For most college students, an important step to take is to start establishing credit. A good way to strengthen your credit is to effectively use a credit card. Many companies offer college students credit cards. These student credit cards are designed to give students with no prior credit history a chance to begin using and building credit. To apply, you need to be over 18 years of age and currently enrolled in college, although some restrictions may apply, based on previous bad credit history. The best credit cards for students provide rewards and services like other credit cards, but they also have some programs to help facilitate and protect your credit from common mistakes made by students.
We recommend that you consider the Discover it® for Students, Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students and Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card for College Students as viable student credit card options. We also have articles about student credit cards to help provide you with further information.
There are many things to consider when looking for the student credit card that is right for you. We recommend that you consider the APR, fees & penalties, rewards, services and member support you will receive.
The APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, is very important to understand. This is the percentage amount that the credit card companies use to charge interest on your outstanding balances. There are different types of APRs you should consider. Most of the best student credit cards include an introductory APR for purchases. You will want to look at the introductory period time and the overall introductory APR rate. Other APR rates to consider is the standard purchase APR, the balance transfer APR, the penalty APR and the cash advance APR. All of these APRs are variable with a credit card, which means they can shift up and down over the time you are a cardholder.
Fees & Penalties
It is important to find a credit card with low fees and penalties. Some cards do charge an annual fee for being a cardholder; none of the credit cards we reviewed includes this fee. Other fees you should look at are balance transfer fees, which apply to the total amount you transfer onto the credit card; late and returned payment fees, which are charged per occurrence; cash advance fees, which is charged when you pull cash off your credit limit, and international purchase fees, which apply when you make a foreign currency purchase. Another important thing to consider is the grace period offered by the credit card; the best credit cards for students typically have a longer grace period.
Some of the better student credit cards we reviewed offer rewards to their cardholders. There are two major types of rewards for student credit cards – points and cash back. What type of reward system you choose should depend more on personal preference. The cash back rewards typically give you a set percentage of cash back of the purchases you make using the credit card. You should see if these rewards are capped, meaning they limit the total amount of cash back you receive, and if the company offers ways of earning bonus cash back. The point rewards build up over time, usually based on a dollar per point basis. You can then redeem the points for gift cards, air miles, merchandise or even cash.
College student credit cards usually offer benefits at no additional cost to their cardholders. These additional services can include extended warranties for items you bought, auto rental insurance for cars you rent using the credit card and even cell phone replacement insurance. Most of the best student credit cards will also include $0 liability protection, which protects you from fraudulent charges made with your credit card.
Whether you are trying to get answers to questions before or after you acquire a student credit card, good member support will help you have a better experience with credit card companies. The best credit cards for students include support that is available 24/7 through phone, email and live chat. You should also seek out companies with good online materials, including a FAQs section.
When it comes to finding the right student credit card for you, please consider what you want to accomplish using the credit card. Reward preferences and how you will use the credit card will influence what APR programs and fees make the most sense for you. You should also try to find a card that includes free services you can use.
Disclaimer: The Annual Percentage Rate or APR is reflective of the date this site was last updated.