Best Credit Cards for Students [2024] (Plus: Why You Might Want One)

CREDIT CARDS - STUDENT CREDIT CARDS
Establishing credit while in school can help you create the money habits you need for future financial security.
Updated May 7, 2024
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girl with a student credit card

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Building credit at an early age can help ease the financial transition from the life of a student into an adult lifestyle. A good credit score could not only help you qualify for a loan and land a job, but it can also help you save money and qualify for the best interest rates.

If you’re a student and want to start building credit, here are the important things to know, as well as our picks for the best credit cards for students.

The best credit cards for students:

In this article

Here are our top picks for the best student credit cards

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Key benefits
Chase Freedom Rise℠
Chase Freedom Rise℠ 
5.0
$0
Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Good for students with Chase checking accounts
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card 
5.0
$0
Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment; 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 3% on dining, entertainment, streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®); and 1% on all other purchases
Good for students who enjoy entertainment and eating out
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card 
4.75
$0 Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); plus unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel Good for students who want simple cashback rewards
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Discover it® Student Cash Back 
4.5
$0 Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. Good for someone who loves the flexibility of different reward options every quarter
Discover it® Student Chrome
Discover it® Student Chrome 
4.55
$0 Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Good for students who enjoy road trips
Bank of America®️ Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America®️ Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students 
4.8

$0 Earn 1.5X points per dollar spent on all purchases Good for students with some established credit history

Chase Freedom Rise℠

Are you interested in earning 1% cash back on all purchases and do you have a Chase checking account? If so, consider the Chase Freedom Rise Card.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Bonus offer
Chase Freedom Rise℠ Chase Freedom Rise℠ $0
1.5% cash back on all purchases
$25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening

What we love about this card: Having a Chase checking account with a balance of at least $250 will increase your chances of getting approved for Chase Freedom Rise, which could be helpful if you don't have much credit history.

The Chase Freedom Rise has a $0 annual fee, free access to your credit score through Chase Credit Journey, and a credit line increase evaluation in as little as six months.

You can also earn a $25 statement credit after signing up for automatic payments within the first three months of opening your account if your account is in good standing. An account in good standing means your account is open and not in default (you're making on-time payments).

The Freedom Rise also includes coverages like purchase protection, extended warranty protection, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

Your cashback rewards can be redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, statement credits, direct deposits into most U.S. checking and savings accounts, gift cards, and eligible Amazon.com purchases.

What we don't love: Earning 1.5% cash back on all purchases is basically the bare minimum for cashback rates on rewards credit card accounts. This card also has no bonus categories.

Who this card is good for: Students who want a simple cashback credit card that reports credit card activity to the major credit bureaus.

Read our full Chase Freedom Rise review.

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you make a list of some of the largest expenses for students, what would you write down? It’s likely that food and entertainment will come to mind as a few of those expenses. If this sounds about right for you, consider the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Card.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Bonus offer
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
$0
10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment; 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 3% on dining, entertainment, streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®); and 1% on all other purchases
Earn a one-time $50 cash bonus after spending $100 in the first 3 months

What we love about this card: This card has a $0 annual fee and focuses on providing bonus rewards for popular spending categories. 

It offers 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment; 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 3% on dining, entertainment, streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®); and 1% on all other purchases.

Students who travel or will study abroad might also find additional benefits helpful, such as no foreign transaction fees and receiving automatic travel accident insurance when using your card to purchase your trip.

What we don't love: There’s typically no introductory APR offers for balance transfers or purchases.

Who this card is good for:  Students who have a lot of dining, travel, and entertainment expenses.

Read our Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Card review.

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Quicksilver is well known among Capital One credit cards because it’s the name of one of the company’s popular everyday cashback cards. And now there’s a student version.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Bonus offer
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
$0
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); plus unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
Earn a one-time $50 cash bonus after spending $100 in the first 3 months

What we love about this card: The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is easy and straightforward, and it’s an excellent option for students who want to earn simple cashback rates on all their purchases. 

