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Best Student Credit Cards of November 2022

Written by: Joey Robinson | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Jason Steele
|

October 31, 2022

Creditcards.com’s Best Credit Cards for Students of 2022:

BEST FOR ENTERTAINMENT SEEKERS
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:4.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

10%
Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
8%
Earn 8% cash back on entertainment purchases when you book through the Capital One Entertainment portal
5%
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
3%
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®)
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$100 Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% variable
BEST FOR FLAT-RATE CASH BACK
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:4.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

10%
Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
8%
Earn 8% cash back on entertainment purchases when you book through the Capital One Entertainment portal
1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Intro offer
$100 Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% variable
BEST FOR SIGN-UP BONUS
Chase Freedom® Student credit card
Our rating:3.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

1%
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases plus $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years

At A Glance

Intro offer
$50 Bonus $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% variable
BEST FOR CASH BACK
Discover it® Student chrome
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

2%
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
1%
Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.99% - 24.99% variable
BEST FOR NO FEES
No annual fee
Petal® 2
Our rating:3.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

1.5%
Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
1%
1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

At A Glance

Intro offer
No current offer
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.99% - 29.99% variable
BEST SECURED STUDENT CREDIT CARD
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

2%
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
1%
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
25.99% variable
BEST FOR AMAZON PRIME STUDENT
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
Our rating:2.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

1%
Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard

At A Glance

Intro offer
No current offer
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
22.49% variable
Back to top

All information about the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.


best student credit cards of 2022

Editor’s picks: A closer look at our top-rated student credit cards

Best for everyday spending: Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • Best features: This no-annual-fee card offers a 0% intro APR for your first six months on purchases (15.99% to 24.99% variable thereafter), allowing you to carry an interest-free balance during that time period. Also, Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, increasing the value of your rewards. Thanks to this perk, it’s no surprise that this card and the Discover it Student chrome are considered to be two of the top choices by our experts.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The rotating categories may not be helpful for someone just starting out because it takes a fair amount of organization to use. You have to sign up each quarter and track which categories apply for those three months. Also, there’s no sign-up bonus, so you have to wait until the end of your first year to get your matched rewards.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom® Student credit card not only offers students a foot in the door of Chase Ultimate Rewards but also comes with a $50 bonus after you make your first purchase within the first three months from account opening and a $20 annual bonus for the first five years for keeping your account in good standing. You’ll also earn 1% back on all purchases, which you can redeem for cash back, statement credits, Apple purchases, travel and more.
  • Bottom line: The Discover it Student Cash Back gives 5% cash back on a different category each quarter (such as gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com, etc.) up to the combined quarterly maximum, then 1% (activation required), plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. With calculated spending, students can take advantage of strong rewards while sticking to a college budget.

Read our Discover it® Student Cash Back review.

Best for entertainment seekers: Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: The 3% cash back rate on dining, select grocery stores, popular streaming services and entertainment is not only super generous for this card category, but it also fits the common spending habits of so many college students nationwide. Plus, students will enjoy consumer-friendly terms like no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
  • Biggest drawbacks: If you don’t spend money on the card’s bonus categories, you’ll probably be better served by a flat-rate student rewards credit card. Students will also need to watch out for the 17.99% to 27.99% variable APR. If you don’t pay your balance in full each month, that high interest rate can put you on the path to credit card debt.
  • Alternatives:  If you get a kick out of strategizing about when and where you buy to maximize rewards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card’s unique cash back program could be right up your alley. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, which could make for an impressive cash rewards payday.
  • Bottom line: Students who are already spending dollars on dining, entertainment and streaming can reap ample rewards with the student version of this popular Capital One credit card, which offers a best-in-class return on non-rotating bonus categories among student credit cards.

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

Best for flat-rate cash back: Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: It’s easy to earn and redeem rewards. Plus, students will enjoy a number of consumer-friendly benefits, including no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Students will have to pay their bills on time and in full to avoid the 17.99% to 27.99% variable APR.
  • Alternatives: A good option for students beginning their credit journey, the Chase Freedom® Student credit card offers cardholders a $50 welcome bonus after you make your first purchase within the first three months of account opening, plus an additional $20 annual bonus for the first five years if you keep your account in good standing.
  • Bottom line: The student version of this popular cash back credit card from Capital One now offers a best-in-class 1.5% cash back on all purchases (the standout rate for flat-rate cash back student credit cards.)

