By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, email@example.com
Getting a credit card as a college student can be a smart move, because credit card companies are actually more likely to approve you while you’re a student than after you graduate. (Makes no sense, but it’s often true.) So, provided you can use the card responsibly (and not rack up debt), a student credit card can help you establish a credit history and build a credit score, which will be valuable to you later on when you want a car loan, mortgage, etc.
That said, here are our recommendations for the best student credit cards:
- Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card for Students – This no-annual-fee student credit card offers good rewards and the possibility of a sweet upfront bonus as a new cardholder. Let’s start with that bonus: you’ll get a $200 bonus as a new cardholder IF you spend at least $1000 with this card in the first 90 days after you open the account, so it’s best to apply when you know you can hit that level of spending early on. Beyond the bonus, you’ll get nice cash-back rewards: 3% cash back in a purchasing category of your choice (from a category list that includes online shopping, gas, dining out, and more), 2% at grocery stores and warehouse clubs, and 1% everywhere else. Note that there is a cap on those 2%/3% purchasing categories of $2500 in combined purchases — any spending you do in those categories beyond $2500 in a calendar quarter would still earn 1% on those purchases. (For example, if you spent $1500 on dining as your 3% category in the calendar quarter from January through March, and $1500 at grocery stores, you’d get the regular 3% or 2% reward on the first $2500 of those $3000 in combined purchases, while the last $500 would earn a 1% rebate.)
- Capital One SavorOne Student Card – A nice no-annual-fee cash back credit card with enhanced rebates in categories where students often spend. You’ll get 3% cash back at grocery stores and restaurants, as well as on entertainment purchases and most streaming services. (Be sure to check their website to see what purchases qualify in those categories.) All other purchases earn 1% cash back. The card has no foreign transaction fees, so if you travel outside of the U.S., you won’t pay anything extra on your purchases. (Many credit cards charge an extra 3% on foreign transactions.) However, this card does have a high 26.49% interest rate, so make sure you pay your bills in full each month to avoid interest charges.
- Discover It Student Card – No-annual-fee cash-back card gives you 1% cash back on all your purchases, BUT you also have the chance to earn 5% in certain purchase categories that change each calendar quarter. For example, in the second quarter of 2021 (April-June), you could’ve earned 5% at gas stations, wholesale clubs, and on streaming services, and then in the third quarter (July-September), the 5% cash-back categories changed to dining purchases and purchases made with PayPal (using the card as your PayPal funding method). (See the current 5% calendar here.) Note that there is a $1500 spending limit in the 5% reward categories each quarter; purchases beyond $1500 in those categories would still earn the standard 1%. FIRST-YEAR CASHBACK MATCH BONUS: After you’ve had the card for one full year, you’ll get a bonus that matches all of the cash-back rebates you earned in the first year. For example, if you earn $75 in rewards during the first 12 months you have the card, Discover will give you an extra $75, so you actually get double what you earned in the first year.
- Sallie Mae Accelerate Mastercard – No annual fee student credit card offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, but you can actually increase that cash-back rate to 2% when you use your rewards to pay down a student loan. Also has a $200 bonus opportunity if you spend $1000 with the card in the first three months after opening your account.
- Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards Visa – No-annual-fee student credit card gives you 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make with the card. Like the Bank of America Customized Cash Card mentioned above, this one offers a $200 bonus as a new cardholder IF you spend at least $1000 with this card in the first 90 days after you open the account, so it’s best to apply when you know you can hit that level of spending early on.
- Capital One Quicksilver Rewards For Students – Like the card above, this student credit card has no annual fee and gives you 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make with the card. (Unlike the card above, this one does NOT offer that sweet bonus opportunity for new cardholders.) No foreign transaction fees on purchases outside of the United States. However, has a high 26.49% interest rate, so make sure you pay your bills in full each month to avoid interest charges.
Other Student Credit Cards (Not the Best, But…)
- Chase Freedom Student Credit Card – Chase’s student credit card has no annual fee, offers 1% cash back on all purchases, and offers a $50 bonus after you use the card for the first time (as long as you use it within three months of opening the account).
- Deserve EDU Mastercard – No-annual-fee student credit card offers a 1% cash back reward as well as a free year of Amazon Prime Student, cell phone protection if phone stolen or damaged, and no foreign transaction fees when you use the card outside of the U.S.