When first starting college, students typically don’t have a lot of experience with credit cards, or with their credit at all for that matter. What cards should they start out with to learn the importance of building credit?
We are going to be sharing five of the top options for student credit cards, as well as all of their different features, their pros, and their cons. If you aren’t sure which card may be best for you or your college-age child, this is definitely the right guide for you. First, let’s talk about how we chose the best student credit cards and how we are rating them.
Discover It Student Cash Back Card
Discover It Chrome for Students
Citi Secured Mastercard
How We Choose Our Ratings
Honesty and accurate information are the most important aspects of our reviews. It is vital that the information you receive and use to make your purchases is completely 100% correct, and that we have given you all the facts that you need to buy mindfully.
We do quite a bit of research to ensure that this is the case for our reviews. Here’s what we look into before writing about products we are reviewing for you. Customer reviews and testimonials and read through and researched thoroughly for their input. These give us a wide range of different opinions on a product and allow us to see the perspective of many different types of people. Customer reviews also let us pinpoint any potential shortcomings or highlights that may have been experienced.
We also look into the product specifications as well. This gives us all the basic details of the item(s) in question and lets us see any potential issues or pros for ourselves. It also helps us stay completely accurate, as this is all the information that we would share in our reviews.
Lastly, we make sure to look into the company making and selling each item in question. It is important for us to promote ethical, reliable products and businesses in our reviews, so we start that by focusing on the company. We research their shipping and return policies, their customer
service, rates, and overall helpfulness.
For this particular review of the best student credit cards, we will be considering a few different factors in our overall rating. Fees, interest rates, special features, and how easy it is to use will all be considered. Each student credit card will be given a rating between 1 and 5 stars, 5 being the best.
The Top 5 Student Credit Cards
Here are our top 5 student credit card choices. They are listed in no particular order, and they will each have a rating between 1 and 5 stars.
Capital One Secured Mastercard
The first student credit card on our list is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. This credit card is not simply limited to registered students like some of the other cards on our list. With the Capital One Secured Mastercard, you have to make a cash deposit of either $49.00, $99.99, or $200.00. This initial deposit provides you with a credit limit of anywhere between $200 to $1000 to spend, depending on your creditworthiness.
If you want to raise the credit limit you have been given, you can do so by making an additional deposit to the card. Do keep in mind, however, that deposits won’t be credited against your purchases, meaning that you still have to make a payment towards the card every month, just like you would with a normal card.
After paying the card regularly and on time over several months, Capital One may even raise your credit limit without you needing to deposit any additional funds. With this card, you don’t get a rewards program or early spend bonus, but you also don’t have to deal with an annual fee or any foreign transaction fees. The largest downside to the card is that its purchase APR is fairly high when compared to other student credit cards, but the fees are fairly manageable, and the card is available to students with less than perfect credit as well.
The Capital One Secured Mastercard also comes with Capital One CreditWise as well. If you are interested in cash advances, they cost you either $10.00 or 3%, whichever is higher in your situation. Any late payments will cost you a fee of up to $38.00 each.
Our final rating for this student credit card is 4 out of 5 stars. We took one star off simply because the purchase APR is higher than a lot of other card options.
Discover It Student Cash Back Card
Next on our list, we have the Discover It Student Cash Back Card. This card has a plethora of wonderful features including an excellent cash back rewards program, meaning that all purchases earn 1% cash back with no restrictions or spending caps. Making purchases in quarterly rotating spending categories (like buying gas) will earn back 5% cash.
On top of that, after a year of being a cardholder with Discover, they will automatically double the cash back you earned over the last 12 months. You also get an extra $20 cash back every year that your GPA stays over 3.0, and this lasts for up to 5 years.
However, with these wonderful features, you do have to have good to excellent credit to be able to utilize the card. If you have a spotty credit history or poor credit in general, you most likely won’t be able to qualify for it.
We also love that the Discover It Student Cash Back Card has no annual fees. You also won’t have to deal with any foreign transaction fees or late fees for your first late payment. If there is more than one late payment, there is a fee of $35.00.
