How to choose the best student credit card to meet your needs

Learn how to build your credit while you study and earn rewards to redeem for travel, merchandise and more.

Student credit cards typically come with no annual fee and some offer low interest rates for students struggling to pay down their balance on time every month. We’ll help you find out how you can maximize your rewards and choose the best card for you.

Compare student credit cards

Compare the features and earn rates of student credit cards below.

Name Product Welcome Offer Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Get 2,500 bonus SCENE points with min. spend of $500 in the first 3 months. Ends 30 June 2019.
Save on $0 annual fee and earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on all purchases.
Get 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
Earn 4% Money-Back Rewards in three categories of your choice such as groceries, dining, petrol and more. Ends 31 July 2019.

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What is a student card?

Student credit cards are low-cost cards designed to help students begin to build up their credit. These cards often come with no annual fee, a lower credit limit and fewer rewards than a typical credit card. Some student cards also offer a lower interest rate on unpaid balances while others give incentives for good grades. Most come with basic insurance like purchase protection and extended warranty, but won’t offer added benefits like travel insurance.

Some cards offer zero rewards, while others let you accumulate points when you spend money on your card. You can then redeem these points as cashback or for discounts on travel, merchandise and more.

Features of student credit cards

  • No annual fee. You won’t typically pay an annual fee for a student card.
  • Low credit limit. Credit limits are usually much lower than with a typical card.
  • Fewer rewards. Many student cards offer only a fraction of the points on purchases, while others offer zero rewards.
  • Lower interest. Some cards offer a lower interest rate on unpaid balances.
  • Basic benefits. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a student card that offers anything more than purchase protection and extended warranty coverage.
  • Student incentives. Depending on the card, you could qualify for extra rewards for purchasing textbooks or maintaining a high GPA.

How to choose the best student card for you

  • Compare your options. Compare top brands and look for a card that gives the right combination of benefits for the lowest fee.
  • Aim for no fee and low interest. Search for a card that promises no annual fee and, if possible, an interest rate below the 18–20% APR on offer from most other credit cards.
  • Search for a decent return on rewards. Some cards offer more points than others so be sure to sign up for the one that offers the better deal.
  • Ask about student incentives. Find out if you’ll receive any benefits specifically geared towards students (e.g. tuition fee credit or textbook discounts).
  • Look at the conversion rate. Do the math to find the highest value for money when you make purchases. More points doesn’t necessarily mean more money in the long run.

Tips for earning reward points

  • Pay an annual fee. You’ll typically get a higher return on your rewards points if you pay an annual fee. A mid-range fee is around $60 to $80 per year.
  • Search for a welcome bonus. Some cards offer a welcome bonus when you sign up which entitles you to bonus points if you spend over a certain amount in your first few months.
  • Take advantage of referral programs. You might be able to lock in extra rewards by pointing other students towards your credit card.
  • Sign up for targeted rewards. Earn more points when you sign up for a card that offers you a higher return on certain categories of purchases (like gas or groceries).
  • Pay your tuition on your credit card. If your institution allows, you can earn extra points by paying your tuition on your card. Just be sure to pay the balance off immediately with savings or your student loan.

What to watch out for

  • No rewards. Don’t settle for a student card that offers zero rewards when you should be able to get at least a 1% return.
  • Expiration dates. Keep an eye on the expiration dates for rewards, because they’re often no longer valid after a certain time period.
  • Caps on rewards. Watch out for caps on rewards and avoid providers that try to limit how much you can earn.
  • Excluded purchases. Some providers don’t offer rewards on certain purchases (like bill payments) so it pays to look into what’s covered and what isn’t.
Students looking for a solid way to earn rewards and build up their credit are most likely to benefit from a student credit card. These cards tend to be pretty basic and usually come with low or no annual fees. Your best bet is to search for a low-cost card with a welcome offer, a decent return on rewards, special student incentives and basic insurance.

Frequently asked questions

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