Student Credit Cards: Best Picks for Fall 2020

Student Credit Cards: Best Picks for Fall 2020

Opening a credit card in your college years can set a great foundation for your financial future. We offer some top student credit cards and explain how to qualify and responsibly build credit.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

For students who don’t have much experience using credit, a student credit card can serve as a useful stepping stone.

The credit students build now, for example, will help them qualify for cheaper, more competitive loans once they graduate. Building a strong credit record while still in school could also make it easier for students to rent an apartment after graduation or get certain types of jobs.

But with so many student cards to choose from, picking the best student credit card isn’t always easy. To help you get started, ValuePenguin took a closer look at the student card market and zeroed in on some of the best starter cards available, based on their value and features that help students manage credit.

Best student credit cards 2020

Recommended cardBest for ...
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Discover it® Student Cash BackCash backRead Review
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for StudentsTravel
Deserve® EDU Credit Card
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for StudentsInternational students
Apply Now
  • On Deserve's Secure Website
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Discover it® Secured
Discover it® SecuredBad creditRead Review
Discover it® Student chrome
Discover it® Student chromeGas and groceries
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®Responsible creditRead Review
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students0% APR
Recommended card
Discover it® Student Cash BackRead Review
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
Deserve® EDU Credit Card
Apply Now
  • On Deserve's Secure Website
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Discover it® SecuredRead Review
Discover it® Student chrome
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®Read Review
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

What is a student credit card? | Why should college students have credit cards? | How to get a credit card | How to use a credit card | FAQs

Best student cashback credit card

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Matches the cash back that you earn at the end of the year, for new cardholders.

  • Rewards: 5% cash back rate on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, 1% cash back on other purchases.

ValuePenguin's verdict

With forgiving terms and unique benefits for full-time students, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is an ideal first credit card — especially if you’re looking for maximum cash back.

It requires more maintenance than the average cashback card and may not be ideal for students who rarely leave campus. But with generous bonuses on a wide variety of purchases and a stellar welcome bonus, it offers first-time rewards seekers an unmatched opportunity for earning a substantial amount of cash back.

Benefits

  • A generous cash back bonus. With a 5% cash back rate on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, students can easily earn $300 a year or more. That’s huge for a student card.
  • Expansive bonus categories. Despite changing every three months, the Discover it® Student Cash Back’s quarterly bonus categories cover a lot of purchases. In 2020, for example, students can get 5% back on PayPal purchases before the fall semester and 5% back on online purchases from Amazon, Walmart and Target during the holidays.
  • Extra perks for students who study. Students can count on a $20 bonus every year they earn at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • A promising welcome offer. With Discover’s 100% rewards match, students will have to wait a year to cash in on their bonus. But they are all-but-guaranteed to earn something — and may even earn significantly more than they’d get with a traditional sign-up bonus. For example, if they earned $300 in cash back in their first year, they’d collect a total of $600.

Drawbacks

  • It isn’t maintenance-free. To get the most value from the Discover it® Student Cash Back, students will have to pay attention to rotating bonus categories. Otherwise, they may not know which purchases are eligible for 5% back.
  • Bonuses aren’t guaranteed. Cardholders need to affirmatively opt into the 5% bonus option every three months. Otherwise, purchases earn just 1% back.
  • Bonus categories don’t always match student spending. Discover revises its quarterly bonus categories every year. But cardholders can typically expect to receive 5% back on everyday purchases, such as gas and groceries, at some point. That’s great for students who live off-campus. But it’s not so exciting for students who don’t drive or cook for themselves.

Best travel credit card for students

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Earn 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $250 statement credit towards travel purchases.

  • Rewards: 1.5x points on every purchase
  • APR: 16.49% - 24.49% Variable
  • Annual fee: No Annual Fee

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is one of the few student cards to offer rewards as rich as what you’ll find on a general purpose credit card. For example, the student travel card advertises the same sign-up bonus as the regular Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students. It also offers identical terms and benefits.

With a steady 1.5-point bonus on every purchase, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students also gives students a unique opportunity to save for a dream trip well before they graduate.

