How credit cards can help you
Using a credit card is one of the best ways to build your credit without taking out unnecessary loans and paying interest. But if you don’t have much credit history, getting approved for a credit card as a college student can be challenging.
That’s where student credit cards come in. It’s easier for students to be approved for these cards. If you use this card correctly, you can build a solid credit score that will improve your life when you graduate.
A good credit score will make it easier to rent an apartment by yourself, set up utilities, and even buy a cell phone. It will also save you money on car insurance and help you qualify for lower rates on other loans.
How we made our selections
We chose these cards based on the following criteria:
- Availability – We picked credit cards designed only or mostly for college students.
- Fees and interest rates – We picked cards with the lowest annual fees and interest rates.
- Reviews – We chose cards that have good reviews from both customers and industry experts.
- Rewards – We also found cards that provide cash back rewards and sign-up bonuses, which can provide extra spending money for students.
Best student credit cards
Here are our top picks for student credit cards.
Discover it Student Cash Back Card
The Discover it Student Cash Back Card is one of the few student credit cards that provides cash back. Students earn 5% cash back from categories that rotate each quarter. These may include gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Uber, and Amazon.com purchases.
After your first year, Discover will match all your cash back. If you earned $100 in cash back, Discover will give you another $100. Discover also provides a $20 bonus each year for five years for having a 3.0 GPA or higher.
There’s no annual fee, and 0% APR for six months on new purchases. After that, the APR will be 19.99%, as of September 2020.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® card also provides cash back rewards to students, with 1% cash back on all purchases. If you pay your bills on time, the rate is increased to 1.25%. Make sure not to miss that bonus – set your credit card to autopay every month.
There’s no annual fee, and the APR is 26.99%. There are also no foreign transaction fees, perfect if you want to use a credit card while studying abroad.
Capital One also provides extended warranties on eligible items purchased with the card. You’ll also be enrolled in Capital One’s credit score monitoring program, CreditWise.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
With the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students, you’ll earn 3% cash back in one of the following categories:
- Online shopping
- Drug stores
- Home improvement
You’ll also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs like Costco and 1% on all other purchases. The 3% and 2% cash back categories are limited to $2,500 worth of purchases each quarter. After you’ve reached that limit, you’ll earn 1% cash back on those items.
As of this writing, the card has no annual fee, and students can earn a $200 bonus when they spend $1,000 or more. There’s also 0% APR for 12 months for new purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR will be between 13.99% – 23.99%.
Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
Students can earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery stores, and drugstores for the first six months and only up to $2,500 worth of purchases with the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
You can redeem cash back as statement credit on your account or for travel purchases, gift cards, or merchandise. You also get roadside assistance, emergency travel assistance, and cell phone protection if you pay your cell phone bill with the card.
The card has 0% APR for six months for both purchases and balance transfers. After that, it will range between 11.15% to 21.15%. There’s no annual fee.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
Students earn 1.5 points per dollar when they use the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students. There’s no limit on how much cash back you can earn. If you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 25,000 bonus points. This is equal to $250.
There’s also 0% APR for the first 12 months on new purchases. The regular APR is between 14.99% – 22.99%.
This card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Unlike other travel cards, you have to make the travel-related purchase first and then be reimbursed by the card provider as a statement credit.
Deserve EDU Mastercard
International students who want access to a credit card should look at the Deserve EDU Mastercard. This is one of the only credit options available for international students studying in the U.S. It’s also available to domestic students.
You’ll earn 1% cash back on purchases, and there is no annual fee and no international transaction fees. You also get free access to Amazon Prime Student for one year. The APR is 18.74%.
The Jasper Mastercard doesn’t require a credit check or a Social Security Number for people who don’t have one. If you do have a Social Security Number and a credit history, then Jasper will run a credit check.
There’s no annual fee, and the APR is a variable 15.49%. The card offers up to a $5,000 credit limit. Currently Jasper only reports card activity to Equifax and TransUnion.
Jasper works with Google Pay and Apple Pay. Unlike other cards, the Jasper card doesn’t have any cash back rewards.
Use a credit card responsibly to avoid problems
Once you have your credit card, make sure you use it responsibly to build a solid credit score. Set up autopay on the card to avoid late payments, which cause a ding to your credit score and result in extra interest.
Be mindful of your credit utilization percentage, which describes how much credit you’re currently using compared to the total credit available. Aim to use less than 10%. If you want to make it simple, add one recurring bill to the credit card, like your Spotify or Netflix membership.
Check your credit card statement every month to verify all the transactions. If you don’t recognize something, call the credit card issuer and file a dispute if it turns out to be fraud.
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