Student Credit Cards

By updated on April 20, 2014

College campuses used to be a central location for credit card companies to entice students to apply for a credit card, but the new CARD Act rules that went into effect in 2010 put some restrictions on student credit cards. Find out more about the rules and credit card options available for students by reading expert reviews, articles and ratings.  Student credit cards can be a helpful financial tool if used in a responsible manner, but can also lead to staggering student credit card debt if used irresponsibly. Credit education is essential.

What are my options for credit cards while I am a student?

If you were a college student in the 2000s, you could get multiple credit cards just by signing your name to the applications. The Credit CARD Act, which went into effect in 2010, changed the rules, so college students today either need some income or a co-signer to get a credit card. Another option is to become an authorized user on your parent's credit card. Find out what your options are for a student credit card by checking out the offers that appear on this page.

How do I choose the best student credit card?

Choosing the best student credit card for you will depend a lot on whether you have income. If you are working, even part-time, your options are much greater. There are credit cards for limited credit applicants that are designed for students with no credit history, or anyone who has always used cash. You can also ask someone to co-sign your credit card application.

In either case, you should choose your credit card by comparing the interest rate, the annual fee and any available rewards. Think about how you will use your credit card. For instance, if you plan to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, then the interest rate won't matter as much as the annual fee and any rewards.

If you don't have any income or anyone who is willing to be a co-signer on your credit card application, you can also ask to be an authorized user on a parent's credit card. This helps you build a credit history because the payments made on that credit card will be reported to the credit bureaus.

How can I build a good credit history while I am a student?

As a student, you probably don't have much of a credit history. The steps you take now with your credit card can make a big difference in your future ability to qualify for credit. If you don't have a credit history at all, you may want to get a secured credit card. A secured card requires a deposit before you can use it, but as you make on-time payments and pay off the balance, you will be developing a positive credit history and improving your credit score.

Even with a traditional credit card in your name or one you have qualified for with a co-signer, there are steps you should take to make sure you are developing a good credit history:

  • Try to pay your balance in full each month.
  • If you can't pay your full balance, use less than 50 percent of your credit limit.
  • Sign up for email or text alerts to remind you to make your payments and to let you know when you are near your credit limit.
  • Pay all your bills on time.
  • Pay more than the minimum payment.
  • Don't use your credit card for regular expenses unless you plan to pay off the balance in full each month.
  • Do use your credit card occasionally and make payments, because if you don't use it at all, you won't be building a credit history.

What are the pitfalls of student credit cards?

The biggest danger of student credit cards is ending up with too much credit card debt. Check your credit history now to find out your credit score and determine what you need to do to improve or maintain good credit. Be careful not to fall into the trap of using your student credit card for everyday expenses unless you can pay the bill in full each month.

JourneySM Student Rewards from Capital One®

Editor's Rating

  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, every month--and pay no annual fee
  • For every month you pay on time, you receive a 25% bonus--that's a total of 1.25% cash back
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
Apply Now Credit Needed Average/Fair

Points or Miles

N/A

Bonus Miles or Points

N/A

Cashback on other

1%

Purchase APR

19.8% (V) 

Annual Fee

$0

Citi® Dividend® Card for College Students

Editor's Rating

  • Build credit while earning cash back fast
  • Earn 5% cash back every quarter in must-have categories like department stores, travel and more, enrollment each quarter is quick and easy.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
Apply Now Credit Needed Good

Points or Miles

N/A

Bonus Miles or Points

N/A

Cashback on other

1%

Purchase APR

13.99% - 23.99%* Variable

Annual Fee

$0*

KickstartSM Secured Visa Card

Editor's Rating

  • Your stepping stone to credit that can grow with you.
  • You provide an upfront deposit - from $300 to $5,000 - and that sets your credit limit, subject to our credit approval.
  • How you use your card will reflect on your credit rating with the three major credit bureaus.
Apply Now Credit Needed Bad

Points or Miles

N/A

Bonus Miles or Points

N/A

Cashback on other

N/A

Purchase APR

20.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$29

Discover it® for Students

Editor's Rating

  • Fair. No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR.*
  • Generous. 5% cash back at Home Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores and Bed Bath & Beyond® on up to $1,500 in purchases from April through June 2014.*
  • Human. Talk to a real person any time with 100% U.S.-based service. *Click "Apply" to see rates, rewards and other information.
Apply Now Credit Needed Average/Fair

Points or Miles

N/A

Bonus Miles or Points

N/A

Cashback on other

Up to 5% in categories that change* and 1% on all other purchases*

Purchase APR

12.99%- 21.99% Variable*

Annual Fee

$0

Discover it® for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus

Editor's Rating

  • Fair. No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR.*
  • Generous. 5% cash back at Home Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores and Bed Bath & Beyond® on up to $1,500 in purchases from April through June 2014.*
  • Human. Talk to a real person any time with 100% U.S.-based service. *Click "Apply" to see rates, rewards and other information.
Apply Now Credit Needed Average/Fair

Points or Miles

N/A

Bonus Miles or Points

N/A

Cashback on other

Up to 5% in categories that change* and 1% on all other purchases*

Purchase APR

12.99%- 21.99% Variable*

Annual Fee

$0

These quotes are from credit card issuers which have paid for a link to their website. Offers are subject to change without notice and may not be the same for all consumers.