Benefits

  • More flexible than a category-based rewards card. Students who don’t have predictable spending habits or expenses will have an easier time collecting points. With a flat-rate card, it doesn’t matter what you buy: You’ll get the same point bonus on every purchase.
  • Effortless savings. Flat-rate cards are also great for inexperienced rewards cardholders since they can build up points without thinking about it.
  • A big head start. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students’ sign-up bonus is worth $250, which is more than some students enrolled in part-time work-study jobs earn in a month.
  • First 12 months are interest-free. You get an intro APR of 0% for first 12 months on purchases (16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR thereafter). It’s unusual to find a student card online with such a lengthy 0% APR.
  • No foreign transaction fees. This feature won’t matter so much now while students aren’t traveling. But it could come in handy if a student later decides to study abroad or backpack around the world.
  • Allows co-signers. Bank of America is one of the few student card issuers that allows applicants to add another person to their application. That’s important for underage applicants. Federal law bars lenders from giving a card to someone under the age of 21 unless the student has some form of qualifying income or can get an adult to co-sign their account.

Drawbacks

  • Higher APR. Students who plan to carry a balance for longer than the first year may want to steer clear. This card offers a higher rate than a number of competitors.
  • No special perks for students. The student version of Bank of America’s travel card is identical to the non-student card. In other words, the student version of the card doesn’t offer any special rewards, such as good grade awards or automatic credit limit increases.
  • Hefty penalties. The travel rewards card charges up to $40 per missed payment, which can add up if a student who’s inexperienced with paying bills repeatedly falls behind. Students who repeatedly fall behind may also get hit with a 29.99% penalty APR.

Best credit card for international students

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

  • On Deserve's Secure Website

$0

18.74% Variable

Good/Fair/Limited

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after your first purchase with your new Deserve EDU Mastercard (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.
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Get reimbursed for your Amazon Prime membership (up to $59 lifetime total)

ValuePenguin's verdict

Ideal for international students, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students sets itself apart from other student cards by allowing students to get a card even if they don’t yet have a Social Security number.

But international students aren’t the only ones who are likely to find the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students' student-friendly benefits useful. Students who are shut in at their childhood homes or in their dorms due to social distancing are likely to appreciate the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students’ other signature perk: a free year of streaming thanks to the card's complimentary Amazon Prime Student membership.

Benefits

  • Solid perks. In addition to a free Amazon Prime membership, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students also offers cell phone insurance — a nice perk for students who own phones that cost more than others’ rent.
  • Simple cash back program. The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students’ rewards program isn’t fancy. But for a student card, it’s competitive.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Once they’re able to travel again, students won’t have to worry about paying an extra fee when they use their cards abroad. They will also be able to purchase gifts for distant relatives from foreign sites.
  • No penalty rate. Students won’t have to worry about their APRs suddenly spiking without warning if they repeatedly fall behind on payments.

Drawbacks

  • Students are limited to just 1% cash back. They can almost certainly earn more cash through cards with better bonuses.
  • Its minimum APR is also on the high side. Deserve keeps things simple by advertising just one APR: 18.74% Variable. But for students who have already built a strong credit score and can afford lower rates, the Deserve card’s single APR could be a dealbreaker.
  • Paying late will sting. Deserve charges up to $25 per late fee.

Best credit card for students with bad credit

Discover it® Secured

Matches the cash back that you earn at the end of your first year, for new cardholders.

  • Rewards: 2% cash back restaurant or gas purchases up to a combined $1,000 in purchases each quarter, and an unlimited 1% back on all else.

ValuePenguin's verdict

A secured card can be a good alternative for students who can’t get approved for a regular student credit card. The Discover it® Secured card is an especially appealing choice because it is one of the few secured credit cards to offer a decent rewards program.

In addition to offering a solid bonus on dining and cash purchases, for example, the secured card also offers Discover’s signature Cashback Match bonus. That benefit alone could give students who are new to rewards a big head start.

Benefits

  • Strong rewards for a secured card. With a 2% bonus on up to $1,000 worth of gas and dining purchases, students could earn at least $20 just from filling up their gas tanks and dining out.
  • An excellent sign-up bonus. Discover’s 100% cashback match could also provide students who struggle with patience a great learning opportunity. If they can wait until the end of the year and continue to use their cards, they could potentially earn hundreds of dollars back.
  • Easy off-ramp. Discover will review your account and consider moving you to an unsecured card as soon as eight months after opening your account.

