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Do You Have to Be a Student to Get a Student Credit Card?

Do You Have to Be a Student to Get a Student Credit Card?

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This article was last updated Aug 28, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

As a young adult looking to build credit, you have likely heard of student credit cards and how they can help establish credit — but have you ever wondered if it’s required to be a student to open a student credit card?

In most cases, student credit cards are reserved for — you guessed it — students. That means if you currently aren’t enrolled in college, you won’t be able to apply for and qualify for a student credit card. Most issuers of student credit cards require you to list the college or university you’re enrolled in and your expected graduation date. Student cards like the Discover it® Student chrome  and Discover it® Student Cash Back all require you to enter college enrollment information during the application process.

However, there is one exception — the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, which is available to students and non-students alike. During the application process the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® does not require you to submit any information regarding college.

If you’re a student, check out our top picks for student credit cards.

Alternative card options if you are not a student

There are several credit-building alternatives to a student credit card that include non-student credit cards and secured cards, and becoming an authorized user on someone’s account. We’ll discuss the options you have below if you can’t qualify for student credit cards.

First, a student credit card that lets non-students apply: Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases

  • Earn 25% bonus on cash back you earn each month you pay on time

  • Higher credit line after 5 on-time monthly payments

Highlights
  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

See additional details for Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

More Info

As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to be a student to qualify for the Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®. This card has a $0 annual fee and offers an OK cashback program with 1% cash back on all purchases; 0.25% cash back bonus on the cash back you earn each month you pay on time. Considering you’re most likely applying for a student card since you have little or no credit history, the cashback rate is reasonable. Plus, it offers a great incentive to pay on time. Beware there is a high 26.96% (Variable) APR, so make it a point to always pay on time and in full to avoid interest charges.

Credit card for average/fair/limited credit: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back

  • No rotating categories, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and no limit to how much you can earn

  • 26.96% (Variable)

Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

See additional details for Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

More Info

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card requires average/fair/limited credit, which is good if you are new to credit. This card comes with a cashback program where you can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. However, beware of the $39 annual fee that requires around $2,600 a year in spending to recoup. The APR is also high at 26.96% (Variable), so it’s key to always pay on time and in full.

Check out secured cards. An alternative to a student credit card is a secured card. Both are nearly identical except that secured cards require a minimum security deposit — typically $200 — that becomes your line of credit. The deposit is refundable if you pay your balance in full and close your account or if you’re transitioned to an unsecured card. Secured cards can help you build credit so you can work toward a fair, good or excellent credit score and qualify for better credit cards.

Here are some of our top picks for secured cards:

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

  • Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*

  • No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*

Highlights
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Secured

More Info

  • Build Credit When Used Responsibly

  • $49, $99, or $200

  • 26.99% (Variable)

Highlights
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide

See additional details for Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

More Info

  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus

  • Auto Pay can help you stay on top of your bill

  • Use your card anywhere that accepts Mastercard®

Highlights
  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.

See additional details for Citi® Secured Mastercard®

More Info

 

Become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. If you don’t want to take on the added risk of opening your own credit card, or if you have trouble qualifying for a card, having someone like a parent or other family member add you to their account is a good option. If you decide to become an authorized user, it’s important to be added to someone’s account that’s in good standing so you can piggyback off of their good credit and establish a good credit score of your own. Keep in mind while you’re not personally liable for charges made on the account, the your family member is, so try not to rack up high charges.

Credit card best practices

Once you open your first credit card, it’s important to practice responsible credit behavior that can help you build good credit. Using your credit card wisely can help you in the future when you go to open other credit products like mortgages or personal loans. The better your credit score is, the better rates and terms you’ll receive — and the more money you can save.

Here are some credit card best practices than can put you on the path to a good credit score:

  • Pay your bill on time and in full each month. Payment history is the most important factor of your credit score. Therefore, it’s key to always pay your bill by your statement due date. It’s also a good idea to pay your bill in full so you don’t end up carrying a balance that incurs interest charges — which may lead you to rack up debt.
  • Don’t overspend. If you’ve never had a revolving line of credit before, you may be tempted to spend more than you have the ability to pay off come payment time. Maxing out your credit card can lead you to fall into debt and hurt your credit score. Plus, lenders will see you as a risky client, which may affect future credit applications. The percentage of your available credit limit you use is known as utilization, and it’s generally recommended to keep it below 30%. And, as a good rule of thumb, only charge what you know you can pay by your bill’s due date.
  • Add a recurring bill to your card and pay it in full each month. A simple way to build credit is to add a recurring bill, like Netflix or Spotify, to your credit card and pay it in full each month. This will help report good payment history and a low utilization to the credit bureaus — resulting in positive information on your credit report.

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