When you're picking up supplies for college, is a credit card on the list? Maybe it should be. Now's a great time to responsibly build your credit and create good habits that can benefit you long after your college days. It’s not too late to get one either—it only takes a few minutes to apply. So check out some of these cards specifically designed for students. They’re perfect for life in college, even if you’re not on campus!
When you graduate from college, you will probably need a good credit score to rent an apartment, get a new cell phone plan or apply for a car loan. Many potential employers check your credit report too. The sooner you get a credit card, the earlier you’ll start building your credit score. Handling credit responsibly now could mean lower interest rates for you in the future.
Taking a few minutes to apply may be the last thing you want to do with homework looming and friends calling. But, in the long run this may be one of the most important things you do this semester. Read our review on each card below and find the perfect match for you.
Best Credit Cards for College Students
Discover is a credit card issuer that goes the extra mile for college students. They designed credit cards specifically for students that come with extra features that matter most to you.
Credit cards are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You’ll get the most out of your cards when they fit into your lifestyle. Consider your habits while at school. Which card fits those best? Which rewards are most appealing? But don’t stop at the rewards, you should also consider the rates and potential fees. Of course it’s best to pay off your balance every month, but if you can’t, those interest rates are suddenly going to be important (that’s after any 0% introductory period your card may offer).
Why we like it:
This is really just the popular Discover It Cash Back card retooled for college students, here’s why we like it:
|• No annual fee||• Great for building credit|
|• Up to 5% cash-back||• Generous first-year bonus|
No annual fee. You won’t have to pay a dime to keep this card.
Perfect for purchases. This card has 0% Intro APR for 6 months on purchases. That means if you make a big purchase right after you get the card (maybe a new laptop), you can pay it off within that time without interest. After the intro period you’ll see an interest rate of 18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR.
Up to 5% cash back. Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Even more cash back. Get more cash back with 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.
Why we like it:
This excellent card offers strong rates of cash back and Discover's usual outstanding welcome offer.
|• High cash rewards at gas stations and restaurants||• Credit-building power|
|• No annual fee||• Free credit score|
No annual fee. This card won't charge you to own it.
Big purchase friendly. Just like the other Discover card, this card has 0% Intro APR for 6 months for purchases. That's basically more than a full semester without interest. After the intro period you’ll see an interest rate of 18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR.
Cash back for gas and food. You’ll get 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Even more cash back. 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.
Why we like it:
For students attending school out of state, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students could help with commuting costs.
• No annual fee ||
• No foreign transaction fees |
• Huge bonus points offer ||• Preferred Rewards|
No annual fee. No yearly usage costs. No hidden upcharges. What you see is what you get with a $0 annual fee.
No foreign transaction fees. No matter where you are on the map, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card will charge you the same foreign transaction fees: None.
Bonus points. You’ll get 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
Preferred Rewards program. If the 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases weren’t enough, students who already bank with Bank of America—whether it’s a checking account, savings account or even an investment account—gain access to the Preferred Rewards program, tacking on an additional 25%-75% more points per purchase
Why we like it:
This new version of Capital One’s flagship rewards card features one of the best rewards programs you’ll find on a credit card geared towards students – and all with no annual fee.
|• Truly unlimited cash back||• No annual fees - ever|
|• $0 liability for fraud||• No rotating cash back categories|
Forget the fees. The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card has a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, so you won’t have to pay a dime to keep this card in your wallet.
Unlimited cash back. 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day; 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply) – with no limits to how much you can earn.
No rotating categories. Unlimited means unlimited – you won’t need to sign up for specific categories to earn the maximum amount of cash back, and your rewards won’t expire for the lifetime of your account.
$0 fraud liability. If your card is ever lost or stolen, you won’t be on the hook for any fraudulent expenses.
Increase your credit. With the Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card, you’ll be automatically considered for a credit line increase in as little as 6 months of good standing.
Why we like it:
There’s no limit to the amount of cash back students can earn with the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students.
• No annual fee ||
• $200 online cash rewards bonus offer |
• Low Intro APR||• 1.5% cash back on all purchases|
No annual fee. Unlike many cards for students, this one won’t cost you anything to keep in your wallet with a $0 annual fee.
Cash bonus. As a little boost to get you off the starting line, Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students comes with a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
For large expenses. With a 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, this card gives you some breathing room for any bigger purchases on your radar. After that, expect a 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR.
Unlimited cash back. And we mean it when we say “unlimited.” This card puts zero limits on the amount you can earn with 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and you won’t find your cash rewards expiring over time. With no expiration dates and virtually endless ways to earn, it’s great news for cardholders who want to see more money back in their pockets.
Why we like it:
This card offers the highest rewards rate on dining and entertainment you’ll see on a student card, before even considering the host of other benefits it brings to the table.
|• No annual fee||• Autopay ready|
|• Big cash back for dining||• Limited-time offers|
Outstanding rewards. Foodies take note – you’ll earn 3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®); 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply); 8% Cash Back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
No expiration dates. The rewards you earn with the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card will never expire over the lifetime of your account.
Grow your credit. Same as with some other Capital One student credit cards, you’ll automatically be considered for an increase in your credit line after as little as 6 months from account open.
No annual fee. The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card features a $0 annual fee in addition to no foreign transaction fees – perfect for studying abroad.
Autopay enabled. Use the Capital One app to setup automatic payments and never miss an opportunity to keep your credit score trending up.
How to choose
This is the easy part. You can apply for a card right from this page and it only takes a couple of minutes. Cards geared toward students require little to no credit history (which makes sense, this is around the time your credit history starts). You’ll need your social security number when you apply, so make sure to have that handy. You also might need a parent to co-sign if you don’t have a part-time job or independent assets. Approval is fast though, you’ll generally know within minutes if you’ll get the card. In some cases you won’t even have to wait for the physical card to arrive in the mail to start using it.
How to apply
If you have a part-time job (like on campus), or independent assets you may qualify on your own. If you aren’t working, you may need a parent to co-sign.
Each month, the CompareCards team reviews over 100 credit card offers examining the features most valuable to consumers including rewards, sign-up bonus, the interest rate, fees and other features to identify the best offers shown here.