When it comes to credit cards, students are in a difficult place. On one hand, there are a number of reasons why they will want to have a credit card, including security, convenience, and the chance to build their credit history before graduation. But at the same time, many students are young adults who have no experience with responsibly managing their credit. As a result, too many students end up with large amounts of debt that can be with them for years after graduation.
How to Choose the Right Student Credit Card
The right credit card for students will have many of the same qualities that other applicants look for, but students will want to pay more attention to some particular features. For example, students should look for low interest rates and fees, and consider looking for a card offered by the bank that they currently have their checking and savings accounts with. Students can also benefit from having their expensive electronics covered with purchase protection policies such as damage and theft protection and extended warranty coverage. And since many students travel out of state to college, travel insurance policies are welcome as well. Finally, some student credit cards offer modest reward programs, but those who are new to credit should proceed cautiously. For many credit card users, the opportunity to earn rewards for spending can be just another reason to overspend and incur debt.
The Winner: Journey Student Rewards From Capital One
Why it Won: Journey offers students an incentive to make their payments on-time, which is crucial for establishing a great credit history.
The Benefits: This card offers students 1% cash back on all purchases, and an additional 0.25% when they pay their monthly bill on-time. Other benefits include numerous purchase protection and travel insurance policies. Capital One also offers students access to a higher line of credit after they make their first five payments on-time.
The Costs: The standard interest rate for this card is a variable 20.24% APR. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
(You can read a full review of the Journey Student Rewards card from Capital One here.)
1st Runner-Up: Discover it Chrome for Students
Why It Won: This card offers competitive rates, fees and benefits as well as cash back for good grades.
The Benefits: Students earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. In addition, cardholders can earn an extra $20 in cash back each year that they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, for up to five years. Cardholders also receive a cash back match after their first year equal to the amount of cash back they already earned. Other benefits include numerous purchase protection policies and a free monthly FICO score.
The Costs: The standard interest rate for this card is a variable 13.24% to 22.24%, based on your creditworthiness when you applied. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
In addition, cardholders automatically receive a waiver of their first late payment fee, and there is no penalty interest rate.
2nd Runner-Up: BankAmericard Travel Rewards for Students
Why It Won: This card offers impressive rewards when combined with a Bank of America checking or savings account.
The Benefits: New applicants receive 20,000 bonus points after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening, worth $200 in travel statement credits. Cardholders earn 1.5 points per dollar spent, and each point is worth one cent as statement credits towards travel purchases. An additional 10% bonus is earned on top of the points received when cardholders have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account.
The Costs: The standard interest rate for this card is a variable 15.24% – 23.24% APR, and new cardholders receive 0% APR introductory financing on new purchases for 12 billing cycles. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
At publishing time, the Journey Student Rewards From Capital One and Discover it Chrome for Students are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
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.