As a college student, you’ve got a lot to think about, including completing your assignments, studying for exams, keeping a part-time job, and having some sort of a social life. But college students should also be thinking about another crucial component of life – their credit. In fact, the college years are the perfect time to start building credit.
If you’re currently a college student, you might want to consider applying for a credit card right now. Even if you don’t necessarily need one, applying for one of the available credit cards for college students can help you establish credit. Without credit, the credit bureaus will have nothing to go on when you apply for a loan.
Strong credit is a critical component of your overall financial health and is what will help you get approved for an auto loan, apartment rental, and a mortgage some day. Having and using a credit card responsibly is one of the best ways to build good credit so you’ll have far more attractive financing options available to you in the near future.
So, what are some of the best credit cards for students to help you start building credit?
The Best Credit Cards For College Students
There are plenty of credit card options out there, but not all of them are necessarily geared towards college students. Here’s a collection of some of the best student credit cards available for college kids to help establish and build good credit.
Discover it® for Students
The Discover it for Students credit card is a great start for college students. There’s no annual fee, and you won’t have to pay interest for the first six months. Once that introductory period ends, the standard APR would range from 13.99% to 22.99%.
You can earn 5% cash back at multiple places every quarter, including gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and Amazon.com. For all other purchases, you can get 1% unlimited cash back. To top it all off, Discover will match the cashback that you earned after the first year. You just need to make sure you activate the cash back categories each quarter.
As an incentive to study hard and keep your grades up, Discover will even offer you a $20 cash back bonus annually if you manage to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. This bonus is offered for as long as five school years.
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students
One of the best credit cards for students in terms of bonuses and points is Citi’s ThankYou® Preferred Card. This card allows you to earn 2,500 bonus points if you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months after opening your account. You can earn two points for every dollar spent on entertainment and restaurants and one point per dollar for all other expenditures.
Your points are redeemable in the form of gift cards, travel, electronics, and even cash. You can even use those points to help you pay down your student loan!
There’s no annual fee, and you won’t have to pay interest on any purchases for the first seven months after opening your account. After that, the regular APR ranges from 15.74% to 25.74%.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
If you’re responsible with your money and expenditures, then Capital One’s Journey® Student Rewards might be an option to consider. It’s one of the better credit cards for college students when it comes to having access to a higher credit limit with continued regular payments.
If you make your payments in a timely manner over the first five months after you open your account, you can increase your credit limit. This, in turn, can boost your spending power. To make your payments easier to manage and suit your income, you can customize your monthly payment due date.
Like the other student credit cards, there’s no annual transaction fee, and you can earn 1% cash back rewards with each purchase. And with each timely payment, you can earn an extra 0.25% cash back bonus. You never have to worry about having to redeem your cash back incentives since they never expire as long as the account remains active.
The standard APR on this credit card is 24.99%.
Capital One Secured MasterCard
We’ve already mentioned the importance of building credit during the college years. One of the best student credit cards for helping college-aged consumers build credit is the Capital One Secured MasterCard. It can be a challenge to get approved for a traditional credit card without any credit, but this particular secured credit card makes it easy for this particular demographic.
The difference between a secured versus an unsecured credit card essentially comes down to collateral. With a secured card, you would require a cash deposit to back up your card. On the other hand, an unsecured card requires no collateral.
With this secured credit card, you can choose to pay a security deposit in the amount of $49, $299, or $200, depending on your credit history. To boost your credit limit, you can put down a higher deposit amount.
Once you’re approved, you can begin using your card to make purchases and build strong credit by making your payments on time every month. This card makes things easier to build good credit by offering customers access to CreditWise. This no-cost credit monitoring service can help you keep tabs on your credit history and stay in-the-know about where your credit score is at.
If you make your first five months’ worth of payments on time, you’ll be eligible for an increase in your credit limit. There’s no annual fee, and the standard APR is 24.99%.
Applying For Your First Credit Card
Not all cards are created equal. There are several different types of credit cards out there, but the one you should be looking for will be geared specifically for students. Every card comes with different rates, fees, features, and benefits, so you need to make sure that you look at each one of these traits before choosing a credit card.
The best credit cards for college students are those that are affordable, offer no-interest introductory rates, provide bonuses and points with each purchase, and make it easy to apply and get approved for. These types of perks will make it easier to make sure that you’re able to make timely payments each month, which is crucial to building good credit. They should also be provided by reputable credit card issuers that are widely accepted.
Once you’ve been approved for a student credit card, it’s essential that you make a point of making your payments on time each billing cycle. It’s this specific behavior that will have the greatest impact on your credit score, so make sure you’re responsible enough to ensure a payment is never missed.
It can seem like a significant challenge to build credit if you don’t have any. Lenders won’t have anything to go on if you apply for a loan with no credit. That’s why it’s so helpful to apply for a credit card while you’re in school. The ideal time to establish and build good credit is when you’re still in college. There are several credit cards that are designed with a no-credit college student in mind, and you should seriously consider taking advantage of them.