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

Best for sign-up bonus: Chase Freedom® Student credit card

  • Best features: Cardholders earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and through March 2025, you can earn an additional 4% cash back on Lyft rides. There’s also a $20 Good Standing Reward: Cardholders receive 2,000 points (or $20) after each account anniversary year for their first five years if their account is in good standing (meaning their minimum payments are being made on time). Additionally, this card comes with no annual fee, a low APR (17.99% variable) and access to a free look at your credit score each month.
  • Biggest drawbacks: While the base rewards earnings (1% cash back on general purchases) are good, there are a few student credit cards that could net you more cash back, depending on your spending habits. For instance, the Discover it® Student Cash Back offers stronger rewards on rotating quarterly bonus categories.
  • Alternatives: Like the Freedom Student, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card offers 1% cash back on every purchase. With the Journey, however, cardholders can boost their cash back for any month to 1.25% when they pay their bill on time.
  • Bottom line: The Chase Freedom Student is one of the rare student credit cards to offer a sign-up bonus. New cardholders earn a $50 bonus after their first purchase is made within the first three months from account opening.

Read our Chase Freedom® Student credit card review.

Best for cash back: Discover it® Student chrome

  • Best features: This card comes with several perks: no credit history required, access to your FICO score and no penalty APR for late payments. Another notable feature is the six-month introductory 0% APR on purchases (then 15.99% to 24.99%, variable).
  • Biggest drawbacks: The cash back rewards in only two categories are lackluster, especially when compared to the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card. And even though there is no penalty APR for late payments, a late payment fee of up to $41 will apply after your first time.
  • Alternatives: If you need to pay off existing debt, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa card could be a great fit. Unlike the Discover it Student chrome, the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card offers a 0% introductory APR on both new purchases and balance transfers for the first six months 12.65% – 22.65% variable thereafter).
  • Bottom line: With this no-annual-fee card, you’ll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter (then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, all the cash back you earn is matched at the end of your first year thanks to Discover.

Read our Discover it Student chrome review.

Best for earning rewards + avoiding fees: Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

  • Best features: You’ll immediately earn 1% cash back on every eligible purchase. After making six on-time payments, that rate grows to 1.25% for eligible purchases, followed by 1.5% on all eligible purchases once you make 12 on-time payments. There are even select merchants where you can earn anywhere from 2% to 10% cash back.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Your credit limit can be as low as $300. With a limit that low, even carrying over a balance of $100 could impact your credit utilization ratio and credit score. Paying your balance in full each month will help ensure you stay on a positive credit-building course.
  • Alternatives: If your goal is to build credit with low qualification requirements, the Discover it® Student chrome is a well-rounded, rewarding option.
  • Bottom line: The Petal 2 is a great option if you’re trying to build credit. This unsecured credit card doesn’t require a deposit and has a fast preapproval process, which will not affect your credit score. Plus, it comes with no annual fee, late payment fee, foreign transaction fee or penalty APRs.

Read our Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card review.

Best secured student credit card: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

  • Best features: This card comes with benefits built to help your credit score, such as automatic reviews starting at seven months to see if you can transition to an unsecured line of credit and have your deposit returned.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a minimum security deposit of $200 to open an account. Plus, the APR for purchases is 25.99%, variable. If there’s a chance you might be carrying a balance, you should prioritize a low interest rate over this card’s excellent rewards structure. Also, putting down the deposit up front might not be a realistic payment schedule for everyone.
  • Alternatives:  For those loyal to Discover, the Discover it® Student chrome offers credit-building features and a six-month introductory 0% APR on purchases (then 15.99% to 24.99%, variable).
  • Bottom line: If your credit score is preventing you from opening an account, secured cards can be a surefire way in. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. On top of that, they’ll match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

Read our Discover it® Secured Credit Card review.

Best for Amazon Prime: Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

  • Best features: The Deserve EDU Mastercard is a solid option to help build your credit history. Like our other top picks, it comes with no annual fee, plus other perks like no foreign transaction fees, no credit history needed, price protection, travel assistance, extended warranty and ID theft protection.
  • Biggest drawbacks: This card’s 1% cash back on all purchases can be easily beat by its competitors. Also, there’s no introductory APR offer or cash sign-up bonus.
  • Alternatives: Students looking to pay off debt or finance a new purchase will want to check out the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa card, which offers a 0% introductory APR on both new purchases and balance transfers for the first six months (12.65-22.65% variable thereafter).
  • Bottom line: This card offers some benefits that are hard to come by. For instance, an intriguing sign-up bonus of one year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles (lifetime value of $59). This is a unique feature for the student who buys textbooks on Amazon.

