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The Best Student Credit Cards in America

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The Best Student Credit Cards in America

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

When it comes to credit cards, students are in a tough spot. On the one hand, there are a number of reasons why they’ll want one, including security, convenience and the chance to build their credit history before graduation. At the same time, many students are young adults who have no experience responsibly managing credit. As a result, too many students end up with large amounts of debt that stick with them for years after graduation. Issuers offer a wide selection of cards, but you’ll want to use your card wisely so you don’t end up in debt or lose your rewards to interest. More specifically, the right credit card for you will depend on your spending habits. Here are a few tips on how to choose a card and our picks, based on overall value, for the best student credit cards.

How to Pick a Student Credit Card

The right credit card for students will have many of the same qualities other applicants want, but students will want to pay more attention to particular features. For example, students should look for low interest rates and fees, and consider a card offered by the bank where they currently have checking and savings accounts. Since many students travel out of state for college, travel insurance policies may be beneficial as well.

Some student credit cards offer modest reward programs, but those new to credit may want to be careful. For many credit card users, the opportunity to earn rewards for spending can be another reason to overspend. For these reasons you’ll want to swipe wisely so you don’t lose your hard-earned rewards to high interest or wind up in debt. If saving money on everyday purchases matters more to you, a cash-back credit card may be a good bet, as these cards offer points for things like gas, restaurants and retail. If your credit is bad, a secured credit card, which requires a cash deposit that acts as your credit line, is a smarter option. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Now that you have a sense of what cards are out there, read on for our picks of the best credit cards for students, based on perks and overall terms. For full details, read the card agreements.

Our Picks for the Best Student Credit Cards

Discover it Chrome for Students

Discover it® chrome

Apply Now
on Discover's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% for 14 months on purchases

Ongoing Apr:
11.99% - 23.99% Variable on purchases & balance transfers

Balance Transfer:
Intro: 0% for 14 months

Annual Fee:
$0

Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good-Fair
Snapshot of Card Features
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.

Card Details +

Why We Picked It: This card offers competitive rates, fees and benefits, as well as $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.

Rewards Details: 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. They can earn an extra $20 cash back each year they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the next five years. Plus, new cardholders are currently eligible to receive a full cash back match after their first year at the end of that year.

Annual Fee: None

APR: Variable 13.99% to 22.99%

Discover it for Students

Discover it® for Students

Apply Now
on Discover's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% for 6 months on purchases

Ongoing Apr:
13.99% - 22.99% Variable on purchases & balance transfers

Balance Transfer:
Intro: 10.99% for 6 months

Annual Fee:
$0

Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good-Fair
Snapshot of Card Features
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Target now through December 2017, on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.

Card Details +

Why We Picked It: This card offers competitive rates, fees and benefits, as well as $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.

Rewards Details: This card is the same as the Chrome version, except instead of earning rewards for only gas or restaurants, you can earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that change every quarter. These categories can be Amazon.com, transportation, restaurants, and more. Right now, for the last quarter of 2017, cardholders earn 5% cash back on purchases with Amazon.com and Target. You also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Note that there’s a quarterly maximum of $1,500 that you can earn 5% cash back on every time you activate your rewards.

Annual Fee: None

APR: Variable 13.99% to 22.99%

Journey Student Rewards From Capital One

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Why We Picked It: Journey incentivizes students to make their payments on time, which is crucial for building a great credit history.

Rewards Details: This card offers students 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 0.25% when they pay their monthly bill on time. Capital One also provides access to a higher line of credit after they make their first five monthly payments on time.

Annual Fee: None

APR: Variable 24.99%

At publishing time, the Journey Student Rewards, Discover it Chrome for Students and Discover it for Students are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuers.

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.

Hannah Maluth contributed to this article. This article last updated on October 2nd, 2017. It was originally published June 5, 2017.


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