Drawbacks

  • High price of admission. Starting at $200, the refundable security deposit requires students to have quite a bit of savings.
  • Bonus earnings are capped quickly. The secured card caps 2% bonuses at $1,000 in spending, allowing students to earn just $20 in bonuses.

Best gas and grocery credit card for students

Discover it® Student chrome

Matches all the cash back in your first year, for new cardholders.

  • Rewards: 2% back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Discover it® Student chrome card shines when it’s used by students who live on their own or with their parents, sharing purchases. Students earn a limited 2% bonus on gas and dining purchases, which can help boost their cash back savings. They also earn a flat rate of 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Benefits

  • Decent rewards. Compared to student cards that only offer 1% back on purchases, the Discover it® Student chrome card offers a nice deal: students can get a limited 2% bonus on big purchases, such as gas and dining.
  • An excellent introductory promotion. Discover’s signature cashback match also makes the card a better value than it seems. In the first year, for example, students’ 2% bonus earnings could grow from $20 to $40. Meanwhile, $200 worth of 1% cash back earnings could turn into $400 with the cashback match.
  • Special perks for students. Like the Discover it® Student Cash Back, this card also encourages students to get good grades. Every year students earn at least a 3.0 GPA, they will get a $20 bonus from Discover.

Drawbacks

  • Bonuses are extremely limited. The most you can earn through bonus spending is $20, which isn’t a lot compared to other card options.
  • Bonuses may also be hard to get if you live on campus. The card’s bonus categories are also an imperfect fit for college students. Although some students may dine out occasionally, they are unlikely to dine out that often. Students who live on campus or use public transportation won’t get much use out of the dining rewards either.
  • Categories are rigid. The card’s dining bonus may also be harder for students to get if it requires them to sit down at a restaurant. Discover’s dining category encompasses a lot of full-service experiences, such as sit-down restaurants and fast food. However, it may not capture take out ordered through a third party.
  • Overall rewards are mediocre. Once students max out on the 2% cash bonus, cardholders earn just 1% back on every purchase. They have a better chance of earning more with the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

Best credit card for building good credit habits

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Earn $5 per month for 12 months on select streaming subscriptions when you pay on time.

  • Rewards: 1% Cash Back on all purchases; 0.25% Cash Back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time
  • APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® isn’t the cheapest student card. In fact, students who carry a balance can expect to pay some of the highest rates around. But for students we still felt it deserved a spot on this list because it offers a number of useful credit-building tools that are designed to motivate cardholders to take good care of their credit.

For example, the card sets itself apart with automatic credit limit increases in exchange for good credit habits. It also offers cardholders an extra incentive to pay their bills on time by rewarding them with a meaningful quarter-point boost to their rewards rate.

Benefits

  • A competitive cashback rate for responsible cardholders. The cashback rate on the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® starts at 1%. But if students pay their bills on time, they can count on getting an extra quarter-point boost to their cashback rate, giving them 1.25% back on every purchase.
  • $60 streaming subscription credit. For the first 12 months of membership, cardholders who pay their bill on time will also be rewarded with a $5 monthly credit toward popular streaming services such as Spotify and Disney+.
  • Automatic credit limit increases. Students who are inexperienced with credit can expect to get assigned a small credit line. Minimum credit limits for the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® start at just $300. However, the Journey card gives students a chance to build out their credit more quickly by automatically reviewing their credit after just six months.
  • No foreign transaction fees. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is another student card that allows cardholders to make purchases around the world, without paying extra fees.

Drawbacks

  • Extremely high APR. The biggest drawback to the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is its exceptionally high APR of 26.99% (Variable). Capital One was one of the few issuers not to lower rates on new card offers when the Fed slashed rates to near zero. As a result, the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is much more expensive than most student cards.
  • Rewards rate could be higher. Students who have some experience with credit cards may have better luck looking for cards with stronger rewards rates and lower APRs
  • A big late fee. Students who pay late could get hit with a late fee as high as $39. And unlike Discover, Capital One doesn’t advertise this.