Read our Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students review.

Comparing the best student credit cards

Our experts at CreditCards.com analyzed 109 student credit card offers to find our top recommendations. Below are our picks for the nine best student credit cards. The Discover it Student Cash Back tops our list as the best credit card for students because of its rewards rates and special perks, but there are several strong options:

Credit CardBest ForAnnual FeeReview Rating
Discover it® Student Cash BackEveryday spending$04.1 / 5
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit CardEntertainment seekers$03.6 / 5
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit CardFlat-rate cash back$03.3 / 5
Chase Freedom® Student credit cardSign-up bonus$03.5 / 5
Discover it® Student chromeCash back$04.1 / 5
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit CardEarning rewards + avoiding fees$03.9 / 5
Discover it® Secured Credit CardSecured$04.1 / 5
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for StudentsAmazon Prime Student$02.6 / 5

What is a student credit card?

Student credit cards are designed for college students who want to start building credit. They differ from traditional credit cards in a number of ways. For example, student cards may lack large sign-up bonuses and high credit limits. But the credit requirements will usually be lower for a student card, and these cards will sometimes have special features specific to the needs of college students. These can include:

  • Late payment forgiveness
  • No penalty APRs
  • Automatic credit limit reviews
  • Free credit score and monitoring

How do student credit cards work?

Here we’ll look at how to get your first credit card and how to understand the features of the card:

How to get your first credit card

When you’re ready to get your first credit card, start by checking your credit reports and credit score. Then, research cards that fit your needs. There are a number of student credit cards available, most with unique features and conditions. Take special notice of annual fees, rewards offered, and APRs.

Narrow your selection and apply for only one card. Every time you apply for a credit card, a hard credit inquiry gets noted on your credit report. Multiple applications can negatively impact your credit score and make it more difficult to get approved for a card.

How to get a student credit card with no credit or bad credit

Just because you’re a college student doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get approved for a student card. Because of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, a consumer under 21 must have their own source of income, even if the card requires no credit. There are also ways around this by having a co-signer help you out or becoming an authorized user.

Otherwise, applying for a card, no matter your credit, is pretty much the same – you need to make sure you have the required credit, and you will be asked a series of questions on the application that will help the card issuer decide if you are a good credit risk. If you don’t qualify for a student card, a secured credit card may be a better choice for you.

Is a secured card a good choice for a student?

For a student who doesn’t mind putting down a deposit to start an account, the right secured card could be a solid choice. One thing to note: Student cards are typically unsecured, which means no security deposit is required, the credit limit is usually lower, and the average APR on student cards is 17.79%.

Understanding your student credit card’s features

There are a number of moving parts to a credit card, for example:

APR – The annual percentage rate is the interest you will be charged on balances carried from month to month.

Credit limit – The credit limit is the maximum dollar amount you can charge at any point. For most student credit cards, the limit is $1,000 or less.

Rewards – Many credit cards, student cards included, offer rewards to the user. Rewards include cash back, points, and sign-up bonuses. Cash back is simply a percentage of the charges you make credited back to your account. Rewards points can usually be redeemed for travel, gift cards, electronics, and other prizes.

There are also fees to be aware of, including:

  • Annual fees. Though most student credit cards do not have annual fees, many rewards cards typically do. This fee is usually $50 to $500.
  • Balance transfer fees. These fees can run 3%-5% or $5 to $10, whichever is greater.
  • Cash advance fees. Users can pull cash from their credit card, usually with an extremely high APR.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Typically about 3%, these can put a crimp in your plans to travel abroad for Spring Break or to study, so check for this.
  • Convenience fees. Occasionally charged by the merchant, you can end up paying about 3% for tuition by using your credit card, so ask your school first.

There are also penalty APRs that can come into effect when minimum payments are not met. Penalty APRs are usually the highest interest rates credit cardholders will experience.

