Credit Card Insider is an independent, advertising supported website. Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Editor’s Best Card Picks. Credit Card Insider has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace. Content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information, though all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on any ‘Apply Now’ button, the most up-to-date terms and conditions, rates, and fee information will be presented by the issuer. Credit Card Insider has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Credit Card Insider and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. A list of these issuers can be found on our Editorial Guidelines.
Student credit cards are designed for students — meaning people with limited or no credit history, and relatively low income. But before you get one, it's important to understand how credit cards impact your credit history. If you use a credit card irresponsibly you could end up with lots of expensive debt, negative items on your credit reports, or both.
By Brendan Harkness
The best credit cards for students will build credit while costing you nothing, and actually saving you a bit of money through rewards and benefits. Here are some things to consider for your first credit card:
By Brendan Harkness
Student cards are special credit card products that are usually only available to students enrolled in college or university. They’re designed for people with little to no credit history, which is common among college students who haven’t had many opportunities to establish credit yet.
Don’t assume that you need to get a student credit card just because you’re a student — it’s possible to get other cards with little or no credit, like secured credit cards which require a refundable security deposit. But you may also qualify for some of the best cash back or travel rewards credit cards, especially if you have established some credit already.
You may be surprised at some of the cards you qualify for, especially if you have any experience paying back loans, like student or auto loans. Check to see if you’re pre-qualified for any credit cards — it’s free and it won’t hurt your credit.
The information related to Discover it® Student Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Discover it® Student chrome has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
A student credit card is simply a credit card designed for college students. These cards usually require you to be an active student when you apply (the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® (Review) is an exception — you don’t need to be a student to qualify).
Students typically have limited or no credit, because they haven’t yet established a credit history (learn how to build credit with credit cards here). As such, student cards typically come with few rewards or benefits, and low credit limits.
Other than that, they’re pretty similar to regular credit cards.
There are a variety of student credit cards, designed for different purposes. Our favorite student cards include:
Yes, student credit cards can help you build credit like most other credit cards — as long as the issuer reports the card activity to the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
Most credit card issuers (including the major credit card issuers, like Chase, Citi, and Discover) report card activity to the bureaus, so you typically have nothing to worry about.
In some cases, smaller, less established credit card companies may not report activity to the credit bureaus. But this is rare. Some companies only report activity to one or two of the bureaus, rather than all three; these issuers can still help you build credit, but the effects won’t be as robust.
You have to be at least 18 to apply for a student credit card.
If you’re younger than 21, you’ll need to meet more stringent criteria to prove you can pay your bills each month. When the issuer asks for information about how much money you make, you’ll only be able to report your own independent income (and most card issuers don’t allow cosigners).
Once you turn 21 you can include your total household income, and that can include your spouse’s income — this can make it easier to qualify.
If you’re under 18, you can explore becoming an authorized user on a parent’s credit card. Authorized users can get their own copy of someone else’s credit card, but keep in mind that only the primary cardholder has full legal responsibility for paying the bill.
The answer: It depends on your card issuer. Your typical options will be:
Contact your card issuer to see what your options are — we recommend upgrading to a non-student credit card if possible, because you’ll probably get better rewards and benefits. You might be awarded a higher credit limit whether you keep the same card or upgrade, since you may be entering the job market and earning more money.
We usually suggest not closing your student card after you graduate, unless it has an annual fee. Keeping your cards open can help improve your credit scores by reducing your credit utilization and increasing your overall age of accounts, among other effects.
Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.
The information related to Discover it® Student Cash Back, Discover it® Student chrome, Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, Citi® Secured Mastercard®, Discover it® Secured, and Capital One® Secured Mastercard® have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.