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Student Credit Card Finder

The best student cards for cash back, travel and more.

Updated

Fact checked
students showing credit cards
Picking the right student credit card can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first card. But breathe easy: We’ve narrowed the top products in this handy guide.

Compare student credit cards

The student credit card market has been heating up, and you have several strong options to choose from. A $0 annual fee is standard. Plus, you may find solid rewards and attractive signup bonuses.

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
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See issuer's website
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300
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
Deserve® Edu Card
N/A
18.74% variable
$0
580
Designed for college students to build credit history and earn rewards.
Jasper Mastercard®
N/A
15.49% variable
$0
580
Credit card for professionals relocating to America without a US credit history.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
N/A
22.99% variable
$0
580
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or get 1.25% cash back for months you pay on time.
Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 7 months (then 14.49% to 24.49% variable)
$0
670
Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening. All information about this card has been collected independently by Finder.
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Best student credit cards

Each of the following products can serve you well as your first credit card. You won’t pay an annual fee for any of them.

Best for flat-rate rewards and no foreign transaction fees

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students logo
Credit recommended (580-850)
Read review
580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
1.5x
Points
25,000
Points welcome offer
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students is one of the best travel cards on the market and it has a great student version, too. It offers solid flat-rate rewards on all purchases and one of the best signup bonuses around.
  • Rewards points. Earn 1.5x points on every purchase.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 25,000 bonus points after you make $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Helpful extras. Monthly FICO score and no foreign transaction fees.
  • No 0% APR on balance transfers. You get a 0% intro APR period on purchases, but not on balance transfers.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 billing cycles (then 14.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 14.99% to 22.99% variable
Welcome offer 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Rewards 1.5x points on all purchases

Best for overall cash back

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students

Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students logo
Credit recommended (580-850)
Read review
580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
There are several student cards with great rewards, but this card comes out on top because of its flexible 3% cashback category. Plus, you'll find an attractive signup bonus and a generous intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% cash back in an eligible category of your choice and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Earn these rates on the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $200 cash rewards bonus after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Intro APR. Get 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 statement closing dates from account opening. After that, 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Avoid using this card abroad or online with foreign merchants or you'll pay 3% of the amount of each transaction.
  • Balance transfer limitations. To use the 0% intro APR period, complete your transfers within the first 60 days when you open your account.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 statement closing dates (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Welcome offer $200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Rewards 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category, grocery and wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%

Best for international students

Deserve® Edu Card

Deserve® Edu Card logo
Credit recommended (580-850)
Apply now
on Deserve®'s secure site
580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1%
Cash back
Other
Welcome offer
International students often find it difficult to get a US credit card because they may not have Social Security numbers. The Deserve® Edu Card is a convenient solution: You don't need a Social Security number to apply.
  • Rewards. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • Low requirements for international students. No Social Security number required if you're an international student.
  • Amazon Prime credit. Get credit for your Amazon Prime Student subscription, up to a lifetime total of $59.
  • No intro APR period. You don't get a 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
  • No signup bonus. There's no bonus to earn when you signup for the card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 18.74% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Amazon Prime Student subscription credit up to $59
Rewards 1% cash back on all purchases

Best for rebuilding credit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard® logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (580-669)
Read review
Rates & fees

580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
n/a
Rewards
n/a
Welcome offer
Capital One's secured card can help you improve your credit if it isn't yet where you want it to be. You might receive a $200 credit line with a security deposit far less than that amount. Capital One also gives you an incentive to use your card responsibly, raising your credit limit if you make your first few payments on time.
  • Security deposit. Deposit $49, $99 or $200, according to Capital One's discretion, and get an initial credit line of $200.
  • Potential credit limit increase. Pay your first five monthly payments on time and get a credit limit increase.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants won't cost you any foreign transaction fees.
  • No rewards. You won't earn any rewards on purchases made with this card.
  • No intro APR period. You don't get a 0% or a low-rate intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 26.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 26.99% variable
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards N/A

Ace in the hole: The Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students 3% cashback category

Each month, you can set the category in which you earn 3% cash back. These categories include:

  • Fuel
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Online shopping
  • Drug stores
  • Home improvement and furnishings

This is an excellent perk because of its flexibility. You can set your top cashback category based on where you spend the most money — a luxury you won’t find with other cards.

Methodology

To select our picks for student cards, we compared products on the market with related benefits and rewards. We narrowed the winners to cards with additional standout features.