Pros and cons of student credit cards

Pros of student credit cards

  • Low barriers of entry. Most student cards are open to almost all levels of credit scores, but you might have to provide proof of income to get approved. Student cards allow for young and inexperienced cardholders to build credit, spend conveniently and get into the routine of the right habits.
  • Don’t lose out on rewards. Typically, cards for new credit users and bad credit scores come with low value rewards or no rewards program at all. With student credit cards, you can enter into the world of credit cards while still earning worthwhile cash back rates.
  • Student-centric benefits. Many student credit cards feature things that the college-aged cardholder would appreciate, such as credit-building perks and no annual fee. Some cards even reward high-traffic student spend categories, such as supermarkets, dining purchases, entertainment and Lyft rides.

Cons of student credit cards

  • Pricey APRs. Carrying a balance could be costly for a student cardholder. Because student cards are able to provide options for so many and still give substantial rewards, there’s some additional interest cost if you don’t fulfill the card’s payment terms.
  • Lack of bonuses. Student cardholders can still capitalize on Discover’s Cashback Match offers, but most student cards come without large sign-up bonuses or any other money-saving treat.
  • Ability to overspend. For rookie cardholders with an easy new way to spend, it’s essential that basic concepts of budgeting are instilled. Many college students aren’t used to managing their own bills, so it may take some planning and practice to be sure that payments don’t become too steep.

How to choose a student credit card

Who should get a student credit card

  • The shopping student. If you’re spending on textbooks, food, clothes for school or anything else regularly, a student credit card could be a great help. Student cards aren’t strangers to cash back rewards, so you could earn some money back when you swipe your card on campus. While a small percentage back may not seem like a major impact, savings add up over time and will help when it comes time to make monthly payments.
  • The student saver. Homebody students and those on a limited budget have lots of advantages with a student credit card. Opening a credit card account while in college is a great way to establish your credit score, and managing your payments with just a few purchases each billing period is an easy way to start strong.
  • The new cardholder. These cards are often more generous than other cards for low credit and come with credit-building perks, so it can be an ideal way for students to get started if you qualify.

Who should skip a student credit card

  • The rewards chaser. Although student credit cards feature worthwhile rewards rates and bonus rewards in certain categories, an experienced cardholder would find more value out of a high end card. If today’s top rewards cards are out of your range, the options here are a great way to grow your credit and earn along the way.
  • The traveler. Students vacationing and studying abroad will appreciate cash back rewards and the lack of foreign transaction fees that student cards can bring to the table, but a more typical traveler likely wants more. If you’re looking to turn purchases into future trips and improve your travel experience, reroute to the best travel cards.
  • The tight-budget student. If you’re already dealing with debt from student loans, textbooks or any other expense, it might be best to wait on applying for a student card. Credit cards are useful tools to grow credit, spend conveniently and earn rewards, but they can escalate into a major burden if you can’t afford to pay off your purchases and fall behind schedule.

How to make the most of your student credit card

When used responsibly, a student credit card is a phenomenal tool for building your credit history. Just remember: as a college student, it’s imperative that you’re on top of your spending and know what it takes to stay on track financially. Here are some good tips to keep in mind to avoid common mistakes and to make the most of your student card:

  • Pay your balance in full each month. This is one of the most important habits to establish as a new cardholder. When you pay off your balance each month it helps your credit score and prevents interest from accumulating.
  • Track your spending. Use your card for small everyday purchases like gas and groceries. Some cards offer tools like spending trackers, but there are also apps that you can download to keep track of where you have room to spend more and where you need to cut back. You can also set alerts that will notify you when you’re reaching your monthly spending limit.
  • Know your rewards. Whether your card comes with heightened rewards in certain categories, rotating rates or a flat-rate rewards program, it’s important to know how you earn. Be sure to use your card whenever you’re spending in a well-rewarding category to get the most out of your purchases.
  • Budget. You need a budget and a limit for emergencies when they inevitably happen. It’s important to avoid spending recklessly and to plan out a certain amount each month for emergencies, so if something does happen, you won’t be left with an unexpected balance you can’t pay off.
  • Be responsible with your payments. Set up a system in which you pay the same time every month, like a bill. Autopayments can be extremely helpful if available, and some cards offer a monthly reminder to pay on time. If your card doesn’t offer these features, designate a day and time each month to pay off your balance.
  • Last but not least, check your credit score and credit reports. You can access your credit reports for free each year through AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can access your credit score through MyFICO.com for about $20 each. Also, some cards offer the feature of free access to your credit score.

What should you do with your student credit card when you graduate?