Best student credit card with a 0% intro APR

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Earn $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

  • Rewards: 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% on category of your choice for the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter, 1% on other purchases
  • APR: 15.49% - 25.49% Variable
  • Annual fee: No Annual Fee

ValuePenguin's verdict

Unlike most student card options, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students allows students to carry a new balance for a year before they’re charged interest. That’s a helpful tool for students who need to make purchases at the beginning of the school year, but can’t afford to pay it all off at once.

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is also a good cashback card. Students can save money on purchases by getting 3% cash back on the items they purchase most. Students get to choose the spending category that earns extra cash back, including gas, dining, travel and drugstore purchases.

The card’s online shopping option may be the most rewarding category for students, especially if they buy school supplies, textbooks or electronics online. Most online shopping purchases count toward the bonus, including online purchases from popular merchants, such as Apple, Etsy, Amazon and Best Buy.

Benefits

  • Students can practice using credit before the card’s standard APR kicks in. The card offers an intro APR of 0% for first 12 months on purchases (15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR thereafter). If a student accidentally overcharges, they will have more time to repay the balance before pricey interest charges start adding up.
  • Its rewards program is unusually flexible. The ability to choose bonus categories is a great perk for students who don’t get as much value from traditional bonus categories, such as travel, gas or groceries.
  • It’s not hard to earn rewards. Lots of different purchases count toward the cashback card’s bonus categories. For example, if a student chooses 3% cash back on travel, they will earn a bonus on everything from ride shares to parking and public transportation. Similarly, the card’s dining bonus covers everything from fast food to delivery services, such as GrubHub.

Drawbacks

  • No special perks for students. This card is identical to the general-purpose Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. So it doesn’t offer any extra benefits for new and inexperienced cardholders.
  • An inaccessible sign-up bonus. The card offers a generous $200 cash bonus. But students would have to spend $1,000 in just three months to get it. That’s $333 a month, which may be out of budget for many students.
  • Not a good travel companion. Students who try to use this card abroad will incur a 3% fee with every foreign purchase.

What is a student credit card?

A student card is a starter card for borrowers new to credit. Some student cards offer special perks and benefits designed specifically for those who are enrolled in school, such as good grade bonuses or student streaming subscriptions. Other student cards offer the same terms and benefits you’ll find on cards marketed to non-students.

Since student cards are intended to help borrowers build credit, you may qualify for a student card even if you’ve never owned another credit card. However, you will likely need to be actively enrolled in school to qualify for a card designed exclusively for students.

Students under the age of 21 who don’t hold some kind of job may also have a tough time qualifying for a student card. A federal law called the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (also known as the Credit CARD Act of 2009) requires lenders to verify that underage borrowers can afford to repay their credit card debt.

So if you’re between the ages of 18 and 20, you’ll either need to prove that you earn enough independent income to pay your credit card bill or — if your lender allows co-applicants — you’ll need an eligible adult to co-sign your application.

Why should college students have credit cards?

As long as it’s used responsibly, a student card can help kickstart your financial life long before you graduate.

For example, a student card helps you:

Build credit

With every on-time credit card payment, you’ll add another positive data point to your credit reports. Over time, this record of on-time payments can be extremely valuable — especially if you don’t have a lot of assets built up after graduation and you need credit to make big purchases. For example, opening a credit card while still in college will give your credit standing a valuable head start by increasing the average age of your credit accounts, which is an important credit score metric.

Practice using credit

Opening a card while still in school will also give you a lower-stakes chance to practice good credit hygiene and use a card responsibly, well before you have to cope with higher pressure adulting. You’re also likely to get a relatively low credit limit. So you can practice using credit without the risk of charging your way into unmanageable debt.

Earn rewards

If you’re like most cash-strapped college students, you’re unlikely to earn a lot of rewards with your first card. But the small amounts of cash or rewards points you do earn can be helpful. An extra $20, for example, might mean the difference between a Friday night spent at home or a socially distanced evening at the movies.

How to get a student credit card

Check your credit score first

Before applying for a credit card, it’s important to know where your credit stands — especially if this isn’t your first student card. That will help you determine what kind of card you qualify for.

