Home > Credit Card Reviews > 4 Credit Cards to Take Back to College

Comments 0 Comments

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

For many students, college offers the first opportunity to forge a path toward independence. It’s also a huge opportunity to learn how to manage personal finances. Credit cards can be a useful tool in that journey, as they require responsible management even as they’re used to build credit, make purchases and even earn rewards.

Many credit card issuers offer cards designed to meet the college student’s needs. Here are five credit cards to consider taking with you to college in the fall.

1. Discover it Student chrome 

Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined gas and dining purchases per quarter, 1% cash back on everything else
Signup Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): and , then
Why We Picked It: Students earn cash back on all purchases, with an extra incentive for dining and gas.
Benefits: Gas station and restaurant purchases earn 2% cash back and all other purchases earn 1% cash back. Discover will match all cash back you earn in the first year, and students will get a $20 statement credit every year they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: If you don’t have a car and don’t dine out much the cash back value tanks.

2. Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One

Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases, with a .25% boost when you pay on time
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Why We Picked It: Students get extra motivation to make timely payments.
Benefits: All purchases automatically earn 1% cash back, but that rate is boosted to 1.25% for every month you make your payment on time. After making your first five timely payments, you can access a higher credit line. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Drawbacks: The APR is extremely high.

3. BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Rewards: 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases
Signup Bonus: 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases, then variable 15.99% to 23.99; variable 15.99% to 23.99% on balance transfers
Why We Picked It: Students can redeem their points for travel.
Benefits: All purchases earn 1.5 points per dollar. Points can be redeemed for flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals and other travel purchases, with no blackout dates or restrictions. There’s no foreign transaction fee.
Drawbacks: Those who don’t travel should look elsewhere.

4. Citi Simplicity

Rewards: None
Signup Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers* and then 15.24% – 25.24% (Variable) ongoing APR.
Why We Picked It: Students get a long time to pay off purchases and balance transfers interest free.
Benefits: The card’s primary appeal is its 18-month 0% APR offer. That’s a long time to pay down a balance or make purchases with no interest.
Drawbacks: There are no rewards.

How to Choose a Credit Card for College

If this is your first time with a credit card, your best choice is likely a simple card with minimal fees and an easy way to earn rewards. You may also want to look for a card that’s forgiving on late payments in case you slip up.

If it’s rewards you’re after, choose a card that matches your spending habits and provides rewards you’ll actually use. For instance, frequent diners might choose a card with special rewards for restaurant purchases.
Some cards offer 0% intro APR offers that let you avoid interest on purchases or balance transfers for a limited time. Remember, the best way to use a credit card is to pay your balance off in full each month before interest is applied.

What Credit Is Required for a College Credit Card?

Credit cards designed for students tend to have looser credit requirements and may be available to students with average or good credit. You should check the credit requirements before you apply. If you aren’t sure about your credit, you can check two of your credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: Mixmike

At publishing time, the Discover it Chrome Card for College Students, Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One and Citi Simplicity credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Apply Now
on Citi's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% for 15 months on Purchases

Ongoing Apr:
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)

Balance Transfer:
0% for 15 months on Balance Transfers

Annual Fee:

Credit Needed:
Snapshot of Card Features
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Card Details +

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team