Best Student Cards

Even if you're a student, developing a good credit history early on is never a bad idea.
Good credit can have both short-term and long-term benefits. In the short-term, it'll make it easier to lease an apartment or secure a stable job coming out of school. In the long-term, you'll have less trouble securing a loan to buy a car, make payments on a mortgage, or complete other purchases. One of the best ways to develop positive credit is by using a credit card. By using a credit card for everyday purchases and paying back the balance in a timely manner, your credit history will improve. Positive credit will demonstrate that you have no trouble repaying borrowed money. Here is a look at some of the best credit cards available for students.

WalletGeek's Best Student Card Picks

Best Student Credit Cards
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Best seller 1 American Express Card
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American Express Card

This is the American Express example card
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9
An amazing travel credit card with amazing benefits
If you thought you had seen reward credit cards before, then you haven't seen this one!
Annual Fee
7.5
Low APR
7
Hotel Points Transferability
9.5
PROS:
  • You can use the card anywhere in the world with nor forex transaction fees
  • Customer service is second to none
CONS:
  • There is a high annual fee that may turn off users
  • The online portal is a little bit to be desired
Editor choice 2 Chase Card Example
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Chase Card Example

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7.5
This card is great for travelers
This is a great card for travelers - very high rewards and low fees
Annual Fee
9
Low APR
9.5
Hotel Points Transferability
8
PROS:
  • Low annual fee makes this card affordable
  • Points transferability makes it easy
CONS:
  • Application process may be a bit cumbersome
  • There is no 800 number

Why Should You Build Credit As A Student?

A good credit history comes in handy in multiple ways. 

If you have a positive credit score, you’re far more likely to get approved for loans that are necessary to make major purchases. Your credit score can also determine your access to additional credit cards. Landlords and renters may refer to your credit score during an apartment application to gauge how likely you are to successfully pay your rent each month. Power and water companies may require proof of good credit to allow you access to utilities, and they may require a co-signer if you have a poor credit score.

 

Good credit can also impact the trajectory of your employment. 

There is a chance that your employer may screen your credit history in order for you to move forward in an applicant pool. This is especially true if you are going into a job that requires money handling, such as loan services, banking, or accounting. If you’re planning on becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business, the interest on your business credit may be higher if you have a poor (or no) credit history. If you want to keep interest rates low as you get your business off the ground, developing good credit is a great place to start.

Should You Apply for a Student Credit Card?

While you may be considering getting your hands on a student credit card, there are some requirements that go beyond simply being enrolled in a university. In fact, some student credit cards don’t even require you to be a current student, which may be a good option for people taking a gap year or a semester off. The Journey Student Rewards from Capital One® is one of these options. However, others, such as Discover it® Student Cash Back, strictly require that you are a college student when you apply.

Age is a factor in applications – 
Many students are under the age of 21 when they enter their university. Federal law prohibits card issuers from distributing cards to anyone under this age unless they have a co-signer with good credit who can take on the responsibility of unpaid debts. Since many major card issuers don’t allow co-signers, this can delay the possibility of securing a student credit card until you hit 21. Proof of income is also required after 21, although this income doesn’t necessarily have to be a current job. In some cases, you can sign up with expected income or proof of assets.

 

If you have bad credit already, It’s unlikely that you will be able to secure a student card – 

Student credit cards were designed to allow young people to build up good credit before they leave school. If you’ve already had access to a credit card and acquired significant debt, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to qualify for a student card. If you fall into this category, you should plan to look into cards designed to aid people with a bad credit history.

What Are Some Good Alternatives to a Student Credit Card?

One of the biggest roadblocks for university students getting access to a student card is the age limitation. If you’re under 21 and can’t get ahold of a student card, one of the best ways to start building up your credit is to ask your parents to add you onto their account. When you are signed up under their bank, they can label you as an authorized user of one of their cards. This means you can use their card on your own, but your parents are in charge of managing any outstanding debts that may arise. 


If you’re over 21 with a stable income and are having trouble qualifying for a card due to a lack of prior credit history (a common roadblock), there are additional ways to get your hands on a credit card. There are some startup companies that take a more flexible approach to credit card qualifications. They may consider your income and/or current employment rather than your prior credit, or lack thereof. Secured credit cards can also be a good avenue for those without a credit history. They require an initial security deposit to indicate that you are a responsible person to loan to. These cards can help you build up the credit needed to qualify for cards with better benefits in the future. If you’re renting an apartment, you may also be able to pay your renter to report your rent payments to credit companies to show that are a reliable renter and pay your bills.


All this said, it is not always necessary to get a student card, even if you’re still enrolled in a university. If you’ve already acquired a credit card or established credit through a different means, you might have access to non-student cards. These types of credit cards often offer better interest rates, perks, and other bonuses. You often have to have good credit to qualify for cards of this merit. If you still need to work on improving your score, exploring student/startup options is probably the best place to start. However, if you’re in a good place with your credit history, it can pay off to explore the high-benefit options that are available to you.

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