The 5 Best Credit Cards for College Students

By Jason Steele. Last updated 19 December 2017. 2 comments

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When I was in college, my mom seemed to call me nearly every week to confirm that I was paying my entire credit card balance in full and on time. It was as if she knew that credit cards and college students do not have a good history together. At the time, banks were employing every tactic possible to get large amounts credit into the hands of young adults. So much so that many felt these banks were acting more like predatory lenders than respectable financial institutions. In response, Congress passed the CARD Act of 2009. This groundbreaking piece of legislation set limits on banks' on-campus marketing efforts and required young adults who applied for credit cards to show some means of paying off loans.

Nevertheless, students continue to obtain and abuse credit cards. They tend to incur debt and struggle to make payments on time. While these are bad practices at any stage of life, starting these habits at a young age sets a terrible precedent for how students will continue to manage their finances after graduation. Therefore it is critical that parents work closely with students to carefully guide them into financial independence. (See also: 40+ College Resources for Parents and Students)

Choosing the Best Student Credit Card

So what should parents and students look for in a credit card? Look for simple terms, no annual fees, and if possible, maybe some cash back rewards. You don't want to get in the habit of paying interest on your credit card balance, but if you have to, it shouldn't be well outside the market rates. Also, opening up a credit card account at the same bank that the student holds their checking account is a great idea. This way, timely payments are just a transfer between accounts rather than a transaction between separate institutions.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is marketed to students and features 1% cash back on all purchases, every month, with no annual fee. In fact, Capital One offers an additional 0.25% cash reward on the cash back earned each month when cardholders pay on time.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® today!

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students from our partner Citi offers 2X points on dining out and entertainment and 1X point on all other purchases. There is no expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card. They currently offer a sign up bonus of 2,500 points after spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening, and 0% intro APR for 7 months on purchases. After that, the APR ranges from 15.74%-25.74%* (variable), based on credit worthiness. There is no annual fee.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students.

Discover it® for Students

Discover is known for simple terms and great customer service. The Discover it® for Students card offers 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter up $1500 per quarter after sign-up, plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. As an exclusive offer for new cardmembers, all the cash back earned is automatically matched by Discover at the end of the first year. In addition, they can also enjoy a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 6 months. After that, the APR ranges from 13.99%-22.99% variable. Free text alerts remind students when payments are due.

Paying late won't raise the APR, and recent FICO scores are included in monthly statements and online so students can track their credit. The Freeze ItSM on/off switch allows students to freeze and unfreeze the activity on their account in seconds via Discover's website and mobile app. There are also no foreign transaction fees, so this is a great card to use on any travels abroad. There is no annual fee.

No matter which card they choose, students face treacherous path on their road to No matter which card they choose, students face treacherous path on their road to financial independence and responsibility. By working together to choose the best card for their needs, parents and students can smooth out this critical path to adulthood.

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Guest's picture

Student credit card is very difficult to get in india specially if you are below 18 there are few tips which you can use to get it for your online purchases and as always another informative post liked it

Guest's picture

When I was in college, some of the cheapest students clothed themselves entirely in giveaway t-shirts that CC companies gave out if you filled out an application. Not great for short term credit scores, but it kept them in T-shirts.