Student credit cards are designed for US college students over the age of 18, and are, in my opinion, something that each college student should have so that they can start building up a credit history and have a good credit score by the time they graduate (which is essential for employment checks, housing rental, and mortgage loans). A credit card will also come in handy when paying for everyday expenses such as groceries and utilities. What I like most about student cards is that many of them offer a rewards system and additional incentives when students get good grades and pay their bills on time. Some cards even offer a points system that gives you points for every dollar you spend. You can even find some student cards that offer 0% introductory APR (annual percentage rate) on purchases, which lets you hold a balance from one month to the other without incurring interest for a predetermined period of time.
To help you choose the right student credit card for yourself, we've put together a list of our best rated student credit cards currently available in the US. All the cards below have no annual fee.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points. This rewards credit card gives you 2,500 bonus ThankYou points when spending $500 on this card within the first 3 months of card membership. You’ll earn 2 points for each dollar you spend on entertainment and dining at restaurants, as well as 1 point for each dollar you spend elsewhere. Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 7 months (13.99% - 23.99% variable APR thereafter). No annual fee.
Read our review of Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students - Earn 2,500 Bonus Points here.
Discover it® for Students. This cash back card, issued by Discover Financial, gives you 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter up to the quarterly maximum that change every three months, such as gas, dining, movies and more. You have to sign up for each quarter. Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases automatically. Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, (12.99% - 21.99% variable APR thereafter), and 10.99% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 6 months (12.99% - 21.99% variable APR thereafter). This student card has even made it to our list of Best Rated Credit Cards 2015. Choose your card design. No annual fee.
Read our review of Discover it® for Students here.
Discover it® for Students with $20 Cash Back. Get $20 cash back after you make your first purchase with this card within 3 months of approval. This top student card has no annual fee and lets you earn up to 5% cash back on up to the quarterly maximum in purchases you make each quarter in categories that change every 3 months. You will need to sign up to activate the 5% each quarter. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. Paying late won't raise your APR, and there's no late fee on your first late payment. You also get a free FICO® credit score online and on monthly statements which will help you keep your credit rating on the right track. Customer service is 100% US-based and is available anytime. This card comes with a low 10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers made before July 10, 2015. After the intro period, there's a 12.99% - 21.99% variable APR. Click "Apply Now" to see rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other information.
Read our review of the Discover it® for Students with $20 Cash Back here.
Discover it® chrome for Students with $20 Cash Back. This card lets you earn $20 cash back by making a purchase within the first 3 months after card approval. Shopping at restaurants and gas stations lets you earn 2% cash back, on up to $1,000 spent on combined purchases each quarter. You do not need to enroll in any categories in order to earn this double cash back. You earn 1% cash back on your purchases that exceed the $1,000 cap as well as on the rest of your purchases. No annual fee. No foreign transaction fee. No overlimit fee. Paying late will not increase your APR and there is no late fee on your first late payment. You'll be able to view your FICO® Credit Score online as well as in your monthly statements for free. If you want a student card that lets you earn a sign-up bonus and rewards you with cash back on eating out and gas, this is a good choice.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®. This student rewards card gives you 1% cash back on all your purchases, and rewards you with a 25% bonus on the cash back you earn each month as long as you pay your bills on time. That means you can earn a total of 1.25% cash back. There's no limit to what you can earn and you can redeem your cash back any time you want. Cash back doesn't expire. Busy students will be pleased to know that you can even set up automatic redemptions. You get free access to your credit score (with Capital One® Credit Tracker) to help you keep your credit on the right track. Enjoy a higher credit line after you make your first 5 monthly payments on time. No annual fee.
Read our review of Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® here.
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa® card lets you earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and drugstore net purchases for the first 6 months after you sign up, after that you earn 1%. You also get 1% cash back for all other purchases. Cash back can be redeemed in increments of $25, either as a deposit into your savings or checking account, as a check, for rewards or as credit. You also get an introductory APR of 5.90% to 13.90% on purchases for 6 months, after that, the variable purchase APR will be 11.15% to 21.15%. You get 5.90% to 13.90% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 6 months, 11.15% to 21.15% variable APR thereafter. Since the rate you get depends on your creditworthiness, if you don't have a (good) credit history yet you should be prepared to get a high APR. If you make your payments on time, you won't only avoid paying APR but will also build a good credit record. Benefits include chip-based technology, which gives you more security and lets you use this card outside of the US, and Zero Liability for fraudulent transactions. No annual fee.
Best Student Card Tips
Student credit cards are a great way for you to build good credit, which will be very important for you in the near future when you want to get a mortgage or loan. Apart from building a good credit history, having a student credit card will give you access to a line of credit and cash, as well as help you earn rewards or cash back when you make purchases.
Some student cards reward you if you have a good GPA and pay your bills on time and most cards give you between 1%-5% cash back when you make purchases with the card. Remember to always read the terms and conditions of the cards you're comparing in order to find the one that will give you the most rewards on the things you spend more money on. Remember to always look for the card that offers the most exciting rewards.
Many credit cards for students offer a 0% introductory APR for purchases, which is something you should keep in mind when looking for a credit card and planning on holding a balance. Remember that this introductory interest rate expires after a number of months, after which you will have to pay a high interest rate starting from 12.99% or more. So you shouldn't use your card as a supplemental student loan.
If you are careful, your student credit card will be a huge advantage to you, now and in later life. To see our full selection of Student Credit Cards click here.