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Best Student Credit Cards

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by Eric Rosenberg | Updated Jun. 13, 2017
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Overview

One of the most important steps of young adulthood is responsibly building credit. Many people don't know that the length of time your oldest credit card has been open can significantly impact your credit score. For that reason, getting your first credit card when you're a college student can be an incredibly smart move that ends up saving you thousands when you graduate and start looking into buying your first home or a new car. Using our credit card model, we found some of the best credit card offers for students. The cards below provide the best combination of rewards (where available), low fees, and likelihood of approval for applicants with little credit. See More


Best Cash Back Credit Card for Students

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  • New! We'll monitor your Social Security Number. Get an alert if we find your Social Security Number on any of thousands of risky websites.* Activate for Free.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% for 6 Months

Balance Transfer Intro APR

10.99% for 6 Months

Regular APR

13.99% - 22.99% Variable

Benefits

Some student credit cards are designed for those with no credit history. For those with a good credit score, the Discover it for Students is a great choice. This card is loaded with benefits. Get $20 cash back each school year that you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, for up to five years. Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Earn 1% everywhere else. The first year you have the card your cash back is doubled. This card has flexible and forgiving payment options and provides a free FICO credit score to all card holders. Get all of this with no annual fee.

Things to Consider

Because this card is available to a range of students, interest rates go up to 13.99% - 22.99% Variable. Also beware the 3% balance transfer fee if you transfer balances in from other credit cards.

Our Verdict

If you are a student who wants cash back and to build credit at the same time, this card is a great option. Good grades and first-year cash-back bonuses make the card more lucrative on top of regular cash back. Students dine out frequently and need to purchase supplies for school, so 5% cash back in rotating categories that students use most often is a great value. The card has some high tech mobile features perfect for students including the ability to turn off your card to prevent fraud from your phone. It is easy to use, flexible and has no annual fee. That’s why it is our favorite cashback card for students.

Best Credit Card for Students with No Credit

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  • Build Your Credit fast with our monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • Choose your credit line as low as $200 up to $3000, secured by a fully-refundable* security deposit.
  • Security deposit needs to be submitted before the credit card can be issued.
  • No credit check necessary and no checking account required; apply in less than 5 minutes.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.

Annual Fee

$35.00

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.14% (variable)

Benefits

International students and students with zero credit history have a hard time getting credit cards. However, you’ll find in college that a credit card is the best way to make purchase. This card is very easy to get and comes with credit lines of $200-$3,000. This is a real card you can use to build credit so you can get even better cards in the future. Your credit history and credit are not checked in the application process. Virtually everyone is approved.

Things to Consider

Because it is a secured card, you have to put down a deposit equal to your credit line. For example, if you open a card with a $2,000 credit line, you are required to put down a $2,000 deposit. The card has a high 18.14% (variable) APR, which increases to 22.25% variable after a late payment. The card comes with a $35 annual fee. There is a % foreign transaction charge and a $6 or 5% cash advance fee.

Our Verdict

If you are new to the United States or brand new to credit, your options for credit cards are limited. This is the best credit card option for students with zero credit history. Because it helps your credit score, you should consistently make on-time payments to build a solid credit history. As your score increases, you can apply for better cards with lower fees.

Best Credit Card for Students with Average Credit

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  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • There's no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards don't expire
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

20.74% Variable

Benefits

College is a time of learning and exploration, and building credit. Most college students have little to no credit history. This student card is perfect for students new to credit. Card holders get free access to their credit profile to monitor your progress. Also, earn 1% cash back on purchases or 1.25% when you pay on time (which you always should). The card is excellent for study abroad and travel as it has no foreign transaction fees. The card also has no annual fee and works with Apple Pay.

Things to Consider

Because the card is geared towards students with little credit history, most card holders are considered high risk. As a result, the card has a hefty APR of 20.74% Variable.

Our Verdict

Many student credit cards have weak or no rewards. If you are a student and want to earn cash back on your spending while building credit, this is the perfect card for you. Furthermore, it comes with standard card benefits like rental car insurance, travel assistance and travel insurance. Also enjoy purchase warranty extensions. For a no annual fee card available to students with no credit history, this Capital One card is a great option.

Methodology SmartAsset has developed a quantitative and independent system for evaluating the relative value of a credit card offer versus other offers in the marketplace. Our system evaluates cards based exclusively on their features, such as their rewards earning rate (if applicable), fees, perks, and rewards program redemption options. The annual rewards values on this page are calculated using annual spending assumptions in various categories such as, but not limited to, gas, restaurants, airfare, and US supermarkets. These spending assumptions are built on research that SmartAsset has conducted on existing student credit cardholders. Our promise with our credit card recommendations is that we will always strive to have the most comprehensive, accurate, and objective method of evaluating credit card offers. Any recommendations are solely determined by the result of this research and model, and is never influenced by any fees, commissions, or other forms of compensation that SmartAsset may receive from credit card issuers for leads generated on our website.

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