The card has a 0% purchase APR for six months, and a 10.99% balance transfer APR for six months after your first transfer (which has to be made within three billing cycles of your account opening date).
With this student credit card, you also get a free FICO credit score every month, and the Discover Freeze It option which allows you to turn off a lot of account features, like making purchases and cash advances.
We love how many extra features this card offers, and how easy it is to use for even the least experienced credit card user. Overall, we are giving this student credit card a 5 out of 5-star rating.
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students
Our next favorite student credit card is the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students. This is a student-friendly version of Citi’s Thank You Preferred Card. One aspect that we really loved about this credit card is that it is one among many that offer students a sign-up bonus, and has an incredibly versatile credit card rewards programs as well. For every dollar you spend on food and entertainment, you earn 2 ThankYou points and 1 point for every dollar spent on anything else.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students also offers a 7-month intro APR period as well, on top of having perks like the Private Pass program and the sign-up bonus of 2,500 ThankYou Points when you spend over $500 within three months of the account opening.
You can use your ThankYou Points for gift cards of major merchants, cash back, online shopping purchases, and travel purchases. Each point is worth between half a cent to a cent, depending on how you redeem them.
The minimum amount you can redeem will vary depending on what you are doing, but it is typically around 1,000 points. Our final rating for this student credit card is 5 out of 5 stars. We love all of the perks that the card has to offer, and how exciting their rewards program is.
Discover It Chrome for Students
Another card from Discover that we absolutely love is the Discover It Chrome for Students. This option is very similar to the regular Discover It Chrome Card. However, its cash back program is slightly different.
With this student credit card, you get 2% cash back for dining and gas purchases for up to $1,000.00 in spending per quarter. Any purchases over this spending cap earn 1%, and any purchases besides dining and gas earn an unlimited 1%.
The Discover it Chrome for Students credit card will give you $20 cash back every year that your GPA stays over 3.0, and this lasts for up to five years. You don’t receive a sign-up bonus with this card, but Discover will automatically double all of the cash back that you earn during your first year. The cash back that you earn can be given to you as a statement credit, bank account deposit, check, or even an Amazon purchase credit.
There are no annual or foreign transaction fees with this card, and balance transfers will cost you 3% of the transferred amount. Making a cash advance will cost you either 5% of $10, whichever number is higher.
With the Discover It Chrome for Students credit card, you will have a 0% purchase APR for the first six months, and 10.99% balance transfer APR for the six months after the first transfer (which has to occur within three billing cycles of the account being opened). Some fantastic extra perks are a free FICO credit score as well as Freeze It account-lock features.
Our final rating for this card is 4.5 out of 5 stars. We love the fact that there are no fees with this card, the cash back options, and the additional features that the Discover It Chrome for Students offers. Half a star was taken off simply because of the low maximum cash back rate. This rate is 2%, which is a lot lower than other competing credit cards.
Citi Secured Mastercard
Last but certainly not least, we have the Citi Secured Mastercard. This student credit card is ideal for students because it is a secured card, meaning you do have to make a deposit and borrow against your own money to use it.
With this card, you make a deposit between $200 and $2500, and that deposit is equal to the credit you can use on the card, and it cannot be credited against your purchases. After eighteen months of timely payments, Citi has the option to return your deposit and allow you to continue using your card as a normal, unsecured student credit card.
If you don’t have ideal credit, this is probably going to be the best student credit card option for you. The Citi Secured Mastercard has pretty lax approval standards for their credit, and it’s ideal for building it.
Citi will automatically report your payment patterns to the three major credit reporting bureaus, so making your payments on time will be beneficial to your credit.
One of the downsides to this student credit card is that it has a $25 annual fee. It also does not have any sign-up bonus and no rewards program at all. While it is ideal for building up your credit, the lack of these features is disappointing.
Our final rating for this credit card is 4 out of 5 stars.
When deciding on a credit card for yourself, keep a few different things in mind. What features are the most important to you? Do you want a secured or unsecured credit card? What are you going to be using the student credit card for?
Once you know what you need out of the card, you will have a much easier time choosing the best option for yourself. Which card on the list looks the most enticing to you?
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