Some of the best student credit cards from major banks offer cash back rewards and other perks that help cut costs. Others make it easier to manage a credit card account and provide those with bad credit resources for building credit.
GOBankingRates has identified the best credit cards for college students based on introductory offers and rates, perks and purchase APRs — that is, the annual percentage rate that applies to outstanding balances on purchases you’ve made. Compare card details of the 10 best credit cards for students — each of which charges no annual fee — to find your perfect match.
Each of the cards listed here charges no annual fee and offers rewards points. Interest rates vary, but most are within 12 percent to 24 percent. The primary differences are the introductory offers — which can include zero interest for the first few months — and the way they process your rewards points.
Here are the 12 best credit cards for students:
|12 Best Credit Cards for Students|
|Credit Card||Intro Offers||Intro Rates||Purchase APR||Perks||How to Apply|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card||3% cash rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first six months||0% APR for 6 months on purchases||11.90%-21.90%||1% cash rewards on virtually all net purchases||Learn More|
|Discover it Chrome for Students||All cash back earned in the first year is automatically matched at the end of the year||0% APR for 6 months on purchases||13.74%-22.74%||$20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to 5 years
2% at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
1% cash back on all other purchases
|Discover it for Students Card||All cash back earned in the first year is automatically matched at the end of the year||0% APR for 6 months on purchases||13.74%-22.74%||$20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to 5 years
5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter up to quarterly max
1% cash back on all other purchases
|Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students||2,500 bonus points after spending $500 within the first three months||0% APR for 7 months on purchases||14.74%-24.74%||2 ThankYou points per $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment
1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on other purchases
Unlimited points don’t expire
|Atlantic Stewardship Bank College Rewards Visa Credit Card||1,000 bonus points after first purchase||N/A||12.74%-23.74%||1 reward point for every $1 in net purchases
500 reward points for enrolling in auto pay
500 reward points for enrolling in e-statements
|BankAmericard Travel Rewards for Students||20,000 bonus points if you make at least $1K in purchases in first 90 days||0% APR for 12 billing cycles||15.74%-23.74%||1.5 points for every $1 you spend||Learn More|
|BankAmericard Cash Rewards for Students||$100 cash rewards bonus after making at least $500 in purchases in first 90 days||0% APR for 12 billing cycles||13.74%-23.74%||1% cash back on every purchase
2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
3% on gas for the first $2,500 each quarter
|State Farm Bank Student Visa Credit Card||N/A||N/A||11.99%-18.99%||1 State Farm loyalty rewards point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases
3 points for every $1 spent on insurance premium payments, up to $4,000 annually
|BankAmericard Credit Card for Students||0% for balance transfers made within 60 days of opening account||0% for 15 billing cycles||12.74%-22.74%||N/A||Learn More|
|U.S. Bank American Express||$25 statement credit when you spend $100 on dining in first 90 days||N/A||14.74%-23.74%||1.5% unlimited cash back||Learn More|
|Capital One Journey Student Credit Card||N/A||N/A||20.74%||1% cash back on all purchases or 1.25% cashback if you pay on time||Learn More|
|U.S. Bank Visa Signature||N/A||N/A||14.74%-23.74%||5% cash back on first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose
2% cash back on one everyday category
1% cash back on all eligible net purchases
The Wells Fargo Cash Back College Visa Card comes with free access to credit education and tools to help you learn to use credit wisely. It also provides emergency travel assistance and cell phone protection. You’ll get one percent cash back at grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations, plus an additional 2 percent during the first six months.
This card features 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants, plus 1 percent everywhere else. At the end of the first year, you’ll get a bonus equal to the total amount of cash back you earned for the year. You’ll also get $20 cash back for each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher. Your FICO credit score appears on each monthly statement, so you can watch your credit score as you build your credit.
Similar to the Chrome card, this Discover card’s cash-back program works a little differently. You get 5 percent cash back on certain categories of merchants, which change each quarter, up to a quarterly maximum. You have to activate this feature each quarter. On everything else, you get 1 percent cash back.
The Citibank student credit card provides two points for every dollar you spend on dining and entertainment, and one point per dollar for everything else. If you spend $500 on your card within the first three months, you get 2,500 bonus points, or $25.
Related: 10 Best Student Savings Accounts
The college card from Atlantic Stewardship Bank offers 1 reward point for every net dollar you spend, and you have five years to use your points. You can earn extra points for signing up for e-statements and auto pay, and 1,000 bonus points when you make your first purchase.
The Travel Rewards for Students card offers one and a half points for every dollar. Points can be redeemed for travel only. If you are studying abroad or just like to travel, this might be the card for you. You can also get 20,000 bonus points for purchasing at least $1,000 in the first 90 days you have the card. The points can be redeemed for a statement credit toward travel purchases.
The Cash Rewards for Students card offers 3 percent cash back on gas, 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent on everything else. The higher rewards are limited to combined purchases of $2,500 per quarter. If you spend $500 in the first 90 days, you get a $150 cash rewards bonus. You can opt in to have your FICO credit score available on the mobile app or online banking.
State Farm’s Visa credit card for students has the lowest interest rate of any of the cards in this list, ranging from 11.99 to 18.99 percent, making it a good choice if you think you’ll carry a balance. It offers 1 reward point for every $2 spent, but 3 points for every dollar spent on State Farm insurance premiums, up to $4,000 per year. Points can only be redeemed for gift cards, travel, merchandise, and State Farm products — not cash.
The BankAmericard Credit Card for Students has the longest introductory rate as well as one of the lowest standard APRs of any of the cards listed here. You pay no interest on purchases for 15 months and on balance transfers for 60 days.
U.S. Bank’s card offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, and your rewards never expire. If you spend $100 on dining in the first 90 days, you get a $25 statement credit. You also get emergency assistance if you’re more than 100 miles from home, plus extended warranty and return protection, a best price guarantee and more.
This Capital One card encourages on-time payments by boosting your cash back from 1 percent to 1.25 percent each month that you pay your bill on time. You can also have access to your credit score and credit monitoring tools with CreditWise. The card does not offer an introductory interest rate or any introductory bonus points.
The U.S. Bank Visa Signature card offers a customizable cash-back program. In two categories, you get 5 percent cash back on up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter. You get 2 percent cash back all the time on one other category. On everything else, you get 1 percent cash back. This card has no introductory rate or offers.
Related: 10 Best Banks for College Students
Whatever you choose, you can apply for a student credit card online. You’ll need some basic information like your address, social security number and source of income if you have any. Many banks will approve you right away, and you’ll usually get your card in the mail in a few days.
If you get declined for a student credit card, don’t despair. You can look into a secured card, like the Capital One Secured MasterCard, which will help you build your credit so that you can later qualify for an unsecured card.
By using your student credit card responsibly, you can build credit while you’re still in school so you’ll have a strong credit score and history when it’s time to rent an apartment, get a job or buy a home.
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