve their money management skills.
Be sure to consider all fees associated with the above card. All of these cards have no annual fee, but if you don’t pay off your balance each month, you’ll be paying interest charges. These charges can add up quickly. You must be responsible when getting a credit card. Charging only purchases that you can afford and pay off right away is the best bet.
It’s also important to be aware of any minimum spending requirements to take advantage of intro bonus point offers or special card perks. You’ll usually need to spend a minimum amount of money within a specific time frame to earn bonus points, and there may be other exclusions in place.
Most student cards won’t offer significant rewards opportunities. Don’t plan to earn big, but do plan to work on your credit and build it so that you’ll be eligible for better rewards cards opportunities in the future.
The bottom line
If you’re a student or are a young adult with limited credit history, it’s a smart idea to get a student credit card. You can build your credit, better learn how to manage money, and take your little credit and turn it into a fair credit or good credit score. Keep an eye out for credit card offers targeted to college students and young adults.