If you are preparing to graduate this year, you’ll likely want to think through your credit and credit card. Should you add a card? Maybe lose the card you have? And what do these actions do to your credit? Here’s what we have to say about that.

Should I get rid of my credit card?

Unless you have an annual fee, there is pretty much no reason to get rid of the credit card, and even then you want to make sure there are no benefits to counterbalance getting rid of the card. In fact, holding onto the card may help your credit score.

Can I get a credit limit increase?

The biggest change you might want to make is to increase your credit limit. Here’s how: Once you start your new job out of college or have set a trend of being a responsible cardholder, contact the card issuer, and just ask. With your new salary, you should get a sizable increase, which helps with your available credit if you have a balance.

Can I upgrade my card?

Here’s another tip: Check with your card issuer and see if you qualify for an upgrade that will allow you to keep your credit history. You might be able to graduate from a 1% cash back card to a 1.5% cash back card, for example. Just make sure it’s an upgrade and not a new account so that your history continues to grow. Also, there should be no hard inquiry if it’s an upgrade.

Should I add a credit card?

Credit cards can be extremely useful tools by earning you cash back or points rewards every time you spend. More importantly, they are one of the fastest ways to a great credit score, unlocking doors to new opportunities. Look at our best credit cards to see if there is one that suits you.

Credit card tips for parents with college students

There are a number of ways to help your kids build their credit, from making them an authorized user to just sharing a few valuable tips.

Make your student an authorized user

The easiest way and fastest way to build credit is with a credit card, but that can be a tough nut to crack for consumers under 21 years old. Luckily, there’s a way to help your student improve their credit relatively easily – make them an authorized user.

Let’s say you’re making your daughter an authorized user – meaning she’ll benefit from your credit habits, but she isn’t responsible for the balance. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. When she is removed from your card, the card drops off of her credit files, which means your good habits are no longer there. That’s why she needs to get a card of her own when she can.
  2. Make sure the card issuer will report to all three major credit bureaus for her credit files. Some don’t. If you don’t make sure of this, then her credit may not benefit.
  3. Ensure that you have good credit and keep paying your bills on time so that she benefits.
  4. The authorized user doesn’t have to be 18, which means you could give your underage teen a card, depending on the card issuer.

Teach them proper card use

If you and your student feel she’s ready for a credit card, it’s a good idea to establish some ground rules:

  1. Have her track her spending and tell you when it reaches a certain amount during the month. If it’s her card, help her set up alerts so that she knows when she’s approaching her monthly limit.
  2. Give her a limit for emergencies, and make sure she tells you immediately when they occur. With her own card, she needs to make sure she has a place in her budget for emergencies so the card isn’t a crutch.
  3. Make her responsible for her spending. Set up a system in which she pays you the same time every month, like a bill. With her own card, help her set up a monthly reminder to pay the card on time.
  4. Teach her to pay in full each month so that she’s building good credit habits.
  5. Show her how to check her credit score and credit reports. She can access her credit reports for free each year through AnnualCreditReport.com, and she can access her credit scores through MyFICO.com for about $20 each.

Teach your student about budgeting

Having a budget will give students a better understanding of where their money goes. It will also empower them to make better money-management decisions.

There are a lot of ways to teach a student how to create a budget. You can use spreadsheets or a budget calculator. Or you can automate the process and use a budgeting app. These tools save a lot of time, especially when you use one that syncs to your bank accounts and credit cards. When you use a budgeting app that links to your accounts, they can track your income and expenses. They may even break your spending down into categories and automatically set money aside in a savings account.

How we picked the best student credit cards

Research methodology: We thoroughly analyzed 109 student credit cards in order to choose the top options for young adults and new cardholders. While a number of factors were considered in narrowing down our list, the most notable were:

  • Credit-building perks: Credit cards for students are best utilized when establishing a good credit score. We made sure the cards here have benefits that will help students get into the right habits and will report those habits to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Affordability: Because students and rookie cardholders are often on a tight budget, we searched for cards that avoided an annual fee, have reasonable terms and don’t hit you with extraneous costs.
  • Student benefits: Many student cards come with incentives specifically designed for college-goers. We looked for unique perks, rewards rates in applicable categories and other benefits that’ll help out around campus.

Our full criteria include: Regular APR, foreign transaction fee, sign-up bonus, credit needed, rewards rates and categories, redemption options, ease of application, customer service, security and miscellaneous benefits.

Additional information on student credit cards

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