The Quicksilver Student offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats (through 11/14/2024); plus unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

This means using your card on any eligible purchase will earn you at least the 1.5% cashback rate. In addition, you’ll enjoy a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, as well as access to travel accident insurance.

For students who want to build credit with an easy-to-understand cashback card, this could be a good fit.

What we don't love: There’s typically no intro APR offer.

Who this card is good for: Students who want a simple, but elevated cashback rate and some travel benefits.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

This card is gunning to be the valedictorian of the student credit card category.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Bonus offer
Discover it® Student Cash Back Discover it® Student Cash Back
$0
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

What we love about this card: The Discover it Student Cash Back boasts an incredible cashback reward rate: You can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. It also offers a lucrative first-year Cashback Match™.

The Discover bonus category calendar is released far in advance, so it’s easy to plan for. And here’s the kicker: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. That means you’ll double all the rewards you earn on the bonus categories for the first year you have this card.

This can also be a very forgiving card if you're learning how to pay your monthly bills responsibly. Discover won't charge you a late fee for your first late payment or hit you with a penalty APR (this is an interest rate that is higher than your regular APR, meant to penalize a habit of making late payments). However, if you miss a subsequent payment, you'll pay a fee of up to $41.

 So, whether you already have a few credit cards or are looking for your very first card, the $0-annual-fee Discover it Student Cash Back card could be a good choice.

What we don't love: The 5% rate on rotating categories when you activate is capped at $1,500 per quarter. And some types of Discover credit cards aren’t as widely accepted abroad.

Who this card is good for: Students who want to earn high amounts of cash back on rotating categories, as well as a lucrative welcome bonus.

Read our Discover it Student Cash Back review.

Discover it® Student Chrome

Do you use your card mostly for gas and restaurants? If so, the Discover it Student Chrome may be the perfect card for you.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Bonus offer
Discover it® Student Chrome Discover it® Student Chrome
$0
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

What we love about this card: This card is similar to the Discover it Student Cash Back card because it has a $0 annual fee and a generous Cashback Match™ for the first full year.

But there’s one key difference to consider when deciding which Discover it Student card is right for you. With the Discover it Student Chrome, you can earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. This means you don’t have to worry about rotating categories each quarter.

What we don't love: There’s less earning potential compared to the Discover it Student Cash Back.

Who this card is good for: Students who spend a lot at restaurants and gas stations.

Read our Discover it Student Chrome review.

Bank of America®️ Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Consider the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students if you want to earn travel rewards and already have some established credit history.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Bonus offer
Bank of America®️ Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students Bank of America®️ Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
$0
1.5X points per dollar spent on all purchases
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

What we love about this card: Compared to traditional credit cards, this card doesn’t skimp on the earning potential even though it’s designed for students. The rewards rate makes it easy to earn bonus points on all your eligible purchases no matter what your spending habits are.

You can also take advantage of multiple intro APR offers:

  • 0% intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles on purchases (then 18.24% - 28.24% Variable)
  • 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any qualifying balance transfers made in the first 60 days (then 18.24% - 28.24% Variable)

Keep in mind there’s a balance transfer fee of 3% for 60 days from account opening, then 4% for qualifying balance transfers.

What we don't love: You likely need a bit of established credit history to qualify for this card, which means many students might not be eligible since they’re just starting out with learning correct credit habits.

Who this card is good for: Students who have some established credit history and want a travel rewards card with a simple earning rate.

Why it’s important to build credit as a student

Having good credit can impact several areas of your life, including your employment status (some employers will check your credit score); the price you pay for services, such as your phone bill; your likelihood to be approved for a mortgage or a car loan; and more.

Here are a few things having a great credit score can help you accomplish:

  • Rental approval
  • Lower utility bill costs
  • Loan approvals
  • Lower interest rates
  • Lower insurance premium payment amounts
  • Credit card approval
  • Career advancement

While it’s tempting to wait until after college to start building credit, you may want to begin as soon as possible. Length of credit history is an important factor in your credit score. Length of credit history takes into account how long you've had credit and the average age of all your accounts. Establishing a credit history early can help you ace this part of your credit score.