  • Best for flat-rate rewards and no foreign transaction fee. We picked the card that offers the highest flat-rate rewards and is billed as a student product.
  • Best for overall cash back. We picked this card based on the top non-quarterly-rotating rewards rate — in this case, 3% cash back for Bank of America’s card — and flexibility of reward earnings.
  • Best for international students. We looked for a card that allows international students to apply without a Social Security number. Rewards and additional student-focused benefits tipped the scales.
  • Best for rebuilding credit. We consider credit building the most important use of a secured card. That said, we picked a product that incentivizes members to pay on time. The security deposit is typically an onerous requirement for consumers, and Capital One’s product offers a chance to lessen that burden.
  • Best for rotating cash back. We looked for a card that offers the highest rotating cashback rate and is billed as a student product.

Our pick for students that are new to credit

Deserve® Edu Card

  • Amazon Prime Student on us for a year (Lifetime Value worth $59)
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Cellphone protection
  • Mastercard Platinum benefits
  • $0 annual fee
  • No international transaction fees
  • 20.24% variable APR (Prime + 15.49%)
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Why get a student credit card?

  • Better odds of approval.
    Right now, you might have a thin credit report, which means you’ll have trouble getting approved for most credit cards. Student cards are an exception, however, as they’re geared toward those who are just getting started with credit.
  • Learn how to responsibly use credit.
    Now’s a great time to build strong credit habits. Try to keep your balance low — preferably, under 30% of your credit limit — and to pay off your balance in full each month. Most importantly, make every payment on time, which will go a long way toward protecting your credit score.
  • Start building your credit score.
    A good credit score is a valuable asset when you need a loan, as it could lead to lower interest rates. It’s also helpful when you’re applying for housing or a job. The earlier you start building your credit score, the better it may be by the time you really need it. Also, strong credit will help you get better cards, such as those that offer cash back or travel rewards.

How to get a student credit card

If you’re relatively new to credit cards, don’t be afraid to take it slow. Take the time to select a card that you might keep for the next few years. And above all, consider whether you’re ready to use credit responsibly.

  1. Compare features that are important to you.
    You can find many student products without annual fees. Compare major features such as rewards and signup bonus. If you want to make a fairly large purchase and pay for it over time with no interest, consider a card with an intro APR. But keep in mind you always have to pay back what you spend on your card. Now’s the time to take special care not to get into debt. If you think you’ll be traveling internationally — perhaps to study abroad — you might compare credit cards suited for international students.
  2. See if you’re eligible for a credit card.
    Many providers require a Social Security number, and you must show income or assets that prove you can pay your card bills. You must be at least 18 years old to get a card on your own. If you can’t independently pay your card bill, consider applying with a cosigner.
  3. Apply for a credit card.
    On your card application, you’ll need information like your address, contact details, date of birth, total annual gross income, Social Security number, and monthly housing or rent payment. Also, submit other information that the card provider requires.
  4. Wait for approval.
    You may be approved instantly. If the provider needs to review your application, you may need to wait a few days to a few weeks to hear back. After approval, you’ll typically receive your card in the mail within seven to 10 days.

Credit cards for high school students

You can set yourself up for financial success by getting an early start on building credit. There are great benefits to having a good credit score, including:

  • Higher approval odds for an apartment application, car loan, etc.
  • Lower insurance rates.
  • Access to credit cards with better rewards and more benefits.

It’s slightly tougher to get your own credit card if you’re under 21, but it’s doable. You must be at least 18 years old. You must also prove your ability to pay your own card bill, or apply with a cosigner.

If you’re under 18, you can’t get a credit card on your own. But consider asking a parent to add you to their credit card account as an authorized user.

Do’s and don’ts of student credit cards

Start building great credit habits now to pave the way for a smooth financial journey ahead. If you’re still unsure whether you’re ready for a credit card, check out our full guide for more information.

How to properly use a card

  • See your card as a loan you must pay back — not as a blank check.
  • Always keep your credit utilization under 30%.
  • Pay your balance on time and in full each month.
  • Avoid loaning your card to friends.
  • Check your card’s pricing table and understand fees you might pay.

Mistakes to avoid

  • Getting too many credit cards.
  • Consistently maxing out your credit limit.
  • Not paying your card bill in full each month.
  • Paying your card bill late.
  • Applying without a reliable source of income.

Bottom line

To find the right student credit card, compare features such as rewards, signup bonus and student-focused benefits. Above all, look at your card as a chance to build great financial habits. Use it well and you’ll be well prepared for choosing a great second credit card.

If you’d like to get up to speed on credit cards, check out our beginner’s guide.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    CollegeSeptember 22, 2018

    Good morning. I’m trying to get some help while I’m attending school…I would like to afford things I need and I’m not sure which card to get…

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 25, 2018Staff

      Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Since I don’t completely know your unique situation, I may not be able to give you a specific recommendation. However, you might want to explore the table above. It gives you an overview of some of your options. You may then click on the “Go to site” green button or “More info” link to learn more about the specific card.

      Please do not forget to read the full T&Cs and PDS or details of the products before applying and making a financial decision.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

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