FICO score ranges:

  • Poor credit is considered anyone with a FICO score under 580
  • Fair or Fair credit rating will be between 580 and 669
  • Good credit is between 670 and 739
  • Very Good credit is between 740 and 799
  • Excellent credit is anything above 800

If you’ve never used credit before or haven’t used it in a while, you may not have a credit score at all. Don’t write off your chances, though, if you’re brand new to credit. Student cards are intended to be used by inexperienced borrowers. So lenders may still approve you, even if it’s your very first card.

Don't apply for too many cards at once

As a general rule of thumb whenever you’re looking to fill your wallet with new cards, it’s a good idea to space out your applications. Lenders tend to view a whole lot of credit card applications crammed into a short period as a red flag. They may worry that you’re desperate for credit and so aren’t in a good position to pay your bills. Credit scores will also ding you for hard inquiries, which are notations on a credit report that indicate that a lender has pulled your report after you applied for credit.

FICO Credit Score Components

Apply in-branch through your bank

Some student credit cards require you to apply for the card in person. Others allow you to apply online. However, you may benefit from speaking with a personal banker in person and having them file an application on your behalf.

List all your assets on your application

If you have any valuable assets, such as property, that you can sell for cash, include it in your application if there’s space for it. This will help show lenders that you have additional means for repaying your bills.

Become an authorized user

If you’re unable to qualify for a loan by yourself, consider becoming an authorized user on one of your parent’s cards. It may not have as big an impact on your credit score as having your own card (and depending on the score a lender is using, it may not impact your score at all). However, it will appear on your credit report if the lender reports it and show potential lenders that you do have some credit experience. Ask the lender if they report authorized users’ activity to the credit bureaus.

Becoming an authorized user will also give you the ability to charge purchases knowing someone. In addition, you’ll get to practice using credit and may even earn better rewards.

Get a co-signer

If you’re under 21 and don’t have an independent source of income — or if you’re over 21, but can’t get approved for a card yourself — you may have more luck if you add a qualifying co-signer to your application. Applying jointly for a credit card will allow you to benefit from a parent or other co-signer’s credit history. However, you’ll still get credit for on-time payments, helping you to bulk up your credit history. Be aware, though, that not all lenders allow co-signers, so you’ll need to check with your preferred bank to see if a co-signer is allowed.

Ask for reconsideration if you're declined

If you apply for a card online and are rejected, call the lender and ask if they would be willing to consider your application. The lender may be more willing to work with you once you’ve spoken to a personal banker about your situation.

Apply for a secured card if you can't get an unsecured card

If all else fails, consider a secured credit card. With a secured card, you provide the lender with an upfront refundable payment called a security deposit that will be placed into an account in your name. Lenders can take that money if you fail to make your payments. So they are more likely to take a risk on your application. The amount you need to put down will vary, depending on the card. Some secured cards allow you to open a low-limit account with as little as $49. Others require you to put down at least $200 or more.

How to make the most of a student credit card

Successful card ownership isn’t especially complicated. All it takes to grow your credit history is to open a card, use it occasionally and pay each bill on time. Similarly, most rewards cards will give you at least 1% back with every purchase.

However, it does take organization and planning to maximize your card usage and avoid charging more than you can afford.

To get the most value from your student card:

  1. Watch your balance and only charge what you know you can repay quickly. Otherwise, you could be surprised by how quickly your balance grows.
  2. Pay attention to your credit card’s billing cycle. The period of time between the first day of a billing cycle and the due date is called your credit card billing cycle. It’s required by law to last at least 21 days. However, some lenders’ billing cycles last as long as 25 days or more. This period is important because you won’t be charged interest during this period (which is also known as a grace period) if you pay your bills in full. But if you carry a balance, a lender may start charging interest as soon as a purchase posts to your account.
  3. Don’t carry a balance if you don’t have to. As long as you pay off your monthly balance in full each month, you can wait until your credit card’s due date to pay off your monthly purchases without incurring interest. However, if you slip one month and carry a balance, then you may have to wait a month or two before your lender restarts the interest-free grace period.
  4. Pay more than the minimum amount due. If you do need to carry a balance, pay off as much of your balance as you can afford. If you only pay the minimum due, you’ll pay substantially more in interest and will also run the risk of falling behind as your balance quickly grows.

Can you pay student loans with a credit card?

Not if they’re federal student loans. Under Treasury Department rules, lenders aren’t allowed to accept credit card payments for federally-backed loans. A private lender may accept direct credit card payments or mobile app payments. However, you’ll need to check with your lender to see what they accept. Sallie Mae, for example, accepts Apple Pay payments. But if you pay online through Sallie Mae’s website, you’re only given the choice of paying from your deposit account.

For lenders that don’t accept card payments, you may be able to use a third-payment service that will accept your credit card payment and then pay your lender on your behalf. However, watch out for hefty fees. Plastiq, for example, may charge you up to 2.85% per transaction.

What is the best credit card for students?

It depends on the student. The best card for a particular student will offer rewards that closely match their everyday spending and that doesn’t charge excessive rates or fees. As of press time, Discover’s line of cards, including the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Student chrome card, offer the best combination of strong rewards and student-friendly terms.

What to put for income on a student credit card application?

Acceptable sources of income may vary, depending on your card issuer. But as far as federal regulations go, you can include:

  • Wages earned from a job, such as a part-time work-study job or paid internship
  • Regular deposits into a student bank account, such as monthly deposits by a parent. (Note: Occasional deposits do not count.)
  • Personal assets
  • Leftover financial aid once other school payments have been made

Should college students have credit cards?

It depends. Everyone is different and so a credit card may not be the best option for every student. For example, if a student is so disorganized they can barely remember their homework deadlines, adding a high-stakes credit card deadline to their monthly routine may be a bad idea. Similarly, if a student is too emotionally immature to handle credit responsibly, they may be better off with a safer option, such as a prepaid card. But for students who are ready for the responsibility, a credit card can be a useful tool.

Can a student get a credit card with no income?

Not if they’re under the age of 21. By law, underage cardholders must have some form of income to qualify for a card on their own. Otherwise, they will have to jointly apply for a card with a co-signer.

Can you get a student credit card in high school?

If a student is over the age of 18, they may be able to qualify for a credit card. However, it will depend on the lender. Some lenders specifically require borrowers to be college students. Underage students will also have to meet the same requirements for all cardholders under the age of 21.

Does a student credit card build credit?

If a student is the primary owner of their credit card, it will help them build credit through regular on-time payments.

Can international students get a credit card in the U.S.?

It depends on the lender. Some lenders, such as Deserve, allow international students to qualify for a card, even if they don’t have a Social Security number.

What happens to your student credit card when you graduate?

You may be eligible for an upgrade. Depending on the lender, you may qualify for a general-purpose card once you graduate or you may be allowed to keep your card, with the same benefits, but apply for a higher credit limit.

Can you get a student credit card after graduation?

If you’ve graduated college, you’re better off applying for a general-purpose credit card. Student cards are typically intended for people who are enrolled in school.

How hard is it to get a student credit card?

It depends on a student’s age and the card they are targeting. Every lender has its own risk threshold, which is often subject to change. For example, a lender may be less likely to approve a student card during an economic downturn or during a period when many people are falling behind on bills. Student cards are hardest to get for underage college students who are required to meet federal eligibility guidelines.

Should I put "student" or "employed" on my credit card application?

Unless you are employed full-time and just taking classes part-time, you should indicate that you are a student.

Can I get a student credit card with bad credit?

If you have a history of missed payments, you could have a tough time qualifying for the best student cards. Instead, you may have better luck with a secured credit card.

Why do credit card companies target college students?

Credit card companies value long-term customers and so they may see student cards as an opportunity to foster a relationship with a potential lifelong borrower while they’re still in their formative years. This strategy can pay off for lenders if a student repeatedly comes back for additional cards or for other financial products, such as a car loan or mortgage.

Do student loans count as income for credit card applications?

It depends on the issuer. However, federal regulations do allow students to count any student loan income that isn’t being used for tuition and school fees.

The information related to Discover it® Secured, Discover it® Student chrome, Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students, Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students and Discover it® Student Cash Back has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).