Opening your first credit card as a student is a great way to establish your credit early, as long as you can commit to making your monthly payments on time and in full. (Payment history is another important factor in your credit score.) Credit card companies know that many students want to work toward financial security, so many of them offer credit cards tailored to those students.

Warning
Student credit cards are typically for beginners to credit cards, but they can still lead to credit card debt. Watch out for high variable APRs and interest charges, and work on keeping your credit utilization low if you want to help improve your credit score.

How do I get a credit card if I’m a student?

It’s typically as simple as applying for one. Student credit cards are designed for young adults who have little or no credit history. For that reason, they typically have less strict eligibility requirements.

So even if you’ve never had a credit product before, you could still qualify for a student credit card.

Student credit card application requirements

Different credit card applications tend to have the same basic requirements, even if there might be a few small differences depending on the specific card and card issuer. In general, you have to provide:

  • Personal information, including your full name, address, and phone number
  • Whether you’re a U.S. citizen
  • Whether you’re a student
  • Student information, which could include your expected graduation date or year in college
  • Your employment status
  • Your total gross income
  • Your monthly housing/rent debt

As mentioned above, the requirements could vary depending on the specific application and credit card issuer. 

How to compare student credit cards

Comparing credit cards is a bit of a challenge. With all of the options available, how do you find a suitable credit card for your needs? We’ve broken down some of the important factors to consider when deciding which card is right for you.

Annual fee

Some credit cards come with an annual fee. Credit cards typically charge this fee in exchange for extra rewards and perks or because the borrower has bad credit. This fee is added to your bill and may gather interest if it isn’t paid in full each month. While many credit card annual fees are under $100, some can range higher.

If you’re considering a card with a fee, decide if the extra benefits outweigh the costs. Or, if you have poor credit and can’t get approved for another card, the fee may be worth it in order to build credit.

Foreign transaction fees

A foreign transaction fee is what your credit card issuer charges for foreign currency purchases made with your card. To process these foreign transactions, your credit card company might charge a percentage of the purchase, usually between 1 to 3%. If you plan to remain in the U.S. for the duration of your studies, this may not be an issue. However, if you plan to travel or study abroad, then you should note whether or not your credit card charges you foreign transaction fees.

Reports to all 3 credit bureaus

There are three primary credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — that store and gather your financial data. Lenders use this information to determine if they’re willing to lend you money for a house or car — or for you to open a credit account.

Almost all major credit cards report to all three bureaus on at least a monthly basis. Still, it's a good idea to check your credit score regularly to make sure your card and payments are being reported correctly. Since the purpose of a student credit card is to establish and build credit, you want to ensure your good credit history is properly documented. You can easily check your credit score for free through a service like Credit Karma.

Other factors to consider

Depending on your personal situation, there may be certain factors you want to consider in choosing the best student credit card. 

  • Welcome offers: It's not typical that a student credit card offers a sign-up bonus or welcome offer for new cardholders soon after account opening, but some do. Qualifying for a welcome offer could greatly boost your earning potential within the first few months as a new cardmember.
  • Earning potential: For earning rewards on new purchases in specific categories, you may want a card that offers a rewards rate on the kind of spending you do over the course of the school year. For example, a card that provides bonus cash back or points on groceries. If your spending tends to vary between categories, a flat-rate rewards card for everyday purchases might make more sense.
  • Card benefits: Credit cards can have different types of perks and benefits, such as mobile app integration or being able to use travel or dining credits after benefit enrollment. In some cases, like if you plan to travel, you might want to choose between different card networks, including Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. Remember to compare benefits between cards to find what works best for your personal situation and financial goals.

FAQs about student credit cards

What is the best credit card for a college student with no credit?

Many college students have limited or no credit history. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get approved for a student credit card. The best card for you depends on many factors, like the categories you spend the most money on, your current credit history, and how much effort you want to spend maximizing categories. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there is a great student credit card for nearly everyone.

Can I get a student credit card without a job?

Yes! It is possible to get a credit card without a job — with some stipulations. Generally, you must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card and if you’re under 21 you’ll need to provide proof of your financial assets or income. Otherwise, you’ll need to have a parent, guardian, or another trusted adult co-sign on the credit card for you.

You'll also most likely need to provide your Social Security number. If you are an international student and you don't have a Social Security number, you may still have options when it comes to applying for a student credit card. Be sure to call the credit card issuer and find out what their requirements are.

What's a good credit score for a college student?

The FICO score is the most commonly used metric to rate credit. According to the FICO scale, a “good” credit rating is between 670-739 for anyone, including students.

How can a college student build credit?

Your credit score is determined by factors like how long your credit history is, how much of your currently available credit line you are utilizing, and whether or not you have a history of late payments. It can seem like a bit of a challenge to build your credit history if no one will give you credit because you don’t have a history.

If you have no credit or a limited credit history and need a place to start to build your score, consider getting added to someone else’s card as an authorized user

You may also consider getting a secured credit card instead of a regular credit card (also known as an unsecured credit card). Secured cards don't typically don't check your credit report or have very lenient credit history requirements. Instead, you'll need to put down a security deposit that is equal to the credit line you are given.

Can I get a student credit card if I just graduated?

Usually not. Each credit card issuer requires proof that you’re enrolled in school, but each also has different definitions. For some cards you must provide proof you’re attending a 2- or 4-year college, while others only check to make sure you meet the income and credit minimums. If you already have a student card when you graduate, some issuers will allow you to keep your student card, but others require that you change to a different card or upgrade your card once you’re no longer a student.

Can you use a student credit card for anything?

You can use a student card to pay anyone or any vendor who accepts credit cards. But, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. For example, it may not always be the best idea to pay your student loans with a credit card.

Practicing good financial habits is critical to building good credit and not getting yourself into crippling debt at a young age. Always plan to pay your balance in full each month, especially since student credit cards can often have higher interest rates.

What is the credit limit on a student credit card?

Just as with a regular personal credit card, the credit limit or credit line available to you as a student will vary based on your creditworthiness. Typically, though, student credit cards have lower credit limits compared to regular personal credit cards. Sometimes you will be automatically considered for a higher credit line after you make a number of on-time monthly payments.

Can a student apply for a credit card?

The short answer is yes. There are plenty of credit card options geared toward students’ needs. These student credit cards can be great financial tools when it comes to how young adults can build credit history. Some even come with financial education tools and resources that aid in the development of positive financial habits. Some cards also come with rewards programs, good-grade incentives, protection options, and other perks customized for students.

But, since many students are just beginning their credit journey, each card may have its own set of qualifications in order to apply. These can include age restrictions, proof of income, or a cosigner requirement. Additionally, some credit card companies may require all applicants to be enrolled in a qualifying higher education institution, while others may not have such strict conditions.

Are student credit cards worth it?

They’re worth it because they could help you build your credit history while you’re in school. That could lead to better financial opportunities after graduation, such as qualifying for a car loan or mortgage. It also helps that student credit cards are typically easy to qualify for since they have less strict requirements.

Bottom line

Part of being a student is working toward the future you envision for yourself. This means practicing skills both inside and outside the classroom. Your financial education and learning to build a good credit score are part of your college years as well. You may already have a bank account and a debit card, but applying for a credit card could be the right next step for you when it comes to your personal finances. 

Just remember that unlike a debit card, you can spend more than you are capable of paying for when you use a credit card. Start your credit history on a good foot by spending responsibly. Start your credit history on a good foot by spending responsibly and always paying at least your minimum payment by the due date.

Methodology

To select the best credit cards for students, we compared cards from multiple issuers. We assessed features like rewards programs, annual fees, welcome offers, and credit requirements to identify the most student-friendly options. We did not include all cards available.

Great for Building Credit

Chase Freedom Rise℠
5.0

Chase Freedom Rise℠

Current Offer

$25 statement credit for enrolling in automatic payments within the first three months of account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1.5% cash back on all purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ashley Chorpenning Ashley is a personal finance writer at FinanceBuzz. When she’s not calculating her net worth or reading the hot new finance book, you might find Ashley